Better to hop on three legs than to limp on four

I got the following story tip below from some great folks at Tripawds, a 3-legged tripod dog resource and help center to learn about and cope with amputation, canine osteosarcoma or other dog cancers, and life on three legs.

Their cool motto is: It’s better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.

Please check them out as well as other resources for our challenged furry family members at our foundation site.

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I just love this story about Lab-Golden Retriever Mix Comet, a Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) skilled companion dog from Colorado Springs. It is wonderful that CCI provides support to its graduate teams for the lifetime of the dog, as I am sure that they were pivotal in making sure Comet got the best and most appropriate care.

Veren Betzen, 14, pets his service dog Comet after American History class at Russel Middle School. The (The Denver Post, Hyoung Chang)

Veren Betzen, 14, pets his service dog Comet after American History class at Russel Middle School. The (The Denver Post, Hyoung Chang)

Click here to experience an audio slide show that is truly so moving.
It tells the story in an expressive way that I seldom see.

All the particulars can be found in the great article below:

Three legged dog keeps up care for disabled teen
By Michael Booth, The Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS — The timeless act of the faithful dog resting his wet nose on his loving boy’s lap is a bit more complicated with Comet and his master, Veren Betzen. First, Comet has to jump over the arms of Veren’s motorized wheelchair. Second — and it’s a heart-stopping second — Comet now has only three legs to propel himself into the lap of a boy whose legs barely work at all.

But Comet would never let down the boy he has served for half of Veren’s 14 challenging years on the planet. So, the golden retriever-yellow Lab mix rears back on two of his good legs and launches his black nose into Veren’s laughing gut. It was mundane a thousand times over before this winter, when a cancer threat nearly put Comet down. Now, it’s a spectacular act of affirmation that tends to draw a crowd.

“I expect medical issues with my son,” said Verlene Betzen. Veren has been poked, soothed, realigned and sutured since birth. “But when it happened with Comet too — oh, my gosh, that was rough.”

Veren has cerebral palsy, largely immobilizing his legs and limiting the dexterity of his arms and fingers. For seven years, Comet picked up Veren’s fallen books and pens, pulled off his pajamas and put on his socks, and closed the back gate on the way to Veren’s grandparents’ house. For a growing teenage boy, is there any higher use of a dog than tugging on a rope to open the refrigerator?

A friend to draw in others
The purpose Verlene initially meant for Comet was to be a best friend for a boy who might always have trouble making others. And the good-natured Comet became the four-legged shill that would gather in school-age strangers made shy by Veren’s ungainly wheelchair and strained voice.

It worked. At Russell Middle School in northern Colorado Springs, a steady stream of eighth-graders come by to bump fists with Veren and snag some love from Comet. They don’t have to talk about movies or girls or sports. It makes Veren smile just to have someone nearby, scratching Comet’s fur-covered stump.

Comet was limping badly on that former leg in November, whining in pain. The Betzens’ vet took an X-ray and saw what looked like cancer on the right front shoulder. Most dogs with osteosarcoma die within six to 12 months. But the vet suggested more work at Colorado State University’s veterinary hospital. Many tests later, Dr. Clara Goh suspected something other than cancer. Amputation would both treat the symptoms and allow for tests on the spots.

Vets can be far more sanguine about amputation than pet owners, and Goh knows that. “We joke sometimes that dogs are born with three legs and a spare,” Goh said. “Right after surgery, they hop up with minimal help and hardly seem to notice.” They worried that Comet, though, might need all four legs to push a door shut or tug that fridge for an after-school snack. And Verlene fretted that the trainers might not consider Comet a service dog anymore, or the school might not let in a dog that wasn’t providing service.

CSU did two weeks of tests on Comet’s leg and eventually concluded it wasn’t cancer. Possibly a stroke in the bone or a focused infection, Goh said; most important, Comet would survive to Veren’s high school years and his own 10th birthday.

If only he can survive the kindness of bored adolescents. Comet’s first move when leading Veren into a classroom is to park his intact hindquarters near the teacher’s desk and beg for a carrot. “He has protein allergies,” Veren explains, “so he can only have simple proteins like carrots and figs. And he likes to sneak things when no one is looking.”

Verlene is a district-salaried paraprofessional now assigned to Veren. While she attends Veren’s social studies work in Karen Peyer’s classroom, Comet alternates napping and taking jaunty hops down the hall. He knows where the other teachers are who keep carrots, and he knows his way back to Veren.

Keep reading here . . . .

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Yea, an organic garden at the White House

I originally posted below almost 2 months ago about the Obama family planting an organic garden at the White House. We signed various petitions and today it has been confirmed. There will be a garden!!

First Family To Plant White House Veggie Garden

ABC News’ Brian Hartman Reports: President Obama’s latest shovel-ready project is close to home — in fact, right in his own yard. In an effort to promote healthy eating, the first family will be planting a vegetable garden right on the White House grounds. ABC News’ Ann Compton and Sunlen Miller report that the new White House vegetable garden will be dug up and planted on the South grounds of the White House — near the fountain but out of view of the main house.

Though the 16-acre complex is maintained by the National Park Service, one worker who preferred to remain anonymous assured ABC News that National Park Service staff won’t do the sowing and planting. The White House residence staff will handle that.

As first reported online by food writer Eddie Gehman Kohan, who reports on food issues related to the Obamas, First Lady Michelle Obama told Oprah Winfrey’s “O” magazine, “We’re … working on a wonderful new garden project.”

In the April issue of the magazine, Mrs. Obama tells Winfrey, “We want to use it as a point of education, to talk about health and how delicious it is to eat fresh food, and how you can take that food and make it part of a healthy diet.”

A variety of organic food and sustainable agriculture advocates have been pressing the Obamas to plant such a garden.

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1792: Construction on the White House – known first as the ‘President’s House” – begins on what had been a tobacco plantation.
1800: Construction is completed. President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams move into the White House as its first residents. Adams plants the first “First Vegetables” but is soon after voted out of office.
1801: Thomas Jefferson takes office, reaps where Adams sowed, and redesigns the garden plan adding a number of ornamental and fruit trees. It is worth noting that some of the first White House gardens, including Jefferson’s, were dug and tended by slaves.
1814: British troops set fire to the house, destroying its interior. Three years of reconstruction and renovations take place which include building the portico and painting the President’s House white.
1825: President John Quincy Adams plants fruit trees, herbs and vegetables to help support his own household.
1835: President Andrew Jackson builds an “orangery” for growing tropical fruit.
1857: Orangery is demolished and a full-scale greenhouse is built.
1902: Greenhouse is demolished and replaced by West Wing.
1918: President Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson recruit a flock of sheep to mow and fertilize the First Lawn at a time when the country was trying to conserve resources – human, financial and fuel – for the war effort.
1943: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt plants a large Victory Garden on White House lawn over the objections of the US Department of Agriculture inspiring millions of Americans by her example.

1954: President Dwight Eisenhower installs a putting green on White House lawn.
1979: President Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House roof and tends an herb garden.

1981: President Ronald Reagan removes the solar panels and proposes that ketchup be considered a vegetable for public school lunches, a proposal that is lambasted by health officials and the media and quickly withdrawn.

1990: President George H. W. Bush declares the White House kitchen a “no broccoli zone.
1995: Chef Alice Waters writes to President Bill Clinton calling for organic gardens on the grounds of the White House and the Vice Presidential mansion. Clinton at one point responds “send me the seeds,” but soon after gets caught sowing his own wild oats in a scandal that becomes the dominant flavor of his second term of office.

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Edible landscapes for all: can you dig it? Yes, you can!

My hubby has planted an organic vegetable garden at our home since 1987, as well as several fruit trees. Our Golden Retrievers have loved it, of course, and often have taken to feeding themselves . . . or trying to dig up the spoils (such as sweet potatoes). The organic yield is unbelievable, but sadly, we are virtually the only home in the neighborhood that utilizes much of our small piece of land (1/3 acre) this way.

The future is going to be more fresh, juicy and delicious than a lot of us realize. That’s because edible landscapes are going to be more integrated into our yards, neighborhoods, towns, and cities in the future than they have in the recent past. To make this happen, though, more people need to be asking for and digging these landscapes. Here are a few things you can do to help:

1) Sign the “White House Food Garden Petitionwhich Eat The View will deliver to the Obamas along with a diverse collection of heirloom seed packets. Eat the View is the citizen-led campaign to plant a large Victory Garden on the White House lawn. (I signed already and it took virtually no time at all.)

2) Identify a landscape near you that you think should be “edible-ized”. Start with your own yard, neighborhood, or child’s schoolyard. You can also ask your elected officials at the state and local level to lead by example. The Governors of Maine, North Carolina & New York are already eating from gardens planted at their official residences.

3) Become a supporter (check out my forum profile page here). Also, grab some great photos or widgets to place on your own webpages and blogs. You can grab photos here and you can get some really cool widgets here. This is our favorite photo.

Learn more about gardening at Kitchen Gardeners International, a 501c3 nonprofit founded in Maine, USA with friends from around the world. Their mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home-cooking, and sustainable local food systems.