Toddler Without Hands Gets Puppy Without Paw to Reduce Disability Stigma

Like many parents, Canadian mother Vanessa McLeod is planning to buy her two-year-old daughter Ivy a puppy. Unlike many parents, she intends the present to serve a greater purpose: challenge public perceptions of people who have physical disabilities, including Ivy herself.

When McLeod was 19 weeks pregnant, doctors told her that the developing fetus had no hands and advised her to have an abortion, telling her that she "had to think" about the baby's "quality of life." However, McLeod decided to carry to term anyway.

"It still makes me a little bit sick thinking that she could have not been here if we had listened to those doctors," she told CTV News.

More than two years later, little Ivy is a "happy, rambunctious little toddler" who has an artistic bent. The main difference between her and any other budding Mary Cassatt? She uses her toes rather than her fingers to hold the markers when she colors.

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," McLeod told the outlet.

Ivy has not yet realized that she is physically different from other children her age, but McLeod, aware that day was coming, wanted to do something to ease the emotional transition. To that end, she decided to buy Ivy a puppy that was born with a limb difference. Shortly after the McLeods began their search, a puppy missing a front paw was born in their home community of Chilliwack, British Columbia. It felt like fate, McLeod said. They chose the name Lucky.

"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," McLeod said.

McLeod has since reached out to the doctors who advised her to terminate her pregnancy to tell them that she has found "support within the limb difference community, within the disability community," she said.

Far from being rude or dismissive, one invited her to share her experience with a class of medical students in order to educate them about the importance of delivering diagnoses in a non-negative way. She seems delighted by the prospect.

"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 okay, McLeod told CTV News.

Ivy McLeod and her new puppy.
The Canadian toddler and her new puppy, both of whom are disabled, stare lovingly at each other.