Tricky Tripods

One evening my husband began to tell me about a contest that he had heard about on the radio.  InstaCredit Automart was having a photo contest and the winner would get to be in the next InstaCredit Automart commercial!  We looked at each other and said, “Penny!”


She is our adorable tripod baby that was born with a deformed front paw and a severe overbite.  Aside from being the gorgeous girl that she is, Penny is also super friendly.  She loves everything and everybody.  In fact, she practically raised the cat that we rescued off of the street as a two week old kitten.


Young and old alike cannot seem to get enough of her.  Everyone is always surprised at the softness of her fur.  She might just be the softest dog in the world.  We had no doubt that Penny could win.


I uploaded a photo of Penny in her Christmas dress to the InstaCredit Automart Facebook page.  Then, I began my ruthless social media campaign.  I posted the link on my Facebook page, Penny’s Facebook page, my twitter page, Penny’s twitter page, my Instagram, Penny’s Instagram…


The votes began to come rolling in.  Like any good pet parent, I was checking her totals every day…sometimes twice!  As the numbers climbed higher, I felt more confident that Penny would be crowned the winner.


Soon, I was fantasizing about what could happen to Penny if she won.  She would be asked to be a spokes dog for Purina, get her face on bags of dog food, be the guest of honor at dog events like Bark in the Park.  After that, she would be asked to appear on the Today Show to explain her incredible adoption story.  This news would spread to the beloved Ellen DeGeneres, who would soon book us for her show.  Penny and I would get to live the dream of traveling the country spreading her message that different is beautiful and nothing is “impawsible.”


On June 2nd, I received a phone call from InstaCredit Automart.  Penny was a finalist!  We were invited to the Ultimate Pet Play Date where she would compete with the other finalists for the coveted commercial spot.  The weather that day was anything but supportive.  We got caught in two torrential downpours on our drive there.


We arrived early (as usual) and decided to sit in our car until the event official kicked off.  Naturally, we went into full-on pageant parent mode.  We silently judged Penny’s competition that began to fill the parking lot.  Honestly speaking, I thought Penny was a shoe-in.


We headed into InstaCredit Automart and waited for the contest to begin.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes were everywhere.  Most of the owners were in competition mode and did not really mingle with the other pet parents.  That didn’t bother Penny one bit.  Her tail never stopped wagging.


She happily sniffed each pooch that passed by.  She even got sniffed by Buckley Jr. and Buckley himself.  In case you aren’t familiar with these dogs, they are the “famous” InstaCredit Automart dogs.  Buckley’s handler kept bringing him past Penny.  I took this as a very good sign.


Before I knew it, it was time to line up to be judged.  The announcer began to tell everyone the rules.  The dogs were going to be judged on a 15 point system:  friendliness, presence on camera…and agility.  My heart dropped.  They wanted the dogs to perform tricks!


I was livid.  Nowhere in the rules did it mention tricks.  I frantically began to ask my husband if I should make Penny stand up at the end of the “red carpet” and make her dance for a treat.  We agreed to just let Penny be Penny and see what would happen.


We have not trained Penny to perform any tricks since she is a tripod dog.  The issue isn’t that she cannot perform tricks.  She jumps over our 3 foot pet gate on her own!  The issue is that we love Penny and know that her three “good” legs have to work much harder than a “normal” dogs’ in order to compensate for her “stump.”  This puts extra pressure on her joints since the weight isn’t evenly distributed.  


Also, she is part Dachshund and we are trying to be very careful with her back.  My friend had a doxie that slipped a disc.  The surgery cost $5,000!  While we would do anything for our fur babies, we would rather not take the chance of injuring them.


Penny did her very best as she strutted down the red carpet.  She even stopped to sniff the judges.  We stood by the front doors, watching and waiting.  Suddenly, a little fluff ball of a dog came running over to Penny.


“Oh, my gosh!  She’s a tripod, too!” squealed the dog’s owner.  The tiny long-haired Chihuahua’s name was Lena.  She had to have her front right leg amputated due to abuse from her former owner.  Lena was a smiling ball of energy.  I could see why she bonded with Penny.  And her owners were thrilled to meet another tripod pooch.  We took several pictures of Lena and Penny together.  You can check them out on Penny’s website at:


We turned our attention back to the contest just in time to see Boomer, a homely looking Boxer, come schlepping down the carpet.  That’s when the show began.  His owner dropped to her knees and proceeded to have Boomer give her a high-five, dance and do the exploding fist bump.  I knew at that moment we were toast.


As they began to announce the winners, I saw several of the judges look at me and Penny.  They started talking to each other and I thought that we might still have a chance.  Little Miss Lena won second place!  My husband instructed me not to scream as he figured that Penny won first place.


My heart was beating wildly in my chest.  I was ready to parade Penny up in front of the judges and pose for pictures. 


“And our first place winner is…Boomer!”


WHAT?!  There had to be some sort of mistake.  While I understand that every pet parent knows that his/her baby is the cutest, I can honestly say that this dog was very plain.  And I am not speaking as a sore loser.  I even told my husband that I would have been completely happy if any other dog would have won.  There was an adorable miniature Greyhound, a dazzling Yorkie, the list goes on.  Why Boomer was picked as a finalist in a photo contest, I will never understand.


This brings me to my major complaint:  Boomer won because of the tricks that he performed.  I do not feel that this was fair.  A dog should not be judged on what types of tricks it can do unless the contest is specifically for tricks.  This was supposed to be a photo contest.  The dog’s personality was supposed to be judged to assure that he/she would get along with the InstaCredit Automart dogs that he/she would be filming with.  But, they chose to boil it all down to tricks.


Penny is such an inspiration.  She doesn’t need any tricks or gimmicks to make her special or unique because she already is.  Abandoned as a stray in California, Penny has remained sweet to everyone that she meets, even though she had been tossed aside like garbage.  Being born with several deformities doesn’t stop her from doing anything that a “normal” dog can do.  She continues to amaze us daily with the power of her loving spirit.


We don’t need to win a contest to validate how wonderful Penny is.  We have the honor of getting to experience Penny every day.  Our lives were forever changed for the better the day that we made her a part of our furry family. 


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