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A Special Family for a Special-Needs Dog
After many months at the Animal League, Rex is finally home at last
As you can imagine, the staff and volunteers at North Shore Animal League America get very attached to the wonderful Mutt-i-grees® that we are privileged to rescue, nurture and adopt, and that’s especially true for pets with special needs.
One of our favorites is Rex, a puppy who arrived at the Animal League in late 2011 as a result of our partnership with Precious Friends Puppy Rescue and Adoption in Clarksville, TN. Rex came to us with very limited use of his back legs, the result of an infection called Canine Distemper Virus, which he had contracted prior to his arrival.
Rex became part of our Sponsor Program, in which generous animal lovers provide monthly donations to help care for animals in need. As he recuperated over several months, Rex stayed with Gabriella Teofilo, one of the dedicated animal lovers who volunteer for our Foster Care Program.
Foster care parents welcome pets like Rex into their homes to give them a comfortable place to heal after an illness or injury as they prepare to be placed for adoption. Foster families also care for animals who are too young to be adopted, or for nursing mothers and their litters. This way, they not only help an animal in need, but also make room in the shelter so that the Animal League can rescue another pet.
Rex Gets His New Wheels!
To help give the affectionate and active pup the life he so richly deserves, last December the Animal League got Rex his own mobility cart. He took to his new wheels like a champion!
But it takes a very special person to adopt a pet with special challenges. As sweet a dog as Rex is, none of the adopters who came through our doors chose him as their new family member.
That all changed in early April, when a caring and kind woman named Jean Duva arrived at the Animal League’sPort Washington,NY, headquarters.
“A few months before, I’d had to put my dog Petey to sleep because his arthritis had become so severe,” explains Jean through tears. Petey’s condition had gotten progressively worse over a period of three years, she says. Eventually, she made the difficult but humane decision that so many pet owners face as their beloved animals become old and infirm. “Petey stopped eating,” she says. “I knew he’d let me know when it was time.”
Although Petey was irreplaceable, Jean knew she wanted to share her love with another dog. Moreover, she specifically wanted to adopt a dog with special needs—in part because she’s a retired nurse, and also because she wears a brace on her lower leg, a result of a herniated disk. As she puts it, “I like to take care of others, and I know myself what it’s like to have a disability and need help from other people.”
When Jean met with Animal League adoption counselor Laura Greco and shared her story and explained how she hoped to adopt a dog that no one else had wanted, they immediately brought her to meet Rex.
“Jean fell in love with Rex instantly,” says Laura. “They spent an hour on the floor hugging. It was awesome!”
Jean filled out an adoption application for Rex on the spot. “I knew it was meant to be,” she says. When she took him home, staff and volunteers lined up to say goodbye, adds Jean. “It took two hours! Everyone was so wonderful.”
The Perfect Match
Alex Bab, Foster Care Coordinator at the Animal League, was one of the many who bid Rex a teary but joyful goodbye before Jean brought the happy pup home to meet her father and her two Mini Dachshunds—Isabella,7, and Lizzie, 3. As Alex explains, “All of us were so attached to Rex because he had spent so many months in our care, but it was worth the wait. Jean is the perfect person to be Rex’s adopted mom.”
Jean was excited to share the news that Rex has adapted beautifully to his new home and family, though she admits that her Dachshunds took a little bit of time getting used to their new housemate. “They know he’s a dog,” she says, “but he doesn’t move like most dogs. And he’s also a lot bigger than they are!” she laughs. “But they’ve learned how to play with him just fine.”
Jean’s neighbors and friends are also huge Rex fans, and the active dog is having a blast playing ball and getting lots of attention. “He’s a gift from God as far as I’m concerned,” says Jean. “He’s a blessing in my life. I tell everybody, ‘There was sadness and tears for so long when my Petey passed, but Rex brought smiles and laughter back.’ We all just love him so much.”