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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.

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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
1 October 2019
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1 October 2019 - 11:26 pm
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Chester, our 11-year-old German wirehaired pointer, ran off in a snowstorm Friday night and was hit by a truck on the highway more than five miles away.

The driver didn’t stop but an ambulance passing the other direction saw it happen. The paramedic was transporting a patient and couldn’t stop so called RCMP. They searched and she joined in a half hour later.

After 45 minutes they found him a ways off in the ditch on the other side of the road. A Good Samaritan stopped and offered to drive through the storm to the closest 24-hour vet service 25 minutes away.

That’s the good part of the story.

His pelvis is broken, right hind leg is dead and must be amputated and left hind leg is badly broken with muscles torn away from the bone.

My dad said Chester would tell us what he needed when we got there and looked in his eyes. Those eyes stlll have life in them and we can’t imagine the world without him yet.

Bowel and bladder function was a concern. By Monday had he shown he can do both although he’s not communicating the need and is soiling himself.

Surgery will be extensive and after recovery there’s no guarantee he will have use of the remaining back leg.

Chester loves to run. He runs circles around us when we’re horseback riding adding miles to his day over ours. His face shows sheer joy when he runs.

I’m frightened of the whole process and seeing him in pain is really hard for me. I can’t look at bleeding wounds and know I won’t be much help with changing dressings or anything along that line.

Chester and Jim have a bond like I’ve never seen between a man and his dog and we believe he can still have a good life.

But it’s a lot to process.

I am going in circles trying to figure out how to be prepared for him to come home. We also have two other dogs – Stella, a two-year-old lab and Jinger, a nine-year-old Yorkie cross.

Stella has never been a day without Chester and she is desperately sad right now. Jinger is more confused.

Has anyone been in a similar situation where one limb is being amputated but use of both was lost or extensive rehabilitation was needed?

Any thoughts about preparation for 6 to 8 weeks of quiet healing time and what we can do to make this as easy as possible for him, the other dogs and ourselves?

Surgery is tomorrow, Oct. 2.

If you’d like to see pics and a bit more about him, I have made a personal blog post as well under Chester’s Mom.

The Rainbow Bridge

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2 October 2019 - 10:12 am
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Chester’s mom and family, welcome. We are deeply sorry for the terrible accident! I cannot imagine what you guys all went through then, and are going through now. Ugh! It does sound like your boy has such a fighting spirit, and lots of years ahead with that determination of his. I’m hoping that surgery goes great today so please keep us posted. In the meantime here are some pointers:

1) Check out Jerry’s Required Reading List , our What to Expect series and if you’re inclined, our e-book Three Legs and a Spare . You will find answers to many of your questions about bringing him home and life on three. We of course are also here to help anytime.

2) Review Murphy’s story. He, like Chester, had an accident (in October as well!) and endured similar injuries. And he made it! And thrived on three legs! His momma Kathi is a huge friend of Tripawds, I will let her know you are here.

3) Take a deep breath and know that you can do this. You are stronger than you think and yes the wounds will be shocking but your love and devotion to Chester will be stronger than your fear of dealing with the gory stuff. I guarantee it! 

Keep us posted on surgery!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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2 October 2019 - 3:19 pm
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The biggest thing that I can tell you is that you are so fortunate that you found Tripawds now. We didn’t find them until after Murphy’s hip replacement. The help, support, and encouragement from this group is invaluable.

Hopefully your vet will be able to keep Chester overnight for a bit so that he can be monitored there. When he comes home, be sure to keep up on his pain meds. If he seems to be in more pain than he should be, insist that your vet does some adjusting with the meds. Don’t be alarmed if he is experiencing phantom pain . There are very good treatments for that also. You just need to keep your vet totally in the loop.

As far as keeping Chester calm and the other dogs separate from him goes, we found that one of those little exercise pens was very helpful. You may need to eventually add a second one on as he becomes more mobile. He will be able to see them, and they will not have to worry about him being away from them. We bought a twin size eggcrate foam mattress pad, doubled it up, and slip covered it with some sweatshirt fabric. That gave him enough padding to be comfortable, but not so much that it affected his balance. Murph lived in that pen (with the exception of leashed potty time) for several weeks.

He started physical therapy at about eight weeks after the THR. I definitely endorse it. The way he healed after starting that was so amazing. They did water therapy, exercises, acupuncture and laser treatments. A lot of this is on Murphy’s YouTube channel, “Murphy the Three-Legged Dog. For some reason there are a few videos of other dogs on this channel, but you can tell which ones are him.

In total, he was on a leash for close to seven months (if my memory is accurate). It takes time and patience, but it is sooo worth it in the end.

If you have any questions for me, you can post them here or send me a private message through the site. I wish you the very best for Chester. Please keep us up to date.

Kathi and the Turbotail April Angel (and the Labradork)

Murphy is a five year old Lab/Chessie cross. He was hit by a car on 10/29/12 and became a Tripawd on 11/24/12. On 2/5/13, he had a total hip replacement on his remaining back leg. He has absolutely no idea that he has only three legs!

UPDATE: Murphy lived his life to the fullest, right up until an aggressive bone lesion took him across the Rainbow Bridge on April 9, 2015 and he gained his membership in the April Angels. Run free, my love. You deserve it!

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2 October 2019 - 3:38 pm
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I just read your story, wow. I am so sorry that this happened to your handsome pup. I hope the surgery today is successful and uneventful. It sounds like Chester is going to have some hurdles to get through recovery but fortunately it also sounds like he is in good shape and very active. That may work out in his favor. 

It is going to be tough for him to get around with a remaining leg that needs to heal. I am not sure what their plan is for that, but getting him some sort of sling with handles for helping him to get up and to go potty might be a good idea. They have them on Amazon and they may even have something like that here in the store. I have one that I don’t need anymore but you might need one quicker than I might be able to mail it to you. 

I am so glad murphsmom is here to give advice. It is always better from somebody that has been there. My situation with Huck was quite different so all I can do is offer support during such a tough time. I bet you scrubbed your whole house waiting to hear from the doctor. 

I wish you luck in your journey and hope that you get good news soon sp_hearticon2


Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2


Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog


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2 October 2019 - 4:24 pm
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So glad Kathy popped in to share her story with Wonder Dog Turbo Tail Murphy.  The devotion  she and her husband had for Murphy and the determination  Murphy had to getting back to living life to the fullest reminds me a lot of Chester and you and your Jim.  Love and determination  5ogether c5eate an unbeatable team.

I was going to tell you to  BREATHE…..B R E A T H E…..INHALE SLOOOOWLY…..EXHALE SLOOOOLY….B R E A T H E.  Yeah, that’s  what I was going to suggest for you and then realized  I needed to tell myself that too!  During  reading  your post, I think I forgot to breathe!   WOW!  You and your amazing Chester hzve really been put to the test!

A couple of things from sort of a “sign” perspective.   The fact that Chester survived  the hit…..a good “sign”.  The fact that Chester got himself to safety…a good sign.   The fact that Chester was surrounded  by good Samaritan Guardian  Angels….another “sign”.  The “circumstances ” that brought all those people together to help find Chester and bring him to safety…very guided “happenstance”.

And perhaps one of the biggest “signs” came from Chester himself when he communicated  to Jim through his eyes, the window  to his Soul, that he wasn’t  done.

Another suggestion in addition  to breathing…CHUNK THINGS DOWN!  Try not to project ahead but rather focus on what needs to be done immediately.   One step st a time.  Knocking  down one hurdle at a time.

Right now, amputation  surgery needs to take place.  First hurdle.  Get that done and get the pain management necessary to keep him as comfortable as possible.

I have to believe  that he  has a bit of a lengthy stay at the clinic for now.  Is that right?  Is it a 24/7 dully staffed clinic??   If not, I would arrange for a transport to a 24/7 clinic that can observe him and help keep the pain managed.   The Vet Techs are trained  in how to help with potty, feeding, etc.  These first several days (and more)because of his other injuries  in add to the amputation  will require some professional help help getting him  to progress,

Okay….back to the deep breaths….B R E A T H E..and grab the chocolate!!! It helps!!!



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!


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2 October 2019 - 4:26 pm
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PS.  Love the pictures in your blog.  Chester is a spectacular  dog and clearly has a lot of spunk!! 

Here’s  Chester’s blog;


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!

new hampshire
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2 October 2019 - 6:46 pm
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Wow! I think i would be overwhelmed as well! Thank goodness for good samaritans & animal lovers! as sally said i feel like alot of things lined up here and its a sign. 

It may not be the easiest road but it will be worth it. Its clear that you love chester and are committed to doing whatever it takes. That by itself is a huge win, any decision made out of love is a good one.

I wish i had something better to offer in terms of what to expect. One step at a time. We’re all here for you and will be sending good vibes your way. Please dont hesitate to give a shout.

Big hugs to you and that handsome boy!❤

Bev & Moe cat

         Hugs ❤ Bev, nurse Moe cat, Autumn's Angel Roane & Angel dog Gypsy 🐾

My sweet soulmate Roane was diagnosed with osteo in June of 2019. Had a rear leg amp on July 2nd & crossed the rainbow bridge to be with her sister Gypsy on the first day of Autumn Sept 23 2019.

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