8 Disabled Animals That Triumphed Over Adversity

Like humans, animals are prone to birth defects and devastating accidents that leave them disabled. What’s incredible about all creatures (including mankind) is their ability to thrive despite their challenges and survive against all odds. These 8 animals are inspirations not just to those with disabilities, but to everyone who's faced a seemingly impossible challenge.

1. Faith

By now, most people who have been on the internet for more than a week are at least somewhat familiar with Faith and her inspirational story. In case you don’t know the whole tale though, Faith was born with two rear legs and one deformed front leg. Her mother tried to smother her to death, but a young boy saw this and rescued her. He brought her home to his family, who fed her and eventually trained her to hop on her rear legs using peanut butter as an incentive. Eventually, she learned to walk and run.

Since then, Faith has gained quite a bit of attention for her ability to survive and thrive against all odds and she has even appeared on Oprah, Montel Williams, Animal Attractions Television and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. She has her own website and MySpace page, and her owner even wrote two books about her struggle, With a Little Faith and Faith Alone.

2. Hoopa

Most dog wheelchairs are designed to help pets who can’t use their back legs. Faith worked around this problem by learning to hop her hind legs, but Hoopa was only able to push himself forward and slide around the floor. Even so, he was still an active and happy puppy, so his owner was inspired to hire a design student friend to create a new type of wheelchair just for Hoopa. Student Nir Shalom designed a wheel prostheses that has allowed Hoopa to run around on his training wheels the same way any other puppy will cruise around with his owner.

3. Chase

Many Flossers will remember Chase because she has been featured on mental_floss before in Miss Cellania’s article on blogging cats and her list of famous felines. After an accident in her childhood, Chase was injured and lost one of her legs, along with the majority of the skin on her face, including her eyelids. Chase is the star of her own blog, Daily Tails of Chase, and she works as a therapy cat for persons with disabilities for Paws For Friendship. She is very encouraging to children with disabilities and she "hopes to help other humans feel just as great about themselves and realize that not everyone looks perfect and that is OK."

4. Rowan

Being born blind is difficult no matter what your species, but just as teenager Ben Underwood has used echolocation to navigate his world, so has a German Spitz from the UK. Rowan was born without eyes, but he still gets around quite well using echolocations from his barks.

5. Daisy

She just might be the Helen Keller of the dog world. Born deaf and blind, Daisy has had to learn to navigate through the world with only her senses of smell and touch to guide her. After being given up by her first family and her foster family, Daisy started to distrust humans. When the Faresh family of Studio City took her in, they had a lot of work ahead of them.

To help her get around her new surroundings, the family baby-proofed everything and added foam to the corners of the walls to cushion Daisy when she inevitably crashed into them. Eventually the dog learned to trust them and started to feel comfortable enough to explore her new surroundings, even traveling up the stairs.

Helping Daisy taught the family about the special needs of many human adults and children. They started using the pup as a therapy dog to inspire others and Maryam Faresh even keeps a website about Daisy and has self-published her own children’s book about their pet called What About Daisy.

6. Kelly Anne

A few years ago, Kelly Anne was chased up a tree by a dog and was somehow electrocuted in the process. The veterinary staff had to work fast to save her life and ended up having to amputate the cat’s four legs as a result. While she can’t bathe herself or use a litter box, she can still get around on her shoulders. The clinic’s staff pets and bathes her and she is able to use wee-wee pads. She seems pretty happy despite her handicap and she even caught a mouse once.

Although the clinic has received a number of adoption requests for the kitten, they are holding out for an owner who is fully prepared to tend to her special needs.

7. Coal

In a few more years, Kelly Anne may not have to crawl on her stumps anymore, thanks to Coal’s experience. After losing a leg in a battle against cancer, vets said Coal would probably have to be put down because his other legs would not be able to support his weight. His owner, Reg Walker, was determined to keep his friend alive and sought out any form of treatment he could find. Eventually, Reg found a solution, through “bionic vet” Noel Fitzpatrick, but it wasn’t cheap. The treatment would cost around $15,000. Even so, he gladly paid the money and Coal was given a bionic leg that worked with his skin.

Only one other surgery of this type had been performed up to this point and Coal’s treatment may eventually be used to help treat human amputees.

8. Oscar

Oscar lost his rear legs in a harvester and because he lost so much blood, his owners were told to expect the worst. But it wasn’t his injuries that made him notable, it was his recovery—Oscar was the first cat to ever get prosthetic legs. Noel Fitzpatrick used the same procedure as the one used on Coal, but he had to adapt it to a double amputee feline.

During the three hour surgery, holes were drilled into the remaining portion of his legs and then special implants were attached. Once the implants healed, the vet was able to attach special foot prostheses.
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If you have the space in your heart and room in your home, a disabled pet can make a great companion that will improve your life as much as you improve his or hers. Have any of you ever had a disabled animal? How did they overcome their challenges?

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Health
Canine Flu is On the Rise: Here's What You Should Know
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It's been eight years since the World Health Organization announced the end of the swine flu pandemic, and now the condition is back in the news for infecting a different type of host. As Live Science reports, the H1N1 virus is mixing with canine flu to create new strains that could potentially spread to people.

Dog flu has been around for a couple of decades, but the two main canine strains, H3N8 and H3N2, have never been contracted by humans. According to a new study published in mBio, some dogs in the Guangxi region of China were found carrying H1N1, the flu strain at the root of the swine flu outbreak. Researchers also discovered three entirely new flu strains that were a combination of H1N1 and regular dog flu viruses.

The unrecognized flu strains are the most troubling discovery. As the flu travels between species, it mingles with viruses that are already there, creating a level of genetic diversity that leaves our immune systems, which are best equipped to fight strains they've already been exposed to, vulnerable. The swine flu epidemic of 2009 started in a similar way, when H1N1 jumped from birds to pigs, and eventually to people.

But the new report isn't a reason to banish your pet to the doghouse next time she seems under the weather. The virus samples were collected from dogs in China between 2013 and 2015, and in the years since, zero humans have caught influenza from dogs (though dog flu has started spreading to cats). If the virus continues mutating to the point where it can infect humans, both the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture will take action. But for now, the CDC states that canine flu viruses "pose a low threat to people."

Canine flu may not be dangerous to humans yet, but it can still be stressful for dog owners if their pet comes down with a case. Ask your vet about getting your dog vaccinated, and if you see your dog coughing, sneezing, and acting less energetic than usual, make an appointment to get him checked out as soon as possible. If he does have the flu, he can be treated with plenty of rest and hydration.

[h/t Live Science]

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Live Smarter
America's Most Pet-Friendly Workplaces
Courtesy of Wellness Natural Pet Food
Courtesy of Wellness Natural Pet Food

Being able to bring your dog to work is a huge perk. So huge, in fact, that 37 percent of pet parents would sacrifice benefits like vacation time or even take a pay cut for the ability to bring their pet to the office, according to Wellness Natural Pet Food, which recently released its second annual list of America’s Most Pet-Friendly Companies.

All 10 companies on the list allow you to bring your dog along every single day. Tito's Handmade Vodka in Austin, Texas grabbed the number one spot, with San Francisco's Petcube (which makes interactive dog treat cameras) coming in second and Boston's Harpoon Brewery taking third.

The benefits of being able to bring your dog to your job are manifold. You eliminate the need to hire a dog walker or petsitter, you're not distracted by worrying about how Fido is faring alone in the house or obsessively checking the security cameras, and you get to have the company of your furry friend to keep you happy while you're working. Petcube in particular has some seriously over-the-top benefits for dog owners, including dog walking services, pet insurance, and on-demand vet consultations. Health and fitness supply company Zogics, which is based in Lenox, Massachusetts and ranked seventh on the list, offers "pawternity" leave for new dog moms and dads.

Wellness's survey also found that 44 percent of pet parents say they would consider a career change if it meant a pet-friendly workplace. The benefits of having an adorable pup around are undeniable: 32 percent of respondents feel they would be more productive with a pet at the office.

Check out the full list here (Alas, Pied Piper isn't on it). And if you're lucky enough to have a pet-friendly office, don't forget to bring your pooch along for Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 22.

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