When pigs do handstands…

…good thing that’s not how the saying goes or the joke would be on us!

Disabled Strong Pig walks on front legsIn China a piglet was born without hind legs. The owner spent the first month of little Strong Pig‘s life (that is her name) teaching her to walk on her front legs. Now she does so completely of her own will, without assistance, and tourists come from far and wide to see her.

People and their furry disabled family members can do things you’d think were possible only when…well, when pigs do handstands! And that includes scaly family members!

While Strong Pig took the brunt of her accomplishments completely on her own shoulders, Einstein had a little more help….

Einstein developed a disease that prevented him from swimming. Which is important because he is a fish.

He would simply sink to the botton of his aquarium and turn upside-down, unable to move:

When he couldn’t get back up, it was a sorry sight… It broke my heart to see him so helpless. He looked so depressed. – Leighton Naylor, owner.

Naylor took it upon himself to remedy the situation, and did the second unfathomable feat of this post! He made Einstein a lifejacket. Naylor’s buoyantly-challenged buddy had some issues at first, until Naylor made his aqua-home more disability friendly. Now, Einstein is happy as a clam!

Einstein disabled fish using lifejacketPeople have said I’m crazy but every animal is a valued family member… I’ve tried to train all of my fish but Einstein’s my star pupil. He can swim through my fingers and he was getting into fish football when he fell sick. -Naylor

Note: Naylor lives in the UK. He probably meant to say “soccer” in that interview. ; )

I think the people who are most successful at overcoming the odds are those with the best family support. Sometimes they are your biological family, sometimes its a neighbor or friend, and sometimes its a “non-human person” who’s stolen your heart and makes the unfathomable…fathomable.

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Cetaceans: the new human

There’s some big news out there for water-dwelling creatures! Dolphins and whales have human advocates at work to draw up a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans (2010) which states:

Every individual cetacean has the right to life… no cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude, be subject to cruel treatment, or be removed from their natural environment…no cetacean is the property of any state, corporation, human group or individual.

This Declaration has already been accepted in India and in Toshima (an island in Japan) where dolphins have all the above legal rights, under the title of “non human persons”. You have to admit this is a pretty big deal. Their “citizenship” is predicated on a few important factors.

We’re saying the science has shown that individuality, consciousness and self-awareness are no longer unique human properties. — Tom White

For a detailed review of how dolphins and whales have proven they do have each of these factors, read here.

While this news is kind of cool, it does raise some questions. For example, should chimpanzees have citizenship? What about dogs? These animals often work as service animals and in movies… Under this declaration, will the saying “Nothing’s certain but death and taxes” apply to all citizens?

While many a scientist is arguing for cetacean rights, I’d like to add my piece. In a 2011 study of Sperm Whales, scientists found a pod that had adopted a disabled bottlenose dolphin. The deformed dolphin was well integrated and accepted in the pod.

Sperm whales adopt deformed dophinOver eight days of observation, the biologists observed the adult dolphin swimming, feeding, and even nuzzling along with the sperm whale behemoths. “It really looked like they had accepted the dolphin for whatever reason. They were being very sociable.” says Alexander Wilson

Dolphins and whales didn’t need the American Disability Act or other legislation to make them treat their disabled peers well. They didn’t need the stigma of animal cruelty or associated penalties to generously open their family to another species. They reap no branding or PR benefit by this case of charity.

So my question is… what makes us so special that we deserve to be in the same category as these “non-human persons”? Should we idealize humanity or cetaceanity?

Fowl Shoes: Buttercup’s most snazzy accessory are making a splash!

Disabled animals deserve the best tech us humans can think up! It’s Animal Week and Technology Tuesday, so I’ve got something pretty sweet for you: Buttercup.

Buttercup the duck with her 3D printed prosthetic footButtercup was born with a deformed leg last year. Feathered Angels Sactuary in Tennessee took over from there and provided the best of care to ease this duckling’s pain and restore its ability to walk and swim.

This year, Buttercup’s angels scanned the healthy foot of his sister. The plastic used in 3D printing is rigid and unsuitable to best restore function of the limb. Instead, they printed a mold for a silicon cast that was then worn by the duckling.

Buttercup's 3d printed foot

I think it’s safe to say that Buttercup is no ugly duckling;
and he’s got some pretty fly shoes if you ask me!

Okay, now who’s going to get this song out of my head?

Have a little faith: beating the odds

Faith was born in December of 2002 with only 3 legs. Her mother tried to smother the newborn puppy by laying on top of her.

Faith two legged puppy

Faith was rescued by a young man named Reuben. He and his mother took care of the puppy, but one of her legs was so severely deformed it had to be amputated.

With only two legs left, Faith struggled to learn to move about on her own. Veterinarians advised that she be euthanized because if she continued to drag herself the way she was, she would rub away the skin on her chest and chin.

But her adopted family had other plans. With much encouragement and some peanut buttery incentives, Faith learned to stand on two feet and walk! At first she would hop but then she taught herself to walk like her two-legged family members.

Faith the two legged dog, walking

Faith the two legged dog serves her country

Faith has recently retired from her career of helping, motivating and healing people. She made visits to veterans hospitals to see disabled soldiers. In this way Faith was able to serve her country just like her rescuer Reuben.

Faith the two legged dog all grown upShe is still an inspiration–10 years and going strong and touching lives!!

Starstruck: the Terminator

You got me! Today’s post isn’t about the Governator. It’s about his earthly, reality-based reincarnation. He’s likely to be famous tho — my spidey senses say he’s in the running for Dad Of The Year.

Newly equipped with RoboCop – worthy carbon fiber armory, this man one upped every other father who’s sitting on their porch with a shotgun as their daughter’s date tries to pick her up.

Terminator D

This man — the terminator of relationships perhaps — has some legit gear to give back so much he lost in an accident 6 years prior. His bionic prosthetic arm is capable of mind-boggling amount. He can type, crack eggs, deal cards, tie his shoes and if he so chose to, sit on the porch with his shotgun, he has the trigger finger for that too! 😉

Rock and roll! Terminator bionic arm arm dad rock and roll

Travel on the cheap: A solar powered journey

In 2010, Haidar Taleb started a 200 mile journey across the United Arab Emirates in his power chair.

Inventor of the solar powered wheelchair, Taleb put his invention to the ultimate test, and challenged the way we see disability.

By taking-up this journey, I want to raise awareness about disability and tell people that we, despite our disability can achieve anything as an individual, if we are determined to try and have courage to do so. — Haidar Taleb

This is a really cool way to make travel accessible to everyone. I for one would love to see disabled and able-bodied road-trippers alike, flocking down the bike lane off to their next adventure.

I mean, if you’re going to vacation in a sunny paradise, might as well–right? Moral of the story, sunny states, countries and tropical islands need to adopt a pedestrian/solar powered lane on all their big roads to facilitate such roadtrips!

All in favor say “roadtrip!!”

Starstruck: Wheelz

Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham is a 21 year old Extreme Wheelchairer.

Spinal bifida — a birth defect of the spinal cord — left Aaron in a chair but it did not get in the way of his dreams. A successful moto-cross athlete, Aaron does with his chair things others can only dream of doing on a bike.

Aaron can forever boasts the FIRST EVER double back-flip on a wheelchair, among his many accomplishments alone and those done with Nitro Circus (essentially a motocross “circus” crew of incredibly talented and brave athletes).

Concussions are temporary, backing down is permanent.- Aaron Fotheringham

Fotheringham wants to change the way people see wheelchairs. After seeing this, it will be hard to see a wheelchair the same ever again.

I present, the first wheelchair double back flip:

Happy Fourth of July

Today we celebrate the United States of America’s independence!

On this day in 1776, our Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence that gave birth to this great nation.

Little celebrated is Constitution Day (September 17, 1787), which marks the birth of our current system of government. The initial system–the Articles of Confederation–was weak. One of the Founding Fathers, James Madison, is one of the major forces responsible for replacing it with the strong system of today.

James Madison - Founding Father of USAWithout James MadisonFounding Father, Father of the Constitution, Father of the Bill of Rights, and 4th President of the United States — the US would not be the great nation it is today.

So today, as you celebrate your freedom and being part of a nation and government that is presently making historic changes for the people, I hope you remember the debt you owe to this great and disabled man.

It is not super well-known that James Madison was disabled; his intellectual achievements tend to overshadow. He was a very frail child and even as an adult he was only about 5’5″ and about 100 lbs–the smallest of all American Presidents.  He had to overcome a speech impairment that prevented him from doing public speaking until he was 30 years old. And around the 1770’s, Madison began to experience epileptic seizures and went into a depression.

The hope of realizing his dream of religious freedom brought him out of his depression and lead him to work on the Declaration of Independence. By the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Madison was experiencing a disabling attack of malaria. These attacks continued the rest of his life and became increasingly debilitating in his later years.

With all that is currently happening in our nation, I think President Madison’s words are as true as ever:
James Madison - Equal rights

Read here for more info on James Madison, his accomplishments and disabilities.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!!