Today on Tripawd Tuesday we celebrate the life of a three-legged hero dog who hopped on three legs long before most people realized animals can have great lives as amputees.
Please enjoy this beautiful story about Tripod the Bold, whose pawrent shared this story after watching the Tripawds community founder, Jerry, in the PBS documentary, “Why We Love Cats and Dogs.” The narrative is long but it’s a very worthwhile read. Grab a cuppa joe and sit back for a heartwarming story.
Remembering Tripod the Bold
He was abandoned at a veterinary hospital. Whether it was a good samaritan who dropped him off or an owner who no longer wanted the burden, the three-legged pooch was handed to the receptionist. She brought him to an examining room and when she returned, the mysterious human was gone. I was told this story almost 18 months later, when I walked through the doors. A cat person, I had never owned a dog and was simply looking to purchase some more cans of the food my cats loved. I had walked straight into a trap.
Strategically situated right beneath the canned cat food was a picture of Tripod, for this is what they had named him. He was a very sad dog, looking like a mixture of German Shepherd and Golden Retriever. Beneath his picture was a desperate plea to adopt him, stating his missing back leg and his need for a home of his own. There was a page beneath it, with spaces to write one’s name and phone number for anyone who was interested. It was all blank. No one wanted a three-legged dog named Tripod.
Over in the dog food section, there was a picture of another dog. This picture was that of a bright, handsome seemingly purebred German Shepherd. His owner had not returned to pick him up, so the vets were trying to get him adopted. Beneath his picture one could write one’s name and phone number if interested. So many people had written their info down, that there was only room to write on the side. I turned to the front desk and asked them, why was there such a discrepancy?
She matter-of-factly stated that in West Los Angeles, purebreds were status symbols…three-legged Tripods were not. Well, I said, could I meet this sad Tripod? She looked at me as though I had lost my senses. Really? You want to meet him? Sure, I thought, why not. My landlord wouldn’t let me have a dog, I only had cats because they had walked in one day and never left. I would do a good deed for the day, meet the hobbled doggy, and then go my merry way.
Five minutes later, Tripod was walked out on a leash. He took one look at me and peed against the front desk. I looked at him. He looked at me. I looked at the receptionist and said, “I’ll take him.” Everything went quiet. She looked at me as though I had lost my senses. Really? You want to adopt him? Him? The dog-with-the-missing-leg? My heart said yes, my mind said let’s think this through, but I was resolved. A dog owner I would become because this sad canine in front of me had acknowledged me by urinating. I felt honored.
I was told to return the next day, so they could have time to bathe and groom him. When I walked home, I met my landlord and told him I was adopting a handicapped dog and would it be okay, he wouldn’t be a bother, please, please, please. He reluctantly (very reluctantly) said yes. Since the cats already lived the life of noblesse oblige with their own full-size futon, I didn’t have to do much to prepare as Tripod would now be given that special spot. He’s a dog, I thought, what more do I need?
The next day, the vet called me to make sure I was coming. They still seemed shocked. This time, I drove the car and arrived to find Tripod and a whole lot more. Awaiting me was a huge bag of dog kibbles, two cases of canned food, poop bags, a new collar and new leash. Wow! The receptionist was outside with Tripod and was determined that I was going to leave with him and not come back. It was then that I learned the story, that no one there really knew who he was or how he had lost his leg. She also said the vets were using him as a blood donor for sick pets, and she was determined to help this sad dog find a real home. God bless her.
Anyway, my life changed. Immediately. Suddenly, I had to walk a dog…a three-legged dog who understood more about the protocol of dog pooping than I did. On our first walk that evening, he patiently waited and waited for me while I figured out to open a bag, envelop the poop, and then tie it all together. When I looked at him again, after I had proudly tied up my first bag, the sad dog was gone and the happiest doggy smile I have ever seen suddenly appeared. We were a team.
I stopped jogging, as Tripod could not keep up. I couldn’t even walk fast, as Tripod could not keep up. Instead, I adapted my life to his pace. This meant I suddenly met people I had never acknowledged before, as I couldn’t run away. People would stop their cars and walk over to meet the “Tri”. He knew everyone and he was everyone’s friend. There was not an ounce of hate in his big heart.
One morning, he suddenly veered toward a house and sat down, his tail pounding the driveway. An elderly man walked outside and picked up the newspaper. He noticed Tripod and turned and walked back into his house. The next day, Tripod did the same thing, puzzling me to no end. Again, the old man walked out, picked up his newspaper. This time he said “hello” to Tripod. The third day, same thing. But this time, the elderly gentleman came out with a box of milkbones! He gave one to Tripod, then brought out a chair, and started talking to him. The neighbor in the house next to the old man came out and pulled me aside to tell me that it was the first time he had seen the old man in weeks. The milkbone-toting senior citizen had lost his wife a few weeks back and had stopped going outside, except to pick up his newspaper. Somehow, some way, Tripod knew this, as he listened attentively to whatever the old man was whispering to him. Not to me. Just to Tripod.
Another time, an elderly man walked up to us and asked, “Did he lose his leg in the war?” I didn’t have time to respond before he asked again, “Did he lose it on Omaha Beach?” By the time I realized he was talking about D-Day, his granddaughter drove up and hurriedly explained to me that her grandfather had Alzheimer’s and thought Tripod was a WWII canine veteran. He wanted to go home and get a medal for Tripod the Bold (as he was known from that day). Once, while waiting for a food order to be ready outside an eatery, a boy ran up at full speed toward Tripod, then stopped suddenly and hugged him. The Tri just thumped his tail and kissed the boy, over and over. The boy’s mother ran up to me and asked me how much I wanted for “that lame dog”. I said he wasn’t for sale. She started crying and explained her boy was autistic and this was the first time he had ‘responded’ to anything. I felt bad for her burden, but my doggy wasn’t available for purchase.
Since it was La-La Land, casting agents would stop me, hand me a card and ask if my dog was available for film work. I still have a box of those cards (and no, he wasn’t going on a film set, for goodness sake). Children would stop and stare and ask what happened to his leg? I’d tell them that it fell off during our walk, and could they help us find it? And look they would, determined that Tripod would get his missing leg back.
A juvenile red-tail hawk started accompanying us on our afternoon walks, a stray cat on our evening walks. At Halloween, Tripod would skillfully negotiate his way down the busy blocks, so he could get his allotment of biscuits…dressed as a fireman with the fireman’s helmet (wasn’t my idea). A neighbor put up signs asking people to nominate him as a write-in candidate for the presidential election (yes, he got some votes). Crazy. This dog, that no one wanted because he didn’t fit their idea of a status symbol, had opened a world I didn’t know existed.
When Tripod passed away, the world he had opened to me closed forever.
Treasure your time with your tripawds because the wisdom of such souls is not shared with everyone.
How to Get Featured on Tripawd Tuesday
Each Tuesday, Tripawds from around the world can enter for a chance to be “Tripawd of the Week.” Just share your Tripawd’s story and you’re entered to win! On every Tuesday of the week, tell us about your three-legged hero here in the Tripawds Discussion Forums or on the Tripawds Facebook page. Just follow these easy steps:
- In a few short sentences, describe your three-legged hero’s story.
- Include a photo or video.
- Include a link to your Trpawds Facebook page, Forum topic and/or Tripawds blog (if applicable)
All entries must be received by Saturday at 11:59 pm. One Tripawd story will be selected at random to be featured the following Tuesday.