A dog is sitting on the lap of someone in a wheelchair.

The Joy of Finding My Four-Legged Support

Life has its moments – some challenging, some joyful. As a full-time electric wheelchair user with limited arm mobility due to spinal muscular atrophy, I've experienced my fair share of both. But recently, a new joy was added to our sweet family.

Furry family member

My family and I thought long and hard about bringing a new member into our home. We didn’t believe we wanted to have more children but we did think our kids would love a family pet! We have our dynamics, routines, and responsibilities like every home, but we wanted some change.  After careful consideration, we decided now was the perfect time to expand our little family and get a puppy. Little did I know, this wasn't just a new pet – it was the beginning of a special bond.

My puppy has an amazing ability to understand my needs. With patient training, he's learned to sit snugly on my footplate or nestle between my backrest and me. Whenever I move, he's intuitively aware, shifting his position with grace and ensuring he’s never in the way of my wheels. It's like he's not just my pet but an extension of myself.

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Puppy becomes supportive of my needs

But it's not just about the practicalities. There's an emotional bond that's happening between us. The joy he brings me each day, cannot be put into words. Recognizing this profound connection, I've registered him as my emotional support animal. Now, he's not just my home companion but also my travel buddy, accompanying me wherever I go.

Benefits of a companion animal

For those of you living with spinal muscular atrophy, or any other condition that presents daily challenges, I can't stress enough the benefits of having a companion animal. They offer comfort, companionship, and often, an to understand our unique needs. I also believe that every person, even a busy entrepreneur, like myself, could benefit from a faithful furry friend by their side.

Tips to find a support animal

Amidst all the highs and lows of living with SMA, this new chapter of adding a puppy to our family wasn't just an impromptu decision; it was a meticulously planned one. If you're considering a pet, especially with limited mobility, let me share the top three tips that led me to my perfect furry friend.

  1. Research dog breeds' personalities. It's essential to understand personalities of dog breeds. Different breeds have distinct temperaments and energy levels. I wanted a playful companion to bring vibrancy to our family, but also one that would be incredibly loyal to its owner. With some deep google research, I found the perfect breed that fit these criteria.
  2. Consider maintenance and assistance. While a puppy's demeanor is crucial, so is its maintenance. With my limited mobility, I wanted to find  a breed that doesn't shed, reducing the need for constant grooming and ensuring my home remains tidy. This choice has also been a blessing for my home aid, ensuring they're not overwhelmed with added responsibilities.
  3. Align with your physical capabilities. Understanding my physical abilities and limitations was a factor we put into play too. As much as I adore many breeds, I knew that I wouldn't be able to manage a large or heavy dog in my lap. Instead, I chose a smaller breed, aligning perfectly with my capabilities and ensuring both our comfort.

Research, introspection, and understanding your needs is key in the journey to finding the perfect pet for you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SpinalMuscularAtrophy.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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