A Chilliwack family is on the hunt for a special puppy that has the same condition as its youngest member – a limb difference.
Two-year-old Ivy McLeod is a congenital bilateral amputee. Both her arms were not formed correctly while in the womb. There’s no official name for it, so it’s typically known as a “limb difference” because her limbs are different than what most people have.
Ivy’s mom Vanessa said they are now searching for a puppy, who also has a limb difference, to join the family.
“I’m looking for a companion for my daughter who was born with limbs that are a little different than most. What others might think imperfect or flawed, I think is beautiful and deserving of love,” Vanessa said.
She and her husband, Sean, found out about Ivy’s limb difference when she was 19 weeks pregnant. The specialist appointment she had with doctors and a counsellor at BC Children’s Hospital was “severely disappointing,” she said.
“They told me to terminate my pregnancy. They told me she would have no quality of life.”
After declining the termination, Vanessa was offered an amniocentesis – a procedure where a sample of amniotic fluid is taken to test for any genetic abnormality. There are risks with an amniocentesis, so the McLeods declined that, too.
The remainder of her pregnancy was difficult and emotional with a lot of fear and anxiety, but on the day Ivy was born, Vanessa knew she made the right choice.
“The moment she was born and she looked me in the eyes, I knew she was exactly where she was meant to be.”
Because of the limb difference, doctors figured there must be some underlying cause, but there wasn’t. Ivy was born perfectly healthy and still is two years later.
“She’s a normal two-year-old. Whatever she wants to do, she does it,” Vanessa said. “She refuses to let me help her up the stairs. She’s very independent. She’s the most fearless, determined little girl I’ve ever met.”
Ivy uses her toes like fingers to pick things up. She grasps a pen with her little toes, just like anyone else would use their hands.
When playing, she pushes buttons on toys with her toes. She will tuck something under her chin, or between her shoulder and ear to carry something.
Ivy does anything she wants, she just has her own “unique” way of doing it, says her mom.
Now the McLeod family wants to welcome a unique dog into their family – one with a limb difference, just like Ivy.
They would like to get a small- or medium-breed puppy so that it can grow with Ivy and her four-year-old sister Elena.
Vanessa said she knows there are many “tripod” dogs out there, but many of them often come with trauma issues following the accident or illness that resulted in the loss of their limb.
They are not closed off to the idea of getting an older dog, but they would prefer a puppy.
“I believe in fate. I truly believe there’s a puppy out there that is just meant to be part of our family,” Vanessa said. “A lot of people would discard a dog like that. I don’t believe a limb difference – whether a dog or a human – makes you any less worthy of love, of life, of a home. People told me that maybe Ivy doesn’t deserve a shot at life, and here she is.”
She knows one day, Ivy will ask why she was born this way.
“I think that having a little puppy companion who was born the same way will be a huge comfort to her. I’m hoping they will have a really special bond because of their differences.
“I want people to know her life isn’t sad. I don’t feel sad about her differences. She’s just different and different is beautiful in so many unexpected ways,” Vanessa said.
If you know of a puppy that might be the perfect fit for Ivy and her family, contact Vanessa at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Instagram.