Everyone is familiar with Mickey and Minnie the Disney mice and synonym for “cheerful.” Well, I was cheering not too long ago when I read my friend Megan Linnell and her family, Tom, and twins Brody and Hailey, had adopted a special needs Chihuahua puppy and named her “Minnie.”

Minnie is very mini and weighs around a pound or so. What is so very special about Minnie is also what is so very special about Brody.

Brody was born with Fibular Hemimelia (FH). This means for Brody that his left leg grows at a slower rate than his right. He also has three toes on his left foot and his left foot is two sizes smaller than his right. Brody is very special, one in 40,000. Megan says those are the odds of this specific congenital birth defect, or as the Linnell family calls it, “A birth blessing.”

“I don’t like the word defect,” Megan says emphatically. FH means different things for different kids, Megan informs. “It can mean that their fibula bone is partially or fully missing as well or more foot and knee deformities (or differences). Some amputate and some lengthen, it just depends on the severity and choice. There are many different symptoms of this and no cure but there is help and promise.”

So … when I met the newest member of the Linnell Family and Brody’s Superstepper Army (Brody’s special group of supporters) on Facebook, my eyes welled up. You see, Minnie was born with her right-front leg shorter and without a paw. Her left leg is of normal length, save the fact she only has three toes.

“I can’t make this stuff up,” Megan exclaims. “It was meant to be! We weren’t looking for another dog at the time, but when we saw her we immediately knew she needed to be a part of our family! Brody said, ‘She’s just like me,’ and she is. It turns out Minnie is one determined, sweet and courageous little girl. We have a feeling she is going to touch many lives.” Megan adds, “… and she sure is beautiful.”

Kids with FH and Minnie have lots in common, according to Megan, “They don’t know anything different, because deep down they are no different. They are strong and determined just like anyone faced with adversity. Though they may look different and have some obstacles to overcome … their ‘dis’-ability becomes an ability as they touch other lives and prove that anything is possible.”

True to form, and just like Brody, nothing holds her back. Minnie is a “spitfire,” going 100 miles an hour before finally pausing to rest. She runs, using her back feet to move her across the floor at the speed of light, “like a rabbit,” Megan states.

Minnie didn’t come to the Linnells through York Adopt-A-Pet. But York Adopt-A-Pet has cared for its share of special needs dogs. Kennel Manager Kim Hart remembers a stray Black Labrador mix from not so very long ago, who was brought in with a shattered leg. Amputation was necessary for the 9-month-old female pup. Hart says following the surgery the pup was much happier and pain-free. After recuperating at the local shelter, she went to a great forever home. Lucky dog; lucky that York Adopt-A-Pet was there to nurture her back to health.

At this time York Adopt-A-Pet is home to an elderly Greyhound named Dixon who has a tumor on his hip.

“We don’t really want him (Dixon) to live out his life at the shelter and are hoping someone will take him into their home so he can have a nice life in the time he has left,” Hart says with feeling.

Over the years York Adopt-A-Pet has cared for and placed dogs with low vision and other health issues. Each of these very special dogs has gone on to enrich the lives of the owners in the most wonderful of ways.

As Megan says, “there is help and promise.” The Linnell family knows it, families who have provided homes to these special dogs know it, York Adopt-A-Pet volunteers know it … and Brody and Minnie are sure of it.

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