Tiny Tootsies, Huge Spirit

By Judy Layne

Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. Take little Tinker for example. A pint-sized ball of feline fur, he has courageously faced some tough challenges that life has thrown at him. Here’s his story.

On February 27th, 11 year old Tinker was brought to the Dartmouth SPCA. Sadly, his owner had passed away. Family members wanted to ensure that he could find a loving forever home and they trusted the SPCA to find a special home for this special boy.

It’s hard on any pet when their owner passes away. Animals can’t comprehend death; all they know is that the person that loved them is no longer there. It’s particularly hard on older animals like Tinker who have been with someone who loved and cared for them for many years. Their world is now turned upside-down. As they do with every animal that crosses the SPCA’s doorstep, staff and volunteers worked diligently to help Tinker adjust to his new surroundings and to shower him with love.

Tinker learned early to cope with challenges and make the most of any situation. As you can see from his photos, he was born with physical deformities in his two front legs. This has caused ongoing pain including spondylosis and hip dysplasia. Because of these ongoing but manageable health concerns, Tinker will be on pain medication for the rest of his life to keep him comfortable and happy.

Because of Tinker’s disability and age, he was placed in the SPCA’s Palliative Care Program. The program is designed to ensure that senior pets and those with compromised health like Tinker get to live out the rest of their days in a forever foster home filled with love and care. The SPCA covers all medical expenses (through the shelter’s in-house veterinary hospital) and foster families provide a life filled with lots of love. The program is a proud reflection of the SPCA’s No-Kill policy.

The SPCA makes every effort to place special needs pets with their perfect human match. In Tinker’s case, this meant finding a home with no children or other pets so he wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. On April 29th, Tinker was scooped up by the perfect family! Chelsea Uhlman and her partner Josh John were on the SPCA website and spotted Tinker. “We had just moved into a new apartment and we knew in the coming months we would be getting a pet; we just didn’t know how soon!” Chelsea chuckles.

“I previously had a special needs rabbit and his disabilities drew our hearts close together,” says Chelsea. “I’ve always had had a soft spot for special needs animals since then, so on seeing Tinker, I knew we were a perfect match. I recognize that often, it is hard for special needs pets to find homes especially if they need ongoing medication like Tinker does. Luckily for us, I’m a student and plan to be for many years to come. This means that I won’t be moving around any time soon or going away on any long vacations! The financial aspect of the Palliative Care Program also helps greatly and allows a family to bring a deserving pet into their home without worrying about medical expenses.”

Chelsea recalls meeting Tinker in-person. “When I first saw Tinker, he immediately jumped up on the chair next to me and laid on my lap. He was the cutest thing ever and I knew I just had to take him home with us. I didn’t realize that he had no tail. This was a surprise, but I loved him even more just because I knew he was different.” Josh relates “I think he actually enjoyed the drive to his new home. He liked looking around at everything and didn’t seem nervous, he just seemed curious! When we finally got home, he looked around and found his food. He just fit right in; there was never a moment when he felt out-of-place.”

Tinker is thriving in his new home and his legs definitely don’t slow him down. Josh explains “Tinker gets the zoomies just like any other cat and as long as he has a carpet to grip, he’s a speed demon. He also goes crazy with toys. He loves to sleep with us, so to ensure he doesn’t hurt his little legs, we keep a pillow on the floor next to the bed for him to jump onto. In the future, this will become more difficult for him, so we’ll look into getting steps for him to get on and off the bed.”

“He loves to be around us and follows us everywhere, just waiting for a chance to cuddle,” says Chelsea. “He has started standing up on his back legs in front of us to get us to pick him up. But I think his favorite thing to do is non-stop meowing while I am in the shower!”

The couple agree that Tinker has enriched their lives. “Tinker has brought love, laughter and inspiration to our home and we can’t imagine life without him now.” They encourage others to open their hearts and homes to a palliative care or special needs pet. “It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.”

Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Gracie. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.