Guest post courtesy of Kelly Preston. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily represent the views of Val Heart & Heart Communication Enterprises Inc.
This article was previously published June 26, 2012, and was updated on February 13, 2023
A special place in the heart for a special needs dog – the story of Betty Boop
Betty Boop was my ten-year-old designer breed/mutt, who came to me with severe neurological disorders. When I drove to Anaheim to pick up Betty Boop, I knew she was a special needs dog. I also knew that I could help. I was determined to improve the quality of her health and her life with good nutrition and positive thinking. But I was unaware of her blindness, unaware of the seizures to come, unaware of the water on her brain, the necessary medicines, and ultimately the amount of care this tiny puppy would require. I was also unaware of the qualities I would soon discover in myself, qualities that Betty Boop would help reveal.
In no time I discovered Betty Boop enjoyed being held and would spend a few minutes squirming in my arms before settling on a comfortable position and drifting off to sleep. When she was truly happy, she’d cock her head and stick her tongue out slightly staring through blind eyes. I’ve questioned my decisions a million times and have often been overwhelmed by the demands of caring for her, but when Betty Boop, all of just over three pounds, would tilt her head and gave me that expressions of contentment, my doubts vanish.
In 2007 we had a brain scan done to get a better picture of Betty Boop’s true condition. The staff besieged me afterwards in the waiting room with questions: What are you feeding her? How are you able to take care of her? How is it this dog is even alive? Seeing my bewildered expression, somebody finally let me know what the scan revealed: Betty Boop has less than one-percent functional brain matter. It seemed impossible. By everything known to science Betty Boop should not have survived past a year. Whatever it is you’re doing, the staff said, keep doing it.
In my opinion, it’s was no great secret. Betty Boop may have been a special needs dog, but she simply had the will to live. She responded well to me and she ate and drank on her own. She perked up when I came home from travel and always seems comforted by my presence and my touch.
Since business travel was sometimes unavoidable, I came to rely on an amazing dog sitter. Caring for dogs is her passion, and she has many clients to show for it. When I was on the road, she would visit three times a day to make sure Betty Boop took her medications, in addition to being there to care for all the other members of the family.
Making sure Betty Boop would receive her necessary medications continued to be paramount. Her very life depended on it. Everyone would get fed around Betty Boop’s schedule with Betty Boop getting fed last. While her kibble would float and become soft enough for her, I would change her bedding and begin laundry. While she ate, I sat on the steps to keep an eye on her while I gave the other dogs some attention.
Betty Boop, as you might imagine, was quite the messy eater and when she was finished, Mr. MaGoo and Carla Mae would race for the leftovers. Nine times out of ten, Mr. MaGoo arrived there first.
Betty Boop had moments of stunning progress. Christmas of 2009 she broke out walking in a straight line, just as a normal dog would. It was our Christmas miracle. She wasn’t able to maintain it for long, but it showed me what could happen with a little nurturing, a little encouragement, and a lot of love. View her miraculous moment. Her fate was at times uncertain, at best, but she remains a living, breathing miracle in our lives today.
Kelly Preston is an animal lover and author of Real Dogs Don’t Whisper. She grew up with horses, rabbits, and dogs. Mr. MaGoo is a nine-year-old Lhasa Apso and the book’s co-creator and co-writer. Mr. MaGoo has forged ahead with this project in an attempt to present the facts from a dog’s perspective. Kelly currently resides in San Francisco. Visit her at: www.realdogsdontwhisper.com
Enjoyed this article about a special needs dog? Here are three more to help you:
Healing Dogs Through Meditation – Jim Jacobson on the Real Dr. Doolittle Show™
Val Heart and Jessica Ardeal on BodyTalk Healing for Animals & People
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