Fostering a Special Needs Puppy

Written by Dr. Melissa Shapiro, mom to @pinkpigletpuppy and six other rescue dogs. Melissa is a veterinarian based in Connecticut, and is the CT Representative of the Humane Society of Veterinary Medicine

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Piglet is a double dapple Doxie/Chihuahua mix rescued from a hoarding situation when he and his litter mates were only a couple weeks old. Piglet had been rejected by his mom, so he was given extra special care by his rescuers down in Georgia. A few weeks later, I received an email describing the 1 pound blind (and deaf) puppy asking me if knew “someone who would be a good match for him." I said "no," but after a quick lapse, I offered to foster. After all, how much trouble could a 1 pound deaf and blind puppy be? 

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Baby Piglet (formerly known as Bart) arrived as a foster dog on March 4, 2017. I enthusiastically anticipated cuddling and comforting the tiny special needs puppy, and learning to communicate with and care for such a disabled dog. 

This optimistic fantasy quickly turned to “What have I gotten myself into?” when the reality of Piglet hit. 

In fact, special needs was an understatement. He was a screaming, anxious, needy puppy. 

But, things happen... and while we desperately tried to find Piglet’s forever home, Piglet had a completely different agenda. The Tiny-But-Mighty pink one engaged, interacted, gained confidence, and started to calm down. He replaced his never ending frantic screaming with coping skills that I’m proud to have helped him find. 

 Piglet and his 6-pack of rescue buddies

Piglet and his 6-pack of rescue buddies

Yes, ultimately we became “foster failures”. But offering to foster gave the rescue group comfort knowing their very special needs puppy would be safe and taken care of. And this would free up a spot for the rescue to save another needy dog. 

There are countless dogs, cats, and other animals in shelters across the US and the world. Fostering is a crucial mechanism of getting pets into homes where they can decompress, and prepare for their forever home. 

 Piglet has raised about $10,000 for special needs dog rescues over the last year.

Piglet has raised about $10,000 for special needs dog rescues over the last year.

Special needs pets are no different. They might need a little extra time for daily maintenance, and a little more household structure to keep them safe. But the rewards of caring for a special dog, cat, bird, or any other species are indescribable. 

Part of Piglet’s mission is to inspire others to consider adopting a special needs pet. That certainly includes fostering. 

So if you can’t adopt, we hope you will agree to foster. 

Meet Piglet online