(Left) Jennifer Reimels, a representative of the Sponsor A Dog and Sponsor A Cat Programs run by NSAL holds Sarah as Mary Tyler Moore speaks about the important work done by NSAL.
On Thursday, January 24 two stars met for the first time in Port Washington at North Shore Animal League and it was love at first sight. The similarities between them were striking: both wore single color ensembles; both moved with a willowy grace and both dazzled us with their irresistible wide-mouthed smiles. The least noticeable but most important trait they share is that both are diabetic and this was the reason for their special meeting.
One of the stars would be immediately recognizable if she were to be spotted shopping on Main Street; Mary Tyler Moore, star of television and stage. Ms. Tyler Moore was diagnosed as a diabetic more than 30 years ago and is now Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The other star, a guest at a recent fund-raising luncheon and featured in the Port Washington News last week, is known only as Sarah. Sarah is a mixed-breed terrier who is living at North Shore Animal League, under the Sponsor A Dog project, which finances her medical and other living costs, until a loving family can be found who are willing and able to take care of her.
On Thursday Ms. Tyler Moore and Sarah joined forces to raise public awareness of the animals at North Shore Animal League (NSAL), who like Sarah, have conditions which require special long-term care. Together, they appealed for people to open up their hearts and their homes to the needs of these very special animals, not just those with diabetes but a wide variety of special needs. There is Finn, a dog with breathing problems and arthritis; Hazelnut, a beautiful, boxer mix with a severe heart condition and Brandy the cat who has suffered irreversible damage to her back legs. These are only some of the exceptional animals who live with Sarah at NSAL until they can be found a loving home.
Ms. Tyler Moore was herself tempted to scoop up Sarah and take her home, but couldn't because she already has two dogs in a no-dog apartment building. "A third dog would definitely see us all out on the street", she said with regret. Her own dogs, a golden retriever and a miniature schnauzer, were both rescue animals and Ms. Tyler Moore said, "I can't believe there isn't a loving home out there for Sarah. I am pleased to be here today and do whatever I can to help find her a home".
On their part, NSAL ensure that no one is deterred from making one of these special adoptions because of the cost. They provide all medical attention and, as with Sarah, all special dietary food, for the rest of the animals' lives. Perry Fina, director of operations at NSAL, said, "we realize that the more support we offer the adopting family, the more chance each of these animals has of finding a happy and permanent home".
Sarah's needs are special but not insurmountable and as she matures and settles into an environment which provides a consistent diet and level of exercise her condition will become easier to monitor and control. She needs two insulin injections a day, must be fed a special diet and, due to digestive problems, can only be given certain types of chew toys. The family who adopts Sarah will have to ensure that she is never given a casual treat or table food and she never gets to share any other pets' regular food.
Ms. Tyler Moore empathized greatly with Sarah and was enraged that a family who adopted Sarah when she was a cute 7-week-old puppy didn't find her quite so appealing when she was diagnosed with diabetes. Ms. Tyler Moore said, "I am diabetic and am horrified at the thought that someone would put me out of the house because of that. We all hope our pets' health and that of our children is perfect, but it is not always so, and it doesn't make it any harder to love them just because not all their buttons are in the right place".
Ms. Tyler Moore spoke in detail to NSAL vet, Dr. Ognibene, about Sarah's diabetes and it appears that the symptoms, testing and treatment of both Ms. Tyler Moore's and Sarah's diabetes are very similar. During her appearance Ms. Tyler Moore suggested that a family with a diabetic child might wish to adopt Sarah. That has in fact happened in the past and it can create a very special relationship between child and animal. Together the two can learn to cope with the injections, limited activity, restricted diet, constant medical visits and other inconveniences that are a part of living with diabetes.
Ms. Tyler Moore and Sarah enchanted everyone and made an excellent job of highlighting the opportunity we have to share our homes, resources and love with these very special and deserving animals. Ms. Tyler Moore explained the unique bond that grows from caring for a special-needs animal when she said, "The animal who needs you the most, gives you the most love in return".
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the special needs pets at North Shore Animal League can call 883-7575 or visit their website at www.nsalamerica.org.