Stephanie, Robert, Penelope, Allen, Captain Jack, and Horace all piled into the car. Stephanie made them all wear seat belts, even the big black-and-brown goofy dog. Boy, they had a big car. Stephanie had packed a picnic lunch, sand buckets and shovels, and four chairs. Robert was driving. They said they were going on a day trip. Captain Jack had never heard of such a thing and wondered what it meant. The car had a top that opened up, so the wind could blow all around them. Stephanie and Penelope wore hats, but Captain Jack’s and Horace’s ears flapped in the wind the whole way. Everyone was singing, talking, and laughing. Even though it seemed like a long drive, they all worked together and cooperated to make the trip fun. Their destination was the beach!

It really was not that long a drive, because they got to the beach way before lunchtime. When Stephanie and Robert had said, “Beach,” Captain Jack had thought they meant they were going to see his mother. The puppy had heard people call his mother a bitch, but the beach was nothing like that at all. There were large white birds flying all over the place and swooping down over their heads. A roaring whooshing sound surrounded them each time the waves came up to the white earth. Captain Jack learned the white earth was called sand.

Stephanie took out their lunch, a big umbrella, and the four chairs. She opened up the chairs and then spread out a big blanket for Captain Jack and Horace. Everyone pulled out the sand buckets and shovels and started to dig in the white sand. The big goofy dog and the puppy started to dig in the sand as well. Sand was flying everywhere. When the dogs turned around, they saw Penelope and Allen covered in the sand they had just dug up. They were all laughing so hard, they were crying. But it was a good, fun kind of crying. The children took the buckets, got water from what they called the ocean, and started to make shapes in the sand that looked like big fancy houses. Captain Jack and the goofy dog kept digging and throwing more sand toward them. Allen and Penelope thanked the dogs for helping. They said the dogs were being very cooperative and were good helpers. Captain Jack and Horace were just having fun being dogs and digging.

In the distance, Captain Jack could see a figure running toward them. It looked like a dog, but it didn’t run like a dog. It had a kind of a hopping motion to its walk. A woman was running with the dog and talking to her in an encouraging way. “Good girl, Amber,” she said. “Keep up the good work.”

They looked like a supportive team. But the intriguing thing was that the woman had one normal leg and another leg that looked like a springboard or something. As the two came closer, Captain Jack could see that both of them were missing one leg. They were encouraging each other every step of the way. Captain Jack could see how Amber cooperated with the woman. Amber looked back and waited for the woman to catch up. Even with only three legs, the dog still had an advantage over the woman who had one real leg. Amber’s three legs gave her more stability as she ran on the sand.

The runner stopped near us and wiped her brow. It was hot and she didn’t have any water with her. Penelope and Allen noticed that she looked kind of tired, so they called to Stephanie and asked her to come over with some water for the runner and her dog. Stephanie also brought over a chair so the runner could sit down and rest a bit. The woman’s name was Sarah. She looked as though she were about Stephanie’s age, but she was much taller and had very long dark hair.

Sarah told them her dog saved her life. One day she was swimming in the ocean when a shark attacked her and bit off her leg, swimming away with it. Her dog Amber jumped into the water to chase away the shark. In fact, the dog did scare it off, but another shark proceeded to bite Amber. Though both of them were seriously injured, the dog found a way to bark and get them the emergency help they needed desperately. Sarah said the dog’s quick actions saved her life and brought people to their assistance quickly. Sarah went on to say that she didn’t want fear to rule her life after that, so she made sure that she and Amber came to the beach every day to enjoy the ocean and regain confidence in being near the place where the incident happened. Stephanie, Robert, Allen, Penelope, Captain Jack, and Horace made new friends that day.

By then, they were all ready for lunch. Stephanie invited Sarah and her dog Amber to join them. Of course, Captain Jack was not delighted about sharing his lunch. The big goofy dog definitely didn’t like it either, because eating was his favorite thing to do. But all the humans praised Horace and Captain Jack for being so kind, sharing, and cooperative, that the dogs couldn’t disappoint them. They all ate and drank just enough. Then everyone decided to fly kites since there was a very nice breeze. Penelope and Allen were really excited about flying kites.

As they got their kites ready to fly, Captain Jack noticed strange, clear mushy things floating in the ocean. He started barking and running toward them in the water. Those weird things looked like they’d be fun to catch and play with. The puppy heard voices behind him yelling, but couldn’t tell what they were saying. Captain Jack kept running through the waves toward the floating things. It was a lot of fun. And then he caught one! For a second, the puppy was ecstatic and excited. Then—almost instantly—a sharp pain shot through his entire body, and he couldn’t move. The puppy blacked out. All he could hear was crying and screaming and people yelling, “Get him! Get him!”

Captain Jack was floating farther out on the waves faster than they could run or swim. The puppy was limp and couldn’t move at all. He could hear Amber barking excitedly and smelled her breath very close. The last thing that went through his mind was the smell of lunch on her breath. And Captain Jack blacked out again.

Follow-up Activity: Watch the movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. Or go to this website: www.seewinter.com

Read about tripod dogs and cats, how they adapt to their missing limbs, and how they learn ways to function in life. You might want to check out Tripawds® at tripawds.com, dogguide.net/tripod-dogs.php, handicappedpets.com/canine-amputation-tripod-dog/, pinterest.com/cynjen/tripod-dogs/, or thebark.com/content/keeping-your-three-legged-dog-healthy.

Read about physically challenged children at websites such as the following:

-- teacher.scholastic.com/professional/childdev/working_with_children.htm

-- lds.org/topics/disability/list/physical-disability?lang=eng&old=true

-- thoughtco.com/physically-handicapped-students-3111135

-- helpingchallengedchildren.org/ (Helping Challenged Children, Inc.)

-- medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/physically+challenged

-- neatoday.org/2013/03/28/students-with-physical-disabilities-speak-out-on-challenges-in-school/

-- cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=306&id=1874 (Women’s and Children’s Health Network on Physical Disability—Children)

Discuss ways you might be a better friend in school to someone who is physically challenged in a different way from you.

Story Discussion Tips:
  1. In what ways did characters in this episode demonstrate cooperation? Which characters worked together in each instance? How did they cooperate with each other?
  2. How do you feel when you meet a person who is physically challenged in a different way from you? Maybe the person is in a wheelchair, walking with a walker, wearing a leg brace or braces, unable to use one or both arms, cannot hear well or at all and is using sign language, or cannot see and is using a white cane or wearing dark glasses. What emotions does this bring up for you? Most differently-abled people don’t want sympathy from others. Sometimes people unintentionally talk louder when they talk to someone in a wheelchair. Do you?
  3. In what ways in this story did Sarah’s dog Amber help her owner? How did the woman and Amber encourage one another? Why?
  4. Why did Sarah and Amber return to the beach every day to the area where they were attacked by sharks and suffered their injuries? How did those visits make them feel? Have you ever done something like that to keep yourself from living in fear after something bad happened to you? If so, how did it make you feel to overcome the fear so it didn’t control your life?
  5. Quick actions by rescuers helped after Sarah’s and Amber’s shark attacks and after Captain Jack was stung by the jellyfish and was floating out to sea. What do you think those rescuers did in each situation to save the person and the dog? Why were quick responses very important? Have you ever been in a serious medical situation like these? If so, what happened? Did someone rescue you as well?
Humane Education Point: There are many pets (both cats and dogs) that are tripods for various reasons. Most of them can adapt and learn how to function relatively normally in life. Some need prosthetics or carts in place of their limbs to restore their mobility. Most of all, they need patience, compassion, support, and love.

There are children who have a wide variety of physical challenges, including vision, hearing, walking, speech, the use of their limbs, and more. Some are wheelchair bound, wear a hearing aid or headset miked to their teacher or parent, use a walker, sit in a special chair, use a white cane, wear a prosthetic, use a stylus to communicate via a computer, use a grip or a brace to hold a pencil or crayon or fork or spoon, wear a brace or braces, etc. Some of them are able to be more independent than others. Some need the help of a one-on-one, a parent, a caregiver, or a teacher. Thanks to Public Law 94-142 passed in the 1970s, these and other special-needs children must be educated in the most-conducive environments for them. If they can be educated in regular classrooms, they are. This provided for mainstreaming of special-needs children into regular classrooms, P.E. classes, music classes, art classes, and more.

Organization of the Month:
TriPawds Foundation

The Tripawds Foundation is a 501c3 charity established to help amputee pets and their people everywhere. Current projects include:

Maintaining the public benefit Tripawds Community
Hosting a Toll-free Support Helpline
Reimbursement for certified rehab consultations
Free vet patient outreach materials
The Tripawds Rescue Fund
NEW! Amputation Surgery Assistance Program
NEW! Tripawds Gear Fund

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