Tripod Jude

posted November 16th, 2013 by
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by Anna Holton – Dean

“HEY JUDE, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better. Remember to let her into your heart. Then you can start to make it better.” …No words could be more fitting for Rottweiler mix Jude.

Two years ago, he was at Stillwater Animal Welfare awaiting surgery to amputate his twisted leg and shattered shoulder when his smiling face appeared on Kathleen Hughes’ Facebook news feed.

“His name was Caesar then. He just looked so happy despite being so underweight and in pain,” Kathleen says. “My friend is in vet school at OSU and works out of there quite a bit. She said he had an exceptional temperament and was a really positive dog.”

Although she was told he would need extra post-surgery care and attention until he got his strength up, Kathleen drove to pick up the newly-tripod Jude that weekend.

“He was so pitiful,” she says. “He would just sigh and lay his head on my lap. He was about 35 pounds, and the area where his leg used to be was all shaved and bloodied. But he was happy just being touched.”

The exact cause of Jude’s extensive injuries is still unknown, but it was strongly suggested to Kathleen that the previous owner abused him.

“He has since doubled his weight and he was taken away from his owner, so if he wasn’t being abused, at the very least he was being horribly neglected,” she says.

That may be why he also didn’t respond well to his name Caesar. “On the way back from Stillwater, ‘Hey Jude’ came on the radio, and I was singing along, and he stopped whining. So it stuck!” Kathleen says.

Jude had a long road of healing ahead. He wouldn’t go inside Kathleen’s house for the first two weeks but chose to lie in his outdoor doggie bed, basking in the sun.

“He just laid there healing and gaining weight even though he had a very nice bed inside and a doggie door too,” she says. “He would lay his head on my lap, whining, and I just kept feeding him doggie Tylenol and brushing him since huge clumps were coming out of his fur.

“Now he looks like he was born this way. Stillwater Animal Welfare did a beautiful job [on his amputation]. And when people say, ‘Oh, he only has three legs!’ we say, ‘Shh, he doesn’t know!’”

With the help of his forever mom Kathleen, Jude has adjusted to life with three legs—probably happier than he ever was with four legs in his former situation. “Jude can shake and hug. He also has some bad habits you wouldn’t expect from a three legged dog; he digs and jumps on us when he’s excited. We live in a three-story loft, and he beats me up the stairs every time. He can even outrun my parents’ Lab, and he wrestles with the best of them at the dog park,” she says.

“His favorite activity is playing in my parents’ pool. The shallow end goes up to his chest, and he jumps around and has a blast. Every time I think, ‘Oh, he probably can’t…’ He has already done it before I finish my thought.”

What Kathleen wants others to learn from Jude’s story is that pets with missing legs—tripods— can have wonderful, quality lives. “A woman at the dog park came up to me, visibly upset,” she says. “She had euthanized her dog because she was told he had cancer, and she thought he would live a ‘less than’ life with three legs. She got teary-eyed, saying she saw Jude and realized she had made a mistake.

“I just want people to know that if their dogs are injured, born a little different, or get a disease, they can still live completely normal lives with only three legs. Jude is literally the happiest dog I have ever met; he just stares at me with adoring eyes, begging to be petted.

“He’s never met a person he didn’t like. At the dog park, he just hops from person to person, leaning against them, pleading for love.”

Jude is an example—a reminder of the resiliency of our four- or even three-legged friends. “Even when he was starving and injured, coming out of major surgery, he just emitted this positive energy of ‘I’m just happy to be here!’” Kathleen remembers.

In the words of the Beatles, Jude and Kathleen certainly took a sad song and made it better.

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