The Arya Experience
Ever cared for an incontinent, paralyzed dog before? Me neither. And yet here I am, Ayra’s guardian and protector. I wish I could tell you that I’m some awesome human who dedicates her life to making the world a better place. The reality is I’m just the girl who said yes. And because of those three letters, I’ve had the most incredible fostering journey full of laughter, tears, life lessons and experiences worthy of an SNL skit.
Ms. Ayra is a spirited fighter, you don’t need to meet her to know that. In Sanskrit her name means “noble”, “not ordinary” and she certainly lives up to high standard. When we first got her she was infected, grossly emaciated, couldn’t move her back legs, and riddled with open sores that bled every time she moved. The girl was a hot mess. And yet somehow she didn’t focus on what had happened to her, she focused on what she was going to become. An avid snuggler, Ayra would crawl into my lap and stare into my eyes with a look that said, “I’m going to rise above this – you want in?” And rise she did. Three months out and you can barely see the wounds under her beautiful, fawn fur. More importantly, she went from not using her back legs to standing on them on her own. And recently she’s been taking 3-6 steps at a time, multiple times a day. Steps. Multiple times a day. The girl’s a total badass.
I know Ho-Bo has sent several requests to help Ayra find a new foster for 2019. I wanted to share my experiences, particularly what I thought it was going to be like versus the reality (below), to help anyone who may be considering it. Please don’t be scared about caring for a dog with her special needs – she’s special, but she certainly isn’t needy. No one should jump into this blindly but the power of the word “yes” changed my life for the positive and it just may do the same for you. And I’ll be here to help with, and celebrate, every step of your journey.
Expectation vs Reality
~Arya won’t be able to move unless I carry her
Ha! What a fool I was. Moving around is NOT an issue for Arya. She can’t go up the stairs but goes down them like a champ. She also motors successfully on hardwood, carpet, grass and even cement –I don’t allow this last one but she’s a fast trickster when she wants to be.
~Having a mobility impaired dog means I can’t take her on walks
Arya loves to go for walks and would welcome a jog with her humans (I fall short here – not a runner). Weather permitting, we walk 1 mile in the morning and 1 mile in the afternoon. And when she gives me that “Please Mom? Please!” look I cave and take her for an additional ½ mile jog. She beats me every time.
~Doggie diapers? That’s not really a thing is it?
Oh it’s a thing. And thanks to Ayra, I’m an expert. All you need to know is disposable diapers aren’t the way to go on a mobility impaired dog. But Amazon has your back offering a 3-pack of reusable diapers for under $15. They last about 3 months, saving you mega bucks and, in my case, a divorce.
~She’ll never have any control over when she goes to the bathroom
Medically speaking she’s incontinent – BUT - I’m telling you this girl has some control. She makes it through 90% of most nights without going in her diaper and we’re talking a 12 hour timeframe. During the day I express her bladder and we’ve got her on a morning and evening poop schedule. Sure, sometimes I get peed on but we can also go a week with all pottying occurring outside.
~I can’t do this – it’s too much work
I won’t lie, the first week was hard. Really hard. But once we got through that things became, well, happy.
When I look back I probably wouldn’t have said yes if I thought about it too much. I was too inexperienced. I’d never worked with a special needs dog before. I already had a full plate of stress and no business taking on more. As it turns out, none of that mattered. Arya needed help and I had a desire to help her – that’s really all it took. Well, that and a failed test of every disposable diaper brand known to man. And the amazing people of Ho-Bo were there to help me every step of the way. I promise you’re not alone, the support of the Ho-Bo community surrounds you.
~The love in my heart will make this a winning foster experience for all
Ok, this one was true. But what I didn’t expect was that the fire in her heart would inspire me. Daily. Since Arya came into our home, I no longer ask “what’s next on my list?” I now say “wow – it’s so great to just BE in this moment”. I can’t explain it but having a front row seat to heroism (hers, not mine) helps you shift focus to what really matters. And all in our household seem to have found a little more patience and a little more love in our days. She’s like that feel-good social media video that plays for you live, 24/7.
A very lucky foster Mom