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Speial needs Schnauzers!
"SRC began in 2004 with our first rescue, Sarge. He was 9 years old and diabetic when we took him in. Not only was he our first rescue, but lovingly became our mascot as well. Sadly, we lost Sarge at the age of 13 in July 2008 to diabetes. He will always live in our hearts and h is spirit keeps us strong and determined to leave no schnauzer left behind.
Schnauzer Rescue Cincinnati was founded in November of 2004. I felt that there was a need for a rescue group that would take schnauzer mixes, regardless of their age or medical condition. Anyone can adopt out a young healthy dog, but, in my mind, the special needs and senior dogs need the most help. I have been fortunate enough to find our wonderful group of volunteers that have made us so successful. We all work hard and I think that our results show it. We currently have members in Ohio, Florida, Alabama, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia. Our goal is to help all of those that we can. We are proud to work with other rescue groups in our mission of saving dogs."
- Founding Director Pat Miller

We recently adopted a delightful, two year old miniature schnauzer named Sophie through Schnauzer Rescue in Winter Haven, Florida. Sophie entered the rescue network when she developed Swimmer Puppy Syndrome after a family adopted her from a breeder in Ohio.

Sometimes swimmer puppies don’t survive, but Sophie did. Today she has a secondary condition that limits the use of her back legs. That gave me pause as I first read her profile on Petfinder®. I didn’t know if we could be the home Sophie needed, so I asked.

“Spitfire!” That’s how Schnauzer Rescue’s Pat Miller described Sophie. “She plays with the other dogs here and doesn’t know she’s crippled. She runs fast,” Pat said. Does she use a wheelchair, I wondered aloud. “She has one, but she hates it,”Pat replied.

“Sophie loves squeak toys,” she said. I made a mental note. She added, “She’s a very sweet dog.” And her special needs? Pat explained that Sophie used a pee pad but would leak a little, so Pat would mop behind her. And Sophie seemed to have no control over when she pooped, so Pat would clean up the little logs that appeared around the house. I thought, we would have to use a diaper or that would be a deal breaker for me. Sophie could run in our backyard to do her business too.Sophie

My husband and I agreed to have Sophie visit us to see if it would work. Pat brought Sophie to our home, a two-hour drive. My husband – the one who had delayed our having a dog again – was the first one out to greet her.

When Sophie came to the front door in Pat’s arms, I sat on the floor inside. By the time Pat left her with us, Sophie was giving me kisses on the chin. Suddenly we had a dog with a blanket, a bed and a wheelchair. We tried hitching Sophie up to the wheelchair once and had to bribe her with treats to get her to walk with it.

After a week, Pat called to ask how it was going. “We can’t picture life without Sophie,” I answered. We were overwhelmed by Sophie’s affection and playfulness. She had trouble at first navigating our wood floors and it was really odd to see her back legs going every which way. Once she learned to run with her legs behind her, she developed a running style of bounding toward us, almost bouncing with enthusiasm. That’s Sophie, and she melted our hearts.

SophieMy thinking that the diaper was a deal-breaker became a conviction that we had to make a diaper work. After several episodes of “there’s the diaper, where’s the dog?” we found escape-proof cloth diapers at the Barkertime® website. We ordered a few and tried using a sanitary napkin liner, but the liner quickly became saturated, so we went back to infant disposable diapers, size 4. The cloth diaper does a respectable job of keeping the disposable in place and that’s the solution we settled on.

Still, we weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into. The concern that Sophie might require nighttime diaper changes quickly faded as she held her output till morning. She has more control than we expected. We change her five or six times a day and wash her cloth diaper once or twice a week. We’ll have her checked three times a year to detect bladder infection, a problem commonly associated with paralysis. So far, running and barking seem to help her potty and avoid this problem.

In our backyard, she loves to explore and play fetch. Her front legs, chest and shoulders are very strong. We exercise her back legs to keep the muscles soft. She can pull herself up to stand on them, so in the fall we’ll take her to the dog beach to see if she can begin to use her back legs in the water.

Sophie is quiet around us and her groomer but aggressive with visitors to our home, barking but not biting. We’re not sure if this comes from trying to please us, being uncertain of her new home, or being afraid to be hurt by strangers because she’s handicapped. We’re slowly discovering how to manage this behavior, but it will take time.

A few of my friends expressed surprise that we chose a special-needs dog. With everything else going on in our lives (working, cancer two years ago, aging parents), they asked, why would you take this on? The answer is that Sophie’s brightness brings us joy. We see her as a gift and we love her, so it’s a small thing to make adjustments to care for our special pup.

Sophie, by Karen Enthoven August 8, 2018