Suffering from a chronic condition can feel very lonely at times, but many people have found comfort and support in their rescue dogs. Sometimes, two misunderstood souls of different species complete each other in this way.
Meghan Beaudry, for example, lives with a chronic medical condition called lupus. Beaudry wrote a meaningful essay about how rescuing a three-legged dog helped her cope with her own disability.
A Dog And A Person Find Each Other
Beaudry’s essay details how she met Wilbur, a miniature Poodle who’s missing a front paw. She first saw the dog’s photo on an animal shelter’s website while on a lunch break at work. Beaudry decided to visit the shelter to see the pup in person.
“When the employee at the shelter placed the dog from the picture in my arms, he wriggled around until his body was upright and his chest was against mine. He wrapped his legs around my neck as if I were a life raft in the middle of the ocean and he was terrified of letting go,” she wrote.
According to the shelter employee, Wilbur had been adopted and later returned a few times. Beaudry knows firsthand what it’s like to be misunderstood, she wrote, as doctors dismissed her legitimate concerns often before her lupus diagnosis.
Lupus is notoriously difficult to diagnose, but young women are also frequently not taken seriously about medical concerns. Beaudry visited seven doctors before she finally got her diagnosis. By that point, she had already developed life-threatening inflammation in her brain.
“I brushed aside the dog’s hair to look into his eyes. A silent agreement passed between us. We would never reject each other.”
Love And Lessons From Wilbur
In addition to the pain and exhaustion lupus caused Beaudry, there was the emotional pain of rejection. When she met Wilbur and took him home with her, she felt the two could really relate to one another.
“Unlike my invisible disability, Wilbur’s disability was obvious. In addition to his amputated leg, scars crisscrossed his back… But Wilbur’s deepest scars lingered far beneath his skin. During our first few years together, he hopped after me as I walked from room to room in my house, afraid to let me out of his sight. If a door shut between him and me, he would cry and scratch the paint off until I opened it. His favorite place was sitting upright in my lap, his legs wrapped around my neck in a doggie hug.”
Wilbur’s limp makes him walk a little slower, which is something Beaudry needs too. Wilbur needed someone to understand him, and Beaudry needed emotional support. They make the perfect pairing.
“The parts of our disabilities that made others reject us made Wilbur and me perfect for each other. When the fatigue of my illness forced me to spend the day stuck in bed, Wilbur snuggled beside me, overjoyed to have someone to hug all day long. Due to his limp, Wilbur walked at a pace that didn’t tire me out.”
Wilbur also taught Beaudry that no one should have to suffer in silence. She wrote:
“Because of the rejection I experienced after becoming disabled, I hid my disability from others as if it were a shameful secret. I stopped reaching out for help when I needed it. But Wilbur never shied away from asking for whatever he needed. He jumped into my lap to demand a hug whenever he needed one. He hopped up to strangers, poking their hands with his nose until they patted his head. If this scrappy three-legged dog could inspire such love from others, maybe I was worthy of love, too.”
The writer credits her ability to be more open and honest about her feelings to her rescue dog. Years after Beaudry adopted him, Wilbur no longer fears being left behind again either.
“Self-doubt and fear of rejection still creep into my thoughts from time to time. But fortunately, I know just who to turn to when I need a hug.”
Read Beaudry’s entire essay here.