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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What 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.
Last Wednesday evening I said goodbye to my precious boy, Remy.
It was an awful day because he was breathing heavy and panting, and I just didn’t know if it was “time”, even though he wasn’t interested in food (one of his favorite things). I planned to do a zoom call with a Lap of Love hospice vet that evening, but that afternoon he was panting for extended periods of time. I called them back and asked if someone could come that evening to evaluate him. He went outside with me before she arrived, hopping around the yard the way he did. He hopped back into the house and greeted our new visitor with kisses. I was hoping with all my might that she would say no, it’s not time. However, she listened to his lungs and said one had fluid in it and the other had almost no sound, meaning he wasn’t able to breathe well. I knew this, based on his heavy breathing the past week. She told me we might have a couple of days, but he could get into a crisis situation. That was a huge fear of mine, so I told her we could proceed. I don’t think I’ve ever made such a heartbreaking decision. She gave him oreos to eat while the sedative worked. He hadn’t had an appetite, but boy did he love those Oreos. I think he had 4 of them before he decided he’d had enough. I kissed and loved on him every second, and I think I felt my heart break completely when she told me he was gone. 10 1/2 years as my best boy, my best friend. He made it 22 months fighting osteosarcoma and boy am I proud of him for that.
The first 3 days, I was sick with grief. I didn’t think I’d ever function again. And today, the 4th day, I feel even worse. But not for the same reason. It’s because today, I woke up feeling okay. I felt peaceful, even. I could look at photos and videos of him and not shed a tear. I almost feel like I’m forgetting him already, and that terrifies me. How can I be “okay” after 4 days without my child, my world, my best friend? Part of me wonders if it’s because I spent 2 years with anticipatory grief. I had no idea when the end would come, and the fear and anxiety I felt were all-consuming. I would live with those feelings forever though, if it meant having him back. I just feel unbelievably guilty. When I see pictures or videos, I smile and I miss him. But I don’t ache the way I did 2 days ago. Am I just numb? Is this a part of the grieving process? Or is something wrong with me? I feel like I’ve already forgotten what it’s like to have him here and honestly, that feels worse than the initial grief of losing him. He deserves more than 3 days of grief. This feels so wrong, and like such a betrayal to someone who gave me the best 10.5 years. 🥺💔
Ohhhhh Tara! If I could reach out and give you a hug right now I would, for so many many reasons. The biggest of course is that I’m so sorry about Remy. There never feels like there’s enough time together, even if our dogs could live to be 100. Remy was a one-of-a-kind heart dog and now a part of your heart is missing. You will feel so many emotions over the next few weeks, and that’s because you loved him so so much. Allow yourself to feel them. Write them down if it helps, but know that everything you will experience is 100 % normal.
I know you didn’t feel prepared for the vet to say it was his time. I’m sure you felt blindsided. In the end though, you gave him the most glorious cookie-filled send off a dog could ask for. What a gift! There was no stress or drama, no ER visit. Saying goodbye the way you did is as ideal as possible. And the odd thing is, is that Lap of Love is usually really booked out. I’m surprised they came over so quickly. Remy had an angel looking out for you to, so that you could avoid a horrible situation where you had to let him go.
As for your guilt. Here’s my take: you feel that way because it is a blessing to see those we love out of pain and not suffering. It is a gift to enable them to transition on, to leave their broken bodies without pain. Your feelings are that of someone who is no longer carrying the huge responsibility of being responsible for that transition. It is OK to feel that way! I know I felt it with our Wyatt Ray , and even my dad who was recently in hospice. To know that our loved ones are in an all new spirit form that will never age or get sick is something that takes time to accept, your heart and your brain are still duking it out.
You haven’t forgotten him, and you never will. Right now your brain is just filled with so many emotions and trying to process them, eventually the vision of Remy as you knew him before cancer and limb loss will overtake the conflict you feel, and show you that his memory is not just something that floats in and out of your mind, but lives in your heart for eternity.
I hope this helps. I am so very sorry for your loss. If you want to talk we are here. Call the Tripawds Helpline too if you feel like it!
You are so right. He was my heart dog and a lifetime with him wouldn’t have been nearly long enough.
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. First, in case I failed to say it before, please know how deeply sorry I am about the loss of your Dad. I am thankful that he is no longer in pain, but know it must be hard without him. 💔
I think you’re correct about the blessing of him being out of pain. My fear through the past 2 years was him hurting or suffering in some way. I never wanted him to suffer for me. It’s a relief to know that he isn’t hurting anymore. I also want him to know that I will never, ever forget him. I think the disconnection I feel is numbness, which still feels like betrayal. I don’t understand it, and maybe it will pass and my grief process will ebb and flow, but it’s just not what I expected. This precious, precious boy was everything to me and it’s not the same without him. His blanket is even starting to lose its smell, which breaks my heart. I started picking up the yoga mats that I had all over the house for him to walk on. I feel like my brain is moving on but my heart still very much belongs to him. I don’t know why they can’t be in sync.
I know I’m rambling now and for that I apologize. I just never expected my grieving process to be this way and the fact that it doesn’t reflect how deeply I loved and cared about him bothers me. 😔 Thanks so much for listening and for writing back. I am thankful for this community.
3 May 2021
Tara…I am so sorry, I know how painful and confusing and overwhelming the emotions surrounding grief can be – especially so soon after the loss of Remy. There is no “correct” way to grieve! So please don’t be so hard on yourself.
For me, after the initial raw and gut-wrenching ache I felt after I lost my T-Bone several years ago, it helped when I set aside a special time every day to both feel sad but also to “give thanks” for having him in my life…and that would always make me smile. I kept his favorite toy in the car with me and held it while driving! But life does go on…and that in no way can diminish the love and the life that you and Remy shared! How blessed you both were to have each other. I still “talk” to my T-Bone (and other pets and family members!) every morning during what I call my “reflection time” before I get lost in the day. It reminds me where I came from…and helps me in where I am going.
You are wonderful, loving and kind.
Tara, you are very kind, thanks for your condolences, I greatly appreciate your sweet words.
Your heart in brain aren’t in sync because you are right, this is not what you expected. It will take time to process events that were so different from how you envisioned they would be, that it made your head spin. What you are feeling right now is a combination of everything, all the emotions that we endure when we lose a loved one. You could never have correctly predicted how you would feel afterward because there is just no way for us mere mortals to know the future. And that is OK. Because it’s exactly how Remy lived, and how all animals live. Right here, right now.
So let yourself feel these things, but don’t put a label on “it”. Just accept that it is, you cannot force it to be anything that it isn’t, and it doesn’t take anything away from Remy’s memory or his physical time with you here. “It” has zero power to do that. ‘It” doesn’t define you or Remy, or your relationship, or how you mourn his loss. You get to decide what it means, not it. OK sounds kinda wackadoodle but I hope that makes sense.
There’s no need to apologize for anything, pour your heart out here if you want, we understand, totally.
@wishbone, beautifully said. Thanks.
@wishbone, Thank you so much for your kind words. I am always in awe of the support of this community. Your daily tribute to T-Bone is beautiful and is something I will absolutely start doing. I love that idea. They were such blessings in our lives. Thank you for reminding me that although my grieving journey is not what I expected, that it doesn’t diminish my love for Remy and the impact he had on my life. I truly appreciate you taking the time to respond.
@jerry, Not wackadoodle, at all. Or if it is, then wackadoodle speaks to me! It actually made a lot of sense and made me feel better. I don’t know why I was giving “it” so much power to define our relationship and how much he meant to me. I wish I understood my brain, but I won’t allow it to take away the special bond that I know we had. Thank you so much for not making me feel crazy. I can’t adequately express just how much it means to have a place where I can express my feelings and have people around who understand. My friends have not yet lost their dogs, and they also aren’t sick the way Remy was (thankfully!) so they don’t quite understand. I’m glad for this, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But it just makes it difficult to talk about with others. This community is so powerful and its impact is undoubtedly more than you can imagine.
Every day is different. Yesterday, I finished picking up his yoga mats. It felt so “final”, yet a part of me still feels like he’s coming home… he’s just at the groomer or a vet appointment or something. I wait for him to hop around the corner, but with the mats up, I know he won’t be there. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I have another dog, Lucy. She’s an adopted mix, who is probably 12 or 13. I got her 6 months after I got Remy, so I’ve had her for 10 years. She was there when he passed, so she knows he’s gone. I love having her around, but gosh their personalities couldn’t be more different. Lucy is stubborn and independent (which makes me laugh because it’s very “me”), whereas Remy was dependent and so unbelievably loving. I could be crying on the couch and Remy would be in my face licking my tears, whereas Lucy would be snoring on the floor. I love Lucy just as much as I loved Remy, but our connection is completely different. I am already longing for the affection that Remy gave me. I don’t know what to do with that feeling.
I’m glad you got what I was trying to say. Thanks for the kind words. And you’re so right that until you go through something like this, it’s hard to understand what someone is feeling. Losing a pet is hard, but when it happens on the heels of amputation and cancer, it’s even tougher in my opinion. The trifecta of pet loss. Ugh.
I know what you mean about finalizing the loss. I couldn’t vacuum for over a month when Jerry and then Wyatt passed. That to me felt like the final step. It hurt, but it was necessary for healing (and fur-free clothes again!). Still, I would give anything to have my clothes covered in dog hair!
It’s good that Lucy was there with Remy, and understands what happens. You sound like you have a really great relationship and respect for her differences. In her own way, she will teach you about surviving grief. I guarantee it! You probably won’t recognize it when you see it but some day you will. All animals have so much to teach us.
22 February 2013
This just hit me so hard to know your sweet adorable Remy had to head to T he Rainbow. Bridge. Al times when one of our beloved family members crossed over, I just cannot find any words. They just aren’t there, because I know there are no words to ease your pain.
Thankfully though, Jerry and Tara were able to find divinely guided words that were full of so much love and insight.
However we grieve is such a personal part of our journey and it’s not to be “compared” to how someone else may grieve And, as you have already seen through your sadness, the grief is individual and does need to be questioned,…..it needs to be felt, or not felt, no right or wrong. The realty it’s still more about Soul growth lessons that our dogs teach us even as they shed their earth clothes. Yes, Remy is still your teacher, even as his energy merges back into Spirit. And he certainly doesn’t let how you grieve define your relationship……no, he’s far more enlightened than that! He let’s all of the gloriously Happy times full of so much love and spo define your relationship
Yes, there is a “relief” as our beloved pets leave their earth clothes that no longer serve them. In Remy’s case, and in my Happy Hannah’s case, we avoided any crisis situation. Our pups gave us a happy memory to hold on to as they began the next part of this journey into another dimension. We often say here, better a day too early than a day too late.
As far as moving things or getting rid of things, mist take it one day at a time. No rush. I still have a partially eaten container off ice cream in the freezer that I shared with Happy Hannah. And she transitioned seven years ago!!
Some people kind of put things in a box that they may want to take to a shelter to help another dog. Remy would probably like that gesture at some point. .
Yes, we understand the depth of the bond that we develop thru this journey. We understand the joy aske cele each victory and each milestone. And when the earth journey is “over”, we understand mthensilencemofmthe void, the numbness of the break in our caregiving routine. We understand like no others can.
We also understand that the thousands of Happy memories will eventually take over and help heal your broken heart. We promise you. And I agree with Tara, talk to Remy….he’s listening.
Surrounding you with our love and Remy’s happy smile
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie