Tripawd members are located around the globe, but the majority are based in North America and the United Kingdom. So when we hear about three-legged heroes in faraway places like the Netherlands, we are always curious to know what their experience was like from the moment they became Tripawds, and beyond. For a long time we’ve been in love with Jip.
Jip is a mature gal who has defied the osteosarcoma odds and is rockin’ the Tripawd Nation with her artist/musician mamma, Kaat Waterschoot. Ever since we saw this video we wanted to learn more about what life is like as a 14-year old Tripawd in the Netherlands.
This week, we present to you an in-depth Tripawd Tuesday interview with Kaat, who shares Jip’s inspawrational story. We hope you enjoy her tale as much as we do!
If you’d like your 3-legged hero to be featured on Tripawd Tuesday, keep reading.
What is Jips age?
14 and 3 months.
How old was she when the cancer was discovered?
12 years and 9 months.
What was the exact diagnosis?
Osteosarcoma, stage 2-3, with no visible metastases in the lungs.
How long has she been fighting cancer?
Almost 18 months since diagnoses february 7 2012, after she’d been limping for a couple of weeks. First the vet thought it was arthroses, but the medicine for that didn’t help(Jip had problems one or two years earlier, but these were solved quickly). When a neighbor-dog came on a bit too playful Jip suddenly gave a yelp, and walked even worse. We went back to the vet.
What did you think when the vet told you Jip had cancer?
When he felt her paw again he said: If this is what I think it is, I have bad news. Unfortunately he was right. He explained everything about osteosarcoma, and the options we had. My heart broke. I thought Jip was going to die within 4-6 months.
When amputation was advised what went through your mind?
Will she survive the operation? My vet immediately told me a dog can go well on 3 legs, but he left the decision up to me.
After the biopt had been sent to the lab I had some time to think about it, and look up info. That’s when I found you Tripawds.com! And I am eternally grateful.
My vet called a specialist to get some extra advice. He also told her that Jip was a young spirited dog for her age, who could handle 3 legs. She said if it was her dog of 13, with osteosarcoma stage 2-3, she wouldn’t carry on, and put the dog to sleep..For some reason that didn’t feel good at all, and this answer got me in a rebellious mode.
What did your friends and family say?
My mother and brother didn’t understand why I even considered amputation. “She had a good life.” “And what about the costs, if she is gonna die soon anyway?” They wouldn’t have done it. Now, looking back, my mother sees differently and is very supportive. Jip’s her miracle grandchild.
My best friends stood by me, whatever I decided.
My girlfriend, who is Jips other mama since 4 years, was the one who gave me all the trust in the world. She was certain Jip was going to live through the amputation, and handle it all well.
Did you have a hard time deciding whether or not to proceed? Why or why not?
Hardest decision I ever had to make, although I knew this was best and I wanted to do it right away. But I was so worried, well terrified actually, feeling so responsible for her well-being. Never cried so much. Was I going to do good? What if she dies on the surgery table? What if she has a hard time walking afterwards, or what if she will be in pain after the surgery and then dies soon after that? That’s a horrible way to live the last months. That’s a lot of what if’s.. I looked into Jips eyes a lot, trying to communicate..I knew that ‘what if’s’ are useless. That they come from fear. I had to set myself straight and be brave, and acknowledge myself for whatever I would do, I would do out of love for Jip.
And Jip is a fighter. She still sometimes acts like a puppy.
I would be crazy not to relieve her at least from this pain! And I also said to my vet: If Jip doesn’t survive this, I won’t blame you. We all did the best we could, with the best intentions.
The vet had scheduled the operation on Thursday, and said I could always cancel. I wasn’t planning to do that, no matter what. He called me Wednesday late at night with the results of the lung x-rays and said the radiologist saw some flaws, but no metastases. Out of all the bad news, this gave a sparkle of hope. I immediately said: I see you tomorrow morning.
How are pets seen through the eyes of people in the Netherlands? Are they considered part of the family as many are here in the U.S.?
I think so. For the most people do take good care of their pets here. Though not every pet owner is as madly in love with their pet as all of us here on Tripawds:-)
I think it’s a special breed, those animal loving friends. It’s more than liking animals, it has to do with unconditional love.
So yes, pets are family members in The Netherlands, and we also have Cesar Milan on the tele!
How would you describe veterinary care in your country?
I think it’s very good. There are all kinds of centers for special care.
Is amputation and cancer care a mainstream thing or something very much out of the ordinary?
Regarding amputation: When I see the responses of the people on the streets, it’s definitely still very much out of the ordinary.
Regarding cancer: Hard to say, not that mainstream I guess, but all possibilities for treatments are there. We do have special chemo treatment centers for pets.
What kind of vet care did/does Jip receive? Are you happy with it?
Yes, very happy. I have a very down to earth and funny vet (Jip sees him since puppy). He does the necessary, nothing more, nothing less.
Jip suffered from high fevers when she came home after the amputation(she was stable enough to come home that same afternoon). These fevers took almost a week. He gave us a syringe and a medicine to lower the fevers, showed us how and where to inject her in the large back muscle when the fever got to a certain level(my girlfriend is a doctors’ assistant, and even I did it twice myself, when my girlfriend was out!). He coached us on the phone daily and decided when Jip was strong enough to handle the fevers and stop the injections. Besides that she had pain medication. The first week was hard, and took 24 hrs of care, but we managed well. I made a chart and wrote everything down (by the way, not every dog experiences this, maybe even most dogs won’t get high temperature).
Furthermore we massaged the excessive fluid that was building up, out of the wound. It had started leaking enormously after 3 days. The first time that this had happened we were kind of shocked, but we learned it was good that it came out. The vet showed us how to do it. I think we massaged the fluid towards the wound regularly for about 4 weeks.
Jip never received chemo. I decided that, considering her age, and her being enormously stressful on the vets table, I didn’t want to put her through that stress of driving to that special treatment center. All I wanted was to relieve her from the pain, and give her some extra peaceful loving happy months. That ‘some extra months’ turned into now 18 months still rockin’, is a miracle to me, and also to my vet and his assistants. They posted a video of Jip on their website.
A year ago Jip developed a tumor on her tooth-gum. It got large and bled often, and we had it surgically removed. At first the vet suspected it was an epulide, but he found some cartilage, that also showed on an x-ray. He said this could well be related to the bone cancer, and Jips teeth might come loose one day. We’ve had this tumor removed 2 times now..it’s there again, but Jip doesn’t seem to bother, the teeth are still firmly rooted and it’s growing slower than before.
And lately she conquered arthroses in her right hip, after having 4 anarthron injections. Hopefully the power stuff works long!
I sometimes have to set her boundaries, otherwise she would do herself harm. The ol’ lady just goes on and on till she drops.
Jip doesn’t get any medicine now, her best medicine appears to be breakfast and dinner, veggies and cookies, and going out. I do mix glucosamine/chrondoïtine formula I her food for the joints. (the cheap pills for people, adjusted to Jips weight). I often massage her muscles
What advice would you have for people who find themselves in your situation?
First of all: Visit the website Tripawds.com! Really. This gives you hope, and hope is what you need. (and check Jips vids! Youtubechannel jippie2000).
Second: Do it. Relieve the pet from the pain that comes with osteosarcoma (unless maybe when the dog is already sick from something else, suffering from arthroses heavily, and very overweight, but I am sure a good vet knows too, and you know your pet better than anyone). You have nothing to lose (only money, who cares, and if you don’t have the money right away, or no pet-insurance, ask your vet for a payment arrangement).
Talk to your furry friend about it in the process to come. Not sure if they understand anything of it, but they probably sense something.
Third: cry your eyes out, take a deep breath, and then be strong and brave for your dog. Make sure the house-floors have carpets, take a soft bath-towel and cut a hole in it for the good paw, to support the hoppy wiggling the first days, when the wound is still fresh.
Get a good harness (we bought a Ruffwear Webmaster, great purchase if you ask me, great quality, holding up for 18 months now, and it looks cool!), gather info about chemo treatment, make sure you have good backup if anything unexpected happens after surgery, and watch how amazingly quick your friend will recover. Many newly tripawds walk their first hops the same day, and can run after somewhat weeks. They even can swim! Cuddle your furry friend a lot, and be happy. Believe in miracles
Don’t doubt whatever decision you make and go with your gut feeling, regardless of what other people might say. We never could have dreamed Jip would make it this far in such joy and lust for life. She’s a happy camper.
Enjoy every given bonus day!
How to Get Featured on Tripawd Tuesday
Each Tuesday, Tripawds from around the world can enter for a chance to be “Tripawd of the Week.” Just share your Tripawd’s story and you’re entered to win!
- In a few short sentences or longer if you wish, describe your three-legged hero’s story.
- Include a photo or video.
- Include a link to your Trpawds Facebook page, Forum topic and/or Tripawds blog (if applicable)
All entries must be received by Tuesday at 11:59 pm. One Tripawd story will be selected at random to be featured the following Tuesday.