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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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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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Sorting out my thoughts....any input from my tripawd friends/family?
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Member Since:
10 February 2010
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11 June 2010 - 7:37 am
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These last few weeks have been emotionally gut wrenching for me, as I have watched Henri decline.

We had some setbacks and then it seemed Henri would do better.  I guess I have been holding on to hope, because in the end, that is all we have.

When Henri got his steroid shot last Wednesday, I am confident it made him feel better. And we have been taking prednisone and tramadol ever since.

I know there are good days and bad days...I guess Henri had a bad day yesterday and today did not start out that well.

He is still eating good and drinking water BUT ....I bring both food and water to him.

He is confined to my entrance foyer and surrounded by area rugs.  We have had to motivate him to go outside to potty....he does not seem interested.  ( He has not gone in the house )...he just is not motivated to get up.

Henri has never been an active dog, chasing balls etc, but all he does is lay in the foyer on his rugs.


I guess what is really bothering me is his heavy panting, and not knowing whether it is because he is in pain or because of the steroids.

When I let him outside last night....he seemed to have a difficult time standing up or keeping his balance to potty.  It broke my heart.  Then he was so tired for walking nearly 10 feet that he just collapsed and rested.  I stayed out there with him....and he was just panting and looking around in the neighborhood. I do think he enjoyed being out there.

I had a breakdown last night and just let my tears flow...I told Henri I did not want to let him is so emotionally painful.  He licked my tears and eyes.  The biggest battle is the realization that at some point I have to let him go, whether it is today, tomorrow or in a week etc.  

Today, Henri could barely make it ouside and I had to help him get back in...there is only one step. : (

Why after all of this, am I second guessing myself, feeling guilt, questioning whether it is the right time etc????

I guess part of me believes he will get better, but I think I know what the truth is.

We do not know whether his back end issue is arthritis or if it is spinal mets....I know both must be horribly painful.

I just seem to really be having a difficult time with the reality of letting go. 

: ( 



knoxville, tn
Member Since:
12 February 2010
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11 June 2010 - 7:57 am
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wendy, bless your heart.  you are suffering as much as henri it seems.  letting go is terribly hard, and i don't have any idea on what to say to help or sooth or whatever.  we're all here thinking of you and henri.  like i said to diane, remember - 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


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22 August 2008
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11 June 2010 - 8:41 am
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Was he panting before the prednisone ?  If not then it is very likely that the pred is the culprit.  It can also cause muscle weakness so that doesn't help things.

Did your vet find any reduction in neurologic function?  Any dragging of the toes or wobbliness?  Tazzie had seemed stiffer in all of her joints despite acupuncture for a few weeks and she had started dragging one of her rear legs just a bit so initially I thought it was her arthritis bothering her.  She also had ACL surgery in the past so her rear legs would sometimes bother her so I was not alarmed when I first noticed these symptoms.  She had two nights of panting/restless sleep and then one day she couldn't get up on her own.  My husband and I were able to move her with a sling but it was clear she was unable to support her own weight.

For me this was all I needed to confirm spinal mets. She did not cry when I palpated her spine but she did cry once when she fell.  I debated trying stronger pain meds or prednisone but she was so big that it would have been pretty hard on her to move her around and I knew she would have been mortified to urinate in the house.  Spinal mets are ultimately very painful so for us the decision was clear to let her go.

Each case is different so you will have to evaluate your own dog.  It is possible that this is arthritis and it is good that he is still eating.  What do you think of his quality of life?  It is so very hard to let them go but we also don't want to hold on too long and prolong any suffering.  I would ask your vet for guidance since they know Henri.  This is the hardest part of owning a pet but it is true that most people know when it is time.


Edmonton, Alberta
Member Since:
11 January 2010
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11 June 2010 - 8:44 am
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Oh Wendy. Your sorrow and pain pierces my heart. Letting go is so very very hard. All I can say is just listen to your heart.

Thinking of you and Henri and sending many, many hugs.


Catie -

Birthday – November 4 2003

Amputation – January 13 2010

Crossed the Bridge – June 2 2011

 Catie Caitlin 

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9 March 2010
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11 June 2010 - 8:51 am
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My heart breaks for you. I've been sitting here trying to type out something that might mean something, but I can't stop crying. It's been three months for us since we lost our old guy and it's still so painful. I am so, so sorry you'll have to make that decision someday soon, too. 

My only advice is to do it while Henri is still some sort of semblance of him self – while he can still do some of the things he enjoys – laying outside, eating, drinking, etc. While you can still snuggle him and love him and know he feels it. 

We had doubts, our old guy always bounced back – and I think we held on a few days too long thinking he'd come around, and he didn't. I wish we would've let him go on Monday instead of Friday – let him go while he still had his dignity, and could enjoy his last car ride, walk into the vets on his own. Let him go on a day he didn't need a bath first because he'd peed the bed and couldn't get up to get away from it. 

We'll never forgive ourselves for leaving it a few days too long – it just happened so quickly for us and we weren't prepared. If we could, we'd do it all over again and do it all differently for him. 

Charon is right – love never ends. Hugs to you and Henri.

Member Since:
28 September 2009
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11 June 2010 - 9:25 am
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 I am so sorry for everything you and Henri are going thru. In the past when we have had to put our dogs down we have always waited to long also hoping for a miracle that we really knew could never happen. When Tasha was diagnosed with cancer we promised our self we will not wait to long, not let her suffer, we know there won't be a miracle for us.  I pray when the day comes we are strong enough to release her with her dignity. Letting go is so incredibly hard and heart wrenching but is truly a gift to our dogs, our last gift of our love to them to be released from a body that has given up. My heart aches for you as you make the decision.


Jo Ann & Tasha

Tasha 8 years old, First cancer diagnosis 6/26/09, Last cancer diagnosis 9/26/09, Amputation 10/01/09, Loving our girl moment by moment.

Tasha lost her battle and became my Angel on May 4 2011. Forever in my heart….

Member Since:
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11 June 2010 - 10:53 am
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I am so sorry for your pain - and so sorry that Henri seems to be failing. it is obvious you have a very, very close bond. We are so blessed to have had such strong bonds with these  amazing souls. They teach us so much - they give without ever asking for anything in return - they love us no matter what. How do we give that up? How do we say goodbye to such an important part of our lives? How do we decide to end their lives? Because the one thing they teach us is to be self-less. No matter how painful and heartbreaking it is for us to lose our best friend, our fur kids, when their bodies have nothing left - they have fought the good fight - it is our turn to be self-less. And it is true - only you will know when that time has come. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Henri, Wendy. 

Sending you Golden hugs from Sophie. 

Tana and Sophiee


Sophie (1998 – 2010)

"Going Dog" def: living every day in the moment

"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."


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11 June 2010 - 10:56 am
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keepsmiln1818 said:

I told Henri I did not want to let him go… is so emotionally painful. 

Painful for whom? The best advice I can provide at this point is to put selfish human emotions aside and please consider what is best for Henri. We know it's difficult, but try to Be More Dog .

More great advice we read when facing the same difficult decision for Jerry was to ask yourself  "Do his good moments still outnumber the bad?" If not, it may clearly be time for the final act of compassion. Henri cannot make this decision himself. You have done so much for Henri, so we wish you the best for gaining the strength within to realize what is best for Henri, and when.

Personally, I could not stand to watch Jerry's condition degrade as he began his downward spiral. I wanted to remember him as a happy dog. We owed it to him to set him free while he still had his dignity. Remember, it is all about quality of life, not quantity. If you can't stand to see Henri they way he is, and deep down you know his condition will not improve, why drag it out. Are you holding on for Henri, or youself?

Please forgive me if this comes off as harsh, but I totally understand how much you love Henri and only want you to do what's best for him. Peace.

PS: Please consider calling the Argus Institute at the CSU Animal Hospital to speak with professionals who can help you during this difficult time. Anyone can receive their free pet hospice care advice and grief counseling at 970-297-1242.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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11 June 2010 - 11:08 am
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carmenmcconnell said:

 All I can say is just listen to your heart.


 Wendy, while my heart breaks for you and tears weep for Henri, I think this is the best advise.  It is simple, direct and to the point.

Many hugs to you and a wish for peace and strength as you struggle with that decision weighing heavy on your soul.

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.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11 June 2010 - 11:32 am
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We're so deeply sorry. This is the part of the journey we all agonize over. I don't know how to make it easier for you, I wish I could.

One thing we've learned since Jerry got sick was, dogs will be by their human's side even if the pain is unbearable, because that's why they're here. To guide us, protect us and be our best friends. They will hang on until their pawrent gives them permission to let go. That is when they know that their "assignment" here on earth is complete. Until you are able to give Henri permission to move on to his next journey, he won't go anywhere. He may not be comfortable while he's doing it, but that's his instinct, to be by your side until you say it's OK to join his spirit friends.

If it helps at all, make a list; how many things can he do now, and how many can't he do? How many things can he still do that make him happy? Weigh the things he still enjoys versus those he cannot do anymore or find joy in. And remember, it's those little things that really give dogs so much happiness. Chasing after squirrells, digging up treats, cuddling on the couch. They all add up and make our dogs who they are. Without the ability to do these things, our dogs lives are compromised.

One of the reasons we were able to make the call to let Jerry go was, we had recently met a woman who told us a story about how she had a very hard time letting go of her dog. She was bottle feeding him, and he wasn't enjoying life. She did not realize she was keeping her dog around far longer than she should have, until it was too late and it was very obvious the dog was suffering. When she finally let go, the guilt she felt was far more powerful than the grief over losing her dog.

Years later as she told us that story, she still couldn't share it without crying. She gave us advice that we took to heart, which was to let Jerry go as soon as we felt that it was time, to not drag it out. While it was horribly painful to follow her advice, we were able to cope much better than if we had guilt on top of it all.

As Admin said, please call the Argus institute. It's free and they have professionals there who can offer so much insight. And you can always call us too OK? I'll PM your our #.



Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

11 June 2010 - 12:23 pm
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I posted this last night in one of Magic's (Diane's)  threads that you also posted in- I copied here in case you didn't see it there.



Diane and Wendy,

I have been trying for an hour to compose this post.  I know how I feel but I am having trouble finding the words…

One of my biggest stressors over the past few weeks was that I
wouldn't know when Maggie was done.  Over the past three months I asked
her all the time to tell me when she was ready.  Many people have said
here that they knew when the time came, but I doubted and worried that
I would get it right.

It helped me to have clear in my mind what quality of life was for Maggie, and to decide what conditions were not tolerable.

But beyond all my thinking and planning I knew- just looking at her
I knew.  I decided on that Tuesday night that she had reached the end
of her battle.

Of course Mag gave me pause when my Dad came to see her on Wednesday
morning- she played with him a bit and then went to the park with him. 
And the tiniest doubt crept in. But I thought about it and realized
that she had had only an hour or two of good time in the past 24 hours,
and that was just not enough. 

We all have made gut wrenching decisions throughout this cancer
battle.  We decided on amputation, we decided on treatment, and we
decided when it was time to stop treatment. We never could have
imagined that we would have to make these choices, but when faced with
it we found the strength.

If you reflect back on the cancer fight so far you will see how much
strength you have gained.  In some ways the cancer journey itself has
prepared us for the day when we come to the end of the road.

We have done the best we could, we have made all the hard choices. 
Everything we have done, all the decisions we have made, were made with
love and only the best interest of our tripawds in our hearts. And
because we made our decisions this way we can not be wrong.

None of this makes the decision easy, I am missing Maggie every
day.  But what I do have now is a bit of peace- because I know with all
my heart that I was right, I know I did the best I could, and I know
Maggie is at peace, snoring a good pug snore on someones lap.


On The Road

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24 September 2009
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11 June 2010 - 1:48 pm
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Thanks for re-posting that Karen, it's so well said.

Wendi, I hope you don't mind my moving your topic but I thought it would be more helpful here for future pawrents looking for help in coping with hospice care. Thanks for understanding.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Los Angeles
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2 November 2009
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11 June 2010 - 2:47 pm
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This can be such an overwhelming decision to make.  What everyone is saying here is such great  advice and words of wisdom to help you.  When I had to let go of my other dog who had lymphoma, I knew in my heart there was nothing more that could be done.  I found peace with the decision to let her go and actually felt peace when we did let her go because I knew she was no longer suffering.  My heart was breaking but it was the right thing to do and for that I had no regrets.  If I had to do it all over again, I would have made the same decision. 

My heart goes out to you and I hope you find peace with whatever decision you make for Henri. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Kami (Mackenzie'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!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 August 2009
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11 June 2010 - 3:34 pm
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Oh Wendi,

I am so heartbroken for you.  I'm trembling while holding back the tears trying to write this.  

You know in your heart he isn't going to get much better if at all.   Prednisone is the last resort drug. 

Pick day or let your vet pick one, that if he doesn't seem better or if he isn't able to get up, then that will be the time.   

Do you have family and/or friends nearby that can comfort you? 

If it's any consolation, I don't think I would know when it was time with Comet because I don't know how I could let go of her.  I hope I do.

Sending you far away hugs,

Comet's mom



Her Retired AvatarComet - 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.

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20 May 2009
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11 June 2010 - 3:40 pm
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My heart is breaking for you.  It is so hard to make the decision to let Henri go.  Before we knew that Emily was suffereing with spinal mets we tried so many medications to try to build up strength in Emily's remaining back leg.  I promised her that when we knew there wasn't anything we could do to help her we would let her go.  And that is what we did.  Ask your vet to x-ray Henri's whole spine.  Our vet had x-rayed Emily and she did have dysplasia but the spinal mets where higher up the spine than where she was x-rayed.  We waited too long and it is a horrible thing to live with.  Although I try to remember Emily running and jumping on the trampoline all to often what I see is her laying on the floor unable to even roll over on her own.  Please don't do that to yourself, or Henri.

It is not easy and I am so sorry you are going through this.

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.

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