‘Different is beautiful’: 2-year-old born without hands to get puppy without a paw to change perceptions

VANCOUVER —
A Chilliwack, B.C., mother is hoping a dog can help show her two-year-old daughter Ivy who was born without hands that being different makes her special.

What started out as a quest to find the perfect dog turned into a mission to change how others view disabilities.

When Vanessa McLeod was just 19 weeks pregnant she was told by doctors she should terminate.

“One doctor said you have to think about her quality of life she is going to have no hands. It still makes me a little bit sick thinking that she could have not been here if we had listened to those doctors,” said McLeod.

Now, little Ivy is two years old and she is thriving.

“Her favourite thing to do is colour and she just uses her toes to hold the markers so she has just learned to do things differently,” said McLeod.

McLeod says Ivy doesn’t really notice she is different yet but knows as she gets older she will start to question things.

“Why she doesn’t have hands and why she was born that way and why her and not other people,” said McLeod.

She wanted to find a way to make those conversations easier and thought a puppy that was also born with a limb difference could help Ivy embrace her differences.

“You know you were born that way but different is beautiful and this puppy was also born that way and that is also a beautiful thing and I just think it would be a magical bond,” said McLeod.

They expected a long search for the right dog but it was meant to be. A puppy they named Lucky was born a few weeks ago right in their home community.

“Missing her front paw so it just feels like fate,” said McLeod.

Now that their family has found the perfect pup. Her hope is that speaking out changes the way others view disabilities in the first place.

“She’s a happy rambunctious little toddler and I love everything that is different about her so I encourage people not to view disabilities as sad or something to be pitied but something to be celebrated,” said McLeod.

McLeod has since written a letter to the doctors that told her to abort telling them what she wished they would have told her instead.

“I wish you (they) would have told me that we would find support within the limb difference community, within the disability community,” said McLeod.

McLeod says the genetics counselor responded to her letter and invited her to talk to genetics medical students to help teach them how to deliver diagnoses in a way that is not so negative.

“I’m excited for that opportunity to kind of challenge the way doctors think and maybe teach the next generation of doctors that differences are beautiful and it’s ok and these parents will find support and make it through and they will love their babies,” said McLeod.  

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