8 Disabled Animals That Triumphed Over Adversity

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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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January 10, 2011 - 9:45am
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