And then came three-legged Mateo
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and poof: suddenly there were three dogs instead of two. Then the third dog in the bunch is also something very special: He moves differently than normal dogs. Mateo limps, because he only has three legs. But does one missing paw really matter that much? I’d be happy to tell you how much we got used to a handicapped dog.
But wait! How’d you get a three-legged friend anyway?
In February we visited our old friends Clara and Andre. The two of them regularly take in foster dogs from abroad and place them in a beautiful home in Germany. Also during our visit they had a foster dog from Greece with them: Mateo. My first thought? Shit, that’s exactly my thing. You have to know that Belgian Shepherds are optically just totally mine, because my heart beats for big French fries-like prick ears and black masks. But we all know (or should know ;)) that looks shouldn’t be the deciding factor when choosing your dog. That’s exactly why I knew that I would only ever look at Belgian Shepherds from a distance, because their character just doesn’t fit into our lifestyle. And then there was Mateo. Visually, a Belgian shepherd dog in mini format. The super-GAU: I was allowed to get to know him for a few days. How can you go through the world without worrying if your start in life was so unfair? For me, Mateo turned out to be a Belgian sheepdog in miniature format in sheep’s clothing in a few days: He was (and still is) a kind and frugal dog, who meets other dogs and people with so much joy of life that every other person gets weak and pays him the longed-for attention. “Worse is always possible”, I thought to myself when I realized that Mateo is also a great dog in character.
A few visits and sleepless nights later it happened:
We adopted our third dog. Mateo is now part of the Verpinscht family.
Is a handicapped dog a big change?
Mateo doesn’t even know that he is different from other dogs and other dogs don’t seem to notice. Or they notice, but they don’t give a shit. People, on the other hand, feel sorry for Mateo. Always and all the time. When we go for a walk, I hear “Oooooooh the poor guy” in a continuous loop. When people come towards us, I can even count down in my mind and read off their faces when it starts again. Mateo makes everything but a pitiful impression, because he is totally happy and you can see that. How can I be so sure? Because the “Oooooh the poor guy” is immediately followed by a “Oh he doesn’t mind at all! We should take an example from man’s best friend and meet dogs – or even people – with disabilities in an unbiased way.
What I actually want to get at:
A handicapped dog is not a big change as long as you don’t make one out of it.
Of course there are some things that are different in everyday life that need to be taken into account, but if you get involved, it quickly becomes routine. Something quite normal!
A few examples from our lives:
I don’t even notice when the dogs and I go out for a walk and it takes a minute longer than before because Mateo has his prosthesis on. On walks I even forget sometimes that one of our pack members attracts a lot of attention and people want to take a closer look at him or ask what he has on his leg. I don’t even notice anymore that I take the prosthesis off him after the walks, rinse it with clear water and hang it up to dry on his standard place above the sink. The weekly claw care belongs to the normal dog care. For the owner of a three-legged friend the stump care is added. Mojo and Rana get their claws shortened on four paws and Mateo gets them shortened on three paws instead of four paws and additionally his stump creamed. This too has become a normal routine. And now I would like to mention that Mateo will not live with us for three months.
The change from a four-legged to a three-legged one is there, but it is not as big and scary as you might think. A handicapped dog is a dog that wants to be treated like one. Mateo wants to play, run, sniff and explore the world. YES! This works wonderfully even with a missing paw. For us Mateo is now a normal dog, just with a little extra.