When Rene Agredano and Jim Nelson discovered their seven-year-old German shepherd Jerry had cancer and had only about three to four months to live, they took a road trip.
“When it happened to us, we had no idea what to do,” Nelson said. “We thought we had to put Jerry down, but then we looked online and saw a video of Moose the Great Dane digging up a gopher with one leg. We thought that if that dog could do it, then ours could as well.”
A vet had removed one of Jerry’s legs to ease his pain from the cancer.
Not long after, Agredano and Nelson sold their Eureka, Calif., home and graphic-design business, bought an RV and set off on a cross-country journey.
The couple also created a blog to share Jerry’s progress with family and friends. However, strangers started emailing 1questions about Jerry’s surgery and the cancer’s effects. Although websites about amputee dogs existed, Nelson and Agredano said, they realized that very few provided a support group for owners . It was an epiphany that encouraged them to share Jerry’s story and continue the online forum even after he died nearly four months later, and Tripawds, an online resource and help center, took off.
“When we first started the blog, we thought we would tell Jerry’s story till it was over and just keep it up for people to see so they know what to expect with their dogs, but we never thought it would turn into what it has become,” Nelson said. “Even after we lost Jerry, we just had to keep it up, because there were so many people that we were touching.”
On May 19, Nelson, Agredano and their new three-legged German shepherd Wyatt made a brief stop at the Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex to meet members of their online group and share stories. One of the online group’s newest members, a four-year-old German shepherd named Sasha, was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago. Her owners, Fort Collins residents Ben Teska and Brooke Brynteson, said they found Tripawds.com after searching online for resources on leg amputations.
“I think a major surgery like that brings fear, especially because we’ve never done it before, but to see Wyatt and see him functioning at the level that he is at kind of puts some of that fear at rest,” Teska said.
Although she said leg amputations may not always be the right decision for a pet owner, Agredano said the time she has spent with Jerry and Wyatt has allowed her to look at life in a more optimistic way.
“It’s easy to look at a dog and feel sorry for them because they’re missing a leg, but once you see that they don’t pity themselves and just go on with life, it’ll really change your outlook,” she said. “I hope that will also spread to people’s ideas of others.”
For more information or to explore the website and what it offers, go online to Tripawds.com.