Tribute to a Three Legged Beach Boy

We said goodnight to a hero yesterday, strong magnificent Max who lived for nearly fourteen months past his bone cancer diagnosis. His stunning blue eyes, his enthusiasm and his stoic pawsonality put smiles on the faces of everyone he met. Max will never, ever be forgotten.

In the spirit of our courageous hero, we want to share these fun clips of him with you.

This movie was taken at our Tripawds get together in Santa Barbara last December. You can see here that not even lung mets could stop this boy from having a good time with the other pups.

Here’s a flashback video starring Max, taken when we met him in February 2008, not long after his amputation and diagnosis.

And here’s a few photos of Max will always put smiles on our faces.

Run free Max, go get ’em!

Paws to Remember and Rejoice in 2010

Tripawds is a close knit family, sharing our stories of victory and sadness, triumph and grief, from all corners of the world. Throughout the year, we become close with our amputee dog heroes and their pawrents. The more we grow to know about their daily lives while they recuperate from amputation and battle cancer, the harder it is when we lose them.

When a Tripawd warrior leaves this earthly life, we are griefstricken. We all know that this is the price we must pay for loving another being, but it doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Our community has suffered heavy losses this year, and our deepest condolences go out to pawrents who are hurting.

Many pawrents say they have avoided coming to the Forums lately, because they are afraid of finding out if any more dogs have passed on. But in the spirit of all of the Tripawds who have bravely lived life to the fullest, let’s not forget that the Tripawds we grieve for, are also the dogs who amazed us as they took on the world with fearlessness and courage. And every day, new Tripawds members are bringing hoppiness into our community!

On this New Year’s Eve, let’s all keep the good times of our Spirit Tripawds in our hearts, by remembering some of the highlights from the year gone by:

Our apologies for not including all of our Spirit Tripawds in the links above, but that’s where you come in! Please feel free to post links to more happy memories of our Spirit Tripawd Warriors, in the Comments field below, or in this Discussion Forum topic.

Thank you for being a part of our family. We send you all many, many warm wishes for a joyous, peaceful and hoppy 2010!

Does Good News Make You Feel Guilty?

At Tripawds, many of us are three legged dogs because we are battling cancer. Sometimes it seems like we go through periods of time in the Tripawds Discussion Forums, when all we hear is sad news about our friends’ cancer battles.

We all know that life has its ups and downs. We would not exist without both good and bad. Life and death are the yin and yang of the Universe. We dogs try not to focus too much on this though, and strive for that perfect balance of living in the moment.

But humans, on the other hand, don’t often see life like we do. Many struggle with the conflict at Nature’s core. Occasionally we hear from Tripawd pawrents who feel guilty about sharing the good news they have, when there’s a glut of “bad news” in the Forums. When the current mood of discussions is somewhat somber, these kind pawrents feel as if they shouldn’t shine a light on their own tripawds who are doing well.

Silly humans, don’t you know we need your pawsitive energy and happy thoughts here all the time? And when tears are being shed and it seems like life can’t get any darker, that’s when we need your pawsitivity most!

Tripawds Blogs members and guests alike want to read about your tripawd’s triumphs and stories about overcoming obstacles, getting strong, and finding joy in life. These are the happy things that keep us all going when life gets ruff, and help newcomers see the pawsibilities of life on three legs.

Try to be more Dog and remember, life is too short to walk around with angst and feelings of guilt. Share all your experiences and thoughts, whether you view them as good and bad, happy or sad. Please spread the love as much as pawsible, there will always be someone looking for uplifting inspiration.

One Year Anniversary Tribute Video for Jerry

Jerry waits patiently while his people check out Signal MountainLooking back at our nearly two years on the road together, I recall my people often listening to their favorite KHSU program online. Once in a while they would call Mad Dr. Matt, the host of Alternative Therapy, with updates about our location or my condition.

Now, one year after my passing, Jim has had a little fun with iMovie to create this tribute video featuring yours truly, the voice of Matty Dread and inspawrational music from Kelly’s Lot

NOTE: No crying allowed! Unless they are tears of joy for all the fond memories we shared together as a pack.

Special thanks to the Mad Doctor for his special Jerry tribute show (#379 – 10/11/08) and frequent shout-outs! And many more to Frankie and his Rockin’ people for use of this acoustic version of Today from their Kelly’s Lot album Trio.

I believe the song says it all, and Barney helps us show at the end of the video … that it is all about the present.

Remembering Our Jerry, One Year Later

Snow Day for JerryOutside, snow is falling on your land, Jerry’s Acres. As we watch the mountain peaks turn white and delicate snowflakes swirl all around us, we get the sensation of being tiny ceramic figurines in a snow globe scene. One year ago, this was the last thing we could have imagined.

In the same week that we celebrated your 10th birthday, two days later on October 3rd, our hearts shattered into pieces when we accepted that your time on earth was about to come to an end.

We shared over a decade’s worth of adventures; how could our lives go on without you, sweet Jerry?

During the two years that you valiantly fought cancer, we mourned over the inevitable. But you, in all your wisdom, always understood that life was finite, even before you got sick. Whether we die from premature disease or old age, you tried to show us that death is nothing to fear.

On October 3rd, 2008, under endless Montana skies, behind a waterfall of tears we watched you take your last breath. As we lay over your body to inhale the sweet scent of your pretty fur one last time, we looked skyward, and saw our amazing story ascend into the heavens. Like Dorothy in the tornado, it felt as if our hearts were being sucked into a vortex, right along with it.

Jerry Poses at Devil's TowerNever in a million years did we think we could ever heal after losing you. And honestly, we haven’t completely and likely never will. But we do our best to go on with life, because it’s the right thing to do. We remember all of the lessons you taught us about living in the moment, and know that’s how you want us to be.

But sometimes, when we least expect it, we find our souls aching for the days when our pack roamed the countryside. When we had a soulmate who guided us on our spiritual and physical journeys. A dog who could speak our language without understanding a single word.

Then, reality hits us, and we understand that mourning the past is wrong. Quickly, we pull ourselves back into the present.

Jerry, we’ve taken your lessons to heart, and practice them each day. Sometimes we fail, but we keep trying to get it right. With your memories guiding us, we don’t linger in self-pity for very long, and we do our best to be present and in the moment.

After you went to the Bridge, we searched far and wide to find a piece of land befitting an adventurous dog like you. It had to be a place on earth where we could envision you doing your favorite outdoor things; hiking, swimming, and kicking up dirt. We have finally found Jerry’s Acres, and we know you would love it.

Now, one year after you went to the Bridge, winter is arriving here in Northern Colorado.

Wyatt on walk in the Crystal Lakes woodsSoon, we will hit the road and roam south for the winter. And Wyatt Ray, in all of his silly puppiness, will come along for the ride. How blessed we are to have found a place for him in our life at just the right time.

We know he is not you, and we try not to compare. But watching him discover the joys to be had in attacking snow, jumping into lakes, and chewing up tree branches–just like you did–puts a big smile on our faces. It’s so clear that your adventurous spirit is with him, gently guiding him out of his bullheaded goofiness and into a wise old dog like you were.

Thank you Jerry, for all that you showed us, and for all those things that you conspired to make happen.

You brought together this community of incredible pawrents and Tripawds, and you give them comfort and hope during their darkest hours.

You showed us that animals know how to be fearless in the face of adversity, yet understand when to say when.

And you taught us that the most important things in life are the simple ones, so get out and enjoy them before it’s too late.

As we continue on our journey into the unknown, your wisdom will always guide us through the joys and challenges of this thing called life.

Thank you, Jerry.Jerry in the Badlands

Jerry G. Dawg
Tripawds Founder & CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
October 1, 1998 – October 3, 2008

PBS Viewers’ Stories: Life with Stormy, by Greg Hess

Greg Hess and StormyHere’s another touching story we learned about, after we were featured in the PBS show, Why We Love Cats and Dogs.

Greg Hess, a viewer from Colorado, wrote to us and shared his story about a deep  commitment he made to his senior dog Stormy, whose health was in rapid decline at the same time that Greg lost his job. Greg and Stormy’s story is so beautiful, we had to share it with you. He writes:

“Rene and Jim,

I am truly sorry for your loss. What great Being Jerry was for everyone he came in contact with. I feel that your story has a very significant message too. That is, your commitment to Jerry in his time of need. Your willingness to do what it took to give him a life that many animals will never know.

I concluded in much the same way, that my own dog needed that kind of commitment. About a year and half ago, I lost my job. While thinking about the next move, I wondered how the next job would impact my our 14 ½ year old Beagle, Stormy. It dawned on me that since both my spouse and me would be gone all day, his life would mostly be just laying around being board. And in Colorado, it’s dark and cold for many months so trying to get out for a walk at night wasn’t very promising.

It wasn’t easy to commit to that. Even with the support of my spouse, losing income and one’s place in the work world presents some difficult hurdles to overcome. But the life we were able to provide Stormy for those 18 months was incredible. He went ‘everywhere’ with me. People new him from one end of the city to the other. He ate with us, walked with us, slept with us, there seemed to be no reason to exclude him from anything in our lives.

We had to have Stormy euthanized in January 2009. Like you, as his health declined, it became clear from our vet visits, that there were too many unknowns about his condition, which was probably a brain tumor or, the beginning of kidney failure. So we decided to just do everything possible to make his life good until it was time. I simply couldn’t put him through massive testing, prodding and poking to gain a couple of days or weeks.

So a grateful thanks for sharing your story. It’s really felt like I’ve been out on the fringe of society by taking off so much time to be with Stormy. His passing (as I’m sure Jerry’s did) has left such a large hole in our lives. I guess the more time one spends, the more threads we interweave between our pet’s lives and us. Perhaps it’s an unfortunate byproduct of losing Stormy, but it’s created a profound sadness in me for all the other Beings on our planet that will not come close to experiencing what dogs like Jerry and Stormy had.”

Here is a beautiful essay Greg wrote about Stormy:

Continue reading PBS Viewers’ Stories: Life with Stormy, by Greg Hess

A Letter to Lalla

Three Legged Dog Lalla on the BeachWhen we lose a loved one, we enter into a series of long dark days, trapped in loneliness we think we will never escape from. Slowly and eventually though, we learn to honor our beloved’s memory by continuing to appreciate all the beauty life has to offer. It’s not that time has healed our wounds, but we just learn to more easily accept things as they are.

One year ago on June 2nd, my girlfriend Lalla, who battled bone cancer just as I did, was released from her broken body. We roam free together now, forever and always, an image that always brings true joy to our pawrents hearts.

As hard as it was for her Mom Sasha to say goodbye, Lalla’s spirit continues to play a big part in the life of her entire  earth-bound family. Sasha wrote this letter to Lalla, on the anniversary of her passing.

Dear Lalla

I am obliged to celebrate your life rather than mourn for you one year after you left.

There are countless reasons, after all, as a dog you taught me all about living in the now. There are so many lessons learned from you, the main one being I think is never to relate to someone with a disability as disabled. I got that from you when three weeks after your surgery when you chased a heron across another one of your seized waves.

So many of your achievements have manifested into goodness which your family and friends at tripawds.com all share. Even Daddy, Cesar Millan‘s own lovely companion, was inspired by you to choose you as his 2008 Valentine’s Day Sweetheart and gave a wonderful donation to the Rolling Dogs Ranch on your behalf.

And so your family and friends carry on; Eli and Sylvia still sing to world peace and understanding. Orit has a little girl now called Ella who will hear your name and smile when her mummy tells her stories about how much you loved ice cream. And Troy is here as you know keeping us in track – and very wet and sandy!

Lalla, I am so lucky you are a part of my life. I would like to end with a short song a little boy wearing a superman cape once sang to you at the beach when you were only a puppy:

Lalla you are so beautiful
You don’t know
How beautiful you are

Sasha

Big Woofs Up for New Mutts Treasury!

Mutts Comic Strip Featured On PBS NatureViewers of Nature’s Why We Love Cats and Dogs should remember the scene where Jim and René mention a comic strip taped to the back of their medicine cabinet door. It shows Ozzie wondering what time it is, and Earl the dog answering with a resounding Now! Now! Now! Now! Now!

Being huge Mutts fans, they were excited to hear about the new Mutts Treasury from Patrick McDonnell featuring all our favorite furry friends from the funnies. Hoping it might include this strip, they requested a review copy  from Andrews McMeel publishing who kindly obliged. And guess what? Check out page 40!

Needless to say, my people were excited to review Stop and Smell the Roses. And they loved it! Here is what they had to say… Continue reading Big Woofs Up for New Mutts Treasury!

Six Months Later, I Shine a Light on Everything

Prayer Candle for Cancer DogsToday marks six months since my spirit was set free.

Mom went running today, and felt my presence more than ever. On a beautiful spring morning in the Texas Hill Country, her heart was comforted as she ran toward the dawn sunrise.

The golden light lit up  shiny new green leaves on big oak trees. Then she saw the reddest “vermillion flycatcher” bird that she’d ever seen, and smiled thinking about how my spirit was there in that beautiful creature.

Six months later, it’s not that it’s easier to live life without me around to cuddle and hold. She still gets all watery-eyed, even just writing this.

It’s just that with the passage of time, she’s able to better accept that I’m not gone, I’m just everywhere now.