The Eyes Have It: Special Needs Animals are Special Indeed

By Jill Harlan, Adoption Counselor
When I started working at Animal Friends, I confess that I didn’t immediately seek out the animals that are harder to adopt because of their age, or physical or medical challenges. I enjoyed spending time with all animals, but like most people, I was attracted to the young, healthy and energetic animals. This was fine for my first week as I acclimated to the shelter environment. As I started to work more with the public, though, I learned that I had to be able to provide more options, as young, healthy, exuberant animals are not always abundant, nor are they right for everyone.
While watching the other Adoption Counselors and volunteers develop bonds with their favorite animals, I patiently and methodically read through the medical and behavioral background of each animal, stumbling through the files while presenting to potential adopters.  I really could not include any personal opinions or thoughts on an animal because I just had not taken the time to get to know them.
That’s when I decided that I would begin each day by visiting with a new animal. I started with the cats.
Our cat condos are listed numerically, so in my mind starting with number one was the most logical. There was a cat named Bumblebee who I passed by many times because he had only one eye, which made me feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure why. Maybe I thought he was more fragile than a “normal” cat. Or maybe the one eye just bugged me out. 
I opened his condo and gently, slowly placed my hand out for Bumblebee to sniff. Immediately, he rubbed against my hand and jumped into my arms.  I cradled him into my shoulder as he purred and rubbed his face all over mine.  After a few minutes of cuddling, a volunteer suggested I play with Bumblebee. I was surprised that he liked to play; after all, didn’t he have severely diminished eyesight? It turned out that he not only likes to play, but is awesome at chasing a cat teaser, batting a ball around a room or pouncing on a dangling feather.
Today, the other employees and volunteers know that Bumblebee is my buddy. He eases my stress when I have a bad day and makes me laugh when I’m in the mood for a clown.  I hope that he finds his forever home soon, since he has been here since October. I think his minor long-term medical concern is a deterrent for most, like me before interacting with him, but I’m sure that if you give him a chance, he’ll steal your heart, like he did mine.  He’s truly an amazing boy!
Check out his profile on our website here!
You can also see information about any other adoptable dog, cat or rabbit on our website.  Better yet, come in to visit us and we can introduce the pet that best fits your lifestyle. Who knows? Maybe it is an animal you would have never considered before.
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