"There once was a boy named Chance, who'd wiggle and do a little dance. He really needed pants. Chance."
I was not looking for a new pup. I had lost Bear just a year earlier. Bear's sister Lady and I were doing just fine with our cats Magoo and Bibi. But I kept seeing a pathetically adorable pup in my Facebook newsfeed. He was special needs - he'd been hit by a train, and was paralyzed in the back - but he had great personality and spirit. At first, I tried sharing his story to find him a great home. It didn't take long before I started to wonder if my home was the great home.
A local woman had recently adopted another paralyzed larger dog, named Duke, and I connected with her to find out the realities of caring for a special needs dog. Susan, Duke's mom, was amazing - and an enabler! She gave me all sorts of information and offered to help acclimate us if I made the decision to adopt Chance.
The next hurdle was my house. It was an early 1900s place, not designed for a dog with a wheelchair. I mentioned that to one friend and before I knew it my kitchen was literally taken apart and put back together again in one weekend with dog-friendly flooring, and the kitchen island moved to prevent cart snags. My wonderful friends also put in a ramp to the yard.
In June 2011, Jim and Sara from Pilots N Paws flew this pathetic-looking little guy from Topeka to Des Moines. The minute we met it was instant, crazy, mutual love between Chance and I, and the Chance song was born.
Over the next five years, Chance found joy in pestering his older canine sister, cuddled with his cats, adored and was adored by his humans, and inspired a company whose mission is to help at-risk animals like him find or keep their forever homes.
There were challenges, to be sure. Whereas Susan's dog, Duke, has to be expressed to keep his bladder empty, Chance did not. At first that seemed like a blessing. But realistically, having a 60lb dog who piddles wherever he goes is a challenge. We tried diapers but because of the way he moved - sometimes with his legs out behind him, sometimes bouncing on his butt like a pogo stick - they wouldn't stay on.
It turned out he was also heartworm positive, which I did not know when I agreed to adopt him. (Please please tell everyone you know how easy it is to prevent heartworm and how awful it is to treat!)
We found our way and I expected a long, happy life with him by my side. Truly, the boy was a sweet, goofy, clown. If I was having a tough day, he knew it and decided if destroying a stuffie made him feel better, it would help me too. He reminded me to find joy in the small things, like a banana or a roll in the grass. When I was having a sorry for myself moment (it happens!) watching him enjoy the world despite what we might see as challenges reminded me to suck it up and get on with it.
Unfortunately our long life together wasn't to be. Earlier this week we discovered Chance had a tumor in his brain that was causing seizures, pain and stress. Heart breaking, I let him go.
Now, more than ever, we're committed to helping dogs like Chance get their chance at a good life, whether that's by keeping them with families who love them through programs like the Pet Project Midwest, or helping them get lifesaving medical care from groups life Fairytail Endings, or giving them time to find the just right forever home, thanks to organizations like Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.
Although there is a huge hole in our hearts, Chance is still here, encouraging us, cheering us on, and reminding us why we do what we do.
Thank you for joining us on this journey.