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Thinking of adopting a 'maybe' tripawd: | Accidents, Injuries and Malformed Limbs

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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Thinking of adopting a 'maybe' tripawd:
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courtney
1
24 January 2011 - 12:57 pm
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Hello! My name is Courtney and I'm new here. I found this forum when I was searching for information on three-legged dogs and decided to join.

 

Right now, I'm searching for a new dog and have fallen in love with a rescue girl from Mexico who might lose her front leg in the next few days. The rescue agency who picked her up noticed that she is having some issues extending the tendons of one leg and cannot walk properly on her foot. As a result, she is walking on her knuckles, which causes bleeding and pain. She has an appointment on Wednesday to sever the tendon and try to repair it enough so that she may be able to walk properly on the pad of her foot. They're not certain how the surgery will work out, and have warned me that amputation is a very real possibility. Despite all this, I'm still very interested in meeting her and possibly adopting her – I felt a very unusual connection to her, just from looking at her photo on the site.

 

To tell you a bit about this girl I've fallen in love with: She's approximately 1 year old and a Whippet X with beautiful green eyes. I think she's crossed with a Lab of some sort, and she closely resembles a Pit Bull. The rescue tells me she's between 14 and 16 inches at the shoulder and rather small. She's calm and gentle, but doesn't like cats. If I get her, she will be living with a 6-pound Miniature Pinscher (which I'm sure both big dog and tiny dog will be THRILLED about).

 

Now, I have no real experience with tripawds. I've seen them at the dog park and I've loved on them when I've come across one… but I've never had one to call my own. What kind of things should I expect? I'm already planning to get her a RuffWear harness and I know there will be a few weeks of pain and discomfort. I plan to feed her a raw diet out of raised dishes and she'll have a soft bed to sleep on (if she doesn't decide to prefer our low futon couch). I figure a lot of it is common sense – don't over-exert the dog, be gentle, but don't coddle, etc etc.

 

Is there anything you can tell me about life with a tripawd? How does a front leg amputation compare to a rear leg? Do they have phantom pains like humans sometimes do? After recovery, would she be able to play with dogs her own size or larger at the dog park? Would she be able to play in small ponds or go swimming (with proper floatation devices), or would that be something she couldn't do?

 

And purely appearance-wise: Do the scars fade fairly quickly? That's what breaks my heart the most — that horrible looking scar and the way some people will recoil from her because of it. I understand the scar will show up vividly immediately after the surgery and until the fur grows back, but on average… do the scars tend to fade? She is a short-coated, light brown/red color.

Here and Now


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24 January 2011 - 2:01 pm
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Thanks for joining and bless you for saving this pup! Does she have a name?

You'll find most of your questions answered in Jerry's Required Reading List. Or, for immediate answers to the most common dog amputation and recovery questions download the new Tripawds e-book Three Legs and A Spare.

Swimming is great low-impact exercise for tripawds, after they heal. Though we do recommend a Float Coat for additional support. Regarding fur re-growth, all dogs are different, but more important is to try and Be More Dog … the incision is what it is, and it will go away. Consider it a battle scar of honor!

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24 January 2011 - 3:42 pm
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Dante is a front leg amp, he had his leg amputated at 8 weeks old, he's never been any different to us. 

Can they play with dogs bigger than them? OH YES. Don't tell Dante he's only 42lbs and really not that big. As far as he's concerned he's the biggest, and the king of the world!  We have two quadpad's here….a beagle named Coda, and his littermate Mina. He more than keeps up with them. He's not missing a leg, it truly is “3 legs and a spare “. He does get tired quicker, but aside from that, he does great.

As for the scarring, Dante`s has never disappeared. His hair never grew back over the surgery site. He has bald 'armpits' on the rest of his legs…and it appears as though they left his armpit when they took his leg…it's just balder and bigger. I've found no one to recoil in horror from his scarring…they're too busy coddling him and loving on the poor 3 legged dog to notice – people really do love him and he knows how to play it up!

Dogs will get phantom pains. When we adopted Dante he was 4 weeks post op, over the worst of the healing…but he would bite the air and yelp and scream. This went on for a month and a bit after we got him.  

Swimming they can definitely do, it's a great activity for them!

Front leg amps tend to have a bit more of a difficult time because most of the weight of a dog is carried in it's front legs…but they still do great and you're especially less likely to notice any difference if she comes into your life as a tripawd!

There is a lot of information around here, so get reading! This site has been a great help and source of comfort for us when it comes to worries and concerns with our boy…the clumsy awkward, tired pup he was a year ago..is now just as crazy, if not more so, than his littermate. It definitely hasn't affected his quality of life one bit!

Here and Now


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24 January 2011 - 4:01 pm
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munko said:

Dogs will get phantom pains…

FYI: You can review these tips for managing phantom limb pain in dogs in the Tripawds Downloads blog … just one of the links from the reading list we posted earlier.

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24 January 2011 - 4:02 pm
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Well, welcome to the family. Gus was 113 lbs when he lost his left front. he came home the next day and was using the stairs that night, and never missed a night. We live on a farm and by 4 weeks out he was climbing in the hay mows and jumping into pickups, roaming fields just like before. he did have phantom pain , started about 5 days post op and lasted about 4 weeks. we gave him gabapentin for it and had good results, he still had it but I think the pain was way milder. The anxiety  part is usually us humans, these guys do great. As for the scar, Gus was a lab-rott mix, so not real long hair, all black and when his hair grew back you couldn't even tell where the incision was. Bottom line, don't even give the 3 legged part any thought if you really want the dog, she will amaze you at how normal she will be, the only difference is in the hop, and thats called character. These three legged guys are special, and it won't take you long to see that. If you are getting her right after surgery, get ready for some ups and downs the first 2 weeks, it's pretty much a roller coaster, but once they have crossed that line of initial healing, you will see remarkable improvement everyday. If you get a chance to get some sleep, take it, you may not get much those first 2 weeks. Good luck, kudo's to you for rescuing her, I really think these guys sense when they are getting a second chance, or find someone who really loves them, you won't be sorry. Paws up, Spirit Gus and Dan

My buddy Gus had a left front amputation on April 7, 2010 and lived a great life until July 26,2010

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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24 January 2011 - 4:03 pm
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You will never regret adopting a tripawd.  They will teach you things you never would learn in life otherwise. They will plant themselves in your heart and never let you go. 

After they heal, they are much like any other dog, they just have three legs.  They need a little special care – they need to stay lean, it helps them so much to get around, and they need joint supplements.  Other than that, you'll never know the difference.

It is really odd, but when Trouble meets kids, they rarely notice she has only three legs.  I don't think I've had one comment on it yet.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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24 January 2011 - 4:25 pm
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Magic was 11 years old and 115 pounds when cancer ate his leg….he probably went to more parks AFTER that than I had taken him to before….a function of being retired and able to do what I want!!!  Had cancer not continued to eat him, he would be here still, playing with the kitten in the picture.  He never had any phantom pain , but I think tramadol (after the surgery) was NOT his friend (although the new puppy did fine on it after his two surgeries) and made him just a titch more stubborn than normal (he was a wolfdog after all…).  We used the ruffwear harness and omg it is a miracle thing….I consider it a must for a tripawd unless you have one who is four pounds!!!!!  I also got non skid runners for the lino and wood floors.  He almost seemed to prefer a harder surface for sleeping and it finally dawned on me that was because he could get up easier with a firm surface under him rather than a cushion.  I think it is Maggie that does a lot of balance exercises and boy would those be a good thing to do.  With Magic, I let him be because it became obvious that longevity would not be there.  You might also check and see if ramps would be needed for entering and exiting the house…Magic preferred steps and learned in about two hours to circumvent the ramps I had feverishly installed.  Getting in a vehicle was a trial for us but we finally found a way that worked.  There are ramps and steps that are excellent.  We bought the steps advertised on this site and they are amazing steps…but Magic would not use them…oh well.

When he came home from the surgery, the incision was actually wrapped with an ace bandage, and that was great cuz they let me use the ruffwear right away.  His hair grew back a lot, but he was gone before it all grew out.  The incision was hardly visible.  Taking him places was amazing….children (bless their hearts) would come right up to this huge animal pat him on the head and ask what happened.  Great teaching tool for kids to see that disabled is just a little different and nothing to be afraid of.

Bless you and welcome to the family!

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24 January 2011 - 5:00 pm
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I should always try to post first!  Everyone has given you such good advice so I will simply say that if you adopt a tripawd you will never be sorry  (After the first couple weeks, that is.)  Good luck and let us know.

Debra

Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.

courtney
9
24 January 2011 - 7:10 pm
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Thanks all, for all the advice and input. I fell in love with her photo on the rescue website before I knew she could possibly be a special needs dog, and when I called about her, I fell even more in love because her foster person made her seem so sweet. She asked me, “Will you still want her if she loses her leg?” I didn't even hesitate to insist that my name go on the list to adopt her. I know it'll be an adjustment for her, but like they say… dogs only really need three legs. The fourth is a spare. As for the sleep, no biggie. I'm so used to giving up sleep to care for an ill hedgehog… it won't even bother me.

 

Her name is Sonya at the moment, but if I get her, it'll probably change to Cuervo to honor her Mexican homeland. My other dog is named Guinness, so I'd like to stay with the beer theme. This is a picture of her, from the rescue website: http://www.whar…../sonya.jpg

Madison, WI
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24 January 2011 - 7:42 pm
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Yep, I agree with Emilysmom, lots of good advice already.  I could weigh in on the playing with other dogs issue a bit, I think.  My current tripawd, Gerry, I brought home just a few weeks prior to the amputation he needed for a irrepairable knee injury.  So I never had experience with him on four good legs, and not long at all with him on three legs and a fourth not so great one.  So, when, gradually over time it became clear that Gerry's playing and greeting behaviors seem to piss off about 1/3 of dogs and that he gets aggressive in response, it was a pretty big mystery what the cause was.  Was it really his fault or were other dogs picking on him because he was missing a leg?  Probably wasn't that, because Gerry was generally seeking these dogs out not the other way around, and I'd never had that problem with my previous tripawd, Yoda , being picked on (And we went to the parks lots!  He didn't have much time left after his amputation – osteosarcoma – so we made use of it).  I even saw a behaviorist with Gerry and she suggested maybe he, being a rear amp, wasn't comfortable with the big male dogs sniffing his rear – maybe he felt vulnerable.  I've been watching for that since then and it doesn't seem to fit.  What seems the most likely to me after observation and that consultation and more observation, is that Gerry just didn't learn the best behaviors when he was younger, maybe was neutered “late,” and the whole missing a leg thing might not factor in at all.  He doesn't have the worst dog manners either though, which is confusing, because he can do just fine with other dogs – about 2/3 of the time.  (But, recently I had to decide that blow-ups 1/3 of the time is not acceptable, so we're not doing off-leash parks anymore frown)

While your Whippet could absolutely do great with bigger dogs – lots of tripawds here have – I think it is nice that you'll get to start her off with a smaller dog, your Min Pin first.

One thing that I would recommend – if you can squeeze it onto your new dog to-do list, which I'm sure is plenty long – that could help make sure your new tripawd will have a positive experience being off leash with new dogs is to teach her a great recall a.k.a. “come.”    That way you can all her away if you think she might be overdoing it or another dog just seems too rough, etc.  Gerry and I aren't good enough at it yet, because I haven't been able to put in enough time (and he has a sensitive tummy – making finding good enough treat motivators that he'll tolerate a challenge!), but from our attempts, I can at least say it's definitely a good bonding experience to work on it!  There's a really good DVD (and there's probably a book version too) by Patricia McConnell specifically about training a really solid “Come.”  I believe it's called “Lassie, Come!”  I'd recommend it to everybody.  Patricia McConnell is pawesome!

And, because I really hope I didn't imply that you have to be all pins and needles with having a new tripawd meet new dogs, I can also say from personal experience, with my dog Yoda, that some can come out of amputation seeming even better with other dogs that they were before!  I just remember vividly one trip to the dog park in which Yoda frolicked with two big Great Danes that were playing with each other.  That just didn't seem like the lone rodent hunter Yoda that I was used to.  Sure, he liked to play chase with other dogs now and then as a four-legger, but to want to be around two dogs that were bigger than him (he preferred to be the biggest dog in a play group, otherwise he'd usually just go off on his own) that were wrestling around – that was surreal!  In a good way (and slightly terrifying way, because no matter how well they do, you worry about your three-legged furbaby).  And Yoda still played chase with other dogs – seemed to keep up with them just as well as ever.  And Yoda was one mind you (warning: I'm about to really start braging now) who caught a rabbit in the yard about a week before he passed.  The cancer had already spread to his lungs, and he was a leg short, and I was trying to thwart his rabbit chasing every chance I got, but he still nabbed a healthy-looking, full-grown rabbit.

Have you gotten too much information yet?  Heh heh.

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

Madison, WI
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24 January 2011 - 7:46 pm
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Aww, great pic.  Reminds me a little of Yoda, but more of Captain Jack.  Anybody else who knew the Captain see a resemblance or is it just me?

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

courtney
12
24 January 2011 - 7:49 pm
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Thanks! The first two words I teach a dog is “come” and “stop!”. They quickly learn that when I say “stop!”, it's not an issue of debate – I trained my mom's dog and that word has saved her life once when she ran out the front door and toward the road. She wouldn't stop for mom, but as soon as I yelled “stop!”, she did, dead in her tracks… inches from the road.

 

As for training, I'm very lucky that I have a safe field across from my condo, and a really nice dog park a few minutes away. Since I live in a condo, I don't have a yard… but I have lots of open space nearby, well away from busy roads.

Madison, WI
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24 January 2011 - 7:58 pm
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I am jealous then!  Sounds like you do just fine without Patricia McConnell.  “Stop” – or in her case “whoa!” – is one of the things she teaches as making “Come” much more effective.

Well, since you didn't need my help there, I can say regarding scars that both Yoda and Gerry have pretty thin coats and you still couldn't see a scar on either of them once the hair grew back in.

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

courtney
14
24 January 2011 - 8:31 pm
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Thank you all, so much! I'm feeling much, much more confident in my decision to continue with the adoption process of these sweet little girl. It will be an adjustment, but I think I can help her through it with the help of this community. Now, to wait on pins and needles to see how she comes out of her surgery and if they'll decide that I'm the most suitable home for her. There's still a chance her surgery will fix her tendon issue and she'll get to keep her leg… but I'm not so scared about the second outcome. I can handle this. I'm feeling very confident now. 🙂

 

Fingers crossed that she comes home with me after her surgery and recovery… I'm hopelessly in love with her, and I haven't even met her yet!

Snohomish, Washington
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24 January 2011 - 9:16 pm
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Hey Courtney – Good for you! I rescued a dog from Chetumal, far south on the Yucatan, and she looked so much like your Sophie I can't believe it. She was a wonderful and loving dog, so very grateful for the new chance at a happy life off of the mean streets of Mexico.

I'm sure your girl will be just as thankful. It's such a great experience, and then add the tripawd factor, and I don't think you can go wrong.

I'm shocked to hear you say you want to name her Cuervo…for two reasons – I got a dog when I was a sophomore in college who was the truest love of my life and named him Cuervo! He was a true wonder-dog, and I've never heard of another dog named that. You'll be assured an amazing friend, I'm sure, if you stick with that name.

The second thing, just so you know, is that Cuervo is Tequilla, not beer, so if you're good with the adult beverage theme, and not just the beer concept, then whoo hoo.laughing I hope it all works out for you both. What a great way to pay tribute to her homeland.

Good luck!

Lincoln's Mom

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall – Confucius

http://credocan.....pawds.com/

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