Pet Please #83: Animals with Three Legs

dogOkay, to be clear, the fact that any four-legged animal should end up with three legs is heartbreaking to me. The deformity or accident that caused the animal to lose its leg is absolutely tragic.

What I’m talking about is the hope and happiness I see in three-legged animals.

There is a dog–a German Shepherd mix–that lives in the building across from mine. I see the dog every few days from my couch when I’m eating dinner. The dog has one front leg and two back legs.

It would be perfectly reasonable for him (I use that in the genderless sense–I don’t know if it’s a male or female) to be a sad dog. After all, he’s missing a leg. He’s limited in ways that four-legged dogs are not. He walks differently than other dog. Every step is more like a forward bounce. Bounce, bounce, bounce.

And yet I’ll be darned if this isn’t one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever seen.

Granted, that’s a presumption. I don’t know this dog. But I see him several times a week, and he is so full of spirit and joy and life. You can see it in the way he moves and the way he interacts with his owners. This is one happy dog.

Whenever I see this dog (or any three-legged animal), I am reminded that there is so much happiness out there for the taking despite the things that hold us back. We all have shortcomings, weaknesses, disabilities of sorts. We are capable of wallowing in our suffering every day, or we can choose to use our third leg as a springboard into happiness.

I think sometimes we forget that happiness is a choice–THE choice–and we’re fortunate there are beautiful animals and people out there who help us remember.

Thank you, three-legged dog. I hope we meet someday. Until then, may we both choose to bounce, bounce, bounce into happiness every day.

What’s the last time you saw or experienced something that warmed your heart and reminded you that happiness is a choice?

14 thoughts on “Pet Please #83: Animals with Three Legs”

  1. The first time I met Lucy, I had to do a double-take, as she was jogging at a steady pace with her owner. It wasn’t until they stopped to let Lucy and Jasper meet each other that I realized she was missing a leg. Of the dogs I’ve met while walking with Jasper, she is one of my favorites, and it always makes me smile to see them play– normally I’m a little wary when seeing Jas with big dogs, but she’s such a happy and sweet dog that I’ve never worried.

    Most recently, I was reminded that happiness is a choice after watching a video one of my friends posted of her foster kids performing at their school. Despite the fact that these kids have had a more difficult time than any 6 or 8 year old should ever have to experience, I’ve never seen either without a smile on their faces.

  2. True. Happiness is a choice… sometimes. There are times that you really do wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

    The post reminds me of this guy. He was born without limbs. And he is a happy camper.

    • Jasmin, I disagree for the most part, but with a caveat or two–I think happiness is always a choice. However, I also think it’s okay to be sad or mad, to feel whatever you happen to be feeling. But even when someone feels those other things, I think it’s important to remember that they can choose happiness.

      Of course, sometimes it’s quite hard to choose happiness. My understanding of people with depression is that their brain won’t let them choose happiness, which really sucks.

      • Yep, depression is no fun. A person with depression can be sad for days to months. Can you imagine to be depress for that long? It is like always having rainy cold weather and no amount of hot chocolate or hot soup can lift you up. I’m happy about my brain. It’s a good brain and it lets me choose.

        A choice of happiness can lead me out of darkness.

  3. You should meet my friend Kristen’s dogs. She has two yorkies, both from the same litter, who were abused as puppies and both contracted a horrible infection that almost killed them. The third dog in the litter died. Both of them were left with their right hind legs paralyzed. One of them still has her leg; the other one had it amputated. But they really are some of the happiest animals on the planet. I sometimes wonder if they feel like they’ve been given a second chance at life, and they have to make the best of it.

  4. I’m fairly certain that this article is about my dog, Lucy, a three-legged, inspirational German Shepherd Mix who bounces while she walks. It brought tears to my eyes. Another owner on our street told me yesterday that a friend of hers (presumably you) wrote an article after observing her. I was curious, so I Googled “3 legged German Shepherd, St. Louis, Blog”.

    I live at 5316 Pershing…if I’m right, I’d love to invite you to come meet her. I’ll be happy to share the rest of her story as well. If I’m wrong, forgive me for the otherwise bizarre posting, though please accept my complements on a very moving and well-written entry.

    Andy Beck

    P.S. Lucy’s a good sport and wasn’t offended by the use of the gender pronoun ‘He’! She was perplexed at first, though a rawhide chew and a belly rub made it all better.

    • Andy and Jen–This made my day. Thank goodness for Google (and neighbors). I’d love to meet Lucy and write a blog entry about her story if you two are open to that. Could you e-mail me at, and perhaps we can figure out a time for me to come out to meet Lucy while she’s on one of her walks? I’ll make sure to refer to her with the gender-appropriate pronoun this time. 🙂

  5. So nice of you to comment on Lucy! My boyfriend and I are Lucy’s fortunate owners. We adopted her this past summer and are so very lucky to have her. She continues to bring happiness to our lives. She is so sweet and calm and loving. She justs wants to be pet all day every day. We are so glad that she was saved when she lost her leg and that she has become a part of our family.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading