Love on Wheels
Linda Ackerman told us about her two-legged dog, and why she advocates for adopting special needs animals.
Within a year of my Sharpei’s death, I had to have major back surgery. That was followed by three more surgeries over the next three years, and I ended up in a wheelchair.
Of course by then I was really missing not having a dog in my life but thought it was out of the question. How would I ever be able to give an animal the care he or she deserved? Nonetheless, I could not resist browsing every once in a while.
And then, one day, there she was: Chili the Chihuahua! She was also handicapped, born with no front legs. I knew I could do this. She was small and did not need to be walked, and best of all she was at a shelter in New Jersey, where I lived at the time!
I called immediately and was approved to adopt her. I renamed her Nessarose—those who have read the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West will recognize the name as the witch who was missing her arms. It seemed a perfect and more feminine name for my new darling.
Her “Chihuahua personality” and general mistrust of humans made her a challenge in the beginning. I soon recognized she seemed to be in pain. I took her to an animal internist who discovered an intestinal problem, high blood pressure and a hole in her heart. He had a medication specially compounded for her intestinal problem and prescribed conventional medication for her heart and blood pressure.
It is nine years since I adopted Nessa, and she is in as good health as her issues will allow, but most important, she is in no pain. She is happy and loving and a true-to-the-bone diva.
Nessa sleeps on my bed with me and loves me to push her in her stroller in front of my wheelchair on outings. We go to dog festivals, the beach, shopping—everywhere together. If dogs aren’t allowed, we don’t go there.
Handicapped dogs have just as much love to give as other dogs. Maybe more. If you are less mobile or a senior, they are a perfect solution. I know I could not live without Nessa.