I like to think that I have at least an acceptable level of compassion for living creatures (most rodents & bugs, however, do not get any mercy).
Since bringing a cat with mild special needs into our family (read about it here), I have found myself experiencing increased compassion for homeless animals, zero tolerance for anyone who would harm or abandon a pet, and a larger place in my heart for pets with special needs and the people who love them. My heart does break for people who responsibly surrender - they are doing the best they can for their pet.
I recently read about Homer, a blind cat, who passed away not long ago. Homer sounds like he was a wonderful companion. More important, Homer's human shared his story and inspired people all over the world. I've been reading the messages of love to Homer's human, Gwen Cooper, and I find myself in tears over and over. Cooper, in sharing his story, has made such a difference. I think even she is surprised at how broad Homer's story reached and how much it mattered. She caused so many people to open their homes and hearts to animals who might otherwise have been unloved or euthanized.
I follow a blind Golden Retriever every day. Ray Charles and his family live a couple towns away. I love reading the messages posted on his Facebook page. Because he has not yet reached his first birthday, the messages are written in the voice of a small child which makes them even more charming and fun. There are haters who cannot wait to mock on his page -- those people do not last long there for sure. His page is a place for joy and happiness - the updates never fail to make me smile. His family rescued him from a breeder who was going to put him down when his blindness was discovered. The idea of purchasing animals from breeders makes me angry, but to put an animal down without giving him a chance just defies logic.
Mr. Magoo the blind cat, every kitty on the CH page I belong to, and countless other inspirational animals [and their humans] are making a difference. They are showing the world that animals with special needs deserve love and the chance at a good life. So what if they didn't come from breeders or are not "perfect"? Ask the humans attached to any of these animals and they will tell you how perfect their little companions are. My Winnie has no idea there's anything different about her. She really thinks cerebellar hypoplasia means "precious & adorable" in Latin. She brings me so much joy - I cannot imagine life without her. Even my Camille is in a group of animals generally among the last to be adopted -- black cats.
There are some adjustments we've made for Winnie but nothing major. And that's pretty much what it's like with many special needs animals. Minor adjustments then business as usual. My heart hurts when I see how many animals need homes - those with special needs stand less of a chance of finding homes. They deserve love and they deserve safe homes. They give so much back. They teach us how to be tolerant and how far our hearts can stretch. Best Friends Animal Society works to ensure one day there will be no more homeless pets. Check out these pages - you might be inspired. At the very least, you will be touched.
If you have ever thought a pet with special needs would be too much for you - I say to you - look again, because you might be making the most wonderful decision ever. If not, do what you can to help a homeless pet, whether it means you adopt/rescue/volunteer or just send a gift card for pet supplies to a no-kill shelter -- Winnie & Camille just sent a gift card to the Northeast Animal Shelter to help other kitties have enough to eat. You can make a difference, too.