Friday, May 6, 2016

Tripawds ~ Living Life on 3 Paws

Tri paw German Shepherd dog
All photos were provided by
   Do you know a dog or cat that is living life on 3 paws? It is not as unusual as you might think. You can read Skippy’s Story to meet a great little dog that is living large as a tri. I can’t imagine how devastating the decision to amputate a limb on a beloved pet must be for someone. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have someone to talk to at a time like that? You’d need a person that has been down that long road to answer your questions and calm some of your fears.
Man, woman playing stick with tri paw German Shepherd
   I am so pleased to introduce you to René Agredano and Jim Nelson. They are the founders of Tripawds®, a foundation helping people and their pets realize it is better to hop on three legs than to limp on four™. We were fortunate enough to meet René and Jim at the BlogPaws conference in 2014. Since then, I have followed their amazing work and they are heroes in my eyes. René recently answered a few questions for me. I hope that you enjoy our interview and share it with anyone who if sharing their life with a tri paw.
Tri paw German Shepherd
1. Approximately how many tripawds are there?
   That's a hard question to answer, if not impossible. I can only answer this based on our community's statistics. Since we started in 2006 we've seen over 10,000 members around the globe register as members of our community, with over 11,000 Facebook fans joining them. Not every person who joins us has a Tripawd. Maybe they're just thinking of adopting one, or exploring it as an option, but the majority of people who join us do go through the experience.

German Shepherd tri paw with rubber chicken in its mouth
2. What is the most common reason that a dog or cat loses a limb?
   Within our community, it's limb cancers like osteosarcoma (our Jerry lost a leg to this cancer, which is why Tripawds began). The second most common reason animals lose limbs is accidents, followed by birth defects. Neglect is another reason. Our current Tripawd Wyatt Ray lost his leg because of it.
Two tri paw pups
3. When is it best to have a tripawd fitted for a prosthetic?
   Prosthetics must be considered before amputation surgery. If a surgeon doesn't leave enough limb during the procedure, the prosthetic won't have anything to grab onto and stay put. Animals aren't candidates for prosthetics if 1) they don't have enough of a stump left or 2) the type of cancer they have required complete removal of the limb to achieve “clean margins” and eliminate cancer in the affected limb.
   For animals who are good candidates, a prosthetic fitting can happen within weeks of surgery. The pet parent must be willing to commit the time and money necessary for a successful experience. Pet prosthetics aren't like growing instantaneous legs: they're an ongoing process over the course of the animal's life and must be made by someone with experience in animal biomechanics, like OrthoPets. A badly fitting or DIY 3D printed prosthetic made by an amateur is worse than none at all.
Gorgeous Golden Retriever with tri paws wearing tee shirt
Photo credit~ Johnny Brazil Tripawds Pals
4. Is there a harness that works best for a dog that has lost a front leg?
   We love exploring new dog harnesses to see if they're helpful to Tripawds when walking on slippery floors, using stairs or getting into vehicles. The harnesses in our Tripawds Gear blog are Tripawd-tested and meet the needs of both front and rear-legged amputees. But the extra challenge front-leggers have with harnesses is that without a second front leg, there's nothing to keep the harness completely in place. Some harnesses are better than others at staying put, like the Webmaster Plus, but all of them need some degree of adjustment whenever the dog wears it.
   Whether a harness is for a front or rear Tripawd, harness manufacturers have told us that the logistics of making gear specifically for Tripawds is at this point, impossible to overcome. Producing harness for front/rear and left or right missing limbs is cost-prohibitive. Hopefully, someday that will change.
Tri paw tabby cat jumping
Photo credit ~ Henry the Tripawd Cat Friend
5. How do the nutritional needs of a tripawd differ?
Tripawds must stay slimmer than dogs of similar breed and stature. For example, a healthy dog is a 5 on the Purina body condition scale. A Tripawd should be about a 4. Any extra weight on a Tripawd is exceptionally tough on their joints and mobility and results in a diminished quality of life. We cannot overemphasize the importance of keeping a Tripawd slim.
Three tri pawed dogs at park
6. Your network has almost 10,500 members and 1,136 blogs. How have you grown to such impressive numbers?   Through the years it's just been word of mouth, with veterinarians being our primary referrals alongside the Internet. The Tripawds Foundation now does direct outreach to vets at events like the American Animal Hospital Association conference and the PuppyUp Foundation canine cancer fundraising walks to raise awareness.
Tripawds® downloadble books
7. What is the best book to help a pet parent that is facing an amputation with their dog or cat?
   Well gosh, I'd have to say it's ours! We have two e-books in the Tripawds library that are helpful before, during and after amputation surgery. The Tripawds Required Reading List is another good (and free) place to start.
Jerry the tri paw German Shepherd standing with Devil's Tower in the background
8. How does a tripawd parent get in touch with your group?
   Easy! The Tripawds Start page is the best place to begin. We're also on Facebook and Twitter (the two best places to reach us on social media) and on Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus.
German Shepherd tri paw jumping into stream
9. What can my readers do to help support the great work that you are doing?
   There're many ways to support our community. One of the best is to let people and veterinarians know we exist. Vets are ones who deliver the bad news that a dog or cat needs to lose a limb. Tripawds is there to lessen the shock, to offer the emotional support pet parents need after hearing the news. Our Tripawds Foundation has Tripawds outreach brochures for vets to provide and we'll ship to anyone who requests them.
Man, woman and tri paw German Shepherd dog
10. What is the best life lesson that you have learned from your dogs, Jerry and Wyatt?   Life's hardest moments, like dealing with cancer or the loss of a limb can have many blessings if your heart is open to receiving them. Jerry had cancer but it didn't stop him from making the most of life. Every day was a great day to him. As long as he was alive and with the people he loved, all was good. Watching how he lived after cancer, and now seeing how Wyatt copes with his so-called “disability” has shown Jim and me how to be more appreciative of every moment we are given on this earth. We strive to be better humans because of it. ☺

   I want to thank René for taking the time to help me share their mission. If you or someone you know is living with a tripawd, please visit for a wealth of support and information. Of course, if you are looking for a terrific foundation to support, I recommend Tripawds.
We are joining this week’s Pet Parade a few days late but that just shows how easy it is to hop on all week. Enjoy the Pet Parade Blog Hop!  Join the fun with Rascal and RoccoBionic Basil’s BlogLove is being owned by a Husky, and me.

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  1. Heyhey! Sorry I've been MIA. Miss you!!

  2. We were hiking at Sleeping Giant one morning and saw a three-legged pup. You would have never known that he didn't have 4 paws. He was amazing and fast!

  3. We learned from our friend who lost his leg, it is not a big deal for the dog, but the humans have much more trouble adjusting!

  4. We pups are amazing aren't we, so resilient!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  5. It's just amazing how resilient dogs are! Great post!

  6. Dogs are heroes... I always guessed it :o)

  7. Awww MK we are honored you shared our story. From all the Tripawd cats & dogs out there, thank you for sharing the amazing adventures of our 3-legged heroes.

  8. We have seen a few pups with three paws. They don't know they have three paws
    Lily & Edward

  9. tripawd's are some of my fav's. they show us never to let our outsides limit us!

  10. We've met a few tripawds and they were just as happy and active as can be.

  11. My dogs have a buddy who lives in our area and only has three legs. Other than his adorable hop he's the same as any other dog really.

  12. There are quite a few tripawds that come to our park and they amaze me as to how active they are, like any other dog :)

  13. Thanks for all the great information. We learned a lot from this post.

  14. Thank you for this inspiring post!
    Mr bailey, hazel & Mabel

  15. We are so glad to see a post about this.... those with three paws are JUST as LOVABLE and FULL of LOVE as those of us that have four.

  16. Tripawd sounds like a wonderful foundation to be a part of. Kudos to René and Jim for starting a wonderful and supportive organization.

  17. Great interview. I didn't know there was a resource group for tripawds. Mr. N played chase with a tripawd the other day and both of them enjoyed it!

  18. Fantastic post! Beautiful and amazing dogs. I do know of someone with a tripawd Husky who is also an Epidog and it doesn't stop the dog from enjoying life!

  19. Great interview, we're had a couple of conversations with Tripawds at BlogPaws in past years - the do wonderful work!

  20. Paws up to René and Jim for all they do with Tripawds. And thanks for sharing this information about tripawds. They are amazing!

  21. So great that there is so much info out about 3 legged dogs and cats. I love this organization ~RascalandRocco

  22. OMD! They are SUPERSTARS!!!! And they all looks so very happy and active! I bets they run more than I do!!! BOL!! Thanks for the info, those peeps are just pawsome!!!
    Ruby ♥

  23. That's so awesome that they are bringing awareness to tripods! I've known a bunch of tripods throughout the years and they've all been awesome dogs!

  24. I forget now when Tripawds first came to my attention, but I've always been impressed with all they do and the resources on their website. I used some of them when researching cancer diets. It was great to learn more about this wonderful organization.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  25. My girl was born with a physical deformity that causes her front leg to twist. The vet said she will have to have it removed as she gets older to spare her the pain of using it! WE'll join these ranks some day!

  26. Great post and interview! I love how resilient animals are! They continue on living life to the fullest and still have 110% love to give!

  27. I love how these dogs do not feel bad for themselves. They get on with life and are loving and beautiful!!

  28. It's wonderful to know a strong network like TriPawds exists to serve as a reference and support system for folks who are dealing with the decision to remove a limb, and the after-care. They are an incredible resource for a particularly difficult time in a pet parent's life!

  29. I'm so happy to learn about Tripawds - I worked at an oncology clinic and cared for many amputee patients after they lost their legs to cancer. They not only recovered quickly but did just fine on the three legs that had. I love to hear about orgs like Tripawds and the network to help pet parents cope with this - thanks so much for sharing.

  30. I have two friends with tripods (one from cancer and one from a car accident, I believe) and, honestly, these dogs have no idea that they are different. Neither dog is really slowed down by their missing limb and both dogs are happy, energetic and super friendly dogs. Not sure if either friend knows about Tripawds but I will definitely be sharing this post with both of them! :-)

  31. This was a beautiful post - thank you for sharing. I especially love 'Henry' the flying three legged cat. Not just because of his name but because of the unwavering cattitude. Animals are inspirational.

  32. It's amazing how dogs and cats can adapt with a missing leg. Thank you for sharing this information.

  33. What an awesome organization. Great interview :)

  34. Wow how inspiring, thanks for sharing this great organization! I always thought three legged dogs were that extra bit special. Great slogan too.

  35. Wow, this was cool! Dogs are so amazing aren't they?

  36. My son's Afghan lost a leg to cancer (and ultimately his life to that dreaded disease) but he had a number of years being a tri-pawd. He was a terrific pooch and we still miss him. Thanks for advocating for tri's. ღ

  37. I love seeing pics of the Tripawds in action. They are such role models!

  38. I'm amazed at how these animals adapt, with or without a prosthetic. Great post!

  39. The Tripawds community is awesome! I got to meet the founders at BlogPaws and they were very inspiring. There is a dog named Creed at my local rescue that had to loose a leg. He is doing very well as a tripawd dog. Animals are more adaptive than we give them credit for!
    -Purrs from your friends at

  40. Thanks for featuring Tripawds, like you say they are more common than we realise!
    Annette @PetsAreFound


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