We believe that every dog is worthy of a quality life filled with exercise, enrichment, and a forever family to love them regardless of their physical abilities.
The Be Like Josh Foundation specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation, and advocacy of dogs with neurological disabilities. We have extensive experience working with a variety of cerebellar conditions and other neurological disabilities. We have a passion for taking on the toughest neurological cases because we understand the stigma that goes with them and we want to ensure these dogs are given every opportunity to thrive despite their challenges.
We understand that diagnostics for neurological symptoms can come with a very hefty price tag and this is why many families/breeders end up surrendering their dog to a rescue. We pride ourselves on being the neuro rescue that leaves no stone unturned in the diagnostic process. A clear diagnosis is important so that we can set realistic expectations for each dog on their journey to adoptable status. It also prepares adoptive families by helping them to set expectations for their new family member. We like to empower our adopters and in turn, they empower the dogs that they adopt from us.
We have found that neurological disabilities are often misdiagnosed or left undiagnosed all together, which leaves families lacking the support and tools they need to help their pet companion thrive. We have seen a lot of veterinarians label a dog as “cerebellar hypoplasia” when presenting with any measure of neurological symptoms and then discourage families from pursuing advanced imaging stating that it won’t change the outcome or supportive care protocol. This stems from the fact that diagnostic imaging serves to only confirm or deny proposed diagnoses without offering a solution for the disability, because “there is no cure”. But we assert that disabilities don’t need a cure. They need support, patience, compassion, and inclusion.
We believe that our adopters are as important as the pets they adopt from us and that each adoption should be mutually beneficial. Each dog should be set up for success, supported, and empowered. We also provide support to our adopters by coaching them on how to welcome a pet with special abilities and by building lasting relationships with the adoptive families in the process.
Our Diagnostic Process
When a dog comes into our care, we start with a general exam and complete blood work, fecal, and urine tests to rule out any infectious disease or other health threats. Our veterinarians provide a general health evaluation for diet and lifestyle recommendations, supplements, and a plan of action for medical management.
We then move on to neurological evaluation with a board certified neurologist and we provide advanced diagnostic imaging to see exactly what is going on inside the brain. This is how we set rehabilitation expectations and timelines for each case, taking into account the needs of potential adopters. It is important to us that when we adopt out a dog, the adopter is prepared.
How We Work
The Be Like Josh Foundation is a foster-based network rather than a brick and mortar sanctuary, which means that each dog goes to live with a foster family, in their home, while they are in our care. In the family home environment, we are able to gain insight into how each dog functions and what type of needs they have in regards to their routine, mobility, care, and behavior with other family members and pets. Our foster families are valuable to our process because they teach the dogs how to exist within the family environment and identify potential roadblocks to adoptable status.
Adoptable status means that the dog is behaviorally and medically cleared. Their status is contingent on many factors and we do not rush the process. Getting to this point is a really big deal for many of our dogs because they typically have a lot of hurdles to overcome. Some dogs need physical therapy, some need invasive medical treatment. Some need behavioral training or a long decompression period after being removed from an abusive or neglectful environment. By the time that a dog has earned their adoptable status, we have gotten to know them very well and have addressed all of their needs. At this point they are ready to go home with their special someone and we begin reviewing applications.
We work with canine physical therapists to ensure that our exercise and enrichment plans are always moving the dogs towards improved proprioception & mobility. We utilize water therapy, stretch, massage, and exercise to assist our dog’s in the brain-body connection. In some cases, physiocal therapy isn't necesary and only typical canine exercise and enrichment is needed.
We provide all necessary mobility aids for the dogs in our care. We provide lifting harnesses, wheelchairs, braces, prosthetics, and any tool they may need to achieve independent and pain free mobility. These aids move on to their forever home with them. We set each family up for success by providing whatever aids they need as part of the adoption package.
As with any animal advocacy work, we often run into behavioral challenges that prevent an animal from achieving adoptable status. In these cases, we work with a trainer to address behaviors that are limiting the dogs happiness or that pose a potential road block to their adoptable status. Our trainer provides in-home sessions with foster families to teach them how to change undesireable behaviors and better equip them with techniques to improve their foster dog’s mental health and work towards a calm, relaxed state of mind.
Due to the nature of the work we do, the dogs in our care stay with us longer than the typical rescue dog. Our vetting and diagnostic process is extremely thorough and we spend a lot of time with each case to understand the dog in his or her totality, taking into account all aspects of their mental and physical well-being. Dogs that enter the Be Like Josh Foundation serve as ambassadors of our message which is that regardless of where we sit on the spectrum of abilities, all animals (and people) are worthy of love, respect and belonging. Our goal is to challenge the ableist mindset that discriminates against neurological differences to create a more compassionate and deeper understanding for all beings who exist in the world.