Friday, September 27, 2013

Adopting a "Less Adoptable" - Bella

Mom to Cordi, Darlene is no stranger to special needs pets. Prior to adopting Cordi, Darlene and her husband, Ed, adopted a deaf dog - not just deaf, but a black dog too.

We thought it only appropriate to let Darlene share her story of adopting a "less adoptable" pet...

“Bella Luna” (Beautiful Moon), or just Bella, is our Deaf Dog that Rocks!!

Favorites: Chasing butterflies, chasing Cordi (sister), chasing squirrels, chasing bunnies - A CATAHOULA FOR YOU!

Knows the following hand signals (though she doesn't necessarily listen all the time): "sit", "stay", "come", "eat", "give", "good girl", "no!", "easy", "kiss", "silly", "what?" and "go".

She shares her home with several cats, a 13.5 yr old lab (the boss) and a 1 yr old boxer mix (other 1/2 of mischief).

Months after our blue heeler, Willow, passed at the age of 12 years we were looking to adopt. The Catahoula breed peeked our interest, however the few adoptables we had sought out would need to be transported quite a distance at our expense. We backed off on looking for a while, then found Bella (then named Onyx) on There she was with the little "special needs" heart stamp beside her photo.

This enduring black Catahoula was found abandoned on a dirt road in Arkansas ... and then found her way into our hearts.

She would certainly have a story to tell about her first 4 months as a pup - was it abuse? An accident? Or perhaps an attack? We may never know, but when she arrived into the safety of rescue, Bella had a few scarred toes and a tail that is missing a few inches. And was she deaf before or after these other physical changes to her?

Whatever happened, we knew Bella definitely would be "different" and we knew adopting Bella would be opening a new chapter in our lives. I guess adjusting has always been apart of our lives, at least looking back over a decade starting with a FIV+ kitty and another we were fostering for a lady who told me there was "no place in adoption for a damaged kitten" (yea, we kept that "foster"). We don't even think about anything being so wrong that an animal doesn't deserve a home or that we can't adjust to something - adding a ramp, giving medications, etc. After all, anything throughout their life can alter what may start off as even the "perfect" animal.

So, a deaf dog? Why not! With some research on caring for a deaf dog, we decided we were up for the challenge. We drove two hours to meet her and knew she was ours! Life is about experiences and now ours includes signing along with all the fun and typical challenges that come with raising a dog from a pup to now, a young adult at 1.5 years.

The addition of a "deafie" has required several adjustments. For instance, off-leash training is a little different with a deafie. Bella obviously can't hear the dangers with passing cars and can't hear you calling, so until we are confident with her "checking-in" skills (that is when she looks at us periodically to check our whereabouts), Bella is on the leash while outside the fence. This can take some time and typically involves a vibration collar and feeling confident in that your deafie will respond to commands (hand signals rather than word commands). Thankfully, we have a fenced in yard, which I consider a must have for most deafies - she's got the freedom to romp safely and we know the perimeter to look for one another in. She is also very in tuned to her surroundings. If one of my other pups is reacting to a stranger at the door, she will follow suit. If they leave the room, she usually "checks in" with them too - getting up to see their whereabouts. Oh, and it is said that "deafies" get the best sleep in the house - this is definitely true for Bella! Whenever we need to wake her, we put our hand up to her nose so our scent wakes her slowly from sleep rather than abruptly touching or startling her with contact.

Bella knows many hand signals and this will only grow. There are some deafies out there that know an upwards of 20-30 signs. We have adapted to signaling and use it often, even with our hearing abled pups as well. It has become a part of our vocabulary. I've even caught my self using it with people I know! We sometimes require extra patience with Bella, which can be attributed to her deafness ... or the fact that she is still a puppy and "listens" when she feels like it. She is our only pup to have ever participated in agility and she has even won a costume contest (no stage fright for her)! We are very proud of her ribbons.

When Bella is out in public she wears a "Deaf Pet" vest to hinder people from abruptly coming from behind and spooking her. You can't guarantee (even with a hearing dog) that they won't react defensively, so the vest helps with that. With her vest on, people often come and ask us questions, which we enjoy answering. I get asked a lot if Bella barks - yes, she barks! Louder then the other pups too. We've noticed many people from the hearing impaired community tend to greet us and often themselves own a deaf dog.

If I had to say anything about adopting a special needs pet, it'd be education through research and following subject related chat sites are key to a special needs adoption. Everyone in the household should agree on making any adjustments that might be necessary to care for the animal too. There are adjustments (we got the Catahoula we wanted, but she was deaf), some minor and some major, when you adopt a special pet, but to us, Bella is worth every bit of "different" that she is.

If you're considering adopting a deafie, a source for valuable information and adoptable deaf dogs can be found at

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Less Adoptable, but still Lovable - Denver

Speaking of special animals - have you met Denver?

Denver came from awful conditions where he and his buddies were being shot at and hunted by foxes. The property owner where Denver was born and her son were doing all they can, but there were a lot of cats being abandoned there and it was just too much. Joyce M made arrangements for 15 kittens to be rescued from this location and placed into foster care to become healthy again. Denver, however, has severe CH (like Fox, but much worse).

Joa's Arc decided to take on the care of Denver - he is a happy, spirited little kitten that deserved the chance at a life and we have high hopes his condition might improve with extra attention and age. . Denver's condition was so bad that when he first came into foster care with Joa's Arc, he couldn't stand, let a lone walk, at all. However, after just a few weeks of extra special care, he's already showing improvements (and he's even got his own Facebook following). We are currently getting acupuncture done on Denver and he's actually now about to stand on all four feet!

Denver is absolutely the type of kitten that could be remembered today (Remember Me Thursday) if it weren't for Joa's Arc and someone stepping up to foster him, a very special kitten. He is also the type of kitten that may never be adopted (though we always hope that right home comes along). Donations would be greatly appreciated for the special work that Denver requires and the extended care he will most likely need.

Denver's Amazon wishlist is here: All donations go to our PO Box, which Denver's foster mom checks.

You can donate through for Denver's care through PayPal. Just make a note that the donation is for Denver, please, and know that every little bit helps!

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Remember Me Thursday

Today is "Remember Me Thursday" - this is a global awareness campaign for the millions of healthy pets who have lost their lives, or are still waiting for their furever homes, in shelters everywhere.

Did you know that each year, over 3.4 million orphan shelter pets lose their lives without finding their forever home. This statistic was compiled by the Humane Society of the United States this year (2013). That means that only about 30% of the animals that enter a shelter ever leave alive with a future and forever family.

Doing what we do, Joa's Arc knows that there are countless other "less adoptable" pets that never see furever homes either. We ourselves have taken on several cases we knew may never (and never did) find families of their own other than with us in foster care (Elvis, Scooter, Tilly, Minnen, cleft palate puppy...).

Today we will light a candle in our home and in our hearts for the animals that never found a home before passing. Today we will hope for a better future for the animals still waiting.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Denver the eating machine

Here's our special boy, Denver, getting his treatment and chowing down

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National Feral Cat Day Event

As stated last year, there's another type of "special needs" pet that can't exactly be adopted, but still needs love & care (and sterilization!) just like any other pet of ours - feral cats.

3 weeks from now is National Feral Cat Day and Joa's Arc is taking part in a fun event: dine to donate - that's right, eat and donate to our good cause.

On Wednesday, October 16th, the Apple Bee's in Audubon, NJ, will be donating 10% of the receipts paid for with a flyer handed in with it. We will be splitting the funds with another great group, Pet Savers, who will be using the funds just like us - to make a difference for local feral cats through sterilization and education of their communities.

Head on over to this website to print out the flyer necessary to "Dine2Donate": flyer available here.

We'll see you there! :)

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Monday, September 23, 2013


Meet Calliope!

Calliope (like the Grey's Anatomy character) was rescued from a local shelter and put into foster care. It's pretty obvious that her eyes are far from normal, but don't tell her that. Calliope might lack sight, but she sees just fine with her heart.

She is currently 4 - 5 months old, spayed, dog & cat friendly and her eyes, though they look uncomfortable, really aren't that much of a bother to her. At the moment, Calliope just requires drops in her eyes every so often to keep them lubricated.

Check out the photos below...

That's Calliope & her foster sibling (the pit bull) and Calliope snuggling up for some love with her foster parent.

Though Calliope is happy in her foster home, she deserves a forever home. Think she could find her way into your heart & home? Email us at for info on adopting Calliope.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week 2013

It's "Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week"!

Pictured in this post is Butters who was born with all four feet deformed - that didn't stop him from zipping around though! After undergoing a surgery to amputate part of one limb (that was hurting him), Butters was back to his usual happy self. He was adopted out to a wonderful home with the help of Joa's Arc and thanks to a family willing to adopt a pet that was a little different.

This week, Joa's Arc will be spotlighting extra-ordinary pets, like Butters, here on our blog and also on our Facebook page.

Here's a taste from last year about some of the posts we'll be featuring this coming week: Adopting a Less Adoptable Pet: Louie

Make sure to check in daily for posts about super awesome pets ... and please consider sharing the information so we can spread the word about these wonderful creatures who are not "disabled", just unique.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week is coming up!

Guess what next week is? Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week!

September 22nd - 28th is Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week and you know this is one of Joa’s Arc's favorite times of the year because it's a great time to get the word out about how wonderful special needs pets are!

Stay tuned for introductions, updates and upcoming events.

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