Nearly 50 three-legged dogs and hundreds of human companions turned up Sunday for the 9th Annual Tri-Pawed Dog Picnic, a party for amputee canines plus dogs with cones, casts, one eye, one ear, wheelchairs, blindness, deafness, or toothlessness.

Not all San Francisco dogs lead fancy lives with luxury $100 ceramic water bowls, some pups have endured injury or trauma that required one of their legs to be amputated. Even though one (or more) of their doggone legs are gone, these dogs enjoyed their yearly meetup in Duboce Park Sunday afternoon for the 9th Annual Tri-Pawed Dog Picnic. SFist captured these pup-arazzi photos of the informal and loose meetup, also attended by Family Dog Rescue and Muttville, that celebrated the bravery and cuteness of San Francisco’s three-legged dogs who are undaunted despite having endured a ruff experience.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

Tri-Pawed Dog Picnic organizer Franny Corsick told SFist that the event isn’t just for three-legged dogs but also for “dogs with cones, casts, one eye, wheelchairs, blind, deaf, toothless, vintage, lumpy; they’re all welcome.”

It’s not really a structured event, just a meetup of dogs and their dog people, but it’s continued now for nine years. “My first picnic, I just wanted to see more than one three-legged dog in one place. I’m a dog lover,” Corsick said. “So I put up flyers around San Francisco.”

“It’s grown to about 40-plus dogs,” she told us. “It’s maintained a picnic quality. People won’t be sold anything. We have ‘prizes but no contest’ as part of the picnic. People bring prizes and share them with other dog owners.”

Do the dogs realize they are partying with other amputee pups? They might. “I’ve seen dogs get very excited when they come and sniff the empty spot,” Corsick said. “So I think they’re curious about it, maybe there is a familiarity there. But then they’re also dogs, and they just sniff each other.”

This mosquito-sized little lady above actually “works” as a therapist for other recent amputee canines. Her human companion Corene Carpenter does overnight care for recovering dogs at a shelter, and her two three-legged dogs help the shelter dogs acclimate to the loss of a leg. “They often wake up in a state of shock that their limb is gone,” Carpenter told SFist. “What helps is I have my amputee [dogs] with me. I always show them how happy they can be. I take my dogs out to walk with them, it makes them less afraid when they’re freshly amputated.”

Many of them recover quite well. Just look at the magnificent form of this ball-chasing pup, who has learned to change his center of gravity to maintain a nearly perfect stride. The large tail probably helps, but this very handsome boy seems to have no concept that he might have a disability.  

The full spectrum of canine infirmities was on display, and you couldn’t help but notice how many doggos had developed clever coping mechanisms.  This completely blind poodle, for instance, was far more ruthless than the others at sniffing out which humans had the treats.

Here we see Twyla Twinkletoes, who suffers from a condition called angular limb deformity. She requires a carrying bag, but can also scoot around with a contraption called a Hoppy-and-Wheelie vest. “The wheels cost $700,” her human sidekick Eve told us, describing the substantial medical costs that often come with caring for these pooches. “I’ve probably thrown a few thousand on her.”

As is the custom at most Tri-Pawed Dog Picnics, the dogs receive blessings Sister Chola de Dah of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (as well as a ukelele performance by Belinda Blair). “They always inspire me to not give up,” Sister Chola says of the poocheroos. “And they’re always smiling.”

When speaking to people who brought their three-legged dogs to this event, we noticed that the vast majority of them adopted them as rescue pups after they’d already had the amputation. These are people who consciously chose to take in dogs with serious medical conditions, and all the extra work, cost, and TLC that entails. And as you see from these pictures, they’ve done magnificent work in helping these dogs shed their trauma.

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