April 15, 2021

A Remarkable Pack of Special Needs Dogs Make a Happy Home

by Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf


I discovered Penny on petfinder.com.  She is a gorgeous Chiweenie that was born with a severe overbite and a deformed front paw causing her to be a tripawd.  We were very nervous on the day of Penny’s home visit.  Questions swirled in our minds.  Would we be able to care for a three-legged dog?  Would she need any special accommodations?  But, as soon as Penny hopped into the room, she stole my heart.

When my husband first met her, he told me (and I quote), “She’s ugly!”  But, I completely ignored him as I watched Penny hopping around our living room like a bunny.  It was too late.  She had me wrapped around her little “stump.”

After meeting the rest of our furry pack, Penny did a grand leap right onto our couch.  We were stunned and embarrassed for having such silly preconceived notions about Penny’s “special needs.”  A few weeks later, she managed to scale our three foot pet gate…twice!  She hooks her “stump” around the top of the gate and then uses her back legs to propel herself over the gate.

Penny is also starring in her first children’s book, Priceless Penny, that chronicles her amazing adoption journey from a solo stray in California to a pampered pooch Illinois.  I hope that her story will shed light on the importance of adopting differently-abled animal as well as dispel any myths about three-legged dogs and their ability to function.

Two years later, I came across the Dachshund Rescue North America website and was completely smitten by Hope.  She is a double dapple miniature Dachshund that was the product of backyard breeding.  Hope was born without eyes and is completely deaf.  Her former “owner” surrendered her to DRNA with a choke chain around her neck.

Matt was extremely hesitant about adopting Hope.  “How in the world can she function if she can’t see or hear?” he asked.  We were about to find out.

When Hope arrived, we watched in amazement as she followed her nose to get her bearings.  She then navigated her way over to Matt and stood on his shoe.  We discovered that this is her special signal that she wants to be picked up and given kisses.

I will admit the first week was very rough.  Watching Hope run into the walls and furniture was simply heartbreaking.  Yet, she never made a sound.  She simply took a step back and tried again.

One week was all it took and Hope was running down the hall, racing to beat her fur siblings to the water bowl in the kitchen.  She can now climb stairs, open the bedroom closet doors with her nose and jump onto the furniture!  Hope has even garnered more than 2,000 followers on Instagram (@havinghopealways) and has been called an inspiration by all who meet her.  Even after all that she has been through; she loves to meet new people and cover them in kisses.

Penny and Hope have taught me that being different is wonderful.  And in doing so, I have gotten to meet other fur parents who fell in love with those that are “different.”  Rosie, is the most touching example.  She was a Chihuahua that was the product of backyard breeding by an animal hoarder.  Unfortunately, she was born with almost no hair, an elongated snout and front legs whose bones had fused together, forcing her to crawl on her “elbows.”

But, Rosie was also born with the most beautiful blue eyes.  And these eyes saw nothing but goodness and hope.  Upon being rescued, she was soon adopted by a wonderful woman.  She saw saving Rosie as the perfect opportunity to show the world that looking different was a gift and nothing to be ashamed of.

Poor Rosie had her share of health problems due to her previous living conditions.  Sadly, Ms. Rosie passed away this October.  But, her memory lives on through her website:  www.everythingrosie.com.  Rosie’s mom continues to spread the word about the importance of adopting animals from shelters instead of heading to a breeder.  She also strives to teach people to report animal abuse so that others, like Ms. Rosie, can have a second chance at life.

From visiting Rosie’s site, I soon found out about Bunny, the miracle puppy.  She was born with a primary cleft palate, and without eyes!  Unfortunately, many people would have thought Bunny to be “useless” and a “mistake.”  But, Bunny’s rescuers saw a special dog that simply needed love.  Bunny now thrives at the special needs dog rescue, Pulling for Paws. Check out this fantastic pooch on her very own Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bunny-the-Miracle-Puppy/361605037279954

Yet another unique pooch is Emma, the Chihuahua.  This little cutie was born with a cleft palate. To the naked eye, it appears that she is missing part of her nose.  And since her nose is deformed, her tongue can always be seen.  Still, Emma has grown up to be one sensational pup.  She is even in the running for the Guinness Book of World Records for “World’s Smallest Dog Model.”  Check out her Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfEmmaCleftPalateChihuahua and her official web page at: https://elizabethhart.com/friendsofemma.html.

To me, Penny and Hope are just as inspirational as Rosie, Bunny and Tess.  Special needs dogs are just that:  special.  And owning one will change your life forever.

Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf began writing at an early age. While in grade school, she was the recipient of two Young Author Awards (1994, 1997).

In high school, she became the only freshman member of the yearbook staff where she took her own photographs and wrote stories about the happenings at Freeburg High.

She went on to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications-Print Journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. While there, she earned the Outstanding Student in Journalism award in 2006. She is the former Editor of The Fairview Heights Tribune as well as the Clinton County News in Mascoutah, IL.


Kramer-Theuerkauf has written numerous articles and feature stories that have been included in the above mentioned papers as well as The Freeburg Tribune and the Mass Communicator magazine for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.


Priceless Penny is the second book written by Kramer-Theuerkauf. Her first book is a collection of poetry entitled More Than Words that was published in 2010. In 2015, she created her own publishing company called Theuerkauf’s Tails, LLC. She is also an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA).









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