Accommodation, not resignation!

As long-time Tripawd pet parents, we have learned that it’s important to keep our three-legged pets in good physical condition. Not just for their own health, but to enjoy all the things we love to do with our dogs! Hugo and his predecessor, Angel Xena, have shown us that Tripawds really can enjoy dog life to the fullest. As a tripawd guardian, it’s our responsibility to know our dog’s limits.

The “Tripod Squad” – Hugo & his sister Xena (2007-2019)

We took a COVID-safe hiking trip just after Christmas this year to shake off the drudgery of remote work and not being able to gather with our families for the holidays. Hugo enjoyed every minute!

Here are my recommendations for adventuring with a Tripawd:

Don’t weekend-warrior it! Staying in shape year round is good for everyone. Too much physical activity can leave Hugo feeling sore. We walk around the neighborhood almost daily and hike in the park most weekends. So a three day hiking trip for Hugo isn’t going to wreck him on day one. Building strength in other ways than walking is good too! Walking up and down hill, as well as over unfamiliar terrain and jumping over small fallen trees has been a fun way to keep Hugo in good physical condition over the years.

Talk to your vet about joint support! Our veterinarian recommended that we start Hugo on Dasuquin joint supplements when he became an adult. We also have carprofen (NSAID) as needed for his sore days. This dog doesn’t know his limits, so we have to watch out for him! Some days, the full sprint after the squirrels just isn’t the smartest plan.

Take breaks! Hugo has always loved to go for long walks with us. But sometimes he just needs a rest before he’s ready to go on. And that’s ok! Life’s not a race — Hugo reminds us to slow down and pace ourselves.

Just because a dog has three legs doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy the more adventurous side of life. We just make sure that we’re prepared for life’s adventures. And as everyone knows, the perfect way to end a great trip is to cuddle up for a nap!

“Hey, that dog only has 3 legs!”

“Hey — that dog only has three legs!” This phrase is something we hear every time we take Hugo out in public. Hugo is our wonderful 7 year old German shepherd. He has been a tripawd nearly his whole life. He was born with an unusual birth defect that left him unable to flex his knee and hock joints. As he grew, we discovered that this leg was prone to injury and prevented him from playing. When he was five months old, we elected to amputate the leg at the recommendation of his veterinarian.

His recovery was challenging but before too long, he grew strong. There were days when I questioned if we should have put him through the surgery. But seven years later, we feel confident that it was the right decision. Hugo loves to chase squirrels, swim, play with other dogs, and get scratches from all the curious strangers who ask about his leg.

Hugo continues to be an ambassador for pets with special needs. People see how well he adapts to his disability and are always impressed at what he can do. For others questioning whether they can handle a three-legged dog (or cat), I whole-heartedly agree with the Tripawds motto — it’s definitely better to hop on three legs than limp on four!