Animal lover with cerebral palsy visits Animal Aid
The first thing you learn about June is that she is articulate and gracious.
When June extended the one hand over which she has some control to invite handicapped Rambo to come closer, he hesitated about her wheelchair and then clearly decided it was well worth it to pull himself toward her for a snuggle.
Today, Animal Aid was honored to welcome 29-year-old June, who has cerebral palsy and who relies on her wheelchair for mobility. She is a special guest in India, thanks to the encouragement and complete assistance of long-time Animal Aid volunteer Anna Baatz. Anna knew that at Animal Aid June would be able not only to see, but to touch and give kisses to an adorable array of animals who forget about their disabilities at every prospect of affection and play.
Anna pointed out Tarzan, who also has cerebral palsy, as he motated in his unique style through a little maze of blind Jake, wobbly Jimmy Superfly, semi-paralysed Pooja, and handicapped donkey Bubbly.
June’s afternoon at Animal Aid started with cradling puppies on her lap, stabilizing them with a cloth brace that extends between the two arms of the wheelchair to keep things from sliding off her lap.
We are in admiration of Anna, who has made a trip to India, which can be daunting to most able-bodied people, fun and adventurous for June. What an incredible gift!
Anna and June know each other well, explains June, “because Anna comes three times a week to help me with various things at home. I live independently but I do need help getting into my wheelchair,”—(in Manchester UK where June lives, she rides in an electric wheelchair which she uses to go everywhere, most notably, to work every day where she works as a study supervisor to disabled people)—“and bathing, cooking, dressing, things like that.”
“Anna started telling me about India from when we first met,” related June. “Very quickly it went from, there’s no reason we can’t go to India to, let’s go to India! I knew I would have a great experience if I just let go of my expectations about exactly how we would manage it. I appreciate the way that Indians will just come up and curiously ask me what’s wrong with me, whereas at home people sometimes stare but usually never ask.” Anna said that “there’s never been a time we were trying to get up a staircase when someone didn’t jump forward to assist.”
Sitting in Handicapped Heaven with Johnny, Chanda, Dancer, George and the rest of our semi-paralysed gang, June thoughtfully explained her attitude in life: “I never say, ‘Oh, I’m disabled so I can’t do that. And I also never say that my life would be better if I could walk. I actually feel lucky to have been born disabled because it’s forced me to gain independence and it’s made life more interesting.”
June’s inspirational and courageous words couldn’t have been more moving than in the company of our disabled dog-friends, whose survival and life has been made possible with the love and care of staff and dozens of volunteers, and maybe most importantly, their own optimistic attitude that gave them the energy and enthusiasm to keep getting up, in their own wobbly way, each day and greet life with a big doggy smile. One of our past volunteers, Tom, said about our disabled group, “It’s almost as though they have evolved to wag their tails through their eyes and faces.”
Many of the dogs at Animal Aid would have been put to sleep in the west. We know being disabled doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road, indeed, it can be the beginning of a life filled with love. As June watched in wonder, it was obvious that few better than her would understand this.
“It’s been ages since I was around animals,” said June, when Teddy Bear (a donkey missing one hoof) rested his head in her lap. “You’re gorgeous” she whispered in his ear. Looking at where I am, June said, “I feel lucky to be alive.”