I am excited to share a guest post written by John Sweeney who lives in Melbourne, Australia with Louis, his paralyzed dog. John is the founder of a very unique website that I found to be inspiring. These Dog Days uses personal interviews to teach about life with a disabled dog.
The stories are real experiences written by real pet families about what they did to adapt to life with a dog who has special needs.
John came up with the idea after Louis lost the ability to walk. He wanted to know what a typical day would look like for Louis and himself. So, he reached out to pet owners and These Dog Days was born.
Here’s what John had to say about the goals for the website.
Who we are
These Dog Days is an online community for people with disabled dogs from around the world. We share stories of daily life with the aim of developing a practical resource for people who are facing the seemingly daunting prospect of life with a special needs pup.
How it started
When my dog became paralyzed as a result of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), I was desperate to hear the real-life experience of others who had faced the same situation. I wanted to know if we could continue to offer Louis the same quality of life and how much our own lives would have to change.
Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog was an invaluable resource during those stressful, early days. What we quickly realized as we adapted to our new routine was that each dog’s personality and needs can be vastly different, which means that peoples’ experiences can also be varied.
We found that there were many different ways to manage common daily challenges and that there was huge value in sharing everyone’s experience.
How it works
The website publishes brief interviews with owners of dogs with all kinds of disabilities. Then we archive the stories so people can find the information that is relevant to them. The interviews have featured more than 30 dogs with conditions that include: arthritis, blindness, paralysis, amputation and more.
Here are highlights from some of our favorite stories
Melissa adopted an eight-year-old pug named Bumblesnot from a local shelter in 2011. They spent the next six years together until Bumble passed away in October 2017.
During this time, Melissa learned a lot about life with a disabled dog as Bumble gradually lost the use of his hind legs, bladder and bowel function, as a result of suspected Degenerative Myelopathy (or Pug Myelopathy). Melissa shared many great tips including her recommendation of daily cranberry supplements to ward off urinary tract infections (a common occurrence with paralyzed dogs). Her story has gone on to help many others.
Ashley adopted the Great Dane Lumen who was born deaf and has severely deformed feet. Ashley discusses the challenges that face deaf dogs and also tells us about the great options available for animal orthotics which are helping Lumen get around. Ashley’s interview shares words of encouragement for others who are considering adopting a special needs dog.
Each of the stories show that life with a special needs dog can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. This is summed up perfectly by Dave from Mountlake Terrace, Washington who shared his experience with his paralyzed Dachshund, Anderson Pooper.
“One thing about Anderson is that she is a good sport letting us dress her up in different attire. We like to go to Mariners baseball games and Everett Aquasox Bark in the park games. Anderson goes to Oktoberfest and Weinerdog races and she is always dressed to the nines for each event. What we love about going to events with her (or anywhere for that matter) is that we get to tell people about her condition and educate people about disabled animals. We let them know that with just a little extra effort, you get an amazing companion who deserves the chance to succeed in life.”
What These Dog Days has taught us
We have shared some truly heart-warming stories of amazing people and their love for their special needs pets. It has been a fantastic experience getting to know the stories behind these animal families. Sharing their stories has helped countless others.
We hope the interviews encourage pet owners to adopt a special needs dog.
In addition to stories, John has compiled a list of product recommendations from each interview and turned it into a reference page for readers.
A new development
Today, John and Louis have a thriving life together that includes runs on the beach and lots of outings. And John wanted everyone to know that he will be keeping notes for his own interview because Louis is entering into a clinical trial.
He will start a stem cell trial for paralyzed dogs that is being conducted at the University of Melbourne.
John invites pet owners everywhere to share their personal story by completing the interview form on the website. You can also keep up with These Dog Days on Instagram.