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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Pet parent sadness after surgery.
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Member Since:
23 November 2021
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4 January 2022 - 6:12 pm
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  I've read a lot about what happens to our tripawds after surgery.  What to expect, different stages and the like.  However, I wasn't expecting the sadness I experienced after surgery.  Before the surgery and during recovery I was laser focused on getting my boy as healthy and into our new normal the best way I could with the resources I have.  I am happy to report my boy is doing very well.  As well as I could have expected.  Now here's the rub.  Since he is doing so well, I find myself thinking about what our new normal will look like and how everything changed seemingly overnight.

  Please don't misunderstand me, I feel blessed that my Franklin's life was saved, and we can look forward to being together for years to come.  I could not be more grateful.  I do not want to imagine what it would have been like if I couldn't save him. He's my boy. That being said, I find myself thinking about the hikes we will never do again and how I loved being in the woods with my boy.  I know we will take hikes again but for some reason I'm feeling they will never be the same.  I miss the way he would run for hours and the sheer joy on his face while he was doing it and it is getting me sad.  It's only been 4 weeks post-surgery and I know I need to give us a little time and it will all work out, but I felt I needed to share some of the sadness I'm feeling.  I know I can't be the only one.

Best Regards,

Joe, Franklin and Little Rosco in New Hampshire.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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4 January 2022 - 7:39 pm
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You are absolutely not the only one, guaranteed! 

I'm so glad you opened up and shared this. Our own grief is real, and understandable. I vividly recall mourning how much our life was going to change when Jerry lost his leg. We were also very active with him, backpacking for miles at a time, running on the beach, and all that fun stuff you do with a young, healthy dog. It changed in a heartbeat and I just couldn't picture us not doing those things together. Yes, it was sad for me, and Jim (Admin) too. At the time, dog strollers didn't exist for dogs his size so we couldn't even picture him coming along with us for more than a few minutes. 

Like you I was grateful that Jerry was still with us for whatever time he had left, but it took several months before I found myself looking forward instead of looking back. Jerry did a good job teaching us how to do that, but it didn't happen overnight. As humans, it's natural for us to have one foot in the past and one in the present. Breaking that habit (aka learning how to Be More Dog ) is a hard thing to do. Zen Buddhists study how to do it for years and their studies are never complete.

Give yourself time to feel the sadness. We get it! As you see how Franklin adapts to the new normal, you will find yourself feeling less sad. Try to picture things you can do together now that he's on 3. Dogs love doing much more than just throwing a ball or running until they collapse. interactive brain games can be sooo fun! Reimagine what 'play' looks like with him.

Because the reality is, limb loss or not, Franklin would have aged into a senior dog with less mobility who needed less, more careful activity anyways. What you are doing for him now is what you would have done for him later in life. It sucks that it happened sooner, but once you experience the fun you can still have together, you'll be OK with everything.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 January 2022 - 6:11 pm
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The only other thing I'll add to Jerry's thoughtful and empathetic  feedback is this, and I hope it doesn't  sound silly,.

The real joy , the real happiness, Lil Rosce experiences is just being with you.  When getting a tummy rub from you, when layng by your side on the sofa....these are all things that give him"sheer joy" too.  It may be more internal, but it's there.  

I know this is not the thrust of your heartfelt post, but just wanted to remind you that the way Lil Roscoe experiences "sheer joy" comes in many different forms....and they all mean a lot to him.

GWIW your  honesty and having the courage to express your feelings will definitely  help others too.


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Member Since:
10 October 2021
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24 January 2022 - 9:09 pm
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Feeling sad for the life you and your dog had known before is normal. It takes times to accept any change. I have a cat who used to love play fetch and I used to look forward to playing fetch with him every night.  Since his front leg amputation, we don't play fetch so much or if we do it's for short distances. It's not a hike in the woods, but it's a change and I miss it.  We have found new games and new ways of interacting together, and I am sure you and your dog are already on the way to doing the same. It's okay to feel sad. Give yourself time to mourn your old ways of being.  Just as we all have to adapt to changes in our lives, whether health or aging, you two will find new ways to be and new joys in time. Go easy on yourself. Sending lots of love to you and your dog.

Take care,


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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24 January 2022 - 11:04 pm
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Thank you so so much for sharing your experience Michelle! It's so helpful for others to know their feelings are normal.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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