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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Tail, er, Tale of the Three-Legged Dog.

by Alton Gansky

Lessons come in the strangest places and at the oddest times. I slipped from the office early to get a haircut and buy one of those gooey-frosty-juice-things with names like Melon Madness that are supposed to be good for me. The haircut went fine with no ears injured and the juice was everything I hoped for. As I drove through the parking lot, my mind on the days work and a straw of tasty juice permanently glued to my lips, I had to slow for a dog trotting over the asphalta dog with three legs.

Now, I’ve seen three-legged dogs before. I even tell a joke about a three-legged pig (I’ll spare you), but the image of the dog stuck with me through the day. First, the dog appeared as happy as any I’ve seen. He didn’t mope across the macadam, he moved with brisk motion as if he were late for an appointment (maybe he was out for a haircut too).

Second, he trotted as if he had all four legs, apparently unperturbed by the missing limb. Whatever cost him his leg hadn’t taken away his doggy-zeal for life.

Last, he used what he had and used it well.

“If only . . .” Have you ever heard the phrase? “If only I had more time. If only I were younger. If only I hadn’t wasted my youth. If only I had chosen a better college (or any college). Many people utter this phrase, allowing it to become their mantra of failure. Budding writers say, “If only I had more time.” Hesitant entrepreneurs mumble, “If only I had started sooner.”

“If only . . . if only . . . if only . . .”

What does the three-legged dog do? He keeps moving forward as if nothing was missing.
That is a wise dog. Such a good boy.

Alton Gansky is an author, podcaster, teacher, and a man willing to learn about life from a three-legged dog.


  1. Alton, My week has been tumultuous. The events left me weary. If only I had more energy, joy, strength I could get my work done. Your story lifted my spirits. The image of a 3 legged dog not bothered by his tripod form instilled hope and joy. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for that reminder. Finding joy where we are, in whatever circumstance, and working through to the other side in victory... a powerful word in an image that will stick with me.

    A new short-hand for this: remember the three-legged dog!

  3. We have one in our neighborhood and it's full of energy. Whenever I see Barkley, I have to be thankful. I want to bark but have to laugh at his antics.

  4. Great post. I love dogs...ALL dogs!


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