Beautiful photo isn’t it? Running for the pure joy of it. This is Zach and he’s a tripaw. Now before some of you roll your eyes and think ‘not another metaphor for life, dog story, I’ve got emails, social media and the latest episode of Poldark to watch’ stop and stay with me for a moment, it’s relevant.

Zach came to us as a puppy with a deformed front leg. The ulna and radius bones (forearm) were missing and his paw attached to his elbow forming a hook.

Right from the start he showed the world that he wasn’t going to be slowed down. He was the first puppy out of the birthing box. He literally used his hooked limb as leverage and pulled himself over the side of the box.

Lesson number one

Your weaknesses can be your strength.

Zach hadn’t been with us for long, when it became obvious the deformed limb was pulling his shoulder and spine out of alignment causing pain. The limb had to come off. The operation was performed, all went well and he was home in a couple of days.

Over the next few months he quickly adapted to having only three legs, from day one he was finding ways to play with the other dogs and get the most out of life.

Zach focused on the now, what he could do in that moment and he’d give it all he had. When he was sore or tired he rested and when he rested he gave it one hundred percent. Because he did this he healed and adapted quickly.

Lesson number two

Be in the moment, the past is gone and the future is yet to come. Give the moment all you have no matter what you are doing.

Because he was growing at a great rate (he’s now 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs in at 45 kgs) his point of balance was continuously changing. He fell over a lot, and often at great speed. He just got back up and continued.

Out on walks he would find a way to do everything the other dogs were doing. The very rare times he couldn’t find a way he would come and get help from me and together we would find a way through, around or over.

Lesson number three

There is always a way. Do not ever limit yourself no matter what and if you really can’t, go get help.

Zach has a big, deep bark. His job in the pack is ‘look out’. He’s first to tell us if anything is happening or a stranger is on the property. If he hadn’t lost a leg his role within the pack may have been different, but he doesn’t care. He has a function he’s good at and he’s an important, contributing member of the pack.

Lesson number four

Accept where you’re at, embrace your strengths.

Now that I live with a tripaw. I take notice when I meet others and their owners. What I see is that the dogs with owners that treat them normally, let them find their way, let them make mistakes and fall over are much, much happier and well adjusted. The dog’s that have owner’s that are fearful and over compensating tend to be fearful themselves, frustrated and dysfunctional.

Lesson number five

Do not let others put their fears onto you and do not put your fears and perception of limits onto others.

Now look at the lessons and apply them to yourself and how you see others – your team, your children, partner, your friends.

• Do you have a team member that is under performing? Before firing them look at Lesson four – are they in right the role?
• Are you having trouble moving forward? Look at lesson number two.
• Do you struggle with not being good enough? Lesson four is for you.
• Are you constantly frustrated at your lack of performance? Lesson number one is worth a thought.
• Can’t seem to write the novel, start that business, reach your goals. Lesson three is a goody.
• And lesson five, well it’s pretty all encompassing.

Zach is now 22 months old and people often stop and marvel at his agility and his joyful demeanour.

He is naturally Zen and what would be called in Taoist speak an ‘uncarved block’ For us it can be more difficult. With the constant noise within and without it can be hard to change but it is possible. So, take a leaf out of Zach’s book, follow the lessons and find your freedom!