Blind. Deaf. Heartworm positive. Gray and white whiskers. Covered with ticks. Nothing hinders DFW Pug Rescue Club Foster Jennifer Umbright from taking in special needs and senior pugs that are seeking a loving place to begin their journey to recovery and adoption.

Since beginning her volunteer work at the end of 2011 with DFWPRC, Jen has fostered numerous senior and special needs pugs. She began as a transporter and, through that volunteer field, came to see how resilient and inspirational these outstanding dogs are. “They teach you a lot,” Jen said. “They teach you what to expect and what you don’t [in regards to aging and disabilities].”

Darwin_Oct2014-smlA great example of the resilience that a special needs pug can have is easily seen in one of Jen’s current fosters, Darwin. He was left abandoned in his backyard and with his eyes matted shut, until DFWPRC literally came to the rescue. He was heartworm positive and has lost his eyes due to the infection that they had but has ended up as the “happiest dog in the entire house” despite circumstances that would bring down any human. He has also proved to be very intelligent, showing Jen that she didn’t even have to use any scent marking to help him find her bedroom!

The true “boss” of Jen’s house has to be Sir Hardy, though. He has been in the rescue for over two years, coming in as one of a bonded pair. Sadly, his partner was adopted without him but he has adapted to life without vision and uses his sense of smell to help him know the entire house, especially the most important room – Jen’s bedroom. He is also quick to know when she is done working and to let her know that her “real” work is to begin as far as holding him and giving him some love!

It may seem overwhelming to those that think about possibly fostering or adopting these sweet babies. You do have to take your household into consideration, of course, but it works perfectly for Jen. Taking care of her parents in her home, having the senior and special needs pugs around has been a blessing for everyone, and she has come to realize that the word “special” doesn’t completely encompass all that these little furry wonders have. A better word would be “exceptional.”

Jen is also exceptional, herself. She definitely goes above and beyond for the pugs that have special needs. Because she loves and understands the needs of these exceptional dogs so much, Jen does most of her own adoptions and home visits for them, making sure that their new owners and homes are completely ready for the fun of an exceptionally-able pug. She also takes every blind pug to his or her new home personally to make sure the house is blind-pug ready. After the adoption has been finalized, Jen looks forward to updates. She loves hearing from the new owners about how wonderfully her former fosters are doing and seeing pictures of them in their new families.

Jen is quick to point out that there are many advantages to adopting or fostering special needs or senior pugs. The first is that they are usually not high energy. This makes them a perfect companion for those who are looking for a pug that will not require as much activity to keep them happy. Snuggling will be just fine for them. She also feels that, in many cases, they tend to bond faster, adapting to their new environment and family in such a way that they quickly have a strong relationship. And of course there is the reward of seeing a pug that others may feel has the odds stacked against him or her actually beat those odds and teach you something that you may never have learned otherwise, like how to just enjoy the life you have and be grateful for the little things.

Jen enjoys the process of fostering and seeing a once sad animal transform into a happy-go-lucky pug that is ready for a forever family. Her life and the lives of those that have passed through her care have all been touched in an incomparable way. It takes a special person to work with special needs and senior pugs and Jen Umbright fits that bill plus some!