Celebrate Specially-Abled Pets Day!
Wednesday, May 3, 2017, for Beaming Love Network (BLN)
Hosts: Tiki and Tiger
Special Guest: Tara, a Flat Coated Retriever who is lighting up dock diving events
Special Cameo Appearance: Dale the Wonder Dog
[Live in 3,2,1]
Tiki: Welcome to the Tiki and Tiger Show! It’s that show that brings you interesting guests, exciting places to visit, and new things you might not know about. I’m Tiki, your host. And, this is my co-host, Tiger. Hey, Tiger!
Tiger: Hi Tiki! It’s good to be here. Did you know that on May 3 we celebrate National Specially-Abled Pets Day?
Tiki: Tiger, tell us about it.
Tiger: Each year, Specially-Abled Pets Day is devoted to sharing all the amazing things that pets with differing abilities are doing to live their lives to the fullest. Part of the celebration focuses on helping people learn how to care for and accommodate specially-abled pets.
Tiki: When you say, specially-abled, give us an example.
Tiger: Sure. Just like people, pets can be born blind or deaf/or hard of hearing, or they can develop these features due to disease, injuries, or “old age.” They can lose a limb in an accident or they might be born without a paw. And here’s the most amazing thing—pets can learn to manage with the gifts that they have been given and are able to live full lives. Often times, they develop even greater or “special” abilities to compensate for what they do not have.
Tiki: That’s awesome, Tiger. And I understand, in addition, that sometimes people help enrich their lives by providing assistive supports, for example a wheeled harness, a sling, or a stroller for pets who have lost mobility.
Tiger: That’s true, Tiki. Another thing people do is use hand signals to communicate with pets who have hearing loss. There are endless opportunities for these amazing pets to show their love when we give them a chance to show that they are not disabled, but rather, they are specially-abled.
And Now a Very Specially-Abled Pet…
Tiki: To help celebrate Specially-Abled Pets Day on the show today, we have invited a special guest to join us. Tara, who was born with 2/3 of her front right leg and no paw, is a flat coated retriever who is an up and coming dock diving star. In fact, in three competitions, Tara took 3rd in her first outing, and 1st in the next two. Welcome Tara!
Tara: Thank you! I am so happy to be here.
Tiki: Tara, for those of us who are new to dock diving, let’s start with the question, “What exactly is dock diving?”
Tara: Dock diving is one of my most favorite things to do in the world! Imagine a big pond or pool of water with a dock or platform around 2 feet off the water. The goal is to run off the dock and jump as far as you can before landing in the water.
Tiger: Details please!
Tara: Here’s how it starts. Mom, who carries a water toy that I only get to play with during the competition, and I go up the platform. We walk to the edge and Mom tosses my toy into the water. Because I am so excited at this point, Mom holds onto my collar and walks me back to the other end of the platform. When I think I can’t wait another second, Mom says, “Go get it!” and releases me. I run as fast as I can and leap as far as I can into the water. I snatch the toy and head back to the ramp where Mom is waiting to do another dock dive.
Tiger: Wow! That sounds amazing. How far do you typically jump?
Tara: I haven’t been competing long enough to say. My goal is to keep trying to jump farther each time. They organize the competition by divisions based on how far you can jump. In my last competition, I jumped so far that I advanced to the next division and won that division by jumping 13 feet 7 inches! I was the youngest winner in that division and the only competitor with three legs.
Tiki: I’m curious. How did you learn to dock dive?
Tara: Well, it helps that my breed naturally likes water. We have a pond by my house that I absolutely love playing in as well as a baby pool. I kept communicating with Mom that I wanted more. She was concerned about me swimming with only 3 paws to paddle, but I showed her there was nothing to worry about when I stepped off the shelf in the pond and swam around effortlessly! Mom started throwing a stick in the water for me to retrieve—which I easily succeeded in doing—and that put the idea in motion.
Tiger: How do you feel when you are jumping?
Tara: I love to fly! And because I love the water, it’s even more exhilarating to land in the water.
“It’s Just Me”
Tiki: How do you feel about not having a paw? Do you feel different?
Tara: I don’t feel different. I actually don’t feel any way about it. It’s just me; it’s who I am. I really am grateful to my Mom. She encouraged me to get used to my body as it is by letting me do a variety of things. She always saw me as complete and beautiful. And you know what, I discovered that there was nothing I can’t do!
Tiger: What about the people at the competition? How did they react to you?
Tara: Well, I am the only 3-legged dog competing in dock diving to my knowledge. There may be others, but in any case it is very rare for a dog like me to jump as far as I do—especially when you consider I am beating dogs who have 4 legs. Initially, I think a lot of people look at me and feel bad for me. You know, generally, when a dog is born like I was, they are put down because people don’t want him or her to suffer. But once people see what I can do, they start to see me as whole and complete. I think they love how good I am at the sport. And, how much I love what I am able to do.
Tiki: Your story is inspiring in many ways. In particular, I am struck by the message you are sharing with the world, that no matter how one comes into the world, there are no limits to what one can do—especially with love and support.
Tiger: I agree! Just being who you are is changing the world for the better.
Bringing Love and Understanding about Differing Abilities
Tara: Thank you. Mom has told me that I help people see themselves and other people differently after being with me. They stop focusing on the handicap or a disability as defining the spirit, and they begin focusing on what my spirit can do and wants to do and loves to do! I feel so honored to be on this journey with my Mom bringing love and understanding about differing abilities into this world.
Tiki: Tara, thank you so much for sharing your story. And, as a parting gift, we’d like to bestow the honor of Wonder Dog Status on you. Dale, come on out!
Tiger: Dale, who has lived his life with epilepsy, created the Wonder Dog Status recognition for any animal who has gone above and beyond in sharing his or her love—and unique purpose—with the world.
Dale: Thank you Tara for all you do by living by example and sharing your gifts to help this world heal and become a better place.
Tara: Thank you!
Tiki: And don’t forget, you can send us your inspirational stories to Smiles@SmilesAllAround.com. Who knows, we might select you for an upcoming interview on The Tiki and Tiger Show!
Tiger: What a great way to celebrate National Specially-Abled Pets Day! A special shout out to all of the specially-abled pets and their families who are watching today. Keep on showing us how to make the world better!
Tiki: And, so that’s it for our show today. Be well, be centered, and be in peace. See you next time!
[And, we’re off air.]
Photos of Tara by Wayne Ramsay Photography.