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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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Be More DogWhat does it mean to Be More Dog?

Find out in Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now by Tripawds founders Rene and Jim. Learn life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Get the book and find fun gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.

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Member Since:
13 May 2008
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2 October 2008 - 10:06 am
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I've had to put one of our cats to sleep on 18 September 2008.  His name was Ratanga and we had him for 10 years.  He had cancer in upper jaw and after 2 surgeries to try and stop it from spreading, we just couldnt sit back and see how his condition worsened.  He hadnt eaten for two days and when I got to my parents house, he was sitting in the doorway, I could see he was in alot of pain.  My mother & father did not want to take him to the vet, they just didnt have the heart to put him to sleep.  I drove him to the vet, and he was purring and pushing himself against me while we were sitting in the waiting room - as if nothing was wrong. I asked the doctor to take one final look to see if there is really nothing they could do for him. The most terrible thing for me, was holding him in my arms while they injected him.  His body became heavy and I softly put him down on his side... The tears rolled down my face...  It was just sooo terrible to feel the life leaving his body.... I know he is waiting at the rainbow bridge with my other pets and that one day Dee will also join him there - and that it will be a happy reunion...  My thoughts are with you all and I appreciate the stories that you are sharing with us. 

Lots of love, Dee's Mommy xxx 

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2 September 2008
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2 October 2008 - 1:44 pm
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Hi Dees mommy, I had a wonderful cat named Pugsly who also got cancer in the jaw when she was 16. It's so hard to say good-bye. But our loved ones never leave, they live on in our memories. Your story made me think of my baby who has gone before me. Hugs to you for your loss and also a thank you for bringing Puglsy to the forefront of my mind today. Good memories! 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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2 October 2008 - 6:52 pm
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Dee, our hearts go out to you, we are so sorry.

My Mamma says that when someone passes on, she likes to think of their spirit as a big bundle of energy, moving on to another life somewhere else. It never dies, it just moves around. Ratanga's current sprit left his old body, but now he is a new kitty somewhere else, watching over you, happy and playful once again with all of his old friends and family.

Hang in there my friend. We send our love across the ocean.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
13 May 2008
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3 October 2008 - 7:48 am
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My Mamma says that when someone passes on, she likes to think of their spirit as a big bundle of energy, moving on to another life somewhere else. It never dies, it just moves around.

I love that idea, thank you Jerry!!!  Lotsa love, Dee xxx

Member Since:
26 January 2008
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6 October 2008 - 5:01 am
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Isn't it amazing, how each individual has their own defense mechanism? All those I've read here are so inspiring. Looking back, I remember when Lalla was diagnosed, barely past her 3rd. birthday - the vets gave me the reality check list, and i ran through all the practicalities; how it could happen, where we would lay her to rest. Of course, it all took its own different, unplanned course; it's so hard looking at these brave souls in their lifetime imagining they would go before their time - our fears are greater than theirs.


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27 July 2008
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6 October 2008 - 5:16 pm
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It's just that we humans miss the charming personalities and little quirks that each dog has.  Today, I took my little Blazer to Petsmart thinking we would have a fun little outing.  I put his soft blankie in the basket and placed him on top and thought he could go for a ride while we looked at all the cool toys and things.  Next thing I know, he jumped from the basket and crashed hard on the linoleum floor.  He let out a terrible yelp! And I know he hit his face as I heard his teeth hit.  The look of fear on his face immediately made me burst into tears.  I gathered him up to make sure he was OK; he could have broken his neck.  What started out as a fun trip, suddenly turned into my fear of my dogs mortality.  I would be so lost without him and the guilt of letting him jump like that will stay with me for a long time. 

I know this is NOTHING compared to what you all have been through with cancer and amputations, but it is a reminder of how terrible I would feel if I were to lose my wonderful miniature poodle.  This dog has meant so much to me ever since he helped to fill a huge hole in my heart when I lost my beloved wirehaired dachshund 5 years ago.  I imagine that some of you might find me a bit silly since this can't even compare to what you have been through.  It does, however, address the fact that losing a pet is an extremely painful experience.  They may not share ours fears, but as much as humans can love their dogs is a testament to the good side of us who care so much for their beloved companions.

Love, Vicki T, Blazer & Kimber

Sandra Thomas
7 October 2008 - 10:58 pm
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Alfie said:

...old Labrador Sam got out onto the road and was run over a few hundred yards from our gate...


I'm so sorry to hear of your loss of your dog, Sam, by such a tragic accident.  And, now, your current dog, Alfie, has gotten this diagnosis.  I'm so sorry that you had to suffer the loss of Sam, and are having to deal with the medical issues that Alfie is facing. 


Sandra Thomas
7 October 2008 - 11:20 pm
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Dee said:

I’ve had to put one of our cats to sleep on 18 September 2008. 


I'm so sorry that you recently had to put your cat to sleep...when you said how hard it was to feel the life leaving his body, I thought about my German Shepherd, Luna.  Although she was lying on a gurney on her side, and unconscious and under general anesthesia at that time, having just had an MRI of the head, I held her little, furry black paw in my hand.  Although she was limp and still, except for the breathing which was punctuated by the air bag going in and out by the gurney, I could feel the life going out of her.  Her paw was still and limp before she died, but afterwards it "felt" different.  I know it wasn't my imagination, it was different.  And, oh, so sad. 

I can certainly understand your parents having so much trouble taking their kitty to the vet, knowing probably what the vet would say and want to do.  It took courage to not only take the cat to the vet, but also to take that burden off of your parents' shoulders and put it onto your own. 

I remember when I was a child, we had a black cat named "Licorice".  We had found her in front of a bakery in Louisville, Kentucky and I had begged my mother and grandmother to please let me keep her.  This little kitten probably could smell the delicious odors coming from that store and she was very hungry and starved for food and care.  We picked her up and kept her and nursed her back to health and had her for many, many years. 

When I was a teenager, Licorice was very ill, and my parents had to put her to sleep.  They kept it from me until it was over, I suppose to protect me from the anguish they were going through.  My dad built a little wooden coffin in the garage, I learned later, and my mother gave Licorice some tranquilizers in her food that morning so she would be "dulled" to the experience and not really know what was going on.  My mother held her, I was told, while they put Licorice to sleep.  When my parents got home and told me about it, I was very upset, not only because our cat was gone, but because I hadn't been "included" in this decision.  My parents, as always, had tried to make things as good as possiblel for me, and I just didn't understand at the time.  Now, looking back, I realize how very difficult it must  have been for them.  They both loved our cat and were big time animal lovers in the first place.  I'm sure building the coffin for Licorice had to be heartbreaking for my father, and holding her while she was put to sleep must have been very painful for my mother.  Now, as an "adult", I can fully appreciate what they went through so very long ago and understand why they were trying to protect me. 

After an assortment of pets, a turtle named Grant, two parakeets, a cat, and a horse, and losing all of them, my parents said no more pets.  They said they simply could not stand losing another one, it was "just too painful". All of those pets had plenty of tears shed for them by my parents and me when we lost them.  Loving and losing.  It is a high price we pay to love.  The more we love, the more pain, it seems, we experience when we must say good bye.  For now, at least, it is a price that I am willing to pay.


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13 May 2008
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8 October 2008 - 3:11 am
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The more we love, the more pain, it seems, we experience when we must say good bye.  For now, at least, it is a price that I am willing to pay.

Hi Sandra, I feel the same.  I would rather love and lose them, than never own a pet and experience the joy and happiness they give us. I have two other dogs and one cat and I will not trade them for anything in the world - eventhough they sometimes drive me crazy - yes, they are very naughty and very much spoiled! 😛 

Our entire family are animal lovers and all our pets that passed away are buried in our backyard.  You can almost say it is a pet cemetary - with each one having its own special place under a special tree or corner that they loved.  My parents will never sell the house and my sister and I will inherit it when they pass on.  My father dug every grave himself - I can still remember him crying constantly as he dug Tosca's grave - our very large Irish Sheepdog... that passed away about 10 years ago. 

This has not been a very good year for our family with regards to our pets.  In November we lost one cat, Stormy - she was run over by a car and we only found her 4 days after the accident - she was still alive and we had to put her to sleep.  Beginning of the year my sister's dog, Jay-Li had a very big back operation - she hurt her nerve system and her back legs had no feeling in it.  May month Dee was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma - it was like a bucket of cold water was thrown in by face....  Last month we had to say goodbye to Ratanga.... 

But you know what??  If I had to do it over, we would still buy the "cute as a button" Stormy from the Petshop, still order Jay-Li from the breeder, still save Dee from the terrible Petshop in Sunnyside, Pretoria and still feel sorry for the "slow" and crossed-eyed Ratanga and buy him for my father....

Yes, it is terrible to lose them.  They crawl deep into our hearts and when they are not there anymore - we miss them like we would miss a child...

Lots of love from me, and lots of licks from Dee xxx

Dee's Mommy.  (Dee is doing very well - next week is 5 months post op!! - YEAH!!!!)

Member Since:
27 July 2008
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8 October 2008 - 4:00 pm
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I agree with Sandra & Dee's Mommy,

"The more we love, the more pain, it seems, we experience when we must say good bye.  For now, at least, it is a price that I am willing to pay."

However, when I first lose a pet, I have to go through the entire grieving process before I feel comfortable in owning another animal.  This takes many, many months for me and the only reason I took on Blazer is because I knew I was his last hope before he would be sent to a shelter in California and the owner was going to label him as a "biter".  I'm not quite sure what this woman did to this poor little poodle, but it was obvious that she despised him for one reason or other.  I really wasn't ready to take on another pet, knowing that one day I would have to go through the pain of losing him.  You have no idea how many times I have cried over all of your stories; it's like I relive the pain of losing my animals all over again.  But, I want to be here to support everyone because I think it's an important thing to do.

We love all of you, Vicki, Blazer & Kitty Kimber

Member Since:
25 April 2008
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8 October 2008 - 6:12 pm
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  Such is the fragility of life. Whether you know death is knocking at your door or not. It puts life into perspective. It tells me to slow  down & take it easy. Not to sweat the small life... If you know it's coming there is an advantage to saying your final "Goodbye"... a rest from suffering.  You can make the time to make memories.  So I don't say would of, could of, should of.
   Never be afraid to love , because love keeps us alive. It gives us hope. I may love on many different levels. However, I know there is a lesson to be learned whether it be patience or compassion. We each learn from love to be better for karma's sake.

    * Let's pray we find a cure ! I'm tired of this monster taking the lives of so many dear & loved ones.

Keep an open heart,


Kim & Angel Buster

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
–Anatole France

West Chester PA
Member Since:
10 August 2008
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8 October 2008 - 10:17 pm
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How to start this... I am still hanging onto every day with my beloved Bonnie.  I am still reeling from the loss of Jerry.  How do we make that decision?  I have had to make it twice and that is two times too many.  Would I make it again?  Yes?  Do I wish that I did not have to?  Yes a thousand times.  I am grateful that I do not have to watch my dog suffer, but I am consumed with guilt for making the decision.  I know it is "humane" and I hope that my Bonnie will tell me in her own way, but I never want to do it.  I spent two nights sleeping on the floor with Bonnie's dad Kody begging him to take the decision away from me.  In the end, he did not, but I knew somehow.  I let the vet do the injection after I fed him Dove Chocolates and read him the great words in the wrappers.  What better way for a Chocolate lab to go.  He always loved chocolate and I spent every day making sure he could not find any.  I never had a dog that I had to move the chocolate to the top shelf of the pantry to keep it out of his reach.  He would move a chair to get it.  I miss him.  Not one day passes that I do not wish I had him back.  Did I make the right decision?  I am sure I did in my head, but my heart will never agree.  It would be nice if we did not have that decision to make, but it is a responsibility I accept as I accept my pet's love.  I owe them that.  I ramble also, but I am sure that we all know that we will not let our pets suffer.  Your Jerry had a fantastic life and more love was packed into it, despite it being shortened, than most dogs ever receive.  You have to feel his spirit with you every day because you gave him a strong will and strong spirit.   


Houston Texas
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27 September 2010
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30 September 2010 - 9:44 am
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It was really hard to see the deterioration. Her breating was so labored, non-stop. Near the end she did not want to lay down. There was four days she would just stand. I think it was because she knew if she layed down, she would not get up. Shelli was such a trooper, hanging in there for Mommy and Daddy. I was obligated to make the pain stop. My husband was in denial, but once he saw the standing thing, and then the night before she refused her hamburger and rice dinner, we knew our time was up. The look in her eyes was weird, like she was not really inside there anymore.

The quest for world domination continues on three legs. Comply minions!


Read about my big sister Shelli who just passed away to the lymphnode sarcoma

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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30 September 2010 - 10:24 am
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ritables said:

Shelli was such a trooper, hanging in there for Mommy and Daddy. I was obligated to make the pain stop.

You lived up to your role as a human, and gave the greatest gift that you could. Shelli would only leave when she knew you could handle it. That's why we hang on, we wait until our pawrents are strong enough.

 How odd that you posted here today, as my two year angel anniversary approaches (10/2). Even today, my Mom still has occasional doubts about her and Dad's decision to help me earn my wings. Which is completely silly, because she knows they did the right thing, but it still hurts to think about. What gives her comfort is knowing that my spirit remains strong in their hearts, and the memories of when I felt great and lived life to the fullest will always be what she thinks about most.

Hugs coming your way as you cope with your tremendous loss.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Atlantic City
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16 October 2010
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5 December 2010 - 10:52 am
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This is a wonderful and timeless thread.  I tend to reason my way through these types of questions and completely ignore the emotional component that only enters into the equation at crunch time.  My experiences in life have proven that the emotional component hinders tough choices.  This is not to say that I ignore my human instincts for compassion, only that I understand the distinction between selfless and selfish. And more importantly, that I am able to not allow my emotions to cloud that distinction under stress…

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