Why Rescue A Special Need Dog

‘Rescuing a dog makes me a better person, especially a dog who has additional needs, they can challenge you in wonderful way that really makes you think. Do it. I highly recommend it!’

Laura Vissaritis – pet behaviourist, dog trainer, best selling author, founder of Dognitive Therapy, and dog mom to Chester and Alma (both rescue dogs).

Read Alma story

‘Marilyn has shown us that no one, either on four legs or two, should be defined by disability. Marilyn is defined by her capacity for love and her generosity of spirit.’

Ann (Marilyn’s adoptive mom) – Marilyn is both deaf and blind because of her double merle gene.

Read Marilyn story

Like humans, dogs don’t choose to come into this world with disabilities. However some dogs were born with it, some inherited it then became disabled later on in their life, and some sadly had it due to accident, neglect or mistreatment. Sometimes you can see the disability, but other times you can’t. These dogs adapt to their unique bodies without complaint, they survive with determination, they’re ready to love and they live life in the moment with joy. They shouldn’t be defined by their disabilities.

Adopting a rescue dog can be daunting especially the one with additional needs. With anxieties and fears from their previous life, they can carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. But all dogs deserve a second chance.

Most paw-parents who foster or adopt their dogs say –
‘When you rescue a dog, it’s you who ends up rescued.’
Laura with her deaf rescue dog, Alma

Bringing a new dog home – abled or disabled, rescue or not, puppy or adult or senior – comes with its own rewards and challenges. I’m a firm believer that whichever you choose, once you decide to bring a dog into your home, it is your responsibility to look after, train and love them for the rest of their lives. It takes a village and commitment to raise a dog but you’ll be rewarded tenfold – especially when you rescue one. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that you’ve saved a life and given this animal, who will love you endlessly, a second chance at happiness.

On her book ‘The Rescue Dog’, animal behaviourist Laura Vissaritis shares her approach to training a rescue dog which focuses on one side of the relationship – the human. Because to help your dog change their behaviour, first you must change your own. By building a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, you will help your dog make the most of their new life.

‘Giving a rescue dog a better life is one of the most emotional, uplifting journeys you can go on,’ Laura said.
Aryah photographed by Alex Cearns OAM

An internationally-celebrated animal photographer, Alex Cearns OAM, shared with us her experience photographing 60 perfectly imperfect (mostly rescue) dogs – ‘The tenacity of dogs to overcome adversity never ceases to amaze me. They make the most out of life and from them I’ve learnt so much about always seeing the positive in every situation and never giving up.’

Last but not least, I’d like to include Alex’s wish which I think it’s every dog/animal lovers wish… ‘I’d wish for all humans to understand and see that animals are sentient beings who require the same things we do to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives… They feel pain just like us, and to think that they only exist for us to use or exploit in some way is morally wrong. If they cannot fend for themselves, it’s up to us to step in and create a safe environment for them and to take responsibility for their care.’

Read Alex Q&A.

Little Annie – A Dog Born With Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Special thanks to Ann & Marilyn – Laura, Chester & Alma – Alex Cearns – Michelle & Diesel – Aniko & Pici – Dianne & Annie – for sharing your fur-mate story. Kudos to all foster and rescue fur-parents out there!

Cover portrait of Ann & Marilyn courtesy of Judith van Daalen from Melbourne Portrait Studio.