Special Needs Dog Rousey, Something Special Pets


The Pet Matchmaker hopes you’ve seen our writeup on animal rescuer Sarah Kidd our Pet Rescue RockStars series here.  In fact Sarah stays busier helping needy cats and dogs than any reasonable human should be. But Sarah makes no claims of being “reasonable”. Thus begins the story of her daily toil with a special needs dog named Rousey.

Sarah is president of the Carroll County Humane Society in Tennessee, a remarkable “No Kill” shelter. At any one moment the CCHS may house 24 adult dogs and up to 30 cats. Most of the adult dogs come as a package deal along with their offspring who often reside in foster homes.

Recently the CCHS found a litter of mixed breed puppies with no momma in sight. Naturally they took the puppies into their care but they weren’t able to find the mother dog until many weeks later. (Of course they rescued the momma too!)


This ambitious scenario is characteristic of Sarah’s devotion to special needs pets who enter her care. To this day, Sarah is guardian to the runt of the litter and special needs dog. The pup weighed only 1-pound, 3-ounces at birth and she was never able to master a proper puppy waddle. Sarah was so impressed with the dog’s fighting spirit that she named her “Rousey” after professional UFC fighter Ronda Rousey.

Rousey was anemic at birth and her body was wracked by parasitic infection. Sarah believed that once her anemia and infections were cured that Rousey would grow and walk just like all the other puppies.

Sadly, even after a month of diligent care, Rousey still struggled to walk. She tried valiantly to wobble right alongside her brothers and sisters, but Rousey needed assistance. Despite the cost of neurological care, the CCHS raised funds to bring Rousey to a neurological specialist for an MRI.


The MRI results were perplexing. It seems Rousey has no deficit to her fully formed cerebellum. But her brain has not kicked into functioning mode. Sarah continues to work with Rousey daily, extending the extra care and support that she needs. Rousey LOVES mealtime. Sarah holds her while hand feeding her soft food that she can swallow easily. She provides the extra support that Rousey needs to lean and grip her tenacious, wobbly way about the house. Sarah also gives Rousey frequent water therapy, supporting the special needs dog while she instinctively motors and rotates her limbs.

Rousey’s story doesn’t have an ending yet. Her support team still hopes Rousey’s neurons will trigger normally soon. It’s unclear whether Rousey will be available for adoption. Most people are reluctant to assume responsibility for special needs dogs. Still Sarah strives to keep a space in her heart and home for the next special needs dog or cat who will need her nurturing sanctuary. The CCHS takes in up to 1000 homeless pets yearly. Even now a deaf cat and a dog needs to heal from a leg amputation are calling to Sarah.

Sarah wishes that more people would take that leap of faith that tending to a special needs dog or cat entails. Too often pets that are otherwise healthy and capable are put to death because folks are afraid of making some workable, special adjustments.

The Pet Matchmaker isn’t surprised by the challenges that Sarah Kidd undertakes. We know that special needs dogs need guardians with especially kind hearts that overflow with enthusiasm.

For more stories on special needs pets, see our series Special Needs Pets.