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Tripawd Tuesday: Tana the Amazing Senior Tripawd German Shepherd

Want to inspire other parents of three-legged cats and dogs? Send us your Tripawd Tuesday story! Tana’s people did, and what a story it is.

We learned about Tana when her people, Mark and Mary, asked us to make a custom Tripawds pendant in honor of their remarkable girl. She got her wings in September, after spending an amazing fourteen hoppy years as a Tripawd. 

This Shepherd is proof that dogs can have happy, long lives on three legs right up into their senior years. Here is her amazing story.

Tripawd Tuesday’s Hero Dog: Tana, a Tripawd for Life!

Tripawd German Shepherd Puppy
Tana lost her leg at just a few weeks old.

by Mark and Mary Mitten

My wife and I had just lost our 6-year old lab/Rottweiler cross, named Colbi, to lymphoma, and we weren’t even thinking about a new puppy—until we spotted a photo on a rescue website. A little German Shepherd with three little legs, big ears, and beautiful brown eyes. Our hearts melted instantly.

Tripawd senior dog
Mary (left) with Kinley, Mark and Tana.

We were living in Colorado Springs at the time, and the rescue was in Fort Morgan, near Denver. They told us what happened. At a GSD breeder’s house, the breeder went out to the yard one morning and found one of the puppies was wounded, missing her front paw. Sometime during the night, she had put her paw through the fence, and a neighbor’s dog bit it off. The breeder took her to the vet to be put down. They didn’t want to pursue amputation, but the vet talked them into giving her up, for surgery and adoption.

At the rescue, her name was Precious. We renamed her Tana, short for Montana, simply for the mountain vibe. She was only 7 weeks old when she became a Tripawd, and we adopted her when she was 11 weeks old.

Did someone say “Squirrel?”

Three Legged Shepherd Dog
Tana is short for “Montana.” She loved the mountains!

We moved a couple times, first to East Tennessee for a couple years, where we adopted a black lab named Kinley, and then back to the Denver area. Tana loved to play tug of war with Kinley, and even with three legs, she could drag her new sister across the living room floor.

Tana was just as active as any four-legged puppy/adult dog. She easily jumped up on our bed and couch, slept where she pleased, and got in and out of the car on her own.

Tana was so strong, she loved to run full blast, and one memory sticks out. After we moved back to Denver, I was walking her with a retractable leash in a park, and I was looking the wrong way. Tana must have spotted something chaseable, because she bolted. I remember hearing the zish of the leash going out, and then boom! I was lying in the grass. It must have been pretty hilarious for anyone watching—a three-legged dog yanking a grown man off his feet. It certainly made us laugh!

Senior Tripawd Dog
Tana was active all of her life.

At age 3, Tana started having grand mal cluster seizures. It took several years, and multiple vet experiences, to figure out which medication worked. We thought we tried everything, but the seizures still came. Then, in 2013, we moved to Minnesota, a land of subzero temperatures and snowstorms, a land that Tana was wired for.

A Mountain Dog at Heart

She loved the cold winters and mild summers. She loved laying in the snow, and had a special tree where she curled up and slept. Not long after, we met a veterinary neurologist who recommended a med we hadn’t tried. It worked, and Tana was 100% seizure-free for the last 6 years of her life.

Three-legged German Shepherd
Even serious Shepherds have their funny moments!

All her life, Tana often slid to a stop on smooth floors, on purpose. She would hop along quickly, and then stick her front leg out straight at a 45 degree angle, and glide to an easy finish. It was her signature move. She was very intelligent, too. We hung a bell on the sliding glass door in the kitchen, and she would jingle it when she wanted out. Whenever we took her on a car ride, Tana sat in the backseat behind the driver. I knew she wanted her window down, when I would feel her reach forward and tap her nose on my shoulder. Just like ringing a bell to go outside, she rang my shoulder. Pretty smart!

Living and Loving a Senior Tripawd German Shepherd

Three-legged senior dog
She always loved the snow, even as a senior.

In the last couple years, as she got older, I had to help her in the car, and she stopped using the stairwell to go upstairs to our bedroom entirely. But she loved her soft dog bed in the living room, so that was okay with her. She could still get from our low deck into the grass (two steps), even at the very end

After 14 years of chasing kitty cats, car rides for french fries, hopping up and down stairs, splashing in streams, and licking peanut butter packed inside old bones, Tana passed away in September, 2019.

Front-leg senior Tripawd Tana
She knew she was loved, every day of her life.

It’s hard to think she’s gone, and that we are never going to hear that beautiful hopping sound again, but she lived a very full life and knew she was loved every single day. Miss you, Tana!

~ Mark & Mary Mitten

Read All Tripawd Tuesday Stories

Your Pet Can Star in Tripawd Tuesday

Each Tuesday, Tripawd dogs, cats and other critters 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. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. In a short paragraph or two (or longer if you’d like!), describe your three-legged hero’s story.
  2. Include photos or links to videos already uploaded to YouTube.
  3. Include a link to your Tripawds Forum topic and/or Tripawds blog, social media handles, etc.
  4. Email your story and photos to us.

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.

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5 thoughts on “Tripawd Tuesday: Tana the Amazing Senior Tripawd German Shepherd”

  1. I currently have a 7 year old tripod GSD, Mia. She is my absolute love in this world. I was able to adopt her after her amputation was done, only one month prior, incredible pup. She is my soulmate. I can’t even put into words how much she means to me.

  2. Thank you for sharing Tana’s story, it gives us such hope! We have adopted a GS tripaw under similar circumstances. His front left leg was amputated at 16 weeks of age due to an attack by another dog. The owner at the time was going to have him put down but at the vets urging surrendered him to a rescue. Louie is now 8 months and teaching us what a survivor he is. He trust us, is growing happily while his PTSD is getting fewer and far between surfacing.
    We are hoping that he will one day figure out how to maneuver stairs like your Tana did.
    Louie can now get himself on and off the couch…. what a wonderful day it will be if and when he can get himself in and out of the car 🙂


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