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25 April 2007
New Tripawds members often ask, “Who’s Jerry?” Well… back in 1998, I was an abandoned six month old pound puppy, until my pawrents, Jim and René, took me home with them.
They had a business in Eureka, California, and when I joined their pack, one thing was clear; they worked way too hard. So I nominated myself CFO (“Canine Fun Officer”) and made sure to take them hiking in the beautiful beaches and mountains where we lived, as much as pawsible.
I was an active, healthy dog who ate good foods and stayed fit. But in 2006, when I turned eight, my leg started hurting real bad after a backpacking trip.
Weeks went by while I tried to hide my pain until doctors found out why I was hurting; I had bone cancer, and my left front leg had to be amputated.
My pawrents were devastated. They didn’t know anything about amputation surgery, cancer, or tripod dogs. When doctors told Dad I was going to be a “Tripod,” he thought that was kinda mean. So Dad coined the spelling “Tripawd” because that’s what we are right? Three-pawed dogs!
As for me, I just wanted to be out of pain. And on Thanksgiving Day, 2006, I got my wish. I became a Tripawd after the good docs at the University of California at Davis Vet Teaching Hospital took my leg off. That horrible pain was gone, and my lungs were free of metastasis, but doctors still only gave me about four months to live (osteosarcoma is a very fast-spreading disease).
Prognosis schmognosis, I just didn’t care about that. Remember, time means nothing to us dogs. We don’t even know how to tell time! Living for the moment is all that matters, so when I saw how upset my people were, I decided to show them how to really live!
Once I healed up, I made them take me to play on the beach and out into the world again. I didn’t have chemotherapy, so instead I went on a super healthy diet and took lots of supplements.
Every day became a reason to celebrate one more day together. My parents were great students as they learned how to quit worrying about the future and instead focused on the here and now.
Living Life on Our Terms
While nobody ever really knows how long we have on this earth, we all knew the facts: this type of nasty cancer would shorten my life. We didn’t want to waste any time, so Mom and Dad sold their business and almost everything they owned, bought a RV, and together we hit the road to see North America, together as a pack.
We started in June, 2007 and for two years we drove more than 30,000 miles around the country. We went coast to coast, and everywhere we went, I did my best to show people how awesome three legged dogs can be. I met so many other cool Tripawds and humans, and saw such neat places!
Together, we spread the word that “It’s better to hop on three legs than limp on four!” The more months that went by, the more we were amazed and grateful for how much extra time we had together. We were even featured on Public Television, in a PBS documentary called Nature: Why We Love Cats and Dogs.
While we traveled, Dad kept adding features to Tripawds, and before we knew it, we had over 1,000 members who found themselves in the same place, wondering if amputation was the right thing to do, and how they would cope. Some were facing cancer, some weren’t. But we all shared the fear of not knowing what living on three legs is really like.
Once Dad added Discussion Forums to Tripawds, our pawesome community grew larger, and that’s when we realized that this community is indeed a special place, full of love and support from pawrents who understand the depth of caring that special humans have for their animal friends.
My pawrents and I had an incredible journey together for two great years, far longer than any statistics said I would live. But on October 3, 2008, two days after my tenth birthday, I earned my angel wings under beautiful Montana skies.
Despite our broken hearts, gradually we healed, and found beauty in the truth that the timeless bond we share goes far beyond our physical selves. We will always be together in our hearts.
Tripawds: A Labor of Love
Although I no longer hop on this earth, my spirit lives on forever through this incredible community and the inspawrational tales, resources, movies and discussions of our two and three legged friends from around the globe.
The Tripawds community has since turned into a volunteer labor of love for my Mom and Dad. This accidental project they started is now their life’s calling, and they hope that here you will find the strength to overcome any obstacles you are currently facing, and learn how to live a joyous, fun-filled life as a three legged Tripawd hero.
14 August 2009
25 April 2007
… any reasoning behind the Jerry name?
I just wanted a name that didn’t make me sound silly if I was running down the street calling after my lost do – which it turns out I never had to do. But the “G” stands for Grateful, if that is any clue. And we always thought we might get a second dog we could name Ben … or Tom.
20 May 2009
I think Jerry was as lucky to find you as you were to find him. I know all of us are lucky that you guys found each other! Thank you again for turning such a horrible illness into a web site that has helped some many people, myself included.
Debra & Angel Emily
14 August 2009
Well, Jerry G. is a great name! I’m guessing Wyatt is from the movie (and not the Kevin Costner one!).
Comet came with hers – I never wanted to know if the shelter named her or the terrible 1st humans. But she did seem to know it and it matched her. Rocket came with name “Bolt” and I knew the shelter did that one since he was a runaway dog.
2 November 2009
Jerry – your story is so incredible and your pawrents are so incredible too. I frequently read about you and am reminded how truly inspiring you are. To have had a vision for this website and help so many of us who are faced with these life changing events is just amazing. Your website has brought so much comfort and peace to so many of us during such uncomfortable and difficult times. This really is your calling and we couldn’t do this or be here without you. Many many thanks for creating such a wonderful and special community- we are all furever grateful to you!
Kami (Mackenzie’s Mom)
25 April 2007
Thank you all so much for the touching comments. But really, it’s all of you we owe a debt of gratitude to, because we really do feel fortunate to have found so many great people like YOU in this world.
If someone had told us that amputation and illness could bring these gifts into our lives, we’d have said they were crazier that Wyatt Ray Dawg. Thank you all for showing us that even in the midst of such hardship, there is beauty.
13 September 2009
Jerry was an amazing dog and has left such a huge legacy. I’m so grateful to Jerry, Rene and Jim for everything they created as a result of this trajedy… I’m so grateful to have gotten to know everyone here… and for all the amazing support and information! I can’t imagine having to go through Jake’s cancer journey without it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!
Angel Jake’s Mom
22 December 2009
I simply cannot imagine having to go through this alone, either. God bless you for this site and all you have done.
9 March 2010
Amazing story and adventures!
It really is true what they say “You don’t get the dog you want, you get the dog you need ” Jerry seems to have been that for your wonderful family, as much as Dante is for ours – totally not what we were looking for, but exactly what we needed at just the right time!
Thank you for all your hard work and this amazing site – it’s invaluable to us, and I know it is even more so to those having to make tough decisions and dealing with tough times.
25 April 2007
Awww shucks, thank you, we’re blushing. Yeah, he was perfect timing, that’s for sure.
Just want to add though,that you and all the other members here are what makes Tripawds such a great place. Thanks for making this community so special.
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