Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Volunteers at Rowan’s Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary named the wobbling puppy Wyatt because it means “Little Warrior.”

And they’re trying to find this happy little warrior a home.

A 4-month-old, purebred pit bull pup, Wyatt was born with a neurological disorder that gives him a unique, tumbling run.

Wyatt came to Faithful Friends four weeks ago, when his owner surrendered him to the nonprofit organization. When he was born, his mother, sensing that something wasn’t quite right with the clumsy puppy, tried to kill him on multiple occasions.

A Faithful Friends volunteer brought the case to the sanctuary managers.

Assistant Manager Andrea Gemayel said she wasn’t sure they could take the pup, at first. At the time, the sanctuary was full and had never had a special needs dog.

“But that night none of us slept,” Gemayel said.

Management met the next morning and reached a unanimous decision: they would take the then-unnamed puppy. At first, Faithful Friends considered keeping Wyatt and making him its mascot, but they realized he needed full-time love and care.

Gemayel knew she and everyone at Faithful Friends had to do everything in their power to find Wyatt the family and care he needed.

“A kennel is no place for a dog like that,” Gemayel said.

Veterinarians were unable to name the disorder that affects Wyatt, only determining that it is neurological in nature. The disorder means that Wyatt has little to no control over his neck and is shaky on his feet. He frequently bumps his head on the hard kennel walls and floor — and has a bald spot on top of his head to prove it. Faithful Friends is trying to find a helmet for him to wear in the kennel to protect him from more serious injuries.

Despite his hardship, Wyatt is a happy, curious dog who loves to be loved. And when Wyatt gets excited he runs in long, looping circles.

“His tail is always wagging,” Gemayel said.

Gemayel also said that Wyatt is learning to adapt and to adjust to his disability. When he was brought in, she said, he just let his head loll. Since then he has learned some control, and has gained confidence on his feet and in playing with other dogs. Other than the fact that he can’t walk in a straight line, Gemayel said there’s nothing wrong with him.

The sanctuary is currently looking for a family for Wyatt. He needs some extra attention and care, so a family that can devote a large portion of time is ideal.

Faithful Friends has an involved application process for adopting out animals. They check to make sure the pet and would-be owner get along, and then check the health and treatment of all any past or present pets the owner may have.

They require all adopted pets to be spayed or neutered by the time they reach six months old, a process that is covered by the adoption fee.

Gemayel said that since opening in March 2011, Faithful Friends has found homes for nearly 500 animals.

Anyone interested in Wyatt, or any other pets, should contact Faithful Friends at 704-633-1722.

Faithful Friends is a no-kill organization, so Wyatt will remain there until he is able to find a loving family. Gemayel said she believes that somewhere, there is a family waiting for Wyatt.

Rebecca Rider is a Catawba College senior and summer intern at the Salisbury Post.