Storytime: Misfit Manor

From Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pets with Disabilities, Vol. II

Misfit Manor

 Shih Tzu

I witnessed a Thanksgiving miracle: my dog, Baxter, took tentative, wobbly, awkward steps with his paralyzed back legs.

The Tuesday before, I had glimpsed some movement. On Wednesday, my partner, Brian, saw the same thing. On Thanksgiving morning, Baxter managed to right himself and began taking some steps.

This is definitely something for which we are thankful.

We had adopted Baxter, a three-year-old Shih Tzu, from the local SPCA. His background is a mystery. Since he had little musculature in his back end, doctors assumed that his spine had been injured some time ago and that the damage was irreversible. He was originally scheduled to be euthanized, but after a caring veterinarian built him a makeshift wheelchair, he was given a new lease on life.

After Baxter was offered for adoption, many people expressed interest in Baxter but left abruptly when told he was paralyzed. Brian and I started receiving messages from concerned friends soon after this. They told us we were the only ones who could save this dog. We already have a house full of misfit animals, so what was one more?

We went to see Baxter at the shelter. He was terrified, shaking pathetically in the back of the cage. We could not leave him there, so after paying a small adoption fee, we walked out with him. No questions asked, no background check. They were glad to get rid of him.

The first week was difficult for Baxter. He was sullen, but as soon as he got in that cart, his tail (which, by the way, works just fine) wagged and wagged. He became confident and social. He started looking us in the eye. After a few weeks, he decided a house of full of crazy animals and a few people was not so bad after all.

We took Baxter to a specialist and learned about exercises that would strengthen his legs. Then we took him home and started working with him, which brings us to Thanksgiving—when he took a few steps, and we witnessed our miracle!

Domenick Scudera