When I adopted Maxwell I never thought of the future and what hurdles or endeavors we may be facing – all that I knew in that moment was that his previous “people” were giving up on him, washing their hands of him because he was “different” and being someone who just lost her pug about a month prior I felt it was a sign from the universe — that Maxwell came into MY clinic (of all of the other clinics) and it was a “new client”– I had never seen Maxwell or this person prior to that fateful day I took him home.
I remember calling my husband and starting the call with “I MAY have done a “thing”…but remember that I love you!” I could SENSE his eyeroll over the telephone followed up with “what did you adopt now!?” (He knows me FAR too well!).
My husband told me we could “foster him” (his defense mechanism for all the handipets we have adopted!) but he and I both knew that Maxwell was coming home to stay permanently. Thus kicked off our journey of Maxwell Seamus!
Everyone see’s the “romanticized” version of adopting a specially-abled animal — the cuddling, the “adorable hurdles” and their cute, unique little quirks that make them … “them”! Friends, I am here to tell you that this is NOT one of those stories (but it is still cute and inspiring!) and the first few days being Maxwell’s mama was turbulent to put it mildly — despite the rough ride I was not about to give up and we were going to figure this out!
Early on the veterinarians (and myself) were holding out hope that Maxwell may be able to walk despite his adversities — we immediately started physical therapy, hydro-therapy, acupuncture and various obstacle courses to help give Maxwell strength & stamina. As time carried on it was evident that Maxwell would not be able to stand upright on his own or be able to use his back legs — even then we were not discouraged and continued to work on his progress.
Every morning Maxwell and I start the day the same — I creep into his room and begin to lightly talk to him helping him greet the day! Maxwell gives a big stretch or two, a yawn and looks up with those big ol’ brown eyes full of hope and wonder. I take Maxwell outside to use the “facilities” (which he needs assistance in) and then I pack his “diaper bag”, wheelchair, harness, toys, baby wipes and grip booties (to help keep him upright when he’s in his wheelchair) in the car before placing Maxwell in his car seat (safety first!)
Maxwell goes to work with me daily simply because he needs his bladder expressed manually several times a day and needs a tad bit more supervision then his handicat brothers require – luckily we work at a veterinary hospital that embraces specially – abled animals (and loves Maxwell!) so this is not an issue.
In addition to Maxwell needing his bladder expressed several times a day he also requires daily physical/hydro therapy to help his muscles not waste away (despite not being able to use his legs we want to always ensure Maxwell is healthy, big & strong!) as well as short bursts of time where he’s in his wheelchair (that was so graciously donated to Maxwell by a kind soul) to help his upper body strength and overall stamina.
Maxwell enjoys lounging on the couch with me, being surrounded by his “brothers” (aka the handicats) and playing with ALL of his toys (his favorite is his stuffed “lamby” and his rope toys) and he just overall enjoys being in the company of myself and his dad! Maxwell does not realize, nor is he phased by the fact that he may be a “little” different than the other kids (though I am starting to get concerned he believes he is a cat!) and lives a happy, spoiled life.
Every night before bedtime Maxwell goes outside to use the facilities one final time before sleep and then he is placed in his “bed” (a portable crib that was also graciously donated to us) surrounded by all of his toys and a little “bedtime snack” — Maxwell’s favorite is a couple of plain cheerios to munch on before falling asleep.
Does it sound like a lot? Absolutely not. Are there some days that it feels like it is the most overwhelming thing in the world? Sure! Some days I worry that I will not be able to give Maxwell all that he needs in life but then I am reminded that those short comings & insecurities only come from my own anxiety… Maxwell already has ALL that he needs — a family that loves him and is patient with him.
Are there some days that Maxwell blesses friends and family with a “golden shower”? Hell yes there is! And in that instance all you can do is laugh, politely apologize and remind them that Maxwell has no idea he is urinating (and definitely cannot “steer” his urine stream in any particular direction – trust me, I struggle daily with this!), has Maxwell pooped on a few friends of mine (and a few that weren’t friends) – YES. He has gifted a “code brown” or two in his short little life thus far? Of course. But everything he does — gross and otherwise — you learn to take with stride and a few laughs here and there.
Everyday Maxwell amazes me in his progress. Though he still requires “grip” booties to help keep his front feet upright when he is in his wheels and sometimes he pouts about having to not simply be a “lazy pug” and has to put in actual work with his wheels he is improving daily.
The best advice I can continue to give people is NEVER be turned off or discouraged by a special needs animal, understand that when you take them into your home there will be an adjustment period (for both you and the animal) and remember a time when you needed someone to NOT give up on you? Special needs animals everywhere are looking for someone to NOT give up on them — be that person that changes their entire life.