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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16 August 2008
I am very sad to report that my husband and I had to make the heart wrenching decision to put Molly, our Cheapeake Bay Retriever, who became a tripawd in August of 2008, to sleep on Sunday. It has been Heidi, Doug and Molly Dog for 13 years and 8 months… our little family unit was pretty much inseparable for all these years and we have so many memories together. There are no words to describe the depth of love we felt for her, nor our feelings of loss now that she has passed on. The past days have been filled with many tears and many smiles as we look over photos and think of our time together.
Since April, Molly’s health had been steadily declining. She began to have trouble walking and even short distances fully exhausted her. There were no signs of obvious pain like whimpering or breathing problems, and our vet found no clear evidence that any type of cancer had returned. Still, her hindquarters became very wobbly and she couldn’t stand for more than a minute or two. She stopped drinking on her own and we could only get water into her by adding it to her food or snacks (she never lost her appetite, and the vet said she probably wouldn’t since she had always been a bit of a chow hound). She also developed bowel incontinence. Though this was manageable and sporadic at first, it worsened significantly as the summer progressed. She just didn’t want to get up to go and was often having accidents shortly after we would take her out. On top of all of that, it seemed like she wasn’t herself anymore. She rarely wagged her tail, would sleep most of the time, didn’t lift her head to greet us, and lost interest in most things she loved doing such as retrieving or looking out the car window. Molly always loved to go camping. On recent trips, however, she would constantly want to get into the car or tent to sleep instead of hanging out with us. We tried different pain medications and then Prozac to see if they helped, but the meds just made Molly really, really sick or took away her appetite so we had to stop them. We began to realize that the time might be close to let Molly go.
Still we agonized over the decision. There was no clear-cut this-is-the-day event such as difficulty breathing, a ruptured tumor or internal bleeding: justquality of life issues that were very hard to quantify. What made it even harder was that every once in a while she would surprise us with a really good day. Once in late July we took her to the dog park to swim and she just about burst out of her Doggy Ride stroller because she was so exited to get to the water. We went on a picnic and she wanted to retrieve horseshoes while we were playing a game. We went on a camping trip to Telluride for Molly’s two-year ampuversary on August 15th and she surprised us by going swimming, retrieving sticks, and wanting to trot up a short ridge by our campsite. Unfortunately, these times were always followed by really bad days and our small glimmers of hope faded. We spoke to our vet who had worked with us all summer to continually assess Molly’s condition. She felt Molly’s quality of life had finally slipped enough to consider euthanasia. As she put it, “this just isn’t the Molly we know.” Last Friday we made the decision to put her to sleep, and scheduled an appointment for Sunday, August 29th.
The timing of our appointment gave us one full day to spend with Molly and love her as much as possible. We spoiled her by giving her lots of treats, taking her for one final bike ride in her trailer and giving her endless hugs and kisses. I slept most of Saturday night with her in my arms, and I dreaded seeing daylight through the blinds when the sun finally rose because I knew I would have to let her go. I became conscious of every minute ticking by… my husband and I just tried to love her and hold her as much as possible. The car ride to the vet was the hardest moment of my life so far, but our vet was so wonderful and comforting once we got there. Molly passed very peacefully out in the courtyard at the vet office, in the soft grass with the sun shining down and Doug and I hugging and kissing her.
Dealing with the void when we got home was horrible. The hardest thing is trying to remember what it felt like to hold and smell her and to bury my face in her furry neck… those things that one can't get from a photo. Sunday night I ran around the house like a crazy woman trying to find anything that still smelled like her. Sadly, because of her incontinence I had been washing her things frequently and couldn’t find much that still held her wonderful doggie scent. Monday morning was particularly hard too. I dreaded coming downstairs and having her not be there, and stayed in bed for two hours before I mustered the courage. I also had a meltdown Monday night because long ago we had planned another three-day camping trip with Molly and we would have returned that night. I could only think of what the weekend should have been like and what we were supposed to have been doing with Molly. But now she was just gone. I also struggled a lot yesterday, as the permanence of her passing finally began sinking in. I just couldn’t imagine life without her. I had spent so much time lately caring for all her needs that I felt that our bond was even stronger than before (if that was even possible). We had so many routines that are now broken. How I wished I could squeeze her one more time. I felt empty and lost and missed her so badly.
She was an amazing girl. After her diagnosis of a grade-three synovial cell sarcoma and resulting amputation, Molly was predicted to live only as many as seven months (or as short as a few weeks). Yet she lived another two years, blessing us with her energetic spirit and love and surprising us with her three-legged athletic ability and desire to still go on outdoor adventures such hikes and canoe trips.
We miss you Molly dog. You were our best friend and we will hold you in our hearts forever.
Thank you so much to the Tripawd community. This site was a huge source of comfort and support during Molly’s life as a Tripawd.
Molly was diagnosed with Synovial Cell Sarcoma (grade 3 with hystiocytic markers) and had her front leg amputated on August 15th 2008. We had a wonderful two years with her until she passed at age 13.5 on August 29th 2010. As far as we could tell, her cancer never returned.
23 July 2010
Dear Molly's family,
My heart is aching and tears are streamingas I read of you decision to let Molly go. On Sunday I too had to make that same decision to let my beloved JD go. Although her trouble was not the cancer we were fighting, but a freak medical emergency.
You echo the same feelings I am having. The routines being broken, this is so hard. And I too had become even more attached to JD with her cancer diagnosis and amputation and the lovely 6 weeks we had after that. I am so sorry for your pain, I take small comfort in the fact that is is only my pain now, our 'fur-children' are not suffering anymore, only we are.
I intelectually know time heals, but the time is passing so slowly since Sunday, so constantly interupted by the memories, the lost feeling, the lonliness. My memories are so very very sad now, but hopefully soon to be happy memories. I wish the same for you.
I returned here to tripawds as soon as I could type through the tears. I shared JD's story and have tried to wrap myself in the warm wishes and hugs from all the families here. I have tried to reach out to a new pawrent, remembering the scary feelings I had just a few months ago, and the help that was here for me.
I found this yesterday in one of the forums here, it was an article on the quality of life. I will try to find it again and share, but for now here is a small part,
'This is really what the "quality of life" issue is all about. By usurping nature's role throughout the life of our pets, we must sometimes also accept its role in determining (and bringing about) the death of a pet. To accept this, we may also have to accept that, in some cases, the quality of life we're really trying to protect is our own: That we're allowing our pet to suffer out of a desire to avoid the anguish we know that we will experience when it dies. And that, ultimately, is the most unselfish act of love we can offer: To end a pet's suffering, we must choose to accept our own.'
Farewell Molly and hugs to your family
Angel JD's mom
One Tough Girl
-Diagnosed with osteosarcoma of her left front leg –
-Amputation July 23 2010 –
-The cancer didn't get her, but she is gone-
-She fought the cancer and loved life till bloat brought her down August 29th, 2010-
Now she watches over her mom and two new sisters, the Quad-Paws Serena and Maya
30 July 2010
I am so sorry to hear about Molly. Thank you for posting such a detailed story since I just joined a month ago and didn't know how she came to be a tripawd. She seemed like a wonderful pup and I know you are missing her very much.
I know you are going though alot right now, but I would like to extend to you the same thing I have offered to everyone else on the site through my forum topic. My new tripawd Chloe and I will be participating in a K9 Walk for cancer and I am making a custom shirt for the event. I am asking if people would like me to write the name of their dog on the back of my shirt if they have been diagnosed, are survivors or if they have passed from cancer because we would be honored to do so. I would be honored to write Molly's name on the back (with a + to indicate she has crossed Rainbow Bridge ) and to walk for her in the K9 Walk in Los Gatos this October. Here is my forum if you would like to see the shirt front and updated back (you can see the other 40 names so far!). Please let me know by leaving a comment on the forum.
Chloe and I hope that you can get through this with the support that the tripawd community offers.
Chloe became a rear amp tripawd on 7-29-10. Another tumor was removed on front leg 2-20-14. Found 3rd tumor on neck 2-2015, but she's still kicking cancer's butt at age 14. Chloe's blog
26 November 2008
Once more, words fail to describe just how sorry we are to hear that Molly's journey had come to an end, but would hope that you will accept our deepest sympathy at this time. Tears are totally blocking my screen, and only because of touch typing am I able to make any progress (hopefully). This is the result of such a touching story filled with love devotion and a bond that will transend eternity. While two years is definately "beating the odds", those of us who have shared such a stong bond know that 13 years and 8 months is far too short. Those wonderful memories that you created as a family will help to sustain you during this time of grief. Many here in this community know that I like to remind everyone at this time that you will never be totally without Molly for the gifts that Molly gave you will live with you forever. Listen very closely and will you hear her near. I have found that continuing to do those things that became my daily routine with Miss Cherry during our TriPawd journey, have helped me feel her near.
I can speak from experience that letting go as you did IS the hardest thing that you could have done. It also demonstrates just how much you loved Molly and that you always put her first. So much of what you described fits perfectly my experience with Miss Cherry including setting up the appointment a day and a half before. Like you, there was not clear cut sign but rather it was just knowing that it was too much to ask them to continue longer. It was never about our selfish need to hold them, but the need to give them a quality of life for as long as that quality remained. Your love was so present in that decision.
Take care of yourselves as you would Molly, and Hugs from the Bay Area,
Spirit Cherry's Dad
12 February 2010
we are so sorry to hear of your loss. molly was a beautiful girl - the family picture is priceless, and shows how much love existed between you. you made the ultimate selfless decision by letting her go, but that is no consolation, and it doesn't help ease the present heartache. hopefully, with time, the wonderful memories will push away some of the tears. remember that love never ends.
charon & gayle
Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included). She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.
Love Never Ends
14 August 2009
I am so very sorry to hear of your beautiful baby, Molly. I'm touched by your story.
You were gifted with 2 years that you may not have expected and that is amazing. Of course, there is never enough time.
Just know we are here if you need support to help you through this terrible grief.
My deepest heartfelt condolences.
Comet - 1999 to 2011
She departed us unexpectedly January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.
She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.
25 August 2010
I am crying reading your story. I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you are feeling. I can only say that Molly was truly blessed to have such a loving and wonderful family who gave her every so much.
Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg 8/23/10,
leg fractured 8/27/10,
leg amputated 8/30/10
I couldn't begin to say how special Sammy is to us. Living and laughing with and loving this wonderful boy is priceless.
We are so very sorry and saddened to read of your loss of Molly. She looks like she really enjoyed her life with her pawrents. She'll be in your heart always, and the wonderful memories of her will slowly replace the grief you feel now. We're sending you big hugs!
1 January 2010
I'm so sorry to hear about Molly. She was lucky to have such a loving family, and you were lucky to have such an amazing friend. We'll keep you in our hearts.
Holly, Zuzu and Susan
Holly joined the world of tripawds on 12/29/2009. She has a big little sister, Zuzu, who idolizes Holly and tries to make all of her toys into tripawds in Holly's honor. And she's enjoying life one hop at a time!
25 April 2007
We are so sorry to hear your very sad news, this is so heartbreaking.
Molly and her fight will always hold a fond place in our hearts. To see her loving life on that great big canoe trip last year is something that we will never forget. You were such great pawrents to her and gave her the best life she could possibly have.
The days after saying goodbye are so hard. Crying at the drop of a hat is OK. Give yourself time to heal, and know that your grief is understandable. After nearly 14 years together, saying goodbye brings a lot to cope with. But do listen closely, I know she's around. Her beautiful spirit will never leave you, and her lessons will stay in your heart forever.
I know this is weird, but Molly must have been channeling to us or something. Just the other day, I was really thinking about her and wondering how things were going. We're just so sad to know that she earned her wings.
Molly, we will miss you around here. Thank you for being such an inspawration to so many. We hope you're out there splashing and swimming to your heart's content.
15 January 2009
Thank you for sharing Molly's story with us. She was blessed to have wonderful pawrents, loving and willing to do whatever you could for her. What a hero she was, a 2 year Tripawd survivor!
The pictures are beautiful, you will get to the point where you can look at them without crying and smiles will come to you. Right now take comfort in the love and compassion that all of us who have gone before you have to offer.
Take good care,
Ginny, Addy & Angel Paris
Grateful for every moment we had with Paris…..no regrets!
Honoring her life by opening our hearts & home to Addy!
28 November 2008
I'm very sad to hear it was time for Molly to leave. Those of us with aging dogs know the day will come, but I think you are never truly ready. We can tell by your words how very loved Molly is. Her beautiful memories will live with you forever. I so hope you and your family soon find peace from the sadness you no doubt have now.
With a two year ampuversary behind her, Molly will always be a hero to the tripawd families. She will live in our hearts forever.
RIP sweet Molly. Run free at Rainbow Bridge .
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.
20 May 2009
Please accept my sympathy is losing your beautiful girl, Molly. Letting her go was the last thing you could do for her and the hardest. Give yourself permission to grieve however you feel you need to. When our dogs face cancer their care becomes so all consuming that when they are gone it is like there is nothing to do. I have two other dogs yet the house felt empty. I still have her food dishand elevated stand next to my bed and Emily has been gone since November. I don't cry much but I miss her everyday. It does get easier but not easy.
A comfort to me is an anonomous saying about dogs called A Dog's Heart.
"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."
Debra & Angel Emily
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.
2 November 2009
I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful Molly. This is truly heartbreaking but as sad as this is, you let her live her life to its fullest. She was one very lucky tripawd to have you as her family and you were one lucky family to have her. I'm so amazed that she was with you for 2 years following her surgery - such a great gift that you were given this added time with her. I hope to be so lucky. But that's no comfort for you now. You are in my thoughts and prayers. She's an inspiration and tripawd hero to all of us.
My deepest condolences.
Kami (Mackenzie & Kobe's Mom)
My sweet golden Mackenzie. She became my angel on Dec 29, 2010 at the age of 8 1/2 although she was always my angel from the time we brought her home. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in Sept 2009 and officially became a tripawd (front leg) on Nov 5, 2009. She will be forever in my heart and now she's running free with all of our other tripawd heroes. I love you Mackenzie!
29 August 2010
Four Irish Setter hearts go out to you...and mine. You'll always have wonderful memories and you should feel oh so blessed that you had such quality time with her from August 2008 to August 2010 and of course before. DannyBoy started his 3 legged adventure in August 2010 with hopes to live as full a life as your Molly did.
Doggy love to you from DannyBoy, Katey Maeve, Shamrock Shannon and our own Molly Ashling
DannyBoy turned 8 on May 25th 2010
DannyBoy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the front left leg August 10, 2010
DannyBoy's amputation was August 20, 2010