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!

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.

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)

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

Back in Luckenbach again

Hitched to a post outside the Luckenbach barFor those who don’t know, my people still continue their fulltime RVing adventures after saying goodbye to me seven months ago. And while it’s difficult for them to go back to places where we traveled together, they have learned the best way to let go. And that is by never letting go.

By keeping me in their hearts and knowing that my spirit shall always travel with them, they find comfort in my absence. Every once in a while I just have to remind them I’m still around, if only in spirit. Take their recent stay in Luckenbach, Texas for instance.

Spirit Jerry shows up at LuckenbachWe spent a couple nights enjoying the Luckenbach scene last year – lots of grass, good people, and a sign on the door that reads “Dogs On Leases Only” – my kinda place.

Missing me on their recent visit back, they stumbled upon my name lost in the sea of license plates that makes up the outhouse walls. Just another reminder from me for them to live in the now, with no regrets, and enjoy life as it is.

After a storm flooded the field where they had parked the trailer, they found themselves stuck in Luckenbach a bit longer than expected. But instead of getting upset, the license plate reminded them of my mantra – Every day is a great day, enjoy each one to the fullest no matter what life throws your way.

Jerry by the Fire in Luckenbach, TX

I could think of worse places than Luck to be stuck. If you’ve lost a furry friend to cancer, consdier checking out our coping with loss discussion forum. Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it – you’re not alone.

Thank you Nature!

We can’t thank PBS and WNET enough for sharing Jerry’s story on Nature’s Why We Love Cats and Dogs yesterday. If you missed it, no worries. You can still watch the full episode online! Or, you can just skip to parts 2 & 5 for our segments! 😉

Why We Love Cats and Dogs PBS Producer Ellen Kissing Jerry

We must give a special shout-out to producer Ellen Goosenberg Kent and her crew. Since they first followed us around Santa Fe last March, we’ve wondered what would come of the hours of footage they shot.

Well, Ellen did a simply amazing job telling Jerry’s story! We have now seen it about a dozen times and still cry every time.

And the feedback has simply been overwhelming. Just check out some of the heartfelt comments people are leaving on our posts about Jerry’s last days.

We are just astounded to think that our story has touched so many people, in such profound ways. If the response here and on the Nature website is any indication, Ellen is sure to be nominated for another Emmy!

Jerry stars in Why We Love Cats and Dogs

And if traffic is any indication of our future success with this website, Jerry’s legacy is bound to live on here forever.

We typically averaged about 900 unique visits a day. Yesterday alone we had more than 6,000 visitors!

Thank you Ellen. Thank you Nature. Thank you PBS.

And special thanks to all the viewers out there who dropped by to discover Jerry’s full story and share their own puppy-love stories with us. Thanks to all of you, we continue to spread the word that it’s better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.

Jerry visits on 4-month anniversary of his passing.

Big Stick Fun in the Rocky Mountain Lakes of Vickers RanchOn this day, the four month anniversary of Jerry’s passing, we have reason to believe he is here with us …

The Patron Saint Jerry of Tripawds Candle we received from Codie Rae is lit and the flame has reached the center of his halo.

For the first time in weeks of being camped out in the desert without hearing a single cry on the wind, we just heard the calls of the coyotes.

In Tweeting for Jerry the TinyUrl http://www.tinyurl.com/ripjerry was available for linking to his epitaph.

Long live Jerry.

What is the Rainbow Bridge?

jerry travels on with his toysWhen I started getting really sick my people heard a lot about this whole “Rainbow Bridge” thing. To be honest, they didn’t care much for the concept. Then, they helped me get there. And I must say, this place rocks.

So what is the Rainbow Bridge? In short, it is a poem about doggy heaven.

Commercially, it is the title of many books about pet loss. In spiritual terms, it is a metaphorical place known by people whose beloved pets have died.

In reality, it is a blessing of hope for those who love their dogs enough to help them pass on when their time comes …

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.

– Author Unknown

So, this clarifies something we hear a lot in the Tripawd discussion forums. When dogs pass on, they do not “cross” the bridge. When people lay their dogs to rest, they are helping them go “to” the bridge – where they will meet them once again someday. Glad we could straighten that out.

And for the record, the original author of The Rainbow Bridge is unknown. While it is said to have been penned by Oregon grief counselor Paul Dahm in 1981, the poem has been circulated and attributed so widely that no one knows for sure. We don’t care. Ever since my people received a copy along with my remains from the wonderful pet cemetery folks, they think it’s pretty cool and wanted to share it with everyone here.

How I chose my time to go.

Saint Francis of Assisi Church Santa Fe, NMMy people will soon explain their timing and decision processes for helping me be free of my cancer ridden body. But let me share why I had to leave this earth on Friday, October 3, 2008.

You see, it was in Assisi, Italy on October 3, 1226, that one Franciscan friar by the name of Giovanni Francesco Bernardone was laid to rest. Catholics know him as the patron saint of animals, the environment and Italy. It is customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies honoring animals around his feast day of October fourth.

I had to be there for him.

Continue reading How I chose my time to go.