Four Paws Forever: Long Live Heidi

Meeting new online friends in pawson has been one of the joys of our lives since we started Tripawds.

But not all of the pups we meet because of Tripawds are three-legged; some actually have four! Hedi, a quadruped who became my YouTube friend in early 2007, was one of them.

When we met up with her in August of that year, we went on a play date. Romping through the pretty green fields where she explored behind her house was one of the highlights of our journey.

Our hearts were broken when we learned that Heidi passed away recently. She was one of the most gentle, sweet souls we have ever known. Her Shepherd spirit will always live on in our hearts.

And now, we’d like to pay tribute to Heidi, by sharing these fun YouTube videos we made together.

Here’s Heidi playing it cool the day we met:

And here’s a  video mashup that Heidi’s brother, Creekracer, and mine put together:

Run free Heidi, we love you.

Codie Rae Supports Tripawds!

We should have known Codie Rae would not stand for Biff and Gab upgrading Our Tripawd Family to be the first Tripawds Supporter blog. But after all her people have done for us here, we were stunned – and pleasantly surprised – to see Codie’s Tripawds Rule! is now an official Tripawds Supporter blog.

You see, Martha and Ralph were not only responsible for introducing Wyatt Ray Dawg to my people. They have been generous enough to contribute to Tripawds in the past, and they are planning the upcoming Northern California Tripawds Party.

So please drop by their blog to read all about the Life & Times of Codie Rae, Tripawd Girldog Extraordinaire, and leave them a gracious thank you comment for us.

You might notice how the Tripawds Rule! blog no longer has any banner ads. For details about this and other Tripawds Supporter blog enhancements, please read our Tripawds Supporter information.

How My Pawrents Started Living Again, Part 2

Jerry with his pack workamping at Vickers ranch Ten months have passed since I left this earth. Every human has different ideas about what they consider “enough” time to grieve before bringing a new companion into their lives. For my own pawrents, they didn’t have any ideas about how long that would be for them.

As time went on, I tried to tell my pawrents that it was OK for them to want to share their life with another dog. And that dog didn’t even have to be a Tripawd, I just wanted them to be happy, to once again feel the joy at sharing life’s great wonders as a pack.

Throughout our travels together, we sought far and wide for land where I could live out my final days. Though I didn’t make it there with them, they did finally find my perfect resting place. Having made a vow to wait until they found our new mountain home, they now wondered if they were perhaps ready to open their hearts and welcome a new member to the pack.

Martha Ralph Codie Rae Smokey and Wyatt RayIn July, my friend Codie Rae’s pawrents, Martha and Ralph, posted this announcement about a young pup named Wyatt, who had just been rescued by some very kind people. Being just a little partial towards Shepherds, Wyatt’s big ears, deep eyes and handsome mugshot caught the attention of my pawrents.

“Did you see that Rescue Forums post that Codie Rae put up on the site?” my Dad said to Mom.

“He’s gorgeous!” Mom said.

Mom and Martha were soon on the phone talking about Wyatt. Mom wanted to learn more. Why was he a Tripawd? What was he like? Did he have any issues?

Seems that Wyatt is a well-bred Shepherd puppy who spent the first few months of his life tethered to a rope, in a backyard in Oakland, California. He was underfed and neglected by stupid humans that likely paid a lot of money for him, probably because they just wanted a guard dog. One day his cruel owners went outside and saw that Wyatt’s leg was tangled up in the rope for who knows how long. They took him to the vet to fix his leg, but it was beyond help. When the vet recommended amputation, the owners said forget it; euthanize him. They didn’t want a three legged Shepherd.

A kind vet tech at the clinic named Lucie said “No way!” She knew that Wyatt was destined for greater things, so she took him home, and called the good people at German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California for help. The group paid for Wyatt’s leg amputation, his post-op care, and all of the things necessary to help him get ready to find a loving home.

This group is the same one which helped save my friend Codie Rae from the exact same situation last year. In fact, Codie Rae was 8 months old at the time they found her, and she’s even from the same neighborhood! Her pawrents Martha and Ralph are active volunteers for the group, and that’s how they found out about Wyatt.

Jim meets Wyatt Ray DawgFinding out about Wyatt was such perfect timing; it seemed like the universe was conspiring to put him and my pawrents together.

See, last November when Mom and Dad met Codie Rae for the first time, it was only about a month after my passing. Mom and Dad were so heavy in mourning, that they just couldn’t imagine being able to bring another dog into their lives. Today, ten months later, it seemed only fitting that Codie Rae and her pawrents introduce them to the next great love of their lives; my legacy, Wyatt Ray Dawg.

Leg-a-cy. Get it?! 🙂

Last week, Mom and Dad went out to Northern California to get their stuff out of storage. Along the way, they made a stop in Oakland, to meet this very special Tripawd! Yes, it was puppy love at first sight. Wyatt made the three day journey back to Jerry’s Acres, and appears to be loving his new life.

Wyatt Ray Dawg at home in the Rocky MountainsAnd as my pawrents begin their new chapter in Colorado, Wyatt will be there alongside them to share all the joys that life has to offer. And, he’ll continue showing the world that “It’s better to hop on three legs than limp on four!” I’ll be watching over the pack as their travels continue.

Stay tuned for more details about our new Tripawds spokesdog, and read more about Wyatt on his Tripawds blog, Way to Go, Wyatt!

Did you know you can now sign up for your own free Tripawds blog? More big announcements about that coming up soon!

The Luna Award for Advances in Canine Cancer Research

Luna Hemangiosarcoma survivor

The following Guest Blog post was generously written by our friend Luna‘s Mom, Sandra Thomas, Owner/Breeder, Burghard Shepherds, Lake Mary, Florida.

After learning about Sandra’s generous donation to the AKC Canine Health Foundation in memory of her beloved Luna, we asked her if she would share her exciting story about the day she got to present the first “Luna Award” recently in Orlando, Florida.

Luna’s Memory Lives On

Shortly after my two year old black German Shepherd dog, “Luna” was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma on October 5th, 2007, I learned through the American Kennel Club AKC’s Canine Health Foundation of the research of Matthew Breen, PhD, (Professor Genomics), and Tessa Breen (Canine Genomics Sample Coordinator, Canine Cancer Genomics Program, North Carolina State University of Raleigh). I thought if nothing could be done for Luna, at least Luna might be able to do something for someone else. In fact, I enrolled all 12 of my dogs, including Luna’s parents and nine siblings, in his research program. I hoped that this family group might be useful to Dr. Breen in some way.

Luna had a long journey, she outlasted all of her vets’ predictions of two weeks to two months to live. She lived another 11 months after her formal diagnosis (and she had been limping several months prior to her diagnosis when we didn’t know what was wrong with her). Her journey included an initial surgery which removed part of the bone in her right hind leg to get the diagnosis, followed six months later with an amputation of the same leg, hemipelvectomy, chemotherapy, metronomics, and SAHA treatment. She lived life to the fullest as a “tripawd” for nearly another six months.

The Big Day: Presenting at Conference

Sandra Thomas ACK Canine Genetics ConferenceWhen Luna, then 3 years old, died on September 16th, 2008, I wanted to do something to try to keep her memory alive and to help further research in the field of canine cancer. That is when I made a donation to Dr. Breen’s research program in memory of Luna.

In response to the donation, Dr. Breen suggested that part of the donation go to an award to the “best presentation or poster” at the “Genes, Dogs and  Cancer: 5th International Canine Cancer Conference” to be held February 13 – 15, 2009 at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Breen, who chaired the conference which was open to all scientists, veterinarians, and dog fanciers with a scientific interest in cancer, suggested we call the award the “Luna Award for Advances in Canine Cancer Research“. Dr. Breen felt that this award, in his words, would “help keep her memory alive, not just among ourselves, but across the broader canine cancer genomics community.” And, he invited me to present the award personally at the conference as another way to remember our special Luna .

Continue reading The Luna Award for Advances in Canine Cancer Research