We weren’t looking for a second dog.
My husband and I had lost our first dog to an unexpected kidney complication last summer, and had decided to not get a second dog for a long time. The pain of his absence was still fresh, and we had our hands full with our current pets. We already had a full house, with two cats, and a one-and-a-half year old dog named Rue who kept us plenty busy. We weren’t looking for a second dog.
If we were going to get a second dog we had some rules:
We wanted a girl. We wanted her to be smaller than our current dog. We wanted to adopt an older dog, preferably over 2 years old. We were leaning towards a pitbull.
Then we saw him.
We were wasting time while the shop was switching the tires on my car, and we were doing some errands in the same complex. We wandered over to PetSmart to pick up a bone for Rue, and they were having an adoption event with a local rescue group. The second we walked in the door we were pulled towards this happy, goofy, sweet, and HUGE dog that his foster mom had adorably named Tripp.
They considered him damaged…
Tripp had just had surgery to remove his right front leg, and he had on a bright red wrap to keep his incision clean. If it weren’t for that wrap, you would have never known he was missing a leg. He was giving out kisses left and right, and the whole time we were there his tail never stopped wagging. We spent about 30 minutes petting him, getting kisses, and talking with his foster mom about his story.
He was picked up by the shelter as a stray, and they assume that he had been hit by a car. He was put on a kill list because he was “damaged” and wasn’t given the proper medical attention that he needed to save his leg. By the time the rescue pulled him from the shelter, his leg was mangled and useless, just dead weight hanging from his body. They had to amputate it.
“I can’t stop thinking about that dog!”
We left and moved on to another store, and didn’t say much of anything to each other for about 15 minutes. We weren’t looking for a second dog. At our third store of the day we both stopped, looked at each other, and said at the exact same time, “I can’t stop thinking about that dog!” We knew then that it was meant to be. Tripp needed to become a member of our family.
The second we got home we emailed the rescue group to start the adoption process. Those that have gone through an adoption from a rescue organization know how intense it can be. They want to make sure that the dog’s new home will be his last. Because Tripp was missing a leg, there were also understandably some extra considerations before deciding on a forever home for him.
We were ready for the challenge.
His foster mom set up a home visit with us, and we were so nervous as she was pulling in. We felt like we were preparing for an interview for our dream job! His home visit went really well. Rue loved him, and he looked comfortable right away. We live on a stream, so his foster mom asked if we could put up a fence because she was worried about him falling in and not being able to get back up. He was also really afraid of our stairs, so we would have to bring him around our house every time we wanted to change levels, which didn’t phase us at all. With practice and time, we were sure he would be able to conquer the stairs with no problem. Dogs can do anything.
Once we put in the fence, we got a call saying that we had been approved to adopt Tripp, and we picked him up that next weekend. Bringing him home was so exciting!
Tripp is the opposite of everything we thought we wanted – he’s male, he’s huge, and he’s 2 years young – and that’s exactly why we love him so much.
He’s everything we didn’t know we wanted. His journey with us is just starting, and it’s been an exciting few weeks so far.
The first few days…
Those first few days were both amazing and challenging. We still had to change his dressing from his surgery, and we had no idea what we were doing. He was so patient with us as we figured it out, a total trooper! He never stopped smiling and giving kisses, even while we were wrapping, and rewrapping, and wrapping him up. He is so patient and kind, no matter the situation.
We also had to keep an eye on our very excited Rue, who was so happy that she had a friend she often forgot he was still recovering, and would try to play too rough. The first night we had him, they both slept together on the same bed all night long, and my heart almost exploded. I didn’t want to fall asleep because I didn’t want to miss a second of the cuteness.
We’ve discovered that he LOVES ducks. His first day home he jumped our fence (even with three legs) and ran across the neighbor’s yard to try to catch one. He even jumped in the lake for a quick swim. Now that the novelty of a new thing has worn off, he’s not as excited, but he could spend hours sitting in the backyard just staring at ducks. You would never know he is missing a leg. He’s faster than Rue!
We’ve also realized that he suffers from mild separation anxiety, which is pretty common for shelter dogs. His first night home with us he cried whenever one of us left the room. He’s already been getting better as he gets settled, but he still gets nervous and anxious when he can tell we are about to leave the house. We are hoping once he realizes we are his permanent family, and that he will never be a stray again, that he will calm down and settle in.
Some things I have learned about three-legged dogs:
- People LOVE them! We live in a neighborhood, and whenever Tripp is outside people always come up to pet him, often uninvited, ask what happened, and if he is ok. Luckily, Tripp is extremely well socialized and loves people, so it’s not a challenge for him, but possible adopters need to be aware that a tripod dog is always going to draw attention.
- You will probably always have to help them do certain things, especially new things. Our current project is the stairs. He is more comfortable when you are behind him guiding his back legs. This summer we will see how he does with swimming. Always a new adventure!
- Just like every dog is different, every tripod dog is different. Some may have no problem going down the stairs, while others might never attempt them. Learn to adapt to what is best for your pup.
- Invest in a good bed! It’s common with tripod dogs to develop a sore on their remaining elbow, so getting a good bed for them to lay on his important. We have one in each room of our house so he doesn’t have to sleep on the floor if he doesn’t want to.
- They don’t know they are any different! Tripp thinks that he can do whatever Rue can do, and he can! He runs faster, plays just as rough, and smiles just as much.
- Because he doesn’t realize he is different, we have to be the ones responsible about keeping his level of activity at a reasonable level. Keeping his weight down, and protecting his remaining limbs is also extremely important.
- You learn something new every day! We are on this journey with Tripp, and are learning alongside him each and every day. This experience is new and challenging for us all, but we are all in this together now.
Adding Tripp to our family was the best decision we have made, and I’m excited to learn and grow with him as he adjusts to life as a tripod.
I’m so glad we weren’t looking for a second dog that day.
Want to share your own adoption story? Check out our Rescue Stories here.
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