Special Needs Therapy Dog Brings Peace and Comfort to Students
Oliver’s spinal injury left him overlooked for adoption. Thanks to pet mom Melissa, he’s getting a chance to enjoy life and give back as well.
Melissa + Oliver
When Melissa adopted Oliver, a dog with special needs, she wanted to give him a chance at a happy life. Oliver’s joyful, peaceful demeanor made him the perfect candidate to join Melissa in her career as a school counselor, where he now helps students thrive.
"Not only has Oliver changed my life, but he has changed the lives of 200 students. I cannot wait to see the impact he continues to make. All because we gave him a chance to prove how amazing and deserving of love he really is."
Oliver was rescued by The Animal Pad, where I first met him when I was a volunteer. We quickly realized that Oliver had no control of his bowels or bladder, meaning he was incontinent. He was such a happy dog though and would be pooping without knowing it. He would look at his fresh droppings like, “Who put that there?”
Oliver’s X-rays revealed a story that broke our hearts: a shattered vertebra and a bullet lodged in his spine. It was determined that he would do best in a foster home, but no one would give this dog a chance. The Animal Pad’s director pleaded with anyone who would listen and posted Oliver’s story everywhere. People who didn’t know him urged her to put him down because he was “wasting resources,” but I knew there was something special about Oliver. I begged my husband to let me foster him but was met with the expected “we already have two dogs.” I pleaded by saying Oliver would just be a foster dog and if we didn’t agree to foster him, he may not get a chance to live a happy life. How could he say no to that?
While fostering Oliver, it was determined nothing could be done to change his condition. At that point we realized he was already home, so we officially adopted him.
As expected, Oliver turned out to be more than just a rescue dog. I struggle with anxiety and recently finished my Master’s in school counseling to help students through similar challenges. It has always been my dream to have a therapy dog, but my other two dogs were not a good fit. I had one job interview this summer and got the job, and I truly believe Oliver helped me get hired. They asked how I felt about therapy dogs, and I told them all about my diaper dog.
Now, Pawfessor Poopy and I are settled in our new job and loving it. He lights up when we get to school and refuses to leave at the end of the day. The transition back to school after the pandemic has been hard for many students, but Oliver helps make it better for them. I recently received a letter from a parent thanking me and telling me that her daughter has always wanted a dog and was very nervous about coming back to school, but Oliver has given her something to look forward to and provides her with the emotional support she needs to succeed.
Not only has Oliver changed my life, but he has changed the lives of 200 students. I cannot wait to see the impact he continues to make. All because we gave him a chance to prove how amazing and deserving of love he really is. I hope this inspires just one person to give a mistreated and unwanted animal a chance at life. I guarantee you won’t regret it and chances are it will change your life for the better.
Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Melissa won The Animal Pad in San Diego, California a 2021 Love Stories award.