2009 Tripawds Survey: Your Thoughts and Some Exciting News!

Discharged from UC Davis on Thanksgiving Day, 2006When my people created Tripawds after my diagnosis, we never dreamed that it would turn into the incredible pillar of support and comraderie that it has become.

Over the last few years, Tripawds has grown exponentially, and as more of you join us, it’s important for us to know what you think of Jerry’s place, so that we can make Tripawds a better experience for everyone.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to our recent survey. And for those of you who haven’t done so, you can feel free to send us your feedback anytime by clicking here.

We received 33 completed surveys and here are a few insights we gained.

Where You Live:

Tripawds cover the planet!

  • California has the most Tripawds (7)
  • Followed by Washington (4)
  • Then Colorado (3)
  • Two responses came from Canada
  • Two from England
  • One from Israel.

What You Love:

Almost unanimously, you agree that your favorite feature is the Tripawd Discussion Forums.

The forums have kept my sanity the past 6 weeks! I could not have gotten through this without it!”

Jerry’s Blog is your second favorite place to visit, followed by the Tripawds Photo Gallery.

Almost half of those who replied have made purchases from Jerry’s Amazon Picks and Café Press store. WOW! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We appreciate your patronage, and want you to know that we are currently working to expand our selections for the most beneficial, healthy and affordable three legged dog products on the planet.

11 year old three legged dog Zeus 11 months after amputationWhat You Want:

Website speed. More of it. Many of you commented that after our WordPress upgrade in January, you started having navigation difficulties and speed issues in the Forum and Chat Room.

That overhaul brought more features and functionality to you, but at the expense of speed, which we didn’t know would happen. We understand this is frustrating. We’ve investigated this issue, and are implementing a solution that should make the site run much better for everyone and enable us to launch some awesome new features too. Stay tuned, we’ll talk about this exciting news soon.

Meanwhile, we want you to know how much we appreciate your participation and willingness to offer a shoulder to lean on for fellow Tripawd pawrents. Thank you so much for taking time from your busy lives to be part of this community! After all, that’s the number one thing people like most about tripawds.com according to our survey:

“… the support, friendships and sense of being part of something very special and unique.”

By sharing our knowledge, all of us are making the world a better place for three legged dogs, one pawstep at a time.

Maximum’s Courage: One Pawrent’s Tripawd Journey

Many congratulations to our friend Paula, Max’s Mom, whose essay she submitted to the dog magazine “Just Labs,” won first place in the magazine’s contest. Paula graciously allowed us to reprint her award-winning essay in its entirety here.

three legged labrador Max after amputation“We argued, as most married couples do, about goofy things like whose turn it was to pick up kids or what was for dinner. Lately, the arguments had been a little closer to the heart over something missing from my life for much too long.

I longed for my own and only one would do, a Black Labrador Retriever. One that I could wrap my arms around and bear hug and play with! My husband on the other hand, being abused by the neighborhood German Shepherd as a paper boy, wasn’t fond of any dog. I had been working on him since the day I met him. I would ask “How can you not love a dog”? I guess when they are chasing you down the street and you are pedaling for dear life, scared to death, it affects you.

Honestly, we really weren’t in a place in our lives where a dog fit in. A dog in my home would be a member of the family and not just a pet, and we were so busy running our 3 boys around and working full time jobs that it would have been unfair. So for now, I conceded and got my dog fixes through everyone else’s dog! Fortunately for me there were 4 other Labs of all colors in our extended family. I got lots of fixes!

The years flew and the boys grew. Out of three, only one remained at home. Alex, just like his father, was constantly on the go. Baseball, basketball, you know the drill. I had always worked outside the home and was used to being on the go as well, but now found myself coming home to an empty house. I chose my time wisely and brought the subject up again. We got into a discussion that only 2 people who love each other could have. Who would pick up the dog poop? I assured my husband that I would be responsible for that and he laughed like I had said I wouldn’t spend money for a month! I’m more than willing to pick up my share of dog poop and to this day do the majority if poop duty at our house!! The discussions varied in fervor and length until I finally thought that maybe I had worn him down. It’s a skill born only to a woman!

That summer we attended a fundraiser for a 12 year old boy in our community with brain cancer. The community rallied to hold an auction to raise money for his medical bills. We walked in the building and sitting in front of me was a tiny puppy. I asked the woman where it came from and she said it was being auctioned off. I took the puppy out of the crate and knew at that moment that the little Black Lab had found his forever Mom. Trust me; there was no discussion besides some inaudible mumbling on my husband’s part and teenage text messaging had cell phones beeping everywhere. Dude! Your mom got a dog!!!

We named him Max and for the next 19 months, he was the center of our world. We took him everywhere…. Even to North Carolina on vacation. His favorite place was our lake home in Northern Wisconsin where he learned to swim and retrieve. He loved to chase geese….and occasionally they would chase him!

In the fall of 2008 Max was diagnosed with a torn posterior cruciate ligament and had TPLO surgery at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital. What an amazing place. The recovery went well until week 7. In less than 2 days Max took a serious turn for the worse. We went back to the hospital and they diagnosed Osteosarcoma in that same leg.

Mentally, I was extremely unprepared for this diagnosis. A broken bone, a dislodged screw, yes, but not cancer!! I was crying hysterically as they talked about amputation and chemotherapy. Amputation would take Max’s pain away and chemo would help prolong his life. AMPUTATION? I couldn’t say the word. My handsome, proud boy, only 19 months old and so full of life…. you want me to cut off his leg? I was horrified. What I felt equaled my emotion when we discovered that my Dad had cancer. Four years previously we lost him to lung cancer that metastasized to the bone. I was all too familiar with this disease. Disbelief, anger, and helplessness were swimming around in my head. I had to leave Max, so a biopsy and some x-rays could be done. The lungs are where this very aggressive cancer typically spreads and unfortunately, the younger the dog the more aggressive the cancer. Our Max was only 19 months old. Crying uncontrollably, I gave Max hugs and kisses, told him how much I loved him and left him with Dr. J.

I strongly believe in canine euthanasia. The doctors were telling me that by amputating, the pain would be gone, but would Max have a good quality of life? Should we put him through another surgery? Were we keeping with our philosophy of doing what’s right for Max, or would that be selfish?

The next morning brought news of the x-rays. They saw no evidence of metastasis in the lungs and biopsy results would not be back for 2 days. We were thankful for the news and Dr. J made sure we understood that just because we couldn’t see anything on the x-ray didn’t mean it wasn’t there. She suggested we talk to an oncologist about the chemo. I agreed wanting to be sure we had explored all of the available options.

We spoke with the oncologist and he too was positive about the combination of amputation and chemotherapy. Chemo affects dogs differently than humans. They don’t lose their fur, they don’t get as sick as humans, and very often, have no reaction to the chemo. Each dog is different, but after treatment many dogs can have a good quality of life, living a year or sometimes more. Timing was important though, because at Max’s age this type of cancer is voracious.

At home, Max and I had finally settled down. I was lying next to him trying my best not to cry. He could sense something was wrong and I hated to upset him. The phone rang and I ignored it. I was not in the mood to talk. Since my son was at a game with friends, I had a change of heart and picked up. The person on the other end introduced herself as our orthopedic surgeons (Dr. J) supervisor and the person who would perform the surgery with her. She spoke to me about the benefits of amputation surgery. She listened to my concerns and assured me that whatever our decision, they supported us. She said because of Max’s age she felt compelled to tell me about all of the success stories she had seen. I asked the obvious question “What would you do”? Without hesitation; she said “I would absolutely do the surgery”. Her call gave me the strength to make a decision that only a few hours before had me in tears. It was like someone had taken 1000 lbs off of my shoulders. I slept with Max on the floor that night. I curled up on his bed next to him and listened to him breathe. He licked my face as if to say “good job Mom, let’s do this”. I called the next morning and scheduled the surgery. That afternoon, I loaded Max up once again and drove to Madison. I left him in Dr. Js capable hands and drove home in tears and praying for the best.

It has been 7 weeks since Max’s amputation and he is doing great. He has a wonderful oncologist and has had 2 chemo treatments with very little side effect. He is back to chasing his tennis ball and going on walks. The walks are shorter but we enjoy them all the same. Max goes everywhere with us, and is very patient with all of the people who ask questions. I think Max understands that he is doing his job as a Tripawd, helping people understand that canine cancer is a serious matter.

We owe so much to the wonderful doctors at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital for their guidance and support. For anyone going through this emotional journey www.tripawds.com is highly recommended as a resource. An oncologist at the hospital suggested it to me and it has been invaluable. I and others on the site are dedicated to giving back what helped us through the dark times.

Max will soon have his 3 month chest x-ray to look for lung metastasis. We pray for the best and cherish every minute we have with him. The Good Lord willing, Max will be 2 years old in May.”

Update: Since this essay was written, Max and Paula received the news no pawrent wants to hear; the cancer has metastasized in Max’s lungs. But, in true Tripawd spirit, Max continues to live each day one pawstep a a time. Never give up Max, you are a real hero.

Dogs of the OC Part 2: Maximutt Goes Back to the Beach

What a coincidence! When we were in Orange County, California, we met not one, but two really cool Tripawds named Max. Both boys both live down the road from eachother. We hope their pawrents will use the Tripawd Forums topic “Tripawd Parties” to set up a play date!

Here’s Max, back at his favorite dog beach for the first time since his surgery late last year. Go Max!

Show Tripawd Pride at Mealtime!

Support tripawds.com with Tripawds Pet BowlSince we just updated my cancer dog health tips page and finally wrote complete details of my cancer care diet, it is only fitting that we remind you how dog food is best served for three legged dogs.

The healthiest diet for your three legged dog is best served from the Tripawds Large Pet Bowl. 😉

This and many other cool products that help raise awareness and support this website are available in Jerry’s three legged dog store. Got your 2009 Tripawds Wall Calendar yet?

FYI: Don’t forget to raise your dog’s bowls up off the ground to reduce strain! Read our updated health tips for more canine cancer and amputation recovery advice.

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.

Support K9K Walk for Canine Cancer on Virtual Walk Team Tripawd

Running along the Rio Grande in T or C, New MexicoNow you can join Team Tripawd and support the Morris Animal Foundation’s first K9K Walk for a cure for canine cancer!

Not going to be near Sacramento, CA on April 18th? Not a problem!

Support the cause by registering for the Tripawds Virtual Walk Team. Download the registration form here! Each “virtual walker” who signs up will receive a Canine Cancer Campaign bandanna for their dog and a Canine Cancer Campaign awareness bracelet for themselves.

Since there are so many dog lovers across the country committed to finding a cure for cancer, The Sacramento Morris Animal Foundation Volunteers have created a “Virtual Walk Option” for friends that would like to support the cause but can not attend the walk. You can register for the Virtual Walk and support the cause long distance by signing up for Team Tripawds.

The Sacramento volunteers are covering all the expenses for this walk, so every cent they raise will go directly to Morris Animal Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign.  We are hopeful that this very first K9K will be successful.  If it is, they will do another in the San Francisco Bay Area in October.  Most of all, they are hoping to inspire other dog lovers across the country to host a K9K.  Contact the Sacramento Region Canine Cancer Campaign Volunteers for more information.

What is a Gravatar?

Among the many new features of our recent blog and forums upgrade is the use of profile avatars, Gravatars and Wavatars … oh my!

Tripawd Forum members can upload their own profile avatar that can appear next to each post from that user. We were excited to hear that we could patch our theme to make those avatars appear next to blog comments posted here by known forum members. Alas, the code didn’t work with new WordPress comment system.

So you ask, what are these Wavatars, and how do I get one? Well, reply below and you’ll have one – the same one if you reply again. They are randomly generated. Unless, that is, you have a Gravatar.

Anyone can get a Globally Recognized Avatar at gravatar.com. This unique profile avatar will be displayed next to posts and comments you make on any blog or social networking site that supports Gravatars. Otherwise you end up with the Mystery Man or some MonsterID.

So get your Gravatar, and keep leaving comments! And don’t forget to update your forum profile with an Avatar too because Gravatrs won’t work there.