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!

The B Brothers Help You, Help Tripawds

Beezer and BoomerMy pawrents were devastated when the vet said I had lung mets. It was like reliving my cancer diagnosis all over again.

That’s when our friends Joel and Ross, Moose’s Dads, pointed us to “Overcoming Fear and Guilt When Canine Kids Get Sick.”

This powerful essay, written by Denver lawyer Doug Koktavy, helped Mom and Dad by finally convincing them that blame, fear, anger and guilt are a waste of precious time when living with cancer.

An Excerpt from “On Fear

© Doug Koktavy

“. . . I realized my fear of the disease was the fuel that was being used against me. Devilishly clever, my biggest enemy was not the disease, but me. I was the power source being used to generate the very negative energy destroying my own being and wasting a special day with my beloved dog.

This paradoxical contradiction was glaring. I had thought the growing presence of disease was causing my mounting fear. In fact, just the opposite was occurring. My daily increasing fear was causing the disease to grow and become more powerful. I decided it was high time to start working for me and the Beez, not against us.”

Doug’s story brought tears to my pawrents eyes, and his straightforward coping pointers gave them the motivation they needed to get on with life.

His essay is one of the most powerful tools around for coping with serious illness in our animal friends.

Now, Doug has turned his essay into a full-length book called “The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers.” The book details how his two special boys helped him make the most of their time together.

The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer” includes lessons about:

  • Listening to our pets
  • Gaining a new perspective on our pets’ end of life care
  • Dealing with anticipatory grief
  • Conquering guilt and fear: living in the present
  • Developing a Presence Plan
  • Finding humor in the worst situations
  • Understanding our place in the circle of life

help grieving support for loss of loved pet

We love this book. Our favorite holistic vet, Dr. Marty, agrees:

“Not only is it so well written that you become a bystander observing the story from within, but the compassion for the vital connection we share with this wonderful kingdom oozes out of and between the lines.”

–Martin Goldstein, DVM, author, The Nature of Animal Healing, and host, Ask Martha’s Vet, Martha Stewart Living Radio

Author Doug Koktavy

Proceeds Benefit the Tripawds Community

With this book, big-hearted Doug has set out to accomplish two impawtant things:

  1. Help you cope with your best friend’s terminal illness, and
  2. Help companion animal groups by donating forty percent of the proceeds for each book sold.

For every copy of “The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer,”  purchased here, Doug will donate $10 to Tripawds! We are so excited about his generous offer to help us maintain this community.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Doug about his book and this is what he had to say about The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer. Check out our video interview above, then be sure to head on over to BeezerAndBoomer.com, and get your copy today!

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.

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

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!

How My Pawrents Started Living Again, Part 1

Jerry and his pack at Whitefish Point on Lake OntarioAfter I said goodbye to my pawrents, it wasn’t easy for them to adapt to life without me. After traveling the country together for nearly two years, all those lessons I taught them about living in the moment became harder for them to follow. Their hearts were simply too heavy, mourning my loss.

Although our pack was still spiritually together, they were so sad that I wasn’t physically with them to enjoy new adventures.

Over the following months, they shed many tears. And each time a dog crossed their path, they felt as if their hearts were sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

But slowly, and thankfully, all of you good Tripawd pawrents helped bring them back into the present. The Tripawds mission became something for them to focus on, other than grief. These last few months they’ve worked hard to build up the site to support more Tripawd pawrents, and it’s kept them very, very busy. With each anniversary of my passing, the heavy burden of grief slowly becomes a little lighter.

In July, I led my Mom and Dad to a place in Colorado where I would have loved to roam, a spot where any dog would feel like king of the mountain.

See, ever since I got sick, they had been looking for a new place for us to call home. Although we roamed from California to Maine and down to Texas, we all knew that the Rocky Mountains were our destiny. In spring, they headed to Colorado, and began their search for my land. But months went by, and nothing seemed destined to become ours.

They had just about given up on finding what they wanted, when I led them to our perfect spot in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. Funny because in our travels together, we had driven by the turn-off from Hwy 287, just west of Fort Collins, three times. This time, the road led them to a beautiful mountain retreat they now call Jerry’s Acres.

As they began making plans to bring our storage stuff out from California, my friend Codie Rae, Girldog Extraordinaire, and her pawrents were hard at work, helping to rescue a fellow Shepherd in need of a loving home. While I wasn’t able to spend my last days on the land we sought for so long, I can’t help but think what a wonderful place Jerry’s Acres would be for a neglected puppy from the inner city… (to be continued)

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