Sticking Up for Underdogs

Exeter’s Yvonne Curran dedicates herself to creating a happy home for disabled, “unadoptable” dogs

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In 2006, Yvonne Curran broke her foot in three places. She was housebound, needing assistance getting to doctor visits, making grocery runs, and other seemingly easy tasks. Having had a sense of independence her whole life, Curran felt helpless. Then, after she’d recovered, she came across a video of a dog named Scooter while searching adoption sites for a companion to her dog, Fifi. Scooter was born paralyzed and had a heart issue. He needed help expressing his bladder, and he wore diapers in case of accidents. “Because I broke my foot and I’d felt so vulnerable, it just hit a chord with me. If I thought I felt bad and isolated… I just felt his pain.”

Curran hadn’t seen or thought about a disabled dog before. Who’s giving them the love and care that any other “healthy” dog deserves? After being Scooter’s only applicant, she realized that it would be up to her. “He set me on another path,” she says.

Working full-time, Curran managed to take care of Scooter’s every ailment and began to see his compassionate spirit and personality surface. So much so that when Curran took in a terrified puppy mill survivor named Lilly, he brought out the confidence the other pooch needed to come out of her shell, and the two formed an incredible bond. When, after months, Lilly appeared from her hiding spot under the blankets to steal some treats from Curran’s purse, she celebrated: “When they do little things like that, it really makes it all worthwhile.”

In Scooter’s honor, Curran tries to take in the most severely disabled dogs. Since his passing in 2013, she’s adopted four handicapped dogs who range in disabilities from paralysis to severe PTSD. There’s Lilly, who’s blind and suffers from PTSD; Teddi, who’s paralyzed from the waist down; Trixie, a Chiweenie mix missing front legs; and one pup in particular, Einstein, was forced to stand on chicken wire in a puppy mill and had broken legs. He needed extensive medical care from a lifetime of abuses. Curran dealt with the issues one by one and saw how determined he was to live now that he was under loving care. “He wasn’t supposed to last longer than four months – I’ve had him over five years now.”

For Curran, watching the dogs arrive physically and emotionally broken to finally seeing them flourish with genuine happiness is payoff for her hard work and proof that love heals.

“They do deserve a life. No matter how old they are,” says Curran. “There’s a place in my heart for the downtrodden and abused, handicapped animals.”