Five things to know before acquiring a tripod dog

Let’s say one day you find yourself in a shelter. Let’s say that behind the bars of a run, you see a pretty pair of brown eyes looking back at you and you think, “That dog right there. That’s my dog”. Then you notice something a little awkward about his gait. And then you look closer. The dog you’re already half in love with has three legs.  The shelter attendant sees your look and tells you that it’s OK, that the dog does just fine, that there’s nothing abnormal about his life, but you, from the other side of the run, cannot really believe that. After all, the dog only has three legs! And you’re a nice, loving person, but you’d envisioned yourself running around and playing with your new buddy, and you can’t quite imagine how a “disabled dog” would fit that role.

Well, let me tell you: a couple of years ago, that person was me, and the dog staring out at me from behind the wall at the shelter was Nellie.  At the time, she actually had four legs: one of them, however, didn’t work, the result of an old break that had been allowed to heal badly, and the shelter people told me that it was going to need to be amputated. She needed a foster home, they said, one that she could stay in while she was recovering.  They didn’t want the sad, quiet little yellow dog to have to re-learn how to walk on the hard concrete shelter floor.

I am a pretty active person–I like to play sports with my dogs and take them on adventures, and at the time, I was living in a total hiking paradise in the North Carolina mountains and loping around in the forest with my dog Lucy every single day.  The idea of a three-legged dog didn’t really make sense with how I lived. But heck, I had a nice comfy house for a little dog to recover in, I was working on my dissertation and had enough spare time to cuddle a little dog and teach her how to walk: I could foster her! No big deal! It’s not like I was committing!

Well, in my defense, this is what she looked like at the time. Like you could resist that face!

…yeeeeah. So Nellie was my first (and currently only, knock wood) Foster Fail. I was writing a “Dear Shelter, There is no way you’re getting this dog back, Love, Kelsey” email in my head, oh, eleven seconds after getting her in the door. All of my “but I want to play flyyyyyyyyball!” objections melted away pretty quickly, once the actual dog was in my house, making friends with crankypants Lucy, so sweet, so grateful to be somewhere warm and soft. “Three legs–I will deal”, I thought.

The good news is this: I didn’t have to deal. Here’s Nellie today:

“HI HI HI HI HI HI I’m Nellie, lookit, lookit, I’m zooming, see you later” [*drive-by licks]

I went in thinking that life with a tripod was going to be very different than it is. Here are five things that I have learned along the way and wanted to share with you, especially if you are someone who has, knows, loves or might end up with a tripod (which is to say, anyone with a dog):

1) Your dog is probably going to be awesome

Right after I picked her up from surgery. Still a little woozy, but that’s not stopping her from sniffing the flowers.

It is true that some tripod dogs take a longer time to recover from surgery. Anecdotally, dogs who take a while to bounce back are often a little older, or have some systemic issue (like cancer) that they are also dealing with. My experience was, however, very different. I’d read up on the post-surgical process enough that I wasn’t expecting her to have a multi-month recovery or anything, but I was shocked by how little the loss of her leg phased her. Her surgery was in the morning, and I’d expected her to stay at the veterinary hospital overnight, but around 2 PM, I got a call from the vets: “Yeah, um, your little invalid is running around the hospital trying to get all of the sick dogs to play with her, so you can probably come pick her up now.”
She’d apparently been up and running since ten minutes after coming out of anesthesia. I’d fully expected to be spending a week spooning chicken broth into the mouth of sick little dog and re-teaching her to walk. There was no re-teaching her to walk. There was only “Oh my god, Nellie, stop jumping off the back of the couch, you’re going to rip your stitches!” and “Chill out with the biteyface, you are supposed to be BROKEN!”

While this is certainly anecdata and not data, the people I’ve talked to who also started out with young, healthy dogs echo my experience with Nellie: their dogs were up and running after surgery almost immediately and appeared to barely notice the loss of the leg (if they noticed at all). There’s a fabulous website called Tripawds that I relied on a lot before Nellie had her surgery: while it’s somewhat vectored towards dogs who’ve lost their legs due to cancer, if you spend much time on the forums there, you will see ten posts about how shocked owners were by their dogs’ quick recoveries to every one worried post from an owner whose dog is a little slower to bounce back.

One thing that has been fascinating to me in the 2+ years since Nellie’s surgery is the way her body has adapted physiologically to the missing leg. Besides her happy happy face, there are two primary things I notice in the picture above where she’s running: first, she carries her front leg in between her back two legs, very much like a tripod you might have for a camera, and second, the muscles in her front leg and in her remaining shoulder have developed to really facilitate this setup. She’s become a tiny bit muscle-bound–even when she sleeps, her front leg rests sort of askew between her two back legs–but that extra muscle development really seems to support the front leg.

nellie frisbee 11

I can’t believe you put a picture of my butt on the internet. HOW EMBARRASSING.

crazyface running nellie 2

Demonstrating both her post-surgical running gait and her best dinosaur face.

When she runs, she uses the front leg as a bit of a pivot: it lands on the ground first and then she kicks off with her back feet, as you can see in the Frisbee picture to the left.  She also has adapted her gait so she now scissor-kicks when she runs (sort of akin to the double suspension gallop that you’ll often see in sighthounds.)

 

 

One of the great side effects of her new gait and the way her muscles have moved around is that she is fast. This is awesome for me, because…well, remember how I mentioned I wanted a flyball dog? I got one.

 

 

 

That’s my tripod wonderpuppy puppy doing a flyball runback at practice a couple of months ago. After fretting about it forever, I finally steeled myself up and entered her in a beginner class (shout out to the wonderful K-9 Kamikazees of Richmond, VA who were Nell’s first flyball teachers and remain my very favorite group of dog people ever.) She love love loves flyball, it turns out, and she’s got a lovely, graceful little box turn (the part that I was the most worried about developing, given that she’s only got one leg to push off with). And the fact that she’s turned into such a speedy little thing really helps, too! This video, which is unfortunately the only one I have, doesn’t demonstrate how fast she can go (it was the last run of a three-hour practice, and she was ready to take a nap). I haven’t run her in a tournament yet, largely because we’re moving fairly frequently because of my job right now and so we’ve never had time to really establish ourselves with a team. But when we’ve clocked her at practice, she routinely runs in under 4.5 seconds. That’s not anywhere near what Steve does, of course, but it’s pretty freaking respectable for a newish-to-the-sport dog, three legs or not. Plus, it’s great conditioning, she has a blast, and I get to play with my puppy in a game I’ve always wanted to play. Win-win!

And if you’re still worried how your tripod dog will do, take a look at Faith the TWO-legged dog! After watching that, having three legs seems cushy!

2) You will be answering the question “What happened to your dog?” about twenty times a day for the rest of your dog’s life.

Here’s Nellie’s Official Story: Nellie was born into a pretty crappy situation; she was owned by some people who left her, her brother and her parents chained in their backyard 24/7/365, regardless of climate (no kidding about that, either: from what I have pieced together about her past, she was pretty much in the backyard on a chain from the moment she was born.) She broke her leg in some mysterious way and her people refused to pay the $80 the vet was asking for to fix it. They asked if they could just have her euthanized; the vet said he wouldn’t do that, and anyway, it would be more expensive then just fixing her leg; instead of doing anything about it, they took her back, tried to let it heal on its own, and when it healed badly and it became clear she couldn’t walk on it, they dumped her on the highway outside the shelter and she found her own way there. I wish these people ill (they have since been prosecuted for animal cruelty and all their dogs have been seized and placed in better homes.) She recovered from surgery really quickly, and now she’s the happiest dog in the world. Yes, she’s doing great! No, I don’t think she misses it at all!

I have a short version and a long version of this story, plus an edited version for kids and people with fragile sensibilities. This is because, no joke, I am asked about it EVERY SINGLE TIME I am out in the world with Nell. People are curious, people want to make conversation, people have never seen a three-legged dog before, so they ask. I would recommend against having a tripod if you don’t like to talk to strangers, because you will be talking to a lot of strangers! People will ask about her leg when my arms are full of groceries. People will come up with their dogs and ask about it, and even if she’s being a leash-reactive butthead and yelling at their dog, they will want a small, pleasant conversation about my dog’s leg, which I try to give them, even as I’m trying to play LAT with Nellie and get her to stop being a jerk.

(Also, because she’s a pit bull, you’d be surprised how often I’m asked if her leg was ripped off in a fight. THAT’S fun! Pit bull people will know what I’m talking about here: typically I have to do the “no, pit bulls are really nice dogs/look how friendly my dog is” spiel on top of the leg thing, which means that these conversations get long, and sometimes you just want to, you know, put your groceries down and stop being an ambassador for a second. So it goes.)

While it can occasionally be tiring to be constantly telling The Story, I try to always, always do it if I’m asked. My thinking is that in general, your dog is the first tripod dog the person has met, and there’s always the chance that someday, that person’s neighbor will be contemplating euthanizing their dog rather than amputating a leg, and that person will think back on you and your happy little tripod and say, “You know, I met a dog with three legs once who did just fine and seemed so happy!” And that, right there, makes every iteration of The Story worthwhile.

Still, when I see people with tripods out in the world, my little gift to them is that I just smile and say, “Beautiful dog!”. They, of course, are braced to tell their version of The Story, and when I don’t ask, they relax and smile and say thanks, and we move on.

3) You will forget your dog has three legs. Other people will not.

Apologies to my male readers–this is just an analogy–but are we, as a readership, familiar with the concept of mansplaining? (if not, Tiger Beatdown has a good writeup: in brief, it is a sort of condescending comment stating an obvious claim, originally called ‘mansplaining’ because of the way it is frequently deployed in discussion around matters of sexism [i.e.: “Have you considered that maybe men make more money that women because they’re more qualified?])

Well, tripod-having friends, prepare yourself for the brave new world of Legsplaining. This is a condition where every normal or abnormal thing your dog does from here on out will be first attributed to her missing leg. This can take many forms: for example, when my grandmother saw Nellie sacked out sunning herself on the porch for the first time, she got very worried that maybe Nellie had somehow lost her balance and keeled over. But sometimes, it takes surprising forms: it’s come up twice at the vet, once when Nellie was having some trouble learning about the concept that inside-is-not-for-peeing and I wanted to get her checked for a UTI (the vet suggested maybe she was physically incapable of getting herself to the door, which is a reasonable theory until you spend five minutes with my dog and watch her torpedoing herself off furniture and galloping through the forest.) Another time, it came up as a possible reason that Nellie had a chicken allergy (I still am not certain of the logic there, and yes, I have a new vet now.) At classes, I have to spend a lot of time telling my teachers that it’s not that she physically can’t do some activity, it’s because she hasn’t learned how to do it yet. Out at the park, on the rare occasion that Nell is a jerk, I remind people that it’s not that she is in pain, it’s that she’s overexcited and needs to leave the park (or, conversely, that their dog isn’t picking on her “because he knows she’s different”, but rather because their dog is being a jerk.)

This goes back to what Rebecca talked about in Being Your Dog’s Advocate: this is not a way I ever thought I’d have to advocate for my dog, but indeed, I find myself very often needing to tell people that despite the fact that the three legs is the first thing they see, there are a lot of other facets to my dog. She’s scared of grates in the street, she’s occasionally leash reactive, she loves leaping up joyfully and licking your nose, she likes the teeter but not the dog walk in agility: in short, she’s a dog, with normal dog quirks and opinions and skills, and I suspect she thinks a lot less about her missing leg than anyone who meets her does. And it’s my job to make sure that people are seeing the full measure of her and not just the absent leg.

4) Regardless of their awesomeness, you still may have to help your dog out.

Conditioning and exercise and good nutrition are, of course, important for any dog, but it’s even more important for a tripod; as awesome and capable as your dog is, their joints are under more stress than those of a four-legger, and they’ve got a statistically higher risk of injuring the remaining leg (whether it’s a front or a back limb). Here are some things you can do to keep your buddy in optimal condition:

    • Watch out for those remaining joints! The best way to do this is to keep getting exercise and keep your dog physically conditioned. The best way to protect stressed muscle groups is to have the muscles around them be all toned and supportive, so figure out what kind of exercise you and your dog enjoy doing together and start doing it! And this can happen quicker than you think after surgery: on the advice of my vet, Nellie and I were slowly building back up to hiking and playing some low-impact fetch while she still had staples in.

      Nellie tug

      And have I mentioned the benefits of tug?

Joint-supportive supplements are also very helpful: Nell gets a glucosamine/chondroitin capsule every day (Cosequin is probably the most popular for dogs; I usually get over-the-counter human formulations, since it’s a little less spendy) plus a gelcap of something with omega 3s, usually fish or flax oil. I would doubly recommend this if you’ve got a dog who is prone either by breed or breeding to joint or ligament injuries anyway: pitties often have trouble with their CCL (canine cruciate ligament), so I doubly want Nell’s body to be able to support those ligaments as much as possible (and I am doubly paranoid about them as well!)

leatherheads

Post-surgery Nellie, having recently seen Leatherheads, demonstrates the value of Olde Timey Sport.

    • In tandem with the above: keep them light! Nellie is pretty tiny and light of bone, and she clocks in at around 35 lbs., which is on the low end of the normal spectrum for a dog of her size and structure. Extra weight is detrimental to the joints and doubly hard on joints that are taking on twice the work.
    • Work their core! Good abdominal support is a great thing for tripods, and there are a lot of exercises you can do to help build that strength, some of which your dog may know already. Lots of dogs know “sit pretty”, where they sit up like a meerkat, and as they get good at it, you can make the sits more challenging: sit pretty on a hill, sit pretty on a soft surface, sit pretty for 30 seconds, sit pretty–>stand on back legs–>back to sit pretty. Other fun things include asking your dog to kick his back legs up from a sit and move to a stand, teaching your dog to army crawl and practicing cross leg stands, where you gently pick up the leg that is diagonal to your dog’s missing leg, which means your dog must use her core muscles to balance (Nellie is missing her right front leg, so when we do this, I pick up her back left leg.)  Stretches are also helpful, both to build your dog’s strength and flexibility and to warm them up before exercise.   Do stretches: put a treat on your dog’s hip and ask them to bend around and grab it, teach your dog to put their front and back paw/s on a raised surface like a table (I’ve taught Nellie to do this outside–agility people, it’s the same as teaching a 2on/2off–and she likes to demonstrate it when we’re out walking).
James River

Front paws up

Williamsburg SP

Back paws up

There’s a great company called FitPaws that makes a bunch of stuff for canine conditioning that I covet: we’ve used the Peanut, which Nell thought was great fun, and while we haven’t used it enough that I can personally speak to its efficacy, a lot of people (including my favorite dog rehab vet) swear by it.

    • Many people find supportive/integrated medicine like chiropractic and acupuncture tremendously helpful for tripods; I’ve done chiropractic with both of my dogs (Lucy’s got a bad hip) and they both love it, seem to feel great and appear visibly looser after a session. My current vet does a lot of cold laser and we’ve talked about doing it prophylactically; I’ll certainly be doing it if Nellie ever does hurt a muscle or a ligament.
    • If your dog is having mobility problems or just needs a little extra support (say, climbing into the car or onto a floating dock after swimming), many companies make harnesses geared specifically for tripods. One that I’ve had my eye on for years is the Ruffwear WebMaster harness: Tripawds does a review of it geared towards three-legged dogs (with adorable photos!) here.

      new harness!

      Peanut butter-assisted modeling of the Clean Run ComfortFlex.

If your dog is missing a front leg like Nellie is and you’re looking for a regular walking harness, I’ve actually had a lot of success with the Clean Run ComfortFlex harness, generally used for flyball: the girth strap is fairly far back, and thus it seems to slide around less than other stuff we’ve tried. Tiny Broken Invalid Puppy pulls like a train, unfortunately, and I’ve often regretted that front-clip harnesses like the EasyWalk don’t work well for dogs missing front legs.

    • There may be some little things that your dog needs a little extra help learning to do. Nellie, for example, swam in circles when she first learned to swim: she paddled furiously with her front leg but couldn’t steer with it, so she would spin around like a little top until I finally plucked her out of the water.
      best doggles

      Commando dog is ready to face the water!
      [Note: Doggles and boat graciously furnished by Team Unruly's Merissa and Scott, Awesome Husband of Riss]

What helped was getting her in a life jacket for the first time: once she wasn’t quite so worried about sinking, she started realizing that she could use her tail like a the rudder on a boat, so now when she swims, she steers by swirling her tail around. Likewise, your tripod dog may need help with something initially, but with a little ingenuity on both of your parts, you can very often figure out a workaround.

beach86

Tail rudder action!
[photo by Team Unruly's Michelle]

5) Prepare for your dog to be a hero.

You are going to live with your tripod dog every day; she is going to chase the cat and knock over the trash can and be occasionally infuriating, and you are going to see her as Just A Dog, in both good and bad ways. But here’s what’s awesome and simultaneously a little mind-blowing: people are going to find inspiration in your dog, and it’s going to happen when you least expect it. Nellie and I were in Colonial Williamsburg for the Fourth of July last year, and totally by happenstance, we ended up sitting next to a man who’d lost his arm in Afghanistan at the fireworks. We ended up talking for a long time; he spent a lot of that time marveling at Nell, and it was clear that she was speaking to him in a way that was special to the two of them and very powerful to him. A few years ago, we did Paws to Read in our local library; it’s a program where little kids who are learning to read practice reading out loud to dogs, who cuddle on their laps and act as a non-judgemental audience. It’s amazing with any dog, but kids seemed to respond in a really interesting way to Nellie; they always asked about her leg and seemed to feel really protective of her, and again, that relationship was special and uniquely theirs. Right now we live in a community where a lot of people have issues with mobility, and when I’m out with Nellie, I have a lot of unexpected conversations about coping with loss and overcoming challenges. My doofy little dog becomes a symbol for a lot of people, and watching that happen is a very powerful thing for me to witness. And whatever your dog’s story, this is hands down one of the most amazing things about living with a tripod.

park20

Happydog thanks you for reading
[photo by Michelle]

112 thoughts on “Five things to know before acquiring a tripod dog

    • I KNOW there is stuff I missed, Hailey, so feel free to comment away! (Readers, Hailey’s dog Maya is another super awesome sporty tripod, and they have done tons of work and cool things together.)

      • What a beautiful article. We have put an application in to adopt a a sweet Lab tripod and I hope we are blessed with him asap!

      • We just adopted a 1-2 yr old female black lab mix from a rescue organization. Lexi is missing her left hind leg. No info with her re: how or why. She is quite agile, fastest dog in the dog park. we are quite concerned, though, about taking her to the dog park where she takes part in some pretty rough play with larger dogs. She really can’t hold her own when the other very large breeds are rough housing. and we feel we really have to protect her other legs!
        we’ve only had her 3 weeks. She is the sweetest dog I have ever known.
        at the dog park, she initially goes up to all the people first- to say hello – then seeks out the dogs…she’s such a people dog!

        She’s way too thin…was probably starved. but we know it’s good for her to be slim, so we’re trying to feed her to get her to a good weight and not over feeding her. She is just SO hungry all the time. We got a dish with a maze in it..to slow her down, and a ball that she has to roll that dispenses her kibble one piece at a time…I feed her that way sometimes.

        we are hoping to get a car restraint. She gets tossed around when I stop suddenly, or go around a corner.
        I’m also looking for a supportive dog bed – we have wood floors and tile floors. I want her to feel comfortable and not develop those sores.

        We are walkers and my husband runs as well. I take her on my morning walks..2-4 miles most days. She seems fine and all the vets I have consulted ( her doctor and some friends who are vets) say she is fine with that. My husband will try running with her when she is better on the leash.
        We will sign her up for obedience classes. I hope we can find some training for Therapy Dog certification. She’d be a wonderful candidate! She’d be good with elderly people and young children – well, people of all ages. and perhaps, people with disabilities.
        If anyone has any information about any of the topics we are dealing with…car travel safety, bedding, feeding, dog parks and rough play with other dogs, walking distances and exercising, Therapy training. – I’d be grateful.
        Thanks

  1. NELLIE <3

    I have a dog with no nose*, so I know all about answering the "what happened" question every time you're out in public. Do you ever get asked if it'll grow back? I get that one a lot.

    *he smells awesome.

  2. What a great post. I read it on lj but thought you might not see my comment if I responded there. Anyway…I just want you to know I teared up completely when reading about her being a hero. Kaiya and I do therapy dog work with kids, and it’s so amazing anyway, and to think about Nellie making that extra connection with that soldier and with those kids…I just choked up.

    • Awww, thanks, I’m so glad you liked it! One of these days Noodlehead is going to calm down and stop being a Crazy! Noselicking! Puppy! and THEN I’m going to get her certified to do therapy stuff. Nell is preternaturally calm and sweet and mellow with children, so she was a great candidate for Paws to Read (plus, they only required a CGC), but she is still a little, uh, bouncy with adults, so I am going to give her a couple of years before we test for TDI. I really do think it’s going to be amazing to do it with her, though: I hadn’t really thought much about doing therapy work, but watching people make these connections with her really makes me think that it’s her calling.

      • It is way cool that Nell is working with children and the disabled.

        I have more of a Noodlehead in my Bella–I had envisioned all this therapy work with her and we have been training and taking classes, but she remains a quivering mass of jumping muscle with everyone she greets, so it will definitely be a couple of years, if not a complete change of course.

        Which is fine, just different than i had envisioned (isn’t it always?). It’s funny, when people say, “Poor dear!” I usually reply, “Not really!” Usually gets a laugh.

        She will always be my beautiful, feisty angel.

  3. Absolutely awesome and inspiring entry! Love seeing all the photos of a very happy Nellie sprinting around like she has ten legs, not three! This was heart warming and funny at the same time. I find that I have to explain every pit bull injury with, “No, she wasn’t in a fight.” Your Nellie sounds like my Herbie coming out of and recovering from surgery. Could not slow her down, stitches be damned!!! Great advice all around. I’ve seen cats recover from leg amputation like it’s no big deal. It’s good to see dogs can do the same.

    • Thanks, Dom! And yeah, cosigned: I was pretty much convinced that Nellie was going to reinjure herself by leaping off a table or something, all “Dum dee dum! Hey, I’m bleeding! FUN!”

  4. I thought this was a nice post. I shared it with the owners of a tripod dog I recently helped transport from Taiwan. NO SHORTAGE of tripods there, due to the ubiquitous (and illegal) use of gin traps.

    • Oh lord, I had no idea. That’s such a shame. Good on you for helping with that transport! I hope the post helps, and please know that if your new tripod-family has any questions about their dog, I’d be happy to answer them; they can just contact me through the blog (there’s a ‘contact us’ button with all the pertinent details.)

  5. Enjoyed reading about your Nellie. I have a tripod who is also my first foster failure. I had a lot of concerns just as you did but I would not trade her for the world! My Wags is such a blessing and you are absolutely right – I do not look at her like a tripod & neither does she. Wags runs circles around my 4 legged dog & goes on all of our walks. Sometimes she gets a little tired & needs a break for a block or two especially when the weather is hot here but overall – she does awesome on all of our walks. If she sees another animal, child, jogger whowever . . . she wants to go catch them. If she would just save that energy for the general walk! I would adopt another tripod in a heartbeat & so glad she is my first failure. She has many life lessons to share and help us be better humans just like your Nell. And you are right about being asked about that missing leg wherever you go! Gotta love talking to whoever :)

  6. Thank you for this. We adopted a tripod cutie today, and it was just like you described in the first few paragraphs. We fell in love through the bars, then sat down with the shelter staff to review her papers and were totally confused – missing limb? We had to go back to her cage to look again. The funny thing is, the shelter volunteer said she had walked her and hadn’t noticed! We were a little nervous about what we were getting ourselves into, but I’m afraid it was too late, we were already in love.

    The shelter didn’t know how she lost her leg (it was fully healed when they got her), I’m hoping our vet might have a guess but if not, I’m a little worried what I’ll say when people ask what happened to her leg.

    I’m thinking about saying “What? Her leg? Oh my god! What happened to it? Where did it go?” and acting like they’re just pointing it out to me for the first time! What do you think?

    • Oh, definitely :) I have a whole repertoire of answers to ‘what happened’: sometimes I’ll tell the whole story, other times I’ll say ‘shark!’ and just keep walking. My mom walks Nell pretty frequently and her favorite answer is “oh, she must have left it at home.”

      • These are awesome replies. I’ve had plenty of those questions just about his splint and then the ‘dangling’ leg that he isn’t using. I’m fostering right now, he will have his leg amputated next week. It was broken when he was dumped at the shelter and hasn’t healed strongly enough to keep it. I wanted to see if I should find a different harness, he’s been wearing one, but with the leg still there, it stays on. Thanks for all the inspiration, and the more I know, the better I can help him find his forever home.

  7. Our 11 year old golden is having her front left amputated in 3 days. She is our only child and we are beside ourselves. Thank you for helping me feel better about our decision!

    • I’m really glad this could help a little bit. I was TERRIFIED before her surgery, I really was. But I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome and how quickly she bounced back; I hope very much that your pup has similar results. Good wishes to all of you guys. You will be a wreck the day of the surgery, probably, so I recommend going to a movie. Just remind yourself to breathe a lot.

  8. So my dog Rock just lost her back leg in a car accident. :/ She’s a German and seems to be doing very well but I’m concerned about her ability to defend herself. I just movedin with my wife and and she has a fairly aggressive pit. They get along fairly well but they do occasionally lash out. I’m terrified that one day they will fight and I’m not going to be there to defend her. Any advice?

    • Hi Jorge,

      If you know that your wife’s dog and your dog might tangle, then it would be a good idea to keep them separated whenever you are not there to supervise. Better safe than sorry, right? It might be worth consulting a trainer with experience creating multi-dog households, because it can be a difficult adjustment for everyone. As far as the tripod issue, I wouldn’t be worried about Rock defending herself – I’d be worried about either dog being injured in a fight!

  9. I just LOVE this story! The Tripawds website helped me as well tremendously when I was going through the heartache of the surgery and recovery. Having 4 dogs, we are also big fans of Ruffwear products. I have a tripawd Papillon. She is 10 now and lost her leg almost 3 years ago as a result of an emergency clinic wrapping it too tight after a break (a dog stepped on her). Then a vet over dosed her with pain meds so I could not tell her leg was dying and the pain from it. Her toes were completely wrapped, so I could see nothing as well. It was the worst time of my life. I rushed her to an orthopedic surgeon, but it was too late. Surgeon told me it happened as a direct result of them wrapping it too tight. I also have a 10 month old Pit Bull, and I am just waiting for the question from stupid people “did your Pit attack her leg?”. When in fact the tripawd and my other Papillon in the house keep the Pit in line and walk all over him. Is there a specific over the counter human glucosamine/chondroitin capsule you use? We currently only use flax seed, but I need to start her on the gluc./chon. because she is less active now and is a senior.

    Great photos, great blog! Thanks for sharing and spreading the word not only how great tripawds are, but also how great Pit Bulls are too!

    • Hey Laurie,

      I’m so sorry; I’m only just seeing this, but thank you so much for the lovely comment! Honestly, I go to Vitamin World and get their store brand; I prefer using glucosamine sulfate (rather than the other kind) and their store brand is that + chondroitin + MSM. Really, though, the most important thing is the milligrams; I can’t advise you on what a Papillon should get, since I’ve got bigger guys, but your vet’ll know. Your little dog family sounds awesome :)

  10. Hi, we just had Dobe puppies last night and one had the cord wrapped around her left front leg. The leg had been choked, not fully developed and missing skin… Just exposed muscle. I took “Hope” to our vet today and she is on antibiotics and surgery is set for two weeks when she will be stronger.
    Thank you for your story !!! Now I am looking forward to our family’s life with Hope !!!

      • Kelsey,

        Well, it has been several months and as far as I’m concerned… The 4th leg is just an extra :)
        Would you believe that Hope has a Black lab that lives 1 mile plus away that comes to visit…??? Here is the weird catch… He is a tripod also. How perfect a visitor is that ;)
        Thanks again for your inspiring blog !!!!

        Mary

  11. Thank you for writing this. I work with a rescue group and I have a 9 year old Australian Cattle Dog (a rescue) and a 4 year old Chihuahua. The weekend of April 27th, I am having a 1 year old Australian Cattle Dog flown to New York from Indiana with the Pilots N Paws program. Sadly, he was used as target practice. Multiple calibers of bullets found in him. His right front leg was so badly injured, it was amputated on March 28th. I’m reading everything I can find on tripods in the meantime. I am keeping in touch with the shelter on a daily basis. He currently is standing tall on his hind legs when he wants attention and I love that mental image. Any advice you can offer is more than welcome!!!

    • Good for you, Laurie! I am so glad that little dude found you; I bet he’s so much happier now. My girl DEFINITELY does that hind legs thing; she is a jumper of the first order, which is pretty embarrassing for me but very important for her. Congrats again on your new baby.

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  13. I am writing this about 20 mins after leaving the emergency animal hospital. I have a tripod chihuahua. I adopted him about 8 months ago with his front right leg healing from a break. Or so I thought. The same day I got his cast off, he re broke it in another spot. Since he’s so small it’s harder to get a good blood supply to the leg, it didn’t heal properly and his bone density was shot. Anyway so he is now my sweet lil “limp bizkit”. The coolest lil chihuahua I’ve ever met. I’ve been taking him to stay at my aunts every now and again because they have carpet throughout the house and a nice big yard and absolutely love them. Well I get a phone call around 930pm saying that he has broken his front left leg and for me to meet them at the emergency vet. I am already a mess. I am completely shooken up and I can only think of the worst. I try to think positive but the break looks bad. I now have to wait until tomorrow morning to go over options for him. I really really would need to have some positive input on my situation.

  14. I’m spending some time researching tripod dogs because I think I’m going to adopt a tripod Labrador that is only 4 days old. Your post is another point in favor of adoption. You did an amazing thing by rescuing Nellie regardless of her injury; thanks for sharing your story.

    • If you have any tips on raising a tripawd from a baby, I’d love to hear them. My Akasha will be coming home in about 7 weeks.

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  16. Thank you for the wonderful article! We are also an owner of a tripod due to mistreatment of a former owner. Never in my wild dreams would I ever have imagined owning a three legged dog, but he is a wonderful addition to our human and dog packs!

  17. Thinking of doing the same. Just a baby now, but already tugging at my heart. Sounds like we can go hiking and climb boulders and swim after all…. Haven’t made the big decision yet, but hard to think of going any other way.

    Thank you so much.

    • Like any dog, you’d need to do some conditioning work with her to get her accustomed to carrying the pack, but in general, sure! The catch is the same as with harnesses: if she’s a front-leg amputee, some backpacks will slip off. Ruffwear makes one that goes on their Webmaster harness, and that works great for tripods.

      • Thanks so much for the reassurance! Still a (lively!) pup for now, but it’s a relief to know that we can do this! She actually has part of her leg (birth defect), so at least there will be something for the harness to hold on to, but since they do tend to slip off, I’ll likely get the one you mention.

  18. Saw your post, Mary Grace, and thought I should echo it. This site is wonderful. i am going ahead with my tripawd adoption, for sure

  19. Thank you so much for writing this. We are amputating our family dogs front left leg tomorrow after multiple battles with cancer (she’s only 5). She’s been a rockstar but we never thought we would have to make a final decision with amputation. You have helped me and my family have a totally different outlook. I do not have the words to thank you or your dog enough.

  20. I have a tripod APBT I rescued. Or better yet, she rescued me. She was found with her right front leg that had been broken twice and had fused together. I remember seeing her on the rescue sight and telling myself I want her, she needs me. There is nothing she can’t do like a 4 legged dog. Those back legs make up for the missing leg. She also is the sweetest baby and so easy to train dog I’ve ever had. I thought I had rescued her, but she really rescued me…..Marla & Me…..

    • Thanks for posting this. Every little bit of encouragement helps as i get ready for my tripawd puppy at the end of May.

  21. This is a great post! I adopted an amazing tripod pup last week and he is already changing my life. Thank you for this post!

  22. This is such a good post!!! It gives the human perspective on these awesome little survivors. I recently adopted a tripod shihtzu who had her leg forcibly broken by a previous owner…. she was rescued from a puppy mill at 5 y/o. such a sweetie. we are working on her emotional issues more frequently than her physical issues. She really gets around quite well on three legs, actually is faster than my four legged shih tzu… LOL.
    I should have considered learning more before adopting, but the adjustment for us was fast!!! Now, if I can find an article on re house training… she is giving us issues with that one.
    Thank you again for the post!!!

    This is

  23. this is so helpful my dog anna got hit by a car last night and his getting her back leg removed. its scary to think how is this 10 month old puppy going to make it…but reading this really helped me. thank you! I cant wait to see all the amazing things my little 3 legger is going to do once she is back to her old self.

  24. Kelsey, I just wanted to thank you for your informative and humorous post.

    I’m adopting a tri-pod puppy from Soi Dog in Thailand, who sadly, someone purposely ran over with a lawnmower and have scoured the net for every single thing I could possibly read to make sure that I do the right thing for my little one. The humor you infused into this post, gave way for some smiles for me and made me realize I need to relax, that we will be okay.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this,
    Warmest regards,
    Waan Jai and Mommy.

    If anyone would like to follow Waan Jai’s adventure, please feel free to friend or follow us on Facebook. We can be found at WaanJaiAndMommy@Gmail.com

  25. We’ve been fostering a sweet pit-lab mix for a few months. He came from another shelter where they were going to put him down. Seattle Humane drove about a hundred miles to pick him up. He had one badly shattered back leg and the other one was dislocated and could not be put back in place. We got him right after they amputated his broken leg and through the decision to do FHO surgery (basically remove the hip joint) on the other.

    I too get really tired of telling the story. Especially when he was having such a hard time. There were people who told me it might have been better to put him down. I can understand their concern and occasionally questioned it myself, but they didn’t really know Lance. He never gave up on himself. We couldn’t either.

    He has been through so much, months of ups and downs, pretty much always with an amazingly cheerful attitude. It was taking him a very long time to use his remaining back leg when we found out he also had a fractured pelvis! Now, finally, when I had pretty much given up hope that he would ever be able to walk on three legs, he’s started using it! He had gotten very strong in his chest and front legs and really good at two legged walking, just tapping that back leg down once in a while for balance. He is now standing on his remaining back leg and starting to rebuild muscle that he will need to keep the joint stable. He actually ran the other day for a short burst and can climb the stairs to go upstairs in our house! He is such an amazing guy. For those of you who may have a dog that is taking longer than you think they should to get better, or having setbacks, try not to give up. Unless you can see for sure that your pup is suffering too much and there are circumstances or disease that they absolutely can’t overcome, don’t give up!

    I’m still sort of feeling like he is glass because he took one step forward and two steps back for so long, but it looks like he’s turned the corner. The hard part now is to not become a foster failure!

    • Carol! I have been searching high and low on info for a FHO on one back leg and amputation on the other. We just rescued a pup that was also hit by a car. Do you know how your pit-lab mix is doing? Did you become a foster failure? ;) Any information would be greatly appreciated!

  26. This article was so helpful! My husband and I are contemplating adopting a three legged brown lab from our local shelter. We fell in love with him when we first saw him! But we have never had a “tripod” dog before, and I am looking online for some helpful tips and information. Your blog was beautiful and I got a lot of info from you and Nellie! God bless you guys!

  27. Wow great article! We were just now pointed to it by a member in our Discussion Forums (http://tripawds.com/forums/hopping-around/conditioning-advice-for-front-legged-tripawds/#p139852) and are so glad, we’ve never seen this one before. Thank you for providing an honest, detailed look at life on three legs, you are spot on. About the only thing we would add is that because dogs come in different shapes and sizes (for example, a bulldog has a different body shape than a greyhound, with vastly different weight distribution), what is easy for one Tripawd may not be for the next. It doesn’t mean that dog can’t do the task, whatever it is, it just means that more practice and caution should be used.

    3-paws up to you and Nellie! We’d love to hear more from you, hop on over to our Forums and say hello!

  28. Loved your story. Two years ago, we adopted a 3 or 4 year-old Havanese/Lhaso mix who was four months postop a traumatic right front leg amputation. Maggie has a calm demeanor and very gentle disposition. We are lucky enough to go TOPS Rehab in Grays Lake, IL for all supportive treatments. Maggie is registered with Pet Partners and participates in reading to the dogs programs and visits nursing homes. She is a big hit in physical therapy! We have just ordered a front cart from Eddie’s Wheels so that Maggie can take really long walks, which is her favorite activity.

    One thing that is not mentioned very often is the significant financial benefit of being registered with a national animal assisted therapy group such as Pet Partners or TDI. Many state vet schools, including Purdue University, will reduce their fees by 50% for registered therapy dogs.

    Also, my husband is a long-time amputee who uses a scooter get around in public. You can imagine the questions he gets when he takes Maggie for walks,

  29. My dog Franklin, a 3.5 lb Chihuahua, lost his leg yesterday due a very bad break. We believe he broke it jumping off the bed. Anyway it is very scary for my family and I – but reading you post gives hope. Thank you.

  30. I have a front leg tripawd and sometimes after a day at the dog park he falls on his face more often like as if his legs giving out but he loves the dog park so much I hate to stop him from having fun. Does yours ever over do it and needs a day of rest?

  31. Emily I don’t like to hijack other people’s great articles like this one but…. I know how hard it is to tell your pup he can’t play as much as he wants, but it really sounds like your pup is getting way too much activity and he’s exhausted.

    In the long run long play sessions without rest will harm his joints. As Tripawd pawrents it’s up to us to monitor their activity levels so they don’t overdo it, especially for front leg Tripawds, who are more prone to joint stress and injuries. We are currently hosting an online fitness class for Tripawds with a leading canine fitness expert, you might want to consider hopping on over. See: http://tripawds.com/2015/04/01/tripawd-online-fitness-class/

  32. Last fall my poodle tripawd tore a ligament in his remaining back leg. So for 5 months I was the crazy lady with her dog in a stroller! That said I have had to cut back on his playing and running. I was told by the vet that people who say tripawds are the same as 4 leggers are either misinformed or lying. Because they hold their remaining legs in an unnatural position the strain on muscle and joints is huge and problems ensue. His injured leg will always be a concern now.

  33. Lexie, I’m sorry to hear about your pup but glad he’s on the mend. I know that’s scary! No, Tripawds are not the same as quadpawds. Yes, they can do most of the things a four-legger can do, but it’s up to us pawrents to monitor their activity and make sure they don’t overdo things to the point of stress or injury. For most of us it’s a learning experience (we had the same thing happen to both of our Tripawds) and there’s lots of things that we can do to avoid getting hurt. We encourage you to learn all you can about Tripawd fitness and conditioning and work with a certified rehab vet, you’ll be glad you did.I hope your pup is feeling great soon!

    • Im about to adopt tripod, internationally, so i havent met her yet, Im worried about not meeting her first and will she get along with my Golden,but your article has given me so much, thank you. Do all tripods need a walking harness… when would I use it… she has been a tripod for over a year now. Any special advice… my first time with a tripod, but those eyes of hers…. :)

  34. Great article. Check out HSUS mag and web for Grannie Annie the Boston. She was my first tri. Two days ago, Buddy came home w/me. He is mostly Australian Shepherd, a breed I love and have owned. He barks at thunder. He barked for 2 hours today, but no problem. The problem we’re going to have is slimming him down. He was given to a no kill shelter in September, adopted out 3x. Last week being the latest. And returned. So now he’s finally home. It was a long journey. I’ve bred/shown dogs, had my own for 50 years, and in multiples, never just one. But he is severely overweight. I free feed but he need intensive weight loss. He scoots in the house; outside he’s better on 3 legs but must rest every 10-15′. Too hot in FL to leave him out to exercise himself. He can’t run. Any suggestions? We’ll probably be getting him a cart.w He is 9 yo and will make a perfect therapy ambassador.

  35. Sounds like you are at the right place. Others are more knowledgable than I, but welcome! i guess no more free feed is a start and maybe extend exercise time a little each day? Some owners have special exercise equipment. I’m sure much good advice will be forthcoming. Thanks for adopting a tripawd! :O) (Mine is a Golden missing a lot of her R front leg.)

  36. Be sure to talk to your vet first about doing a complete blood workup, there could be other issues in involved that are keeping him from dropping the weight, like thyroid problems. Losing weight is usually a matter of reducing the kibble intake but with a Tripawd you have the added challenge of being very careful about not overdoing the exercise during the weight loss plan. Your best bet is to talk to your vet and then a rehab vet who can guide you with appropriate Tripawd exercise and fitness. Also see Dr. Patty Kuhly’s weight loss plan, another great resource: http://downloads.tripawds.com/2013/06/06/learn-three-legged-dog-diet-health-tips-from-dr-patty-khuly/

  37. Thank you so much for your post. I had a 3 legged pit bull. She was rehomed to me on Christmas Day as a gift to myself
    She was so beautiful.
    Unfortunately, she got out of the yard about 6 weeks ago and I have not been able to find her. I have put flyers everywhere, gone to the rescue centers, posted to every site I could think of with pictures.
    Your story made me feel better even though I haven’t been able to find Emerson.

  38. I have a 3 legged female, she got hit by a train in Romania, we rescued her in the u.k from LoveUnderdogs. Her abilities are amazing there is nothing she can’t do. She runs round crazy with our other five dogs. Other owners say to their pets, oh go gentle, I tell them don’t worry she’s is just as mad. We don’t realy take her for too long walks as she’s still young and we want to adapt her slowly. We love her so much she is an inspiration to us. We are at present looking to adopt another one.

  39. Thank you for such an amazing and reassuring post! My Pickle just had a litter of 4 boxers and the smallest “Noodle” was born with radial hemimelia- one of his forearm bones didn’t develop. He is 6 weeks old and we will be keeping him. We are in the process of determining if there is a surgery to fix the leg or if it will need to be amputated. I don’t want to put him through long painful surgeries (I read about one similar case having three surgeries over 2 years with long recoveries- the pup eventually got good use out of the arm, but I think amputation and being a tripod would be WAY better than 2 years of bracing and casts!!)
    I do have a question. Our family are big hikers- Noodle’s dad is a 46er here in the adirondack mountains. That is the one thing in our lifestyle that I worry Noodle won’t be able to accomplish. From your pics it looks like Nellie does just fine in the woods. Do you ever take her up mountains? Thanks!
    molly and noodle

  40. Molly from my experience… since having Ilona she walks well.. but we have had to cut our walks short as if we do over an hour walk she appears to struggle the next day, but its her front leg she has lost. I was told if its the back one its not so bad. But she enjoys life all the same. Shes quite famous down our way. Take care

  41. I took my sweet little baby to the vet on Monday. The vet has found a mass cell tumor on his back left leg. Our family is just devastated about this–he is only 5 years old and has survived so much in his young life (I rescued him from a shelter; he is a Parvo Survivor). I just can’t bear to let him go. The vet is hoping to shrink the tumor with chemo to see if we can save Little T’s leg. After reading your article and comments, I have renewed hope for our little guy. How long does it usually take for a tripod to walk again after surgery? Should I invest in a prosthetic if the vet has to amputate? Thoughts and prayers are appreciated. Thanks for sharing your stories.

    • Barbara we are so sorry to hear about your pup, five is so young! You don’t have to feel so overwhelmed, there are lots of folks in our community who have been through mast cell cancer and amputation and understand completely. It’s a scary place to be but there is hope, many dogs have done very well post diagnosis. I don’t want to hijack this post but if you are looking for cancer and limb amputation support you’ll find it in our community at Tripawds. Hop on over and we’ll help as best we can.-Rene

  42. Just reading the newer posts here. I love this place–so many brave, inspiring people with their indomitable pets! My Bella is in the middle of severe allergy issues on top of missing her right, front leg, and has exercised less b/c of it–my fault for not setting up more of an indoor schedule. We are finally able to venture out a bit, though, and she is rebuilding that muscle.

    Her other front leg will have to be x-rayed soon, as the docs are worried that it, too, might be a bit short and could be causing her pain.

    But she is full of joy and energy most of the time and gets lots of love from most who meet her (she’s a bit too enthusiastic for some–we are training. and training. and training.:O)).

    At any rate, hang in there, y’all! I can feel the love you have for your “kids” come right through the computer. And the Tripawds site is awesome.

  43. We took our precious little German Shepherd/lab mix to the vet on Sunday because she injured her front left leg as well as her side taking a tumble down part of the montain behind our house. Her leg (shoulder) was so badly injured there wasn’t much we could do. The vet said it was such a unique case he wasn’t too sure what to do. He ended up sharing ct scan photos with other vets around the world to get their opinions. Long story short we had to make a decision to have her left leg amputated. She is 4 and a half years old and just a great great girl. We were very nervous about the decision we made. You know, doubting ourselves, did we make the right decision. This post and others like it have made us feel soooo much better. Mindy was operated on yesterday (2 operations, 1 for the amputation and 1 on her side) and we are finally going to pick her up tonight. I can’t wait to bring her back home. Thanks to everybody for sharing your stories and putting our minds at ease.

  44. This post was amazing. My girlfriend and I are adopting a tripod on Saturday and we could not be more excited. She works with people who have special needs and my mother has multiple sclerosis so once we saw Pippa up for adoption with a local group, it was a no-brainer. I have been trying to read everything I can about having a tripod dog. We already know that she won’t be any different than a four-legger. Our biggest concern is what she’s going to be for Halloween! I wasn’t worried before I read this and now I am DEFINITELY not worried.

  45. Wow! It is actually crazy how much I can relate to your post and how it made me feel quite relieved! I am fostering a little pitbull pup almost 4 months and they are removing her front leg next week due to a deformation at birth. And of course I am now a foster fail! Any tips for becoming a mom of a little puppy going through training and now taking on 3 legs?

  46. My Lab mix tore her left rear CCL and we had it repaired, but it didn’t heal. Xrays showed the joint was crumbling. We had an artificial knee put in, but she got a MRSA infection in it. We had to have her leg removed. Twice now when we were out I have been asked if I know my dog only has 3 legs! REALLY?? NO! All 4 were there this morning!!! I wonder where we LEFT it???

    Ok, so I don’t say that, but I’d like to – just once. And everyone asks what happened. We’ve had great conversations with people. One thing – linoleum and tile floors are a problem, so I got some rubber booties to go on her remaining rear foot to give her traction when we go to the store or the vets. Helps a lot.

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  48. The best thing about the three legged beauty that I have fostered is watching her do things the other dogs do just differently. Aka the couch climb/slide. She lost her leg as a small puppy and I don’t think she knows much different.
    What I find though is my friends look at her different. Oh can she walk. Not only does she walk she races… zooms everywhere. Absolute joy. I have not treated her any different than my other dogs, as far as,behavior, but oh she plays the sympathy card in public. Thats ok she doesnt have to sit… well yeah she kinda does. We tease and say she has leg envy because she likes to mouth on the other dogs legs. And the kicking of the stump when you get a good scratch spot priceless.
    I can say she’s an inspiration (and kind of spoiled). But mostly an inspiration.
    I

  49. We are considering adopting a tripod from a county shelter (they had the amputation done because he came in with an old, badly healed injury on the right rear leg). He also has a bad case of demodex so he looks like a hot mess. IF he is as sweet as he seems, I want to get him certified as a therapy dog and possibly work with injured/amputee children and/or veterans. We have had three therapy dogs in the past and they are simply magical. I would welcome any tips for caring for and training a medium size, three legged guy.

  50. Just adopted an 8yr old tripod (front left) who dragged around a useless limb for 2 years. He is obese, depressed, and has severe mobility issues. Really hopeful that things will resolve. Looking into diet, a harness, and exercise. Glad to read about the musculature and unusual placement of the front leg. I was worried about those, but it sounds like that is normal.

  51. Thank you so much for posting this. After being diagnosed with cancer, our dog (who is a year and a half) is going in to get the same leg amputated on Wednesday. You have no idea how much reading about Nelli has helped my boyfriend and I prepare for this surgery. She really is an inspiration. Thank you :)

  52. My mother and I just put an application in to adopt a tripod dog, and this article makes me feel better about being active with her (I love hiking!). She apparently lost the dog as a 7 month old after a car accident and appears well adjusted to going with her front left. Hoping it works out just as well as you and Nellie did!

  53. Very cool! Proud owner of a tripod shih tzu tripod. Missing same leg as Nellie. She lives with 3 larger dogs on a fenced in acre, where she can run and dig and chase rabbits. She hasn’t caught a rabbit yet but she has snagged a couple of mice. She’s fast!

  54. Lovely read and SO true!!
    I’m living in Spain and rescued a stray who was caught in a wild boar trap and bit her own leg off to get out. What was left of her front leg was amputated as it was so infected. The spanish are more outgoing than the Brits and I am asked constantly what happened! Wouldn’t swap my big baby for the world. She can do anything a dog with 4 legs can. Xx

  55. I am thinking of adopting a 3 legged dog from our rescue shelter ( right rear amputated) Thank you so much for the inspiring story Your story gave me inspiration and the knowledge that makes me realize that it all will be OK!

  56. Hi, what a lovely article! I have just adopted a rescue tripod dog. This article was inspiring and informative. Thank you so much x

  57. Hi! You sure have done the world a service with this article! Well-written too!

    We just got a tripod foster. He’d been living with a mangled leg for 7 years and the amputation didn’t phase him a bit. (His back legs and core are like Popeye!!).

    MY QUESTION: How far are you able to hike with your sweetie? We are runners and daily walkers; his former foster never walked him (fenced in yard). His fitness seems great but I have no idea if he can tolerate consistent running. We’ll start walking of course but I was hoping you could talk a bit about how LONG yours can be out?

    • My sweet Bella usually gets a good, brisk walk in most days, and sometimes a longer hike up and across a hill behind us (usually, but especially if i know a hike is coming up) and she has had 6-mile days twice this season, once crossing a pretty high creek 4 times (with my hand in her Ruff wear harness) and the other time going up to a cape on the ocean and down and around the beaches and rocks.

      She gets tired but she loves, loves, loves it and I love having her. She sleeps beside me in my tent and growls softly when she hears things. Not sure if this could escalate and get us into trouble or not, but anyway, as far as hiking, she’s great!

      Not sure if I could get her across a 15-mile stretch on one hike I want to take where you have to cross in certain seasons to let the bears come down to the river.

      Yay to all the new tri-pawd owners!

  58. Thank you so much for the great read and education. We have been fostering a Tri and she is just the happiest most incredibly dog!!! She has adapted so well its amazing.

  59. I just put a hold on a 20 lb terrier mix for a meet and greet with my dog tomorrow. She was the sweetest little thing and I know my lab will love her. You answered SO many questions, especially about keeping the remaining 3 legs strong with exercise and supplements. Thank you for your inspiration

  60. Thank you for the great information and the humor in this article! For the first time in a few days I was able to laugh and bounce around ideas for great responses to people asking “what happened?”

    My family just adopted a sweet little pup with a broken leg, and our vet has scheduled amputation for tomorrow morning. From what we understand his leg was severely injured two months ago, and the previous owners did nothing to help him. I have been up and down with emotions, but this article and the comments have made me feel worlds better. I am so looking forward to getting our little Remo healed and back in playful puppy mode. Well wishes to all the other tripod dog owners and their pups.

  61. This is a wonderful and inspiring article. We just rescued a pyr/border collie puppy who was one of 7 in her neglected and thankfully rescued litter to a sanctuary. She and her sis were left. Her sis was fine and confident and our puppy had her back paw congenitally missing. NO WAY we were going to take her sister and not her. We took both and her sister was adopted 3 days later! You’re right. We always forget she’s missing her back paw. I will see her hop and wonder if she hurt her foot…for a brief moment. People ask what happened to her when they see her and for a brief moment I wonder why, LOL. I am looking for support anywhere so if anyone has any ideas for other blogs, online, foundations, etc. please let me know.

  62. This was truly inspiring. I recently adopted a Border Collie Puppy on a whim and her leg was severely damaged in the womb and will undoubtedly need amputating when I have the money but she is honestly the greatest little pup. I really wanna do agility and/or Flyball with her. Her mother was a Flyball dog before becoming a service dog and eventually Chloe will be my service dog but I definitely want to do a sport with her xD and you’re right about everyone asking about her leg. Luckily I walk my cat in public so being asked a million questions when I’m out and about is child’s play at this point

  63. Thanks for such a wonderful article. Just found out yesterday my gorgeous little pug has have his front leg amputated following a simple fracture repair that got infected and has never healed.
    Feels like such a huge decision to make to amputate a limb, but reading ur article has made me feel so much more confident that my Teds will still be the same cheeky pup following surgery. Thanks again for sharing ur story xx

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