In the world of dog adoption anything less than ‘four paws and a wagging tail’ often means that dogs will get left behind when people start looking to adopt a new friend. This shouldn’t be the case. Challenged dogs are really no different than any other dog. They love unconditionally, enjoy their play time and all deserve a forever home. How do I know? My last dog, Tucker, had his eyes surgically removed when he was 12 years old and I adopted him a year later. Being challenged never slowed this guy down. He lived to run the beaches and to chase waves. Since his passing I have encountered people walking three legged dogs, dogs in wheelchairs, dogs that have to be fed specialty foods and dogs with skin allergies so bad that their fur has fallen off in clumps. One amazing lady has adopted a blind dog and a deaf dog. They act as each other’s eyes and ears. What do these encounters have in common? The dogs and their owners are all happy and well adjusted and enjoy their lives together. Are challenged dogs for everyone? Honestly, no. In the case of dogs with medical challenges cost is a factor. I know money’s a dirty word but you have to be aware of the added cost before you offer up your home. Then there is vanity. Yes, vanity can come into play. If you just have to have a dog that looks and acts like Lassie then please pass on adopting a challenged friend. Overall, a challenged dog will offer you all the love and kindness you could be looking for. And, as corny as it may sound, living with such a friend will really open up a part of your heart that perhaps you didn’t know existed. And there is nothing like the feeling of knowing your new friend will not have to live their life in a rescue kennel — or maybe worse.