Living with a disabled dog
Itís not as difficult as you may think
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By Mickey Zeldes  January 18, 2013 12:00 am

Koda, the little Chihuahua mix that was the cover dog of the Animal Shelter League’s recent fundraising letter, is back at the shelter for adoption. 

For those of you who don’t know Koda’s story, this little 1-2-year-old cutie was found wandering the streets with a homemade bandage on his paw.  We were shocked to see the bone actually sticking out when the bandage was carefully removed.  It was sad to think about how long this tiny dog was out there suffering before being brought to the shelter by a Good Samaritan.

Unfortunately, the first surgery and the pin put in to support his leg did not do the trick.  Too much nerve damage had occurred, and a second surgery was done to amputate the leg (donations to cover medical costs can be made at  Dogs are amazing animals and extremely resilient.  Despite all he’s been through, Koda has not lost his zest for life, and the wag of his tail or his brave bark at dogs bigger than him.  He’s been in a foster home for more than 2-1/2 months healing, and now he’s ready to find his lifetime home.

Living with a disabled dog is not difficult at all.  Half the time, it’s easy to forget he’s even impaired, as dogs don’t wallow in self-pity or allow a simple thing like a missing leg (or eye, or teeth, or ears, etc.) to slow them down one bit.  You should see Koda race around and play with his dog friends.  In fact, sometimes the hardest part of living with a disabled dog is making them slow down and be careful because they can’t anticipate the risks of another injury.

Because Koda is missing a front leg, the biggest threat to a good quality of life would be an injury to his other front leg.  Most people worry how a lame dog will get up on the furniture (which they all want to do of course).  Actually, the bigger risk is how they get down from the furniture.  All it takes is a hard landing to tweak the elbow or shoulder, and you’ve got a big problem.  This is one of the primary ways little dogs get injured.  So, the two most important things to do (assuming you have not trained the dog to just stay off all furniture – right, good luck with that) is have ramps or pet steps (available at
everywhere needed and to keep the dog at a low weight.  Being overweight adds extra stress to an already overworked single leg, so it’s critically important we show them love in ways other than the treat dish.

Honestly, Koda does not need much babying – OK, he does like his little sweaters, but only because it has been so cold out lately – and in fact, he will squirm away to go and play.  So if you think you are up for the fun and challenge of having an active “special” dog, come on down and meet Koda.  He’s more than ready to meet you.

Upcoming events:  Become a fan of our Facebook page and keep up-to-date with shelter happenings. Find us under Rohnert Park Animal Shelter.

Free microchips extended: We want to chip 500 pets. Bring your dog and cat during our regular open hours (Wednesday, 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 1-5:30 p.m., and Sunday, 1-4:30 p.m.), no appointment necessary.  Proof of residency in RP or Cotati required.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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