Why We Love Cats and Dogs
Interview: René Agredano Tells Jerry's Full Story

Jim Nelson and René Agredano dropped everything to travel with their dog, Jerry. To get Jerry’s full story, NATURE spoke with René in February 2009.

Where did you get Jerry? Did you adopt him from a shelter?

We adopted him in January 1999, from the Sequoia Humane Society in Eureka, California (located just south of the Oregon border, in Redwood country). Someone had left the poor little guy in the “drop box” outside the shelter when he was hardly a few weeks old. Little did they know when they ditched him that they had a superstar on their hands!

Jerry had lingered at the shelter for over two months. Maybe he scared people off because he kept destroying all his toys in his kennel. We couldn’t believe nobody had adopted him yet, and he was the only one who ran up and kissed Jim.

Why did you decide to get a puppy? Did you have any other pets at the time or before Jerry?

I’m always a sucker for a hard luck case, and I originally wanted an older dog. But Jim persuaded me to take home a pup. Jerry was our first dog, and as new pawrents, we had a lot to learn. Jim felt that we might not be ready to take on the challenges that an older dog can bring. Now I know he was right. Jerry taught us well, so now we can handle any dog that comes into our lives.

Can you tell us about Jerry’s time as a certified therapy dog?

We would take Jerry to visit Jim’s convalescent mother. It would make her day, and his. Jerry loved meeting new people and spreading smiles around. Later we had Jerry certified with Therapy Dog International so we could continue to visit nursing homes. His license also helped us get him into a restaurant or two.

What about Jerry made him a good therapy dog?

Well, it helped that he was tall enough for people in wheelchairs to reach over and pet. And because he truly loved meeting new people so much, his eyes just shined whenever we would take him into a facility. He would smile, his tail would wag wildly, and he would just stand there and allow the old folks to just stroke and pet him as long as they wanted to. I truly think he understood that the patients needed love and fur in their lives.

He was a glutton for all the loving. But being a gentle giant, he was also great in tense situations with mentally challenged patients, and wonderful with children.

What was Jerry’s favorite toy?

Why, isn’t this funny; it was BARNEY! Yes, the big purple PBS dinosaur! Years ago we picked up a Barney doll at a yard sale, and as soon as we showed it to Jer, he was all over it! Barney was the one toy he would always toss in the air or grab in his mouth to show visitors who came to the door. Pretty soon we started a collection of over a dozen different Barneys, from a three-foot-tall one to mini “travel Barneys” that would ride in the truck with him. Oh, and the talking Barneys would make him go positively nuts!

As we traveled the country with Jerry, he would give away his Barneys to other Tripawds we met on the road. It makes us happy to know that these dogs got to enjoy them as much as he did.

What were your first thoughts and feelings when you found out Jerry was sick?

Devastated. Shocked. Robbed of time together. I couldn’t believe that we were not going to get to see Jerry live out his days as a mellow, wise old senior dog. When you adopt a dog, you have this vision of you and the dog growing old together. I can accept the fact that dogs live shorter lives than we do, but having a doctor give me what at first I considered a death sentence, when I least expected it, really knocked the wind out of me.

As an adult, neither of us had ever dealt with losing a pet. Jerry was so much more than a “pet” though. We were going to lose a family member. He was our first and only four-legged pack member. To discover he needed an amputation — and fast — made us angry, scared, and worried. But we knew we had to do the right thing immediately, for him.

Did Jerry’s cancer ever seem to affect his temperament?

Never. Jerry dealt with his cancer better than any human we know of. He never complained, got cranky, or lost his will to enjoy every day to the fullest. I believe that he knew he was not well. Watching him cope with his changing body taught me a lot of lessons about how to cope with adversity.

His temperament only changed a bit until the end days when he told us he was ready to go. But even then, he had spirit, and a wagging tail. One of the most important lessons Jerry taught us is that every day is a great day. We must live each one to the fullest.

Were there any questions about whether or not to go through with the surgery to amputate Jerry’s leg? What was his recovery like?

Oh yeah. Neither one of us had ever seen a three-legged dog before. We had no idea that dogs could thrive this way. The orthopedic surgeon at the University of California at Davis’ vet teaching hospital told us we had two options to help him: amputate and get him out of the immediate pain he was in, or take him home, drug him up with painkillers and let him live out the next few weeks in a dopey haze.

We didn’t decide to amputate when it was first proposed to us. We spent time talking about it during the six-hour drive home from Davis. Going forward with the amputation meant that our lives together would change forever. We figured Jerry would no longer be the happy hiking dog that he was. He would have limitations, and we didn’t know if we were strong enough to cope with it.

It wasn’t until we saw a video of Moose, a three-legged Harlequin Great Dane, digging away for gophers, that we felt confident that if a giant dog like Moose could be happy on three legs, so could Jerry. We contacted Moose’s pawrent, and he was incredibly helpful by talking to us and giving us a realistic picture of what life is like for a tripawd. If it wasn’t for Moose, I don’t know if we would’ve gone ahead with it. We were so scared for Jerry.

Ultimately though, we realized that if it were a human child of ours facing this, there would be no doubt that we would go forward with the surgery. Well, to us, Jerry was our fur kid — we decided to go ahead and do it.

We didn’t have much time to decide. Davis has a huge waiting list, and there was a surgery cancellation just a few days after his diagnosis. We were told we could do it then, or wait until another spot opened, but that wouldn’t happen for at least a month. At that point, we stopped hesitating and went for it.

How long after you found out Jerry was sick did you decide to travel? How did the idea to do something so drastic come about?

We found out Jerry was sick just before Thanksgiving of 2006. We knew right away that if his time was so limited (vets gave him a three to four month prognosis), then we needed to act quickly so we could live our dream of traveling the country with him.

We always had a goal of selling the graphics business we started. But time got away from us, and before we knew it, almost ten years had gone by and we still weren’t any closer to the goal. Jerry’s illness came as a mixed blessing; it was the kick in the butt we needed to break away and start living life with him.

In December 2006, we finalized our business prospectus, and started marketing it ourselves. By February of 2007, we were extremely blessed to have found a buyer who wanted both our house and the business. By June 3, the deal was done, and we hit the road with Jerry.

We truly feel that everything happens for a reason, and the fact that the universe made this happen for Jerry is a sign that he was meant to go out and show humans how great three-legged dogs get along.

What did your friends and family think about you totally changing your lives to travel with your dog?

Nuts. Wacko. Insane. All of the above. Well, not everyone did. Those of us who consider our dogs our children, know exactly why we had to do it. But then we got feedback from others who thought that spending what we did on just the amputation alone was crazy. I feel sorry for them. They are really missing out on all of the lessons that dogs are put here to teach us.

Society teaches you that taking time off like this is something that needs to wait until you’re retired. We figured, since we don’t have much of a retirement fund anyway, we’re probably always going to be working. So why not take a long break like this, with someone we love, before we’re too old and decrepit to enjoy it?

What’s your best memory of life on the road with Jerry?

For me, that one is easy. The day he put his paws in the Atlantic Ocean at Acadia National Park, in Maine. It was truly a milestone to be there with him. Back home on the coast in Northern California, hardly a week went by when Jerry wasn’t splashing in the Pacific. To see him get to set paw in the Atlantic, almost one year after his diagnosis, brought tears to my eyes. I don’t think he realized how special that was; after all, he was just excited that he got to see the ocean again after not playing in it for many months! Seeing him swim in the Gulf and the Great Lakes along the way was icing on the cake.

What was his favorite place that you traveled to?

If Jerry could answer that, I think his favorite place was Lake City, Colorado. In summer 2008, we worked at a dude ranch in a small mountain town at 9,300 feet above sea level. It’s paradise for dogs there! Not only was it the most beautiful scenery we had ever seen, but the whole time we were there, Jerry was never on a leash. Everyone there loved dogs, including the owners, and Jerry was free to hang out wherever he wanted to. He even worked with us when he was feeling energetic enough. There were horses, and deer and not a single flea to be found! We swam in mountain lakes, camped in a tent like the old days, and had a beautiful summer with him. It was the perfect place for us to spend our last months together.

You found a great oncologist in Santa Fe. Can you talk about how your experience with Jerry’s doctor affected your decisions about treating Jerry’s cancer?

It’s funny how things turn out. If we had met Dr. Mullins when Jerry was first diagnosed, we probably would have gone forward with chemotherapy for him. But at the time, we didn’t encounter any vet who could convince us that Jerry would have a decent quality of life, and still go through treatment. It wasn’t until 16 months after he was diagnosed that we met Dr. Mullins, who presented us with a type of chemotherapy treatment that we could give to him on the road.

One of the things she said to us was basically “We don’t want to pump your dog up with chemotherapy just to keep him alive; the goal is to give him a great quality of life.”

Before then, we always assumed that chemotherapy would be aggressive, sort of a “win at any cost” kind of war. Little did we know that there are oncologists out there like Dr. Mullins who always place the dog’s quality of life first. We were very naive until we met her.

Dr. Mullins clearly explained our various treatment options after discovering the cancer had returned in Jerry’s lungs. We were happy to learn of an oral chemo pill we could administer ourselves on the road. There was no way we were about to settle in somewhere for regular IV chemo treatments or put him through another surgery. The pill was part of a new metronomic protocol that had proven promising in other cases. We were also able to participate in a clinical trial for K9 Immunity, a popular herbal supplement for cancer dogs.

Dr. Mullins made the shocking news of Jerry’s lung mets bearable. She was honest and upfront, yet eased all our old worries that had swelled up reminding us of the terrible times during his diagnosis, amputation and recovery.

The film leaves you and Jerry after the visit to the oncologist in Santa Fe. Can you tell us about Jerry’s life after that?

We traveled around a bit in New Mexico for a couple months, and worked as seasonal help at a hot springs resort. (That place was not very dog friendly, and Jerry didn’t like being cooped up while we worked three days a week. We left after just about a month).

Then, we toured more of Colorado, where we met another three-legged dog – a working sled dog! – and ended up in the southwestern corner, Lake City, to work at the dude ranch for the summer months. Clearly, Jerry’s favorite place was Colorado. It was the one part of the country where he swam the most, and got to enjoy the great outdoors more than ever.

Coincidentally, when we left the ranch and Jerry needed to see a cancer specialist for an urgent check-up, Dr. Mullins had just relocated to a practice in Denver as their board certified oncologist. Jerry was her first patient at that clinic. She altered his treatment plan to improve his quality of life, which enabled us to spend another month with Jerry, exploring the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

How were you able to help Jerry with his physical limitations near the end of his life?

Jerry really didn’t show signs of slowing down until the last couple of months of his life. Sure, his walks gradually became shorter, but he really kept up well considering that he had a large tumor growing in his lungs during that last year. The kinds of things he most needed help with were the things he loved to do best: swimming and going on walks. We assisted him by using a Ruff Wear “Web Master” harness, and “K9 Float Coat” life preserver for dogs. Those two items made all the difference to help him maintain his quality of life.

We also curtailed our sightseeing and agenda items to meet Jerry’s needs. There were some places that would require more stamina than Jerry was capable of, so we just didn’t go there and found other things we could do together, as a family. Spending time with him was our priority, so we put some itinerary items on hold.

We learned to take shorter walks with Jerry more often, and to go at his pace. In doing so, he taught us how to appreciate life more by stopping to smell the roses.

We always agreed that we would never allow Jerry to lose his dignity. Inevitably, we helped him by releasing him from his broken body before he became incapacitated.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Can you tell us a bit about Jerry’s last week?

There were a lot of ups and downs, good moments and bad ones. And we constantly questioned ourselves, and wondered if he was happy. On the last day of that week, two days after his tenth birthday, he gave us the sign that he was ready to move on.

This is difficult. We wrote about it on his blog. I hope this helps:

Read Part 1
Read Part 2

Do you have any advice to other owners dealing with a sick dog?

When we sat in a Davis hotel room over two years ago contemplating amputation for Jerry, we couldn’t find much advice or support online. We started a small web journal to keep friends and family informed, and to document the treatment plan we had chosen for Jerry.

Having heard canine amputees referred to as tripod dogs, we launched the tripawds.com blog and discussion forums. Now, there are more than four hundred members who share their own three-legged dog experiences – with more joining each day who are seeking advice.

But, when coping with a beloved pet struck ill, people need to remember that it’s most likely going to be harder on them than it is on the dog. It’s most important to be a strong pack leader, and know when to say when. Hospice care needs to be about quality of life, not quantity.

That’s why Jerry’s legacy shall live on forever at www.tripawds.com, which has become the leading support community for three-legged dogs and their people.

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  • JUDY

    I was so moved by Jerry’s story! I love dogs more than people, and can so relate to Jim & Rene’s love for Jerry. WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL story! God bless Jim & Rene’!

  • tim

    I have a 12 year old beagle, he has slowed down. My family and I share the same kind of bond with him as you did with Jerry. Thank you for sharing your story. It touched all of us.

  • Nancy Skeffington

    The story about Jerry brought tears to my eyes. I, too, lost a great dog, but unlike Jerry she died suddenly without warning and the shock was enormous. I absolutely understand why Jim and Rene changed their lives to be with Jerry–dogs bring so much to us, and sometimes we are lucky enough to be able to give back to them…

  • Sandy

    My heart is with both of you. Recently I lost my therapy dog to the same cancer. Her last day home was spent doing some therapy work she loved. The next day I told her when she was ready to let me know. About 1 hour later she got up, looked my way, and walked to my vehicle– the other dogs just parted for her to walk out with dignity. We went for a drive in the country and to the vet. I can only hope that I will see her again someday as you will Jerry–

  • Louise

    I just know how devastating going thru the final days were for you as we lost a beloved friend very suddenly and painfully for us. I know Max was trying to tell us that he was going away, but as sudden as it started for us and not having consistent care and support from the medical community here, we tried very hard and lost our good friend. These times are very trying and didnt know if we would be able to love another dog as we had, but within weeks we found another furred son, giving us as much love and tenderness that Max did, and you know, we think Max had something to do with us finding each other. Your story brought back some memories and know that you have touched many by sharing your love of Jerry with us all!!! God bless you both, and Jerry!!

  • Marilyn Jewell

    How wonderful that you decided to “hit the road” with Jerry. He truly had heaven here on earth with you two, his caring pawrents. Now he’s really there . . . Love never dies. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Jasper’s Mom

    Rest in peace beautiful Jerry. Your story is very touching. We should all be so lucky to know the special love of a dog.

  • Leo

    Dear Jim and René,

    I cried watching the documentary and while reading the interview above. What is important and brings me some kind of comfort, is that you gave Jerry the best life he could EVER got before he died. And that to me is the ultimate proof of unconditional love.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  • Gretchen Harris

    Thanks Jerry–My Sage is facing cancer, lost dear Molly to bone cancer a year ago–if you can manage, so can we. Thanks for sharing and making us realize how special our four (three) legged friends are.

  • Alex MacLean

    Thank you for your courage in sharing your story with us. I don’t know if I could face it without breaking down. It’s hard enough watching and reading about it. Thanks for all you did for him and for making those decisions – to travel and to let him leave – look like the right option for all three of you. You did that part beautifully. Much love.

  • paul tuckwin

    Kudos to all the folks who commented before me. Our four legged family members who have suffered right along with our human family members hopefully will be able to benefit from this heart-breaking story. Glad Jerry was able to keep his dignity up to the very last. If our pet family members go to Heaven, Jerry most definitely is there. Jeez! i can’t quit crying…

  • Aaron

    I feel very sorry and happy that things went the way they did. I think that Jerry is glad that you did this for him. I do not think that anything else could have been better. I heard about the story on Nature and came here to read more, and all I can say is that I have never been more touched by any other story, for whatever reason. It was just a serious reaction that I had, and I instantly felt like this was a dog who had loving owners that knew how to give their companion the best way through his cancer. I thought that it was important to know more about it and I though that maybe, if I didn’t already know some of these things, maybe I do now. I believe that what you did with Jerry is a lesson for some people of what is more important. Even though I never knew Jerry, I really wish I could have, he sounds like he was a great dog. I have 2 dogs of my own and I love them very much. I will obviously be very sad when they are gone, but the important thing is to enjoy life with them now,and promise to see them again later. Who knows maybe I will get to meet Jerry later, in a better place…Thank you for sharing your story.I don’t know how else to say it.

  • Rosalinda and Robert

    Watching Jerry’s story brought back all the memories we went through with our beloved Pepper and her cancer. All though it was one of the most difficult things we had to go through , it made us appreciate the time that we had with our beloved pepper. To See her grow from a fluffy furball puppy to the smart caring and sweetest pet there was , it made us realize she was here for a reason . And i think our love grew stronger for her through those dark days towards the end. Remembering her like it was yesterday , it has been eleven years since her passing , and our love for all of our dogs throughout these years has made us understand that we would never change anything if we could do it all over again. Unconditional love it was we all strive for in our lives , and our animals give this to us all the time without hesitation. We will never forget the good times with our “bunny” as she will never forget us , and we know in our hearts that we will be reunited with not only her but all of our animals that we have cared and loved over the years in heaven one day

  • Jim

    Wow. Thank you all for your wonderful, sincere comments. It feels so special to know that Jerry has touched so many – in his travels, and now on TV and here online. His legacy shall continue in the canine cancer discussion forums at http://www.tripawds.com where we continue to teach that it is better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.

  • kate

    This was a wonderful story of a dog and his people. He outlived our Yellow Labradog by about a year (Ben left us about a month after his 9th birthday) so while you lost a lot of the time you might have had with your wonderful boy, what you had was his best time.

    I saw the handle you had to help him up into the truck and the trailer, and I think that typifies how you took such good care of him. He obviously knew he was loved.

  • Trish

    What a beautiful and touching story I watched tonight on Nature, I cried so much as I am now writing this, you did a beautiful thing for Jerry, I hope you find comfort in that.

  • Debra

    Your story helped my husband and I feel better after the heartbreaking decision to release our beloved Trooper from his 13 year old painful body. We spent our last weekend with him in the mountains that he loved. We sat by the fire and stroked him and told him how much we loved him and thanked him for being the best dog in the world. Our hearts still ache but we feel so lucky and blessed to have had him in our lives for so many years. God Bless you for sharing your wonder story about Jerry.

  • elaine

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story about Jerry, Jim and René. I wish you all the joy and comfort in knowing that you gave Jerry a wonderful life and unconditional love (as he has given to both of you).

  • carole

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful love story with Jerry. Anyone who has or had pets can certainly relate. We are with our pets more than we are with most people, and that unconditional love can’t be beat.

  • Jamie

    i just got done watching your story about jerry i had a beautfull little mut named muffin that i found while living in hawaii she was a playfull little dog and i loved her she was a stray she was about a year when i found her and i was heartbroken when i heard she was put down because she was old but she had a good life

  • Gail

    I lost Nelson, my German Shepherd, two years ago to lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). The cancer was so aggressive I lost him within six weeks in spite of surgery & chemo. Your beautiful Jerry brought back many memories of Nelson’s last summer when we took him to a ranch in Wyoming where he ran free, chased wild turkies and met cattle and horses for the first time. Your decision to travel with Jerry made perfect sense to me–you were wonderfully resourceful to figure out how to make it happen. I think of Nelson every day and even though I have another beautiful little female German shepherd (from German Shepherd rescue just like Nelson)there is still a hole in my heart. Thank you and PBS for sharing this extraordinary story with millions of people who may not know the joy of such unconditional love. And let’s hope that it touches the heart of many who will now consider going to a shelter or a rescue organization & bringing a fur person into their lives. I like to think Nelson was there to welcome Jerry into that special place for dogs who enrich our lives so miraculously. What a great thought!!!

  • Claire

    Bless you for walking a hard road with joy and then paving it to make it easier for other tripawd families and families dealing with canine cancer. Spirit Jerry lives on.

  • Louise Ménard

    I will always be a animal lover, I’ve always had animals in my house. They are my babies and the best therapy, even in my hardest moments, they always took good care of me. I lost Bubbles (my old cat) to throat cancer and Lilly my other cat took care of me after.I adopted both from SPCA, Bubbles was 10 years old when I adopted her, I wanted to give her a chance for a good life and lilly was a baby. I asked SPCA to give me the oldest cat and then came Bubbles but sadly for me I had her just a year and a half because of cancer, I had a choice to go thru chemo and she would have lived a few months, I decided to let her go with no regrets, the cancer was way too advanced.
    You gave Jerry the best life he could have had and I’m glad I’m not the only one that loves animals but when they pass away it’s the hardest thing to go thru…I was so sad, I had to and get another friend for Lilly, her name is Misty what a wild cat she got me laughing again…

    Take care

  • Jo Ann Aiton

    Thank you, Jim and Rene for telling Jerry’s story.

  • Sven Pihl

    My little guy, Sherman, a rescued pit bull, and the sweetest creature ever, was diagnosed with Mast Cell Tumors this past September. He was operated on, but the cancer came back with a vengeance immediately. The vet said he had 2 months to 2 years to live. He lasted 3 months and passed December 10th, 2008. He was 10 years old. The vet had said he would tell me when it was time, and on that fateful morning he chewed open his tumor. I took that as his telling me, and I also knew there was nothing more I could do.

    I had found him running down the road in New Haven, CT when he was about 4 months old. Some (expletive) had used a piece of parachute cord as a collar that had begun to grow into his neck. Sherman also had horribly infected bite wounds on his face when found. My girlfriend at the time, but forever Sherman’s mom, worked for a nearby veterinary clinic and we immediately brought him in. At the vets office he crawled into my lap and never really left.

    Sherman and I did everything together from to hanging out at coffee shops to rollerblading to multi day canoe trips. He loved the great outdoors. We were a team. He loved people, well most, and especially loved children.

    I too tried to do everything I could, and when the cancer came back I ceased doing anything (extra) for myself and it was all about him. I couldn’t do most of the things that Jerry’s parents did for him, because of both financial reasons and Sherman’s visible waning health, except for continuing to give him as much love as possible and being there for him.

    Whatever he wanted to do such as visiting his best friend, a one year old baby next door, or venturing upstairs to see other neighbors, he was allowed to do.

    Now, today, I am alone. My best friend and son is gone physically, but he still guides me spiritually. His natural desire to see the best in life, others, and to see me happy, has forever changed me, and I cannot ever begin to thank him enough.

    As watched last nights program, I understood and felt Jerry’s parent’s pain, as I had also lived it firsthand.

    I say to them, Namaste.

  • Karen Lehman

    It was so touching to watch the three of you.
    That is unconditional love on both sides.
    God bless you.

  • Richard Firsten

    We were in tears as we watched the show and learned about your relationship with Jerry and what happened to him. We had two German shepherds at different times. Butch lived to be 12 and SoBe lived to be 8. SoBe had liver cancer and passed away just over a year ago. We still haven’t gotten over the loss of both dogs. And they, too, let us know when they were ready to move on. They were much more accepting of what was happening than we were. Know that you did the right thing and treated Jerry with the full respect and love that he deserved. We’re with you in spirit. Bless you both.

  • Laurie Glick

    Most Beautiful Thing on Tv ever on the LOVE we have for our Most Important FAMILY members- OUR pets- we have had CATS always and Always Have 2- When Luke our Siamese cat of 15 yrs got cancer suddenly we Could not bear it- Its the Mosty devastating Pain- worse to me than an AGING family m,ember who u know has lived a LONG life and is ready to pass on- I couldnt stop Crying when we had to put LUKE down- A big strong Cat never siock ever- And his parrtner- SUKI- lived til 19 and her passing was just as BAD to Me- we always Get another since have 2 and the other looks for his or her friend and is DEPRESSED- so we Rescue a CAT right after one of the Pair had to be put down at the Great NORTH SHORE ANIMAL erescue- but JERRYS story was the Most tpouching I ever have SEEn- thats true DEVOTION to your PET- GOD BLESS JERRYs Owners- They r a BEAUTIFUL Pair and i Hope another DOG is lucky enough to f=ind them- THANK u CH 13 PBS for putting this ON!!

  • Malcolm

    My heart is heavy,
    Today, a friend stopped running.


  • Diane Mertsock

    It was so wonderful to see other people that love their animals so much. The special bond that we have is something you cannot explain to others that don’t have the love for animals we do. My cat Jasmine is living with Squamous Cell Carcinoma in her right ear canal, right jaw and behind her right eye. She had nasal lymphoma 5 years ago and beat it with 18 months of chemo. There wasn’t one day you would have known she had cancer after she started her treatment. No side effects. I know her SCC will be what takes her from me this time. We have opted for palliative radiation at VHUP with supportive meds. She had her first treament on Feb 2/3 (2x’s a day for 2 days) she is now able to open her mouth more and her eye is looking close to normal. We can give her the radiation treatment up to 2 more times. As long as she is fighting to live(eating well, using the litter box, playing and enjoying life) we will fight along with her. Thank you for giving Jerry your love and time. You are special people and Jerry’s spirit will live on as long as you remember him.

    Thank you for loving him enough to let him go when it was time.

  • Trish Adams

    Jerry’s story is so touching and I couldnt help but to recall the decision process I encountered when I was faced with making the decision for my dog Echo. She was a 16-year old bearded collie mix and had lived a long and fabulous life with us – she was my life dog as she was with me longer than my husband has been. When I took her to the vet and they detected a very large mass in her belly there was no other option for her. Although I miss her greatly every day, I know she appreciated the final decision. I took her home that evening for her final night and the next day our vet came to our home. I appreciated that on many many levels. She is with us always and although we have 2 more dogs now, Echo will always be a great love.

  • Holly Bee Rose

    I have never been more touched by a documentary than this one. I read the account of Jerry’s last days on the tripawed website and I can’t quit crying. I watched the show last night and it was the first thing I thought of this morning.

    What would our lives be like without our furry companions? For me – not really worth living.

    Thank you PBS, Nature and most of all Jim, Rene and Jerry for sharing this bitter sweet story.

  • Cathie

    I was lucky. My first (and best) dog lasted over 18 years. Since then I’ve had several more. Each time they came to the end it was terribly difficult. Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat. Last week I had to put down my second horse. Only had her for 8 years as opposed to over 20 with my first. It never gets easier, but they always make life more worth living.

  • Rene, Jim & Spirit Dog Jerry

    Thank you all so, so much. We are sincerely overwhelmed by the beautiful comments, and the very touching stories that you all are generously sharing.

    As animal lovers, all of us here understand why it’s so necessary to do our best to return the love and care that our pets give to us throughout their lives. They ask for so little, and are the greatest teachers on earth.

    It’s our hope that people who aren’t as in-tune with the animals around them will open their hearts and minds to these amazing creatures.

    Thank you all so much for watching and sharing your lives with us, it takes a lot of courage to do that. Jerry’s spirit will always live within each and every one of you.

    Many hugs to you all.
    Rene, Jim & Spirit Dog Jerry
    Tripawds.com, because it’s better to hop on three legs than limp on four!

  • Cera

    Jim & Rene’ bravo to you two for making the changes in your lives to care for Jerry. What our dogs can teach us is amazing if we would only listen. I too have lost my best friend “Chase” to cancer she didn’t see her 7th birthday after only knowing of her cancer for 10 days she was gone but she will never be forgotten and neither will Jerry because of your efforts. Since Chase’s death in June of 2006 with friends known and unknown across this great country we have raised over $187,000 to help veterinarians like Dr Mullins hopefully find better ways to treat cancer or maybe find a cure :-). The fund named after my little girl can be found at http://www.chaseawayk9cancer.org . 100% of all donations we raise are used to fill grants thru the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation and hopefully someday we won’t have to amputate legs or let our best friends go before there time.
    Thank you for sharing your love of Jerry with PBS, Nature and all of us.

  • MJ Migdal

    You were the best parents ever. The three of you made a beautiful family with all your love. Your story made me cry. God bless Jerry in heaven.

  • A Martin

    Wonderful story! Does anyone know the cartoon referred to in the show – something about favorite moments and the dog says “now, now, now”

  • Marion

    I have a dog named Spot who had nasal cancer 4 years ago & thanks to a dental vet he has given me the best 4 years. I had considered chemo but after speaking with the doctor “we” decided that we where going for quality not quantity & what quality we have enjoyed.
    He belonged to a exneighbor but the first time he visited he made a direct beeline to the doggie door.
    That was my first clue we where going to be friends,I would babysit him & his human children & he really did not want to go home. He then decided that he wanted some peace & quiet & would “run away” to my house & spend the day. Thank goodness he finally came to me full time & we have enjoyed one another each & every day. He is not a lap dog but now that I
    have retired he is now my velcro dog that helps me with chores. The years have been a blessing & he makes me smile each & every day.
    God bless you for giving Jerry a wonderfull life !!!

  • Toni and Tom B

    What a truly amazing story. We had the same experience with putting our cat to sleep and like you said, you know when the time is right. You guys gave Jerry a wonderful life and Bless you both for sharing your experience with us.

  • http://www.tripawds.com/2009/02/16/thank-you-nature/ Thank You PBS Nature for Why We love Cats and Dogs | tripawds.com

    [...] to think that our story has touched so many people, in such profound ways. If the response here and on the Nature website is any indication, Ellen is sure to be nominated for another [...]

  • Marion

    Spot reminded me that it has been 8 years since his
    cancer appeared & that he is still cancer free.
    The “miracle vets” call him “Miracle dog Spot”.

  • Lynn

    I know how they feel about their dog.
    I lost 3 Shepherds to cancer, but I kept them as long as I could, and I knew when the time came that I had to let them go.I feel for all that has to lose any pet.

  • Lisa in Canada

    I watched your story on Nature and read more on the PBS website. I was to tears by your story and just wanted to commend you for putting this precious loved one’s and family member’s health and happiness ahead of your own. The rest of us animal lovers can surely take a page from your notebook and apply your compassion and selflessness to our own lives.
    God bless you and Jerry.

  • Margaret

    This is a very moving story and a great reminder to live in the moment, enjoying time with our loved ones. It was 4 years ago this month that our greyhound,Thorne passed away. He survived 26 months after amputation and chemotherapy. Unfortuately, he didn’t adjust emotionally as well Jerry did. We kept waiting to “get our dog back”, but never did.

  • Pat Goodwin

    Yes, yes, yes. The best days of my adult life have been spent camping and traveling with my 55-pound shaggy mixed breed dog. He LOVES to go and behaves incredibly well whether in a campground, a restaurant or at the beach. You all did exactly the right things with Jerry – my congratulations on handling a tragic situation with love, humor, grace and a sense of adventure. Yes, I used the word “tragic” on purpose – a death before a life fully lived is a tragedy. What a lucky dog to have found you two.
    My Dog Perfect is 11 and facing tumor surgery very soon. Wish him well.

  • Sandra Thomas

    Jerry’s story was terrific and he has been an inspiration to so many pet owners and dogs facing amputation. I know he was for us when our German Shepherd Dog, Luna, was faced with amputation in 2007 after being diagnosed with bone cancer (hemangiosarcoma) in her right hind leg. Jerry’s website (www.tripawds.com) was a wealth of information and support, and even though I lost Luna on September 16, 2008, I still feel at home at the tripawds web site and feel that all of the dogs who have gone on to the Rainbow Bridge are still there, helping and supporting others who are coming for help and support. I think that PBS should do a feature program on Jerry, Rene, and Jim and Jerry’s life and how dogs can go on with their lives even after amputation. How about it PBS? It would be a great show!

  • Leslie B.

    Thank you, Jim, Rene, and Jerry, for sharing your beautiful and painful story. I’ll never forget the image of Jerry bouncing along on his three legs with enthusiasm and determination to enjoy his life with you. They ask so little and give so much.

  • Lesley

    Jerry is a such a beautiful dog in every way. My heart goes out to you. I never even knew Jerry and I ache reading this story.

  • Ric

    Hi Rene and Jim.
    Our dog Mona got cancer of the shoulder and it cut her life short at 14. We now have two standard poodles, Max & Mandy. Brother and sister rescued from the Portland area. They make our lives very full. Take care. Happy trails.

  • Shelly

    This is one of the best episodes of Nature I’ve ever seen. This interview was great, too–the questions were thoughtful and Rene’s answers illuminated Jerry’s story even more. I loved finding out about Jerry’s favorite toy! Thank you Nature, and Jim and Rene!

  • Lana Shaw

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. This is a story of joy and comfort to many people and their pets in similiar situations. Jerry was a great dog. Hopefully, more people can realize what amazing animals can be adopted from pet shelters. Unfortunately, too many animals with great potential go undiscovered and unadopted. Thank you for giving Jerry such a great life and sticking with him to the end. It is comforting to me to believe we will be with our beloved pets one day in heaven. Enjoy everyday as Jerry has taught you, until you meet again. Thank you Nature, Jim, Rene and Jerry! In memory of our Sugar, Pete and Tiger.

  • Kathy

    Thank Nature,Jim Rene and sweet Jerry for the best story I’ve every been moved by!! I’ve been sharing it with every one I know.
    Rene and Jim what truly remarkable unselfish, loving human beings you are! May your hearts heal with time the loving memory of Jerry.

  • James Cannon

    I felt so good seeing the closeness of this family and feel just as sad about the loss. I am entering the 7th year of my relationship with my long-hair Dachshund – my first canine companion – and I’m not sure I would have the strength to go on after losing her. We are that close. I’m just glad Jim and Renee have each other and took the time to enjoy the time they had with Jerry.

  • Loaleen Beekman

    Your story about Jerry brought tears to my eyes as we had a similar experience with our Black Lab named Argus. At the age of nine, he developed cancer in his left leg and we had chose to have to amputated at Animal Speciality Group in Los Angeles. An excellent Veterinary Service. Argus recovered well but about five months later, the cancer spread to his lungs, similar to Jerry. We had to say good bye to him. We still greive for him to this date, but in the meantime have continued to raise Labradors.
    I was so moved by your story.

  • Dori

    It seems redundant to say what a lovely story on Nature that was. How could you not love Jerry with his big smile and beautiful face…and such dignity. It made me feel uplifted that Rene and Jim would be so in tune with this animal and attentive to his needs. It was touching in the film how obvious it was that Jerry loved both of you so much.

  • Val

    Wow. I really am a cat person, but this story touched my heart. I think it’s really sad to lose your pet

  • Mark

    The loss of a dog as great as Jerry can seem unbearable. But, this story is ultimately an inspirational one. It’s obvious that Jim and Rene had such a strong love for a sweet pup, a love that Jerry returned many times over throughout his ten years. This remarkable story shows how dogs enrich our lives in ways not easily expressed.

  • http://rhodester.net/why-we-love-cats-and-dogs-but-steer-clear-of-actresses Why we love cats and dogs, but steer clear of actresses | The RhodesTer Chronicles

    [...] Interview with Rene about Jerry (check out the awesome video at the bottom) Dorian, Dave, Jim, Rene and Jerry in Palm Springs click several of these gizmos and spread the weirdness.. [...]

  • Desiree

    Had to read the continued story, but couldn’t do it right after the show. Great show and Jerry’s story was so touching, made me cry and cry again reading the rest. I had a pekingnese for 16 years before finally succombing to cancer. He told me when he was ready. Jerry knew when he saw his family–I believe all my pets actually picked me rather than the other way around. Loved your story and totally understand your devotion to your boy.

  • Ian

    I just recently saw the pbs special. I was so touched by Jerry’s story, it brought tears to my eyes. Jim and Rene had a really special connection with Jerry, and Jerry with them. They really know how to love an animal and I hope they adopt another dog who need their special kind of love.

  • Christi

    I loved the story about Jerry and what you did for him. I lost my dog, Tate, in November after his cancer took over again. My heart broke for you when Jerry was re-diagnosed with cancer. It took me right back to what I went thru with Tate. I always look back and wonder if I did enough or did the right things. I still miss him terribly. I have adopted another dog, but not to replace Tate, just to help another soul that needs it. You guys did great things for Jerry, don’t ever question it.

  • Barbara and Jack

    We join this beautiful outpouring of love and compassion for Jerry and his beloved family. Truly, our dog brings out the best of our humanity! Jerry’s story, and your telling of it, is deeply in touch with the mystery and meaning of life. Blessings!

  • Roberta

    I have been an animal lover all my life. More than just a lover of animals, I have always felt that we human caretakers should allow our pets–dogs, cats, birds, whatever–the opportunity to be themselves. When you allow an animal to express his/her person-ality, the rewards are amazing. Jim and Rene did just that and the result was Jerry. The downside, of course, is that when you lose that beloved pet, the pain is unbearable, no different than losing a parent, a child, a best friend/extended family member. But in retrospect, would you have had it any other way? Of course not. Our hearts are flexible enough to say, “I’d do it again, in a heartbeat.” When I stop crying, I’m going to reread Jim and Rene and Jerry’s story. Thank you for sharing.

  • Mary o’Grady

    Dear Jim,Rene and Jerry in spirit,
    I respect all animals and they all deserve a wonderful life.I lost my darling Portia to diabetes on thanksgiving day 2007.She was a loving calico cat and i miss her everyday.She was my shadow and trusted me .Her death taught me to do your research when checking for a good vet and even question them are their decisions.My Portia was five years old and robbed of her life.I feel better after listening to your story .Thank you for sharing.

    Mary,Heathcliff,Portia in spirit,Tia and phoebe

  • Wendy Lau

    Thank you very much for your story.
    I lost my sweet cat who was 13 18 months ago. I found she had cancer and her health deteriorated v quickly after the diagnosis. During those last weeks, it all came back to me that in all my travels, she was the one constant in my life as I moved from college graduate to adulthood. Her death taught me so much more about tending to her needs and as much as she was able to be there for me throughout the years, I am forever grateful for the lessons she taught me, and grateful more for the 2 vets who looked after her, and my 2 dogs all these years. And I thank her each day, as I see my 5 year old beagle who imprinted on her when I brought him home at 6 months. The way he washes his face, the way he rubs against the furniture – it’s just her reminding me that she is always going to be close by me.

    Jim and Rene – thank you so much for sharing your story – it was a beautiful reminder of people and animals and unconditional giving and understanding.

  • Sandi

    Jerry’s story & the luv that you shared together touched my heart. My 13 yr. old husky,Darci,is my soul and I know he won’t be with me for much longer and every day he wakes up I feel blessed. He has given me so many memorable moments as Jerry did for you and I know that when Darci decides its time he will let me know…thank you for sharing Jerry with us. We are so very lucky to have these wonderful animals in our llives.

  • Jean

    Jim and Rene- You have shown what real love is by how you cared for Jerry. There are so many people who say they love their animals, but when theres a problem- they take the easy way out.If we truely love our animals, we do what’s best for them no matter what the rest of the world thinks. Rest in knowing you’ll reunite with your beautiful boy one day.

  • Jennifer

    Great story about a great dog and the humans that were there to share it with him. Pets do truly teach you to appreciate every day. It was courageous that you were both able to take the step to sell your home and business to spend it with Jerry.

  • Jenny

    I too recently had to put down my best friend, a White German Shepherd named Bosch. We had been together since she was 8 weeks old. I wrote about it on my blog… http://www.wimpybadger.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=192

    You guys CLEARLY did the right thing for Jerry. Bless you for your decision. May you find a new friend soon.

  • Lynne

    Although I was blessed enough to have human children God also has seen to it that I be blessed with animal children too! I currently am the mother to my only girl an almost 8 yr old shepherd lab mix who looks so much like Jerry it is incredible. I will be flying from MA to WA to pick up my new baby boy Shih tzu in March. My girl Miss Maddison is getting older and although she is still as playful as a pup she is starting to show signs of hip or arthritis. She is sometimes to afraid to go down the stairs to go outside and has to circle many times before jumping on the bed. I keep thinking she is not even eight yet so I don’t need to worry, but I know in my heart that God can come and get her whenever he decides. Thank God for our loving four-legged family members. Maddison has pawsatively been the reason I wanted to live at a time in my life when I had lost hope. To me Dog is God spelled backwards describing exactly what dogs are Godsends! Bless you both for going against the norm and living your dream. I hope to one day live mine, spending my life both rescuing animals and loving and caring for them on a piece of land they allow me to share with them. Bless you Jerry!!!

  • tk smith

    >1 mth ago i had Piddy my rescued love of 14 yrs put to sleep. i saw the nature program & was captivated by Jerry’s story. i had to know the ‘end’and found it in this beautifully crafted blog.
    the end for Piddy like that of Jerry became evident and i am glad we all had the courage & wisdom to assist them in finding relief.
    the ties are so,so strong & evident that beyond this plane we will reunite.

  • margarete lopes

    when i saw this special i was blown away and heart broke, over Jerry; the pleasure and pain that these amazing creatures give to us….is so unfair that there lives are so short. i’ve recently lost my 20yr old rescue cat, i was heart broken…then the kitty that i work with and raised, for pet therapy in a nursing home with severely retarded children was diagnosed with a fast moving cancer, osteosercoma… this was just to much to bare, this cat has serviced us for 13yrs. she was rescue kitty that someone had thrown out a 6th floor window. i did everything i could naturally to heal her and her tumors, i had them removed and put her on a natural supplement called ZEOLITE, and AGARIGOLD they are specialized healing supplement…..it has been 7 months and she is still ok!!!!!she gets this treatment 2x a day through and eye droper…I believe there is something to this Zeolite….pls research it if you have a sick animal of any kind and any disease….

  • Jeanette Bush

    I also am a complete animal lover. I am adopted a lot.
    I appreciate you and your story so much. People can learn so much from animals and you have helped show that. I have been in your position so many times. It hurts terribly to lose an animal, but you have to keep in mind that they understand you are trying to do the best for them. Thank you for being there.

  • Greg Hurley

    I never thought I would see that clinic in New Mexico again. That scene caught me off guard. I was in that clinic with my boxer, Elley (the most beautiful girl in the world), the day filming occurred, but I did not know it was for Nature. I remember being in that same room Jerry was with Elley laying on the floor having trouble standing up. I guess that is one Nature episode I will not rewatch – brings back bad memories.

    Elley did not last very long beyond that day. The experience taught me something that Jim Nelson and René Agredano already knew – not to chase a cure that just isn’t there. Elley had atypical lymphosarcoma and a carcinoma in her lungs. Boxer’s average age is 9 and Elley was 12 years old. I wish the doctor she was under the care of would have been more honest and told me that treating her at that age was not doing Elley any good. Elley was diagnosed on February 4, 2008 and died on May 7, 2008.

  • Vonda

    Thank you for sharing your story. At first I couldn’t believe someone would give up everything to travel with a dog. But as I watched I grew to understand the love and commitment you had for Jerry and his life. Watching him romp around and play, even after his amputation, was so joyful.
    Finding good, honest care for our fur children is so difficult. My adopted girl (dog), Twolip, was diagnosed with diabetes 2 years ago, at 9 years old. Good veterinary care, from 3 different vets, has kept her healthy and active. She spends her days with her 2 adopted cats. Everyday I learn valuable life lessons from Twos.
    I only hope I can show a tiny bit of the courage Jim and Rene shared on Nature and on this website. Thank you for sharing your love and pain.

  • Susan Stanford

    God Bless you for all that you did for your fur-son. You are a wonderful family who suffered a tragic loss with dignity, love, and compassion.
    Can you see here how Jerry is continuing to touch lives and open hearts? Because we have all experienced the deep unconditional love that our companion and friend has given to us and then had to lose him/her to disease, old age, or accident. We mourn, just as if it were a human loss, because the bond is deeper, I think. Based on complete honesty and true emotions, we hide nothing from them. They give us everything they are. There are no agendas, no ancient resentments, and no hidden rivalries. It is a pure love. The kind we will only find with them.
    I hope you have adopted another fur-child. I’m sure Jerry would wish you to. You have so much love to share.
    With Much Love,
    Susan, Spirit Annalisa, Spirit Maximilian

  • Winnie

    Jerry’s story is very touching, I think you guy’s are awesome people for doing this for him. As much as Im sad that Jerry is sick, im happy that he found you as his parents..he is very lucky that he have someone like you guys that take care of him and show him love and importance. Im sure that Jerry is very very happy despite his illness….God bless you guys!!

  • Cindy

    Your story is one of the most touching I have ever seen/read. What wonderful people you are, and how lucky you all were to have found each other. My thoughts are with you both. Thank you for sharing Jerry with the rest of the world.

  • Justin Jackson

    Thank you for sharing Jerry’s story. The Nature segment was amazing, and your website is inspirational. Every time people treat animals with true humanity – as you did in abundance – they help compensate for all the unfortunate things we can do (from habitat destruction to more direct abuse, and on and on).

    Your emphasis on traveling with Jerry is also greatly appreciated. The message I received is that the experience wasn’t really a full experience unless Jerry was with you. Amen to that!

    My partner and I go absolutely everywhere with our Yorkie, Saffie, who is 2 yrs and 4 months old, under 4 pounds and FIERCE! We traveled with her to Europe this past summer, where the thing I looked forward to the most was going on a great walk with her in Parc Monceau in Paris. In Europe, she loved sitting on our laps in restaurants instead of being hidden in a fashionable, well-ventilated bag, which we need to do if we want to take her out to eat with us in the U.S. We’re not crazy. It’s the American inhibition against having pets along for the ride! They should be everywhere we are. Thanks for making that such a clear message as well.

  • http://www.tripawds.com/2009/02/23/check-local-listings-for-nature-reruns/ Search local PBS schedule for Nature episode | tripawds.com

    [...] If you’re new here and asking, “So what?” … this was a big deal for us here at tripawds.com because this episode of Nature features me and my pack on the road sharing that incredible bond which only true animal lovers can understand. [...]

  • http://www.liveworkdream.com/2009/02/16/why-we-love-cats-and-dogs-thank-you-ellen-thank-you-pbs/ Thank you to PBS for Why We Love Cats and Dogs Nature Episode | live. work. dream.

    [...] to think that our story has touched so many people, in such profound ways. If the response here and on the Nature website is any indication, Ellen is sure to be nominated for another [...]


    I had to let my yorkie go in February, as he had seizures, caused by diabetes (which I gave him shots
    for 2 times a day) He was a rescued dog and was also
    going blind! I lost my husband last July, and he and
    the dog were inseperable. life can sure be sad:(

  • Starr Manning

    I saw the PBS show last evening. Jerry reminded me so much of our rescue, Roscoe, the wonderful golden retriever. We always take our 4 leggers everywhere with us. We bought an old minnie winnie so they can go camping with us. we were in FL on vacation 2 1/2 yrs ago when Roscoe started bleeding internally. Our vet at home located an emergency vet that saved Roscoe’s life but also mentioned the ugly cancer word. We started Roscoe on chemo when we returned home. Unbeknownst to us the cancer had spread and the chemo was unable to stop it. I know Jerry and Roscoe are together sharing their camping stories . . and their water loving ocean jaunts. We still have Roscoe’s mate, Princess, our black lab mix – - she turns 16 April 15th. A couple of weeks after we made the difficult decision to let Roscoe go . . . we rescued an 8 yr old chocolate lab named Shep. He and Princess are now the best of “buds” and he, too, is now learning how to go camping and enjoying his new pawrents as we have come to claim him as one of our own. Roscoe, Oscar and Ralph’s cremains are at home with us. Our family has been instructed that when the last of our family is gone, all of our cremains are to be mixed together and taken to our favorite beach in FL so we will all be together again.

  • stacey pelkey

    your story inspired me so greatly. i love people who glorify animals. they’re just a impotrant as we are. in my case even more. My dog callie knows im an anxious person and an introvert, she has become my best friend and confidant.she follows me up to my room when she knows i’ve been crying. I loved your story and i was greatful to have watched it. god bless our dogs.you gave up your career for your dog.your dog meant so much to you that you gave your work to spend the last moments of your dogs life to make them the best for him. The whole time must of been so sad for you.

  • Jim and Rene

    Actually, we consider all the time we had with Jerry a true blessing. Thank you all for the comments.

  • Bella

    i don’t even consider myself a dog person, whatsoever. however, watching Jerry’s journey on the PBS documentary truly and deeply touched me; i’m not even sure why…but like many a viewer, i cried off and on throughout. not for sadness, or sorrow, but because i’ve been touched by Jerry and his pawrents’ story, it is remarkable to see love translate so well into lives not only lived but well lived. perhaps Jerry’s spirit gave proper perspective to Jim and Rene, and by their willingness to share their story, they have helped give perspective on our lives as well. thanks for sharing Jerry’s spirit with us; he is a bright light and will be long remembered.

  • Abby

    having an animals as a pet is a big responsibility.We have to take good care of them like our own.Giving them the right food and shelter is one of the best care we can give.like me, i get my dog pet a pet gate so he can move freely inside our house.:)

  • Alicia Gutierrez

    This was such a sad, but uplifting story. Thank you for sharing it. I will be sharing Jerry’s story with my Companion Animal Class that i will be teaching this spring. I’m sure it will bring many tears, but also bring happiness to know that Jerry had a great life and was loved until his end. Thank you for sharing this story with us all.

  • Emily

    Jerry was a great dog and part of what made him such a great dog was the love he got from his family. Jim and Rene, you guys rock! I am so sorry for your loss but I am so glad to have read and watched your story with Jerry. I too would go far and beyond what most would call normal for my girl Rosie. She is the love of my life and like you guys I have no children so she is my world. She keeps me straight and reminds me to take the time to enjoy life and PLAY! You guys were so lucky to have met Jerry and to love and be loved by him. He was also lucky that he found you two. Your story will inspire me always and left me grateful that I do have today and hopefully many more with my girl and I will not take any of those days for granted. Thank you!

  • Terri

    Last night when this aired, I sobbed as I held my 17-year-old cat, ‘Sunshine’. I can relate to what the three of you went thru since five months ago, I had to have my cat, ‘Marley’ put down because of cancer. It was slowly starving him to death. He had a tumor that was pressing against his esophagus. I noticed that he was vomitting but didn’t equate it to anything but his food possibly disagreeing with him.
    I had only five days to prepare, from the emergency vet and the results of x-rays to taking him to a surgeon who explained what was happening to Marley. I said my final goodbye to him on Friday, September 11, 2009. He was cremated and I set up his picture and three candles every Monday to celebrate his short life. You see, he was only eight years old, and I still miss him terribly. I had two other cats including his offspring, daughter, Kitt-Litt.
    Since Marley’s passing, I listened to my heart. I had this strong urge to go to the shelter to get another cat but I didn’t know if it was the proper time. It was Marley’s spirit telling me that there was a cat in that shelter who needed me! I was about to select a male kitten, didn’t want a female. But he needed to be neutered and he’d be available in a couple of days.
    While I was at the shelter, I was shown, among others, a 17-year-old female cat who’d been given up because her owner could no longer take care of her. She kept being passed up because of her age. I’d overlooked her too since I didn’t want a female.
    I went home empty-handed since I couldn’t pick up the kitten for a couple of days. I didn’t sleep much that night because I was thinking about that little female cat who’d been passed up so many times, I’d learned the next day when I called the shelter inquiring about her. Was told that she’d been there for two months. That broke my heart. This beautiful little 17-year-old girl was Marley’s choice for me! And what a great choice she was and is! What a little sweetheart she is. Her original name was Sundancer but I changed it somewhat to SunShine.
    Marley’s urn says: “I can feel your paws gently caressing my aching heart”. Now that I have Sunny, I feel that Marley has brought SunShine (back) into my life. She was Marley’s choice for me. She’s a happy, energetic little creature who certainly shows her appreciation for her new forever home.
    I, like you and your husband, have no children. My purrbabies satisfy my need to nurture another being and it’s soooo rewarding.
    God Bless You, Yours and Jerry at Rainbow Bridge
    I’m sure Jerry has met Marley and they are playing
    together enjoying the sunshine awaiting their pawrents’
    Terri, SunShine, Kitt-Litt & KittyBoy

  • LIsa Marie

    We much enjoyed the show and your life story with Jerry. What a wonderful experience not only for Jerry but for you both. I have to say after watching, I was about in tears… tears of joy for you both as well as Jerry. He was obviously so well loved and cared for and I believe that he knew so.
    What a wonderful thing for all of you. Pets definately touch your heart and help create the person that you are… and they soak up the love so well.
    Thank you for your leadership in giving “your all” for your pet, in this case Jerry, which wasnt just a dog, but definately a well-loved family member. I pray that there will be more people like you both in the world in the future to care for these wonderful pets.
    I have never owned a dog, but have always had cats and they wonderfully enhance my life. However, I do work for Home Depot and our store happily allows dogs. It is the highlight of my day at work to have treats in my apron to give every dog that I can.
    Thanks again for sharing your story and God Bless you all….. Lisa Marie

  • Jose Gonzalez, Sr.

    In April of last year, 30th. to be exact, I lost one of my dogs, Socks, to liver cancer. Unlike the couple on this segment, which I do admire for what they did, I did put her through Chemo, the only choiced I had as the cancer was very aggressive and she could go at any time. The LSU School of Veterinary did a fantastic job and, unreal as it may sound, Socks lasted the exact amount of days that the Head of the department told me would be max, six months. She lived a good life, as have all of our dogs, we have nine at present. We got her from the Baton Rouge city rescue office along with her sister, Angel. they had the entire litter. Angel is still with us, at my feet as I am writing this, she missed her sister and at times I think that Socks watches her from Heaven. Greatg show

  • cristie praeger

    i just watched the jerry segment of the show somewhat by accident…just flipping through channels and stopped for a minute. i was so moved by the story that i had to respond.

    about 3 months ago i lost my 12 year old chocolate labrador, buju, to cancer. he never showed any signs of sickness until the end at which point, thankfully, the cancer took over quickly and my decision to help him by letting go was clear. i’m so devastated by his loss and am having a really difficult time coping. one of the hardest parts has been how alone i’ve felt because as sympathetic as others have been, no one really seems to understand how significant he was to me or how hard it is to continue life without him.

    thank you for the gift of your story. it provided me one of the few moments in the last couple weeks where i didn’t feel alone.

  • Catherine in Nova Scotia

    Renee and Jim, you were the best humans Jerry could ever have had. Your big hearts have given me renewed faith in people again. I wish you all success in your mission to tripawd dogs — and may you continue to have an abundance of love in your relationship and in your life in the future. May all of us have a Jerry-like friend in our lives. The world would be so much richer in love for all of us! Thank you, PBS, for this wonderful story. It brought a tear to the eye of cynical old me. Guess there’s hope. Blessings from a friend in Canada, Cath.

  • Diane Nunnelee

    Thanks, Jerry — you and pawrents are helping more people than you know. Read on:

    Our dog Libby is 15 and has bad hip dyspasia., and has lost muscled even in her back. But, there’s nothing else wrong with her. Watching her sit and rise is painful for us. She never cries out, but the panting is there after she getws down. And she isn’t walking the way she used to. Our vet has said, like Jerry’s vet did, that “she will tell us when it is time.”…and that as long as she was smiling, life was still good for her.

    Just Thursday she went off her food and became more lethargic. We thought that was the ” telling” we were waiting for. We called the vet Saturday morning, made the appointment. But I decided to check the internet for “Our Dog Won’t Eat” and tried their suggestion of boosting her lowered blood sugar from not eating with maple syrup and “boiling some hamburger and mixing it with cooked rice”,. She scarfed it up, wanted more and in 4 hours became her old self, still moving slowly but with that smile on her face. We obviously canceled the vet appointment.

    Hearing Jerry’s story about the incontinence and not being able to do what he wants to do has given us more of the “telling” signs we need to be looking for. Til then, Libby will get her rice and hamburger, mixed with a little dry, and more walks than normal, but just shorter. She still tells us when she needs to go out. Thanks, Jerry — you are teaching a lot of us pawrents how to deal with the last good times of life together.

  • Christie Bleck

    Hey, Rene and Jim, did you ever get another dog?

  • Cyndy Swan

    What a beautiful story, what beautiful people, I wish we had more folks like you in this world…Jerry is running around playing and watching over the two of you and waiting for that distant day when the three of you will meet again……

  • richie

    a very moving and beautiful story,may god bless you’s !!!!

  • Jen R

    As a bone cancer survivor of 6 years – and fellow amputee – I was hoping so much that Jerry would beat the disease. It’s amazing to see what a great dog he was – what a wonderful spirit he had – and to know that he led a great and full life in his short time on Earth. You’re truly blessed to have been adopted by him! Yes, I can also imagine the three of you being reunited one day in heaven ….

  • Jim and Rene (tripawds.com)

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments! It continues to amaze us how many people Jerry’s tale continues to touch.

    @CHRISTIE Yes! Last summer when we finally found the Colorado mountain home we now call Jerry’s Acres, the German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California introduced us to Wyatt Ray Dawg, a neglected puppy who had been left tied up alone so long his rear right leg became entangled. They ignored him to the point where his leg required amputation, and when they heard that they told the vet to put him down instead.

    Wyatt is now loving life on three legs with us as the new Tripawds spokespup. We like to say he is now carrying on Jerry’s LEGacy. You can follow Wyatt’s three legged adventures at … http://wyattraydawg.tripawds.com

    PS: The rescue renamed Wyatt (from Chopper) in honor of Jerry G Dawg and three legged girldog extraordinaire Codie Rae

  • Deni

    WOW! What an extraordinary tail! Your journey with Jerry is one of the most inspirational stories I have ever read. Of course you would sell everything & take Jerry’s final journey with him. Why not?

    My friends & family think I am “dog crazy”. It is the best compliment I could receive. Glad to know that I am in such great company!

    Bless you for sharing your story, and for inspiring others.

  • Donna

    I saw the story of Jerry last night on TV and finished reading it on the internet through many tears. Thank you for all the love, kindness and compassion you showed Jerry. I know he was a sweetie. My husband and I had to make the painful decision to euthanize our shih-tzu about 7 months ago so I know how hard it was to tell Jerry good bye. God bless you and God bless Jerry in heaven , and remember dog spells God backwards. :)

  • Donna Stovall

    I would like to also say that I have a “just for fun” group on Face Book titled “I Like My Dog More Than A Lot Of People I Know.” I would like to invite anyone reading this to join. Thanks so much.

  • gale tierney

    Jim, your comment about your dream stopped me in my tracks. My beloved Tally died 2 1/2 years ago and it ripped my heart right out. About 2 night after she died, I fell asleep on my couch and dreamed I fell asleep on my couch. In my dream she came running up to me , spun in a circle like she did when she wanted to play, and jumped on me,resting her paws on my chest. She was obviously deliriously happy and wanted me to know it. It was the only time in my life I had a dream but knew I was dreaming. I know in my heart and in my bones that she came back to comfort me, like she always did, and let me know she was alright.



  • Liz Bureau

    Jim and Rene,

    Thank you for sharing your story about your beautiful Jerry. I, too, have lost a few best friends and I believe it’s one of the hardest things to ever go thru in life. I had a shepherd-husky mix named Jerry Lee. He lived to be 13 years old when he just struggled so much to get up. A couple different medications bought him more time but then it didn’t help anymore. I adopted him from a shelter when he was about 1 1/2 years old. I took one look at a flier that came to where I worked (at a veterinary clinic) and he was mine the very next day!
    It’s so nice to know that there are people like you two out there who would do anything for their pet! And what a wonderful dog your Jerry was and oh so gorgeous. I truly believe in the “Rainbow Bridge” and that we will see our pets again. I can’t wait for the day to be reunited with my loves.

  • Joseph M. Leshay

    Jim,you shared with Jerry something few humans experience. It is called the oneness. I can see it in his eyes, in the way he looks at you. My two german shepherds Grizzley Bear (The Grizz) and Bugsley (Bugs) were also very special to me. In my dream it was a wild bear that my boys had saved me from, Bugs got in front of me to trip me and Grizz went after the bear to drive him away. This dream occured at least 3 times that I can remember. Bugs passed away in March of 2008 and Grizz in Aug. of 2008. I still dream about them quite often and feel connected to them. I suspect you’re dreams about Jerry will continue. I think he was sent to you to teach you who you were to be. You, Renee,and Jerry were a pack! It feels incomplete when one of the pack is missing. I know you will mourn him for quite some time. You may already know this, there is a person who can help with you’re grief…her name is Dr. Liz.

  • Chris Kull

    This is one of the truly moving stories I have ever come across, althought the circumstances where hard and sad at times, it is truly inspiring, god bless all of you!



  • Jade

    i recently lost a dog,but no the way you lost jerry. My uncle(who is 40) said my dog Ausie went after his dog Bear ,but Ausie only attacked another dog if he was attacked first.my grandpa(who is 68) saw the fight and said that bear went after ausie and that my uncle saw only the part when Ausie attacked bear and my uncle yelled THATS IT and dragged ausie litterly dragged ausie away.And a few days later my grandpa noticed ausie was missing and asked my uncle if he did anything to Ausie,he said no.my grandpa asked again THEN he said he shot ausie,my grandpa was reeeaalllyyy upset with my uncle.About three weeks later my mom told me.i was not there but my mom gave me all the details, i was so mad,i felt that the next time i saw him i wanted to knock his lights out!that was in may,now it is june but i know what it is like, i also lost my VERY first cat sweetie who was a longhair calico female who was born wild down in nevada,i found her in her litter(wich was made up of 3 cats) and my moms husky almost ate them but that is another story enirely.

  • Sandy

    I am very touched by your story of Jerry. I watched PBS last evening , almost 3 years to the day that I lost my sweet German Shephard mix, Jesse of the same illness. I also had to make the devastating decision of whether to amputate or not. After consulting with a specialist , I chose to amputate . I also took him for chemo treatments and Jesse lived another 15 months. His decline happened quickly over the last month. The cancer had returned and was in his pelvis. Thank you for offering support and information to others facing the same horrible news. The loss of our pets can cause profound sadness. I still feel this grief at times. The news of this diagnosis is so scary and shocking with very little time for decision making. Jesse’s spirit was strong and his health was good in other areas. I have no regrets about the amputation. My only regret was that I did not have Jesse die at home and that I did not find a vet to come to our home. The end lacked ritual and emotional support that I very much needed. But , with each dog, we learn and learn.
    You certainly gave Jerry a wonderful life. I know I gave Jesse a wonderful life too. He certainly was the greatest part of mine.

  • Dan

    I am very grateful for the wonderful, touching , poignant and sad storey of Jerry’s life. I t asssited me in recaptialting my feelings of the loss of my partner Sandy’s dog several years ago. Our pets indeed teach us much abourt loyalty and living in the moment whcih the film celebrates. I am aslo thankful that we have PBS to feature shows such as htis that resonate with so many animal lovers. Thank you again, Blessings, Dan

  • Noreen

    Jim and Rene -
    Thank you for sharing Jerry with us.
    I loved the part in the program when you guys described quitting your jobs and selling your house so that the three of you could spend some quality time together. I thought – this is about love and this is exactly what life can be about. It was amazing. You taught all of us who were fortunate enough to see the program and read your story something important. I wish you guys all the best, thanks again, Noreen and Lu

  • Gary Pierce

    Thanks for sharing Jerry’s story… is very inspiring for all of us…


  • Rene, Jim & Spirit Jerry

    We are so touched by the ongoing comments about Jerry’s story, thank you all so much for taking the time to write and sharing your own stories about the loving relationships you had with your beautiful dogs.

    Today, on the two year anniversary of when we said goodbye to our soul mate, we salute him with this video tribute of him when he was running on all fours. We hope you enjoy it.

    Long May You Run, Dawg.


    Reading about JERRY was uplifting!!! Thanks to your kind hearts Rene and Jim.

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    HAPPY BIRTHDAY JERRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Jek

    When we had to put down our Eddie who lived to the ripe age of 14 (old for a big dog) in 2003, I thought I wouldn’t survive it, but knew I had to stay with him, he who had loved our family so much. My husband couldn’t do it, had to stay in the parking lot, but our son stayed to say good-bye. Ed had a cancerous growth on his head; he gave us the sign, just as Jerry did for you. I said, “Never again! I can’t go through this” but here we are with another dog (Miggy is a Chihuahua; we went from one extreme to the other) and a huge cat we took in off the street. Mig and I are always together. And Ed is here, too, God love him, I know he is. Thank you for your inspiring, loving, heartbreaking story. I will be making a donation to Jerry’s cause.

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  • Rob

    Thank you so much for sharing the joy that Jerry brought to your lives. Like Jerry, we had a German Shepard, Elvis. After thirteen years of total love, we we faced with saying good-bye. Elvis knew that it was time and on his last day with us, he smiled, he really smiled as if say “it really is OK.”

    The following day I was driving on I-78 in Pennsylvania, up a hill that I drove many times. I felt Elvis with me and had the distinct vision of him running free once again. Now and then I still feel his presence and smile. His thirteen years has brought a life-time of joy to my life.

    Thank you again. I do hope that you have a new canine companion in your life as I believe Jerry would want that. I know Elvis did.

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  • Patrycia

    Just watched the story on PBS.
    What Jim and Rene did for Jerry was incredible, to give back to him unconditionally the way he gave love to them. The bond between humans and dogs is an incredible one and should be cherished every moment, because we never know when they could be taken from us.

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  • Diane

    My son and I watched this Nature program for home school Science class today. Our own dog was sitting next to me most of the time (when she wasn’t pawing me to give her a treat). Thanks for sharing lovely Jerry with us. Your both beautiful souls and so is Jerry.

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    Thank you

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