For years I’ve heard stories about how a rescue dog changed someone’s life. It wasn’t until I rescued my own labrador that I realized how amazing a rescue can be and the impact they can have on our lives.

Some people might think that having a special needs rescue dog who needs medication every day at 7am and 7pm would be an inconvenience. But for me, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened!  

special needs rescue dog

Burt Puts the Special in Special Needs

When I first saw Burt online I wasn’t in the market for a second dog. I already had Lucy, a chocolate lab who was 6-years old at the time, and we had a great thing going! But Burt’s goofy grin and boxy head caught my attention, and when I saw that his bio said “special needs”, I had to call the shelter to find out more

What I found out on that first call was that Burt has epilepsy and had been at Action for Animals, in Latrobe, PA, for over a year. They said he was a really sweet boy but he didn’t get many visitors. That absolutely broke my heart–and still makes me cry now–but I knew I had to meet him and see if he’d like to be a part of our family.

Burt was originally picked up as a stray in rural Ohio where he was in an overcrowded shelter for a short stay. He was close to being euthanized when he was taken in by Action for Animals. 

Happy rescue dog

When they took Burt in they didn’t know he had seizures. Still, after a few months, he was adopted.  Only to be returned two weeks later because he was allegedly “un-trainable.”

For another ten months, Burt was loved and cared for by the amazing people at Action for Animals. They had blood work done several times to fine-tune his medication and reduce his seizures. And volunteers took him for many walks.

But this boy needed a home, a family and even more love to become the best dog he could be!

I recently read about what makes a dog “less-adoptable”. They’re often big and old, with dark fur and special needs. Burt checked off all of those boxes! I figured I was his only chance.

After I introduced Burt to Lucy and our adoption was approved, we walked out of the shelter with a new best friend and 4 giant bottles of pills to control his seizures. When I got home and joined Facebook groups for people with epileptic dogs,  I found out that his pills need to be given exactly 12 hours apart or it could trigger a seizure. 

Special Needs Rescue Dog Changed My Life

How Burt Changed Our Lives

Most people would consider this an inconvenience for a single woman in her early 30s who might want a social life. But for me, Burt’s pill time has been the best thing ever!

At pill time, I close my computer to focus on Burt.  And family and friends pitch in, too, which has brought us all closer. 

My dad stops by at pill time when I have to work.  And a woman from the dog park is now a close friend because she is always happy to give Burt his pills, treats and lots of love! (Thank you to Marion, seen in the photo below)

Thanks to Burt we’ve become closer to our neighbors, too.  People I hardly knew now help me out with Burt, and I help them out with their dogs, too. 

Burt has given us all something that we didn’t even know we were missing. Caring for Burt has given us a sense of togetherness. Because of him, I know that I am part of a community that cares.

How my special needs rescue changed my life

Find Your Own Extra Special Rescue Dog

Check out adoptable pets in your area on Petfinder. The rescue where I found Burt is Action for Animals. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, check them out! They provided amazing care for this senior with special needs for over a year, and have several other similar long-term resident pets who get the same kind of love that Burt received in their care.

Looking for a way to support Action for Animals but you don’t live near us? I’ve arranged for them to be an official shelter partner with Inkopious. Shop with code BURT and you’ll get 10% off your purchase of their stylish dog breed illustrated clothes and accessories, and Action for Animals will get a percentage of the sale! So far we’ve raised several hundred dollars. Thank you!

Love Senior Dogs? Then you’ll also love these posts:
Deciding to Adopt a Senior Dog
Holistic Care for Your Senior Dog and How Much it Costs
Podcast Episode 26: Liz Rubinstein of GingerLead Dog Support & Rehabilitation Harnesses
How Acupuncture Benefits Your Senior Dog
Burt, A Love Story

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