Stronger together … because of the obstacles

Stronger together … because of the obstacles

Shared challenges brought Isabella and Halo, her young Labrador, together. Here’s their story.

November 24, 2019

Halo is a typical Labrador, with one distinguishing trait—she was born with an atrophied front paw. Despite her unquestionable zest for life, she was almost put down because of her physical impairment.


Several weeks after birth, when the other puppies in her litter were walking, Halo was still crawling. The dogs were all put up for adoption when their owners decided to move. Halo’s chances didn’t look good. What were the odds of finding a family willing to provide for her specific needs?


Halo’s first snowfall … she loves it!


A friend of the family offered to look after the entire litter while the puppies awaited adoption. As she considered options for Halo, this friend thought of Isabella and Nicolas, a young couple she knew who loved animals (and who already had a Chihuahua called Maya). She thought they might be an ideal match because of an important shared characteristic. Isabella was born with caudal regression syndrome, a congenital condition which meant that she was born without 13 of her vertebrae. She’s active and gets around in a wheelchair. If anyone could understand Halo, it’s surely Isabella, thought the family friend.


Isabella and Halo relaxing in the sun. The Lab was 10 months old at the time.


A crazy thing called love
When Isabella met Halo, it was love at first sight.


Given the commitment, Isabella and Nicolas took a few days to think over adoption, to consider if they had what it takes to look after a special-needs puppy. They felt an urge to look after Halo and make her a part of their lives. And this feeling won over. They adopted Halo and opened their hearts to her.


Nicolas and Halo hiking at Mont-Tremblant


Halo escaped an uncertain future by the skin on her neck. But it was just the beginning of the adventure.


The first weeks exhausted Isabella and Nicolas, who looked after Halo day and night. They struggled to help Halo walk and eat. It turned out that Halo was too weak to hold up her head to reach her bowl. The couple hand fed Halo for weeks and went overboard to take care of their new puppy.


The couple was drained but had no regrets.


“It was difficult, but worth the effort. Halo is now independent and makes us happy every day. The moment we brought her home, we knew that we’d keep her. She astounded us with her courage. She worked so hard and it worked out for her,” says Isabella.


Today Halo is 12 months old and nothing stops her—she seems unaware that she’s missing a paw. She runs about, does everything she wants to—camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, swimming—and is as energetic as any other dog.


Halo’s first camping trip


Love has brought Isabella and Halo together. They’ve bonded and give each other strength for their daily activities. When Isabella is tired, Halo’s there to support her. She makes her smile with her sloppy kisses and is a rock of motivation.


Lessons in life
What lessons can we learn from Isabella and Halo?


A physical impairment needn’t stop you from taking care of the most incredible animal in the world. Companion animals have a lot to give, whether they have a physical impairment or not. They deserve all the opportunities we can give them … and Halo is the proof!


Credits: Personal collection.

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