THREE-LEGGED "TRIPAWD" DOGS

Canine Cancer Survivors and their humans share inspiring stories and health tips at www.tripawds.com

November 30, 2007 — When a dog permanently loses mobility in a limb, oftentimes a veterinarian will recommend removing the limb to relieve the pain. Whether that pain is caused by bone cancer or a car accident, more and more pet guardians are willing to extend the lives of their best friend through amputation.

Yet, despite the rising numbers of "tripawd" dogs in society, when a pet guardian has to make that decision to amputate, oftentimes they aren't sure if their dog will live happily as a tripawd. Handicapped pets are a relatively new occurrence in society, and finding information about their unique needs can be difficult.

But one dog's pack hopes to make it easier for new tripawd guardians, by connecting three legged dog families and sharing their stories and health tips on the web, at www.tripawds.com.

TRIPAWDS.COM INSPIRES HUMANS TO GO THE EXTRA MILE FOR THEIR FRIEND

"We had never even seen a three-legged dog in person, until our own dog had to have his leg taken off" says Rene Agredano, co-founder of the website. Last November, her nine-year old dog Jerry was diagnosed with canine osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, and the immediate treatment was to remove his infected leg. Vets gave him three months to live.

But as weeks turned into months, this pound puppy amazed his family by demonstrating his tenacity for life as a tripawd. As Jerry regained his strength and reverted back to his old playful self, Agredano, along with her husband Jim Nelson, wanted to share the wonders of tripawd dogs with the world, by creating Tripawds.com. Nelson coined the term "Tripawds" and registered the domain after discovering references to canine amputees as "tripod dogs."

"When we were trying to imagine our best friend living life on three legs, we went online and found technical information about canine bone cancer, but very little that showed a tripawd in action or descriptions of every day life" said Agredano. "We created tripawds.com with the goal of having a layman's guide to life as a canine amputee."

Today, people from around the world are flocking to tripawds.com for tips and advice about caring for their own three-legged friend. The website offers practical advice for new tripawd guardians, such as:

  • Slip proofing a pet's environment
  • Making mealtime easier by raising up food and water bowls
  • Using a special harness to assist with tricky situations
  • Which foods and supplements can aid in mobility and help fight cancer

Above Photo: Jerry Swims on the shores of Lake Ontario,
in Toronto, almost one year post-surgery.

For those guardians who can't decide whether to amputate or not, tripawds.com provides a wealth of inspiration. Jerry's dog blog is regularly updated with movies of him running on the beach, catching Frisbees, playing rough with other dogs, and even swimming. Readers can comment to share their own stories. Nelson also scours YouTube and includes movies other people have made about their three-legged wonders, and posts them on the site. In addition, tripawds.com also includes photos, a storefront with tripawd needs in mind, definitions of canine cancer terminology, and links to other therapeutic resources.

Shown above: Left — Calpurnia the Colorado sled dog is now a Canicross Champ!
Center — Cooper in Scotland sends tripod cheer from abroad
Right — Twelve year old Genie from Alberta, Canada, bounces back from amputation like a puppy

CREATING A WORLDWIDE TRIPAWD COMMUNITY

Every day Jerry receives emails from canines and their guardians from across the world — from L.A. To New York, from Israel to Canada. Some people are looking for advice while awaiting a diagnosis from their vet, while others want to share their own dog's stories about life on three legs.

"Thank you so much for having a wonderful resource for those of us facing our best friends illnesses! It was so helpful to have the positive reinforcement to assist our difficult decision to go through with the surgery, Keep up the great work!" — From a reader in New York, NY

THREE LEGGED WONDERS INSPIRE HUMANS

"It's amazing how they bounce back," says Nelson. "Most dogs will pick up that funny little tripawd step as if they were born that way, and they'll hop right out of the hospital after surgery. We humans should learn from their resiliency and determination."

Since hopping out of the hospital a year ago, Jerry has gone on tour with his family, traveling in an RV across the United States, and sharing his story with other dogs and their companions. "We're spreading the word that it is better to hop on three legs than to limp on four," says Nelson. And people are listening. Everywhere they go, people are amazed at Jerry's abilities when they see him in person.

BARKS FOR TRIPAWDS.COM FROM AROUND THE WORLD

"Thanks again for your website, and I told my vet about it, she looked it up and thinks it is great, both were impressed and may be telling people about it, she even said she only found a few sites that were okay but not as good as this one as far as support and answers." — from Chicago, IL

"Thank you for your site. The information is inspiring, helpful and gives me much hope for my baby's recovery. My vet could not answer if dogs missing a front leg were able to swim efficiently. Your swimming videos are great and made me very happy to know it is possible for my girl to swim again." — from British Columbia, Canada

"You guys are my heroes. Thank you so much for sharing Jerry's story with the world. I know I can give Linus a full, loving, happy life now, even on 3 legs." — from Los Angeles

Pictured Above: Jerry on the shores of Lake Ontario

"I am so ecstatic over this website, I work at a vet hospital where I adopted a 3 legged Shep mix that we saved from the brink. I never in a million years thought it would be this easy to find helpful resources to help us adjust to her! I will be checking back quite often to this site! — from Austin, Texas

"Thank you so much for your insight & support. Your website is great. Without it and the wonder of Jerry, I wouldn't feel so confident about this ordeal. Thank you, Jerry!" — Location Unknown

"A Triple-BIG HOORAY for all the wonderful people who are willing to not only work with tripawd dogs, but also to help others understand that these dogs can and DO live long and happy and productive lives regardless of three legs or four." — Location Unknown


Note: This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.