A PERFECT MATCH
Text by Cynthia Taylor and photo by Dee WendeIn the fall of 1998, Paul Wende suffered a spinal cord injury which left him a quadriplegic. About a year later, a small Brittany Spaniel ended up in the Albuquerque pound with a broken leg, probably the result of being hit by a car. It seemed as if the two were destined to be brought together. Brandy was at high risk of being euthanized at the city pound because of her injury. The costs for surgery, treatment and rehabilitation were obviously going to be expensive, and the chances of anyone making that kind of commitment to a dog in the pound were slim. But she was rescued by a nonprofit foster care organization called Pound Puppies, which keeps an eye out for injured and abandoned dogs who need an extra helping hand. The group spent more than $1,000 in veterinary care and then put the dog up for adoption.
Adopting from a rescue group seemed to be the best option for Paul and Dee Wende. They had contacted service dog organizations but found that the cost was extremely prohibitive (up to $10,000) and that the waiting list was very long. They had also visited the pound and scanned the classifieds for a companion animal, but they were worried that these options did not provide enough information about the temperament of the dog. Brandy had been in foster care for several months while her leg was healing, so Pound Puppies' experienced volunteers knew just what her personality was like in a home situation and whether she would be suitable for the Wendes.
With her keen senses, Brandy can hear Paul calling from the other room, even when his wife Dee cannot. And since Paul needs a lot of rest, the dog's calm and quiet disposition seems to be a perfect match for the Wende household. Brandy spends time with Paul each morning, stretching out her lean body to lay next to him in bed. And she sometimes gently nudges his elbow to get his attention, as if she knows that he has no feeling below a certain point on his arm. Although Brandy's injuries have healed, she seems to be very sensitive to Paul's condition and acutely aware of his needs.
"We're really glad to have her," Dee says. "It really makes a difference to our serenity." By offering unconditional love and affection, Brandy lifts Paul's spirits. Dee also benefits from the relationship by taking Brandy for walks in the park across the street. As Paul's primary caregiver, Dee says she appreciates being able to get out of the house more often. And, of course, Brandy has found a safe and loving home.
Pound Puppies is currently arranging for personal training at the Wende's home, so Brandy will be able to do simple tasks such as picking up objects Paul may drop and fetching the emergency call box. The Wendes are also searching for the donation of a used van which can be outfitted with a wheelchair lift so the couple and their new companion can be more mobile.
"Paul is trying to get his independence back," Dee says, "to go for a ride, to be able to see the mountains. And Brandy should be able to see them, too."
Cynthia Taylor is a representative of the No More Homeless Pets Coalition and also a volunteer with Pound Puppies (505/292-8275 or www.petrescueonline.org).
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