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Tripawd Tuesday: Bernese Mountain Dog Amputee Izzie Inspires!

This just in, a big Tripawd Tuesday success story from Izzie the Amazing Bernese Mountain Dog amputee hero!

Big Tripawd dog health tips
Izzie on the move in the backyard 5 weeks post surgery, 3 weeks post stitches removal. She had just recovered from TPLO surgery on her left hind leg when her cancer was found in the right hind leg. And check out her girlish figure! So important in Berners, in general, but especially now that she’s a tripawd!

Izzie’s mom sent us this letter to show what amputation recovery for her special girl. And if you have a Tripawd cat or dog story to share, we would love for you to share it. See below Izzie’s story for details.

Meet Amazing Izzie, a Bernese Mountain Dog Amputee Hero

Hi Tripawd Folks!

Just wanted to share that our Bernese Mountain Dog Isabella Fiestus Muffinchop (Izzie) had her right hind leg amputated (Histiocytic sarcoma) about a month after getting the all clear on her TPLO surgery on her left hind leg.  The left leg wasn’t fully back up to strength, so we’ve been taking the recovery from the amputation very slowly.

Bernese Mountain Dog amputee Izzie
Sit-stands before meals with some of her food help the leg and her core. Gabapentin RULES! She is getting it 3x per day – every 8 hrs – at least until she has her remaining back leg at full strength.

We bought a big roll of yoga mat material and cut pieces to fit for all the slippery floors and for the stairs, and kept her downstairs until 2 weeks after the stitches came out, just to be sure.  Now she (and I) get to go upstairs once at night to go to bed, and come down once (or maybe twice if she has to relieve herself at night) in the morning.  Down is sure easier than up!

Izzie’s Working Out, Staying Strong and Slim

We’re supervising play with her little sister half Bernese half Great Pyr (Eleanor Reptar Woofinpuff) very closely to ensure the baby doesn’t knock over the big girl.  We’ve always kept their weight down having learned on our first Berner that weight control is important in the breed.  It’s even more important now.

We do our sit-stands using some of our breakfast food in the morning and some of our dinner food in the evening.  It’s a lot harder now than it was with 2 back legs, but it’s helping get her core strength and balance back.

Izzie’s Stump Protection Tips:

I’ve just ordered 2 reusable dog diapers to revise to make a pad under her missing leg for while her fur is still growing back – she has lost balance or her leg has given way a few times and it makes me nervous that the skin has no cushion if she goes down.  Got the idea from your suggestions for covering the wound before the stitches come out!  Thank you!

Bernese Mountain Dog Tripawd
Izzie Ready for bed on the downstairs murphy-bed (with me) – she likes to sleep against the foot of the bed upstairs, so until she was ready to handle the stairs, we tucked the throw around her.

What we used to keep her away from her stitches was an XL sleeveless t-shirt, with her front legs through the arm holes, the front of the shirt on her back, and one little trick to keep it in place:  2 carbiner clips.  Each clip went through one sleeve “strap” and then hooked to her collar.  Didn’t completely keep her off the incision, but we were with her all the time and if she showed interest – trying to move the shirt – we were on it.  Also, since it was raining most of the two weeks, it kept her incision dry.  And, was completely out of the way when she was relieving herself, so no need to worry about that!

Last night, for the first time since she came home, she slept a good portion of the night on her back.  I think that shows a level of comfort and lack of fear.  Also, for a good amount of that time, her scar was up against her sister-dog, so that must mean it doesn’t hurt anymore, right?

Managing Amputation Pain, Arthritis and Cancer

She’s still on Gabapentin because, poor bear, she also has IMPA (dog rheumatoid arthritis – diagnosed a little over a year ago – what a string of events she’s been through – will probably be on low dose of prednisone forever) but no longer at the max dose and we’re hoping to be able to take it even lower over the coming months. 

three-legged dog slippery floor tip
Izzie showing off her yoga mat runners. Stitches out for 3 weeks, she’s going upstairs (only once per day) at night for bed. Upstairs, she has a tumbling mat triangle with more yoga mat (painters-taped to it) as a ramp to an ottoman.

We’re using as a sign of pain unusual breathing – like fast panting for no apparent reason – and listening when she’s getting up and laying down for anything resembling a whine or groan (she never vocalizes) and the speed at which she does either (getting up or laying down).  She let’s us know if we pay close attention.

The prophylactic chemo has been, so far, easy on her (only one round, but didn’t disrupt her for even a meal).  We’re hoping the remaining rounds go as smoothly and we get a clean bill of health as far as the cancer goes.

Yes, a Tripawd Dog’s Quality of Life Can Return!

All in all, she’s doing GREAT!  We are SO GLAD we had your good advice and the advice of several veterinarians who said that the amputation would result in a great quality of life.  Please, anyone who is considering amputation for cancer reasons, do not hesitate.  Even for our bear who has been through so much this past year (there was a splenectomy before the TPLO – yeah, wow), it was immediately clear, when she came home, that we made the right decision.  Bring them joy again, shed the limb!

Stay healthy, wash your hands, love your dogs and cats and other pets.  Best medicine ever.

Be well,

Get Your Hero Featured in Tripawd Tuesday!

Whether you have a Bernese Mountain Dog amputee or a sweet Tripawd cat, it’s time to share your three-legged hero’s story with the world! Send your Tripawd Tuesday shout-out now. Each Tuesday is the best way to celebrate Tripawd amputee pets from around the world. Enter for a chance to be “Tripawd of the Week.” Just share your story in a few words and you’re in!

Whether you are a bonafide registered Tripawds member, or part of our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram communities, we want to tell the world about your three-legged cat or dog.

Send Your Tripawd Tuesday Pets Story in three easy steps:

  1. In a short paragraph or two (or longer if you’d like!), describe your three-legged hero’s story.
  2. Share a photo, video or both.
  3. Got a Tripawds Forum topic and/or Tripawds blog that you started? Be sure to include that link too! Of course let us know any social media handles that feature your Tripawd.
  4. Then send your story to us via email, Facebook Messenger, or direct message us on Twitter or Instagram.

We publish a new Tripawd story each week. It’s time for yours to get featured!

Sharing is Caring!

6 thoughts on “Tripawd Tuesday: Bernese Mountain Dog Amputee Izzie Inspires!”

  1. Thank you for your hope and inspiration! I am leaning towards amputating my 100 lb Newfie/lab’s hind leg due to presumed OSA (xrays show a clear lytic lesion even though biopsy x2 has been negative for neoplasia) so even if it is benign, he is clearly in pain. Will meet with the oncologist on Wednesday but after reading these stories, I think I cry a little less each time.

    • Hey Marissa, I’m glad you found Izzie’s story. As you can see we have lots of inspawration here! Keep us posted in your Forum topic, saw that you wrote about the situation. See you there!

  2. Jerry, I saw your story on Izzie. My 5 year old Bernese Rita, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her back ankle today. They are only giving her a few weeks to months and recommending palliative care. They said for her size amputation was not recommended and generally not successful – wondering how her success was with amputation? I want to extend her life but not at the expense of quality or pain. I am in NJ trying to find right vet to treat her and operate if viable option.

    • Bethanie, please please get another opinion from a vet practicing more current medicine. That kind of thinking is old school! Modern orthopedic vets tell us that neither size nor age should exclude a dog from being an amputation candidate if they are otherwise healthy. PLEASE come to our Discussion Forums right away so we can chat. Izzie is doing great and there are MANY more examples of large breed dogs in our Forums. Please visit us there OK?

  3. Thanks for sharing Izzie’s story. Tomorrow we are taking my 4 year old Bernese Mnt dog Jordy for amputation on his right front leg after being diagnosed with an osteosarcoma. I’m an anxious mess & your article helped me to realize that we ARE doing the right thing for relieving his pain but also so he may stay around just a little longer.
    Thank you for your last paragraph, it made my heart soar.

    Sarah McCourt
    Jordy Gustave Garcia


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