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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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Forum Posts: 2
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6 October 2010
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6 October 2010 - 11:20 am
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Hi everyone. I'm new to the forum, but an experienced mom of an amputee. Simon is a mixed breed, golden and white german shepherd, about 80 pounds now that he's missing one of his back legs (rare form of bone cancer.) We celebrated his one-year anniversary last month 😉 He is 9 years old, happy and pretty mobile. He needs some help up stairs (he's on his second vest w/handle) and his walks are shorter because he tires more quickly, but good overall.

We've been talking about maybe getting a puppy or a rescue dog who is a little older (a year or two) to keep him company. He lives with a cat now, and visits dog friends fairly regularly. He loves seeing them, but clearly can't horse around and be bossy like he used to.

I'm on the fence about whether another dog would be a good thing for him (companionship, someone to play with at home even though he can't walk as much as he used to) or whether it would be a mistake.

He's a good-natured boy but sometimes gets a little jealous (not territorial or mean) if other animals are getting our attention. By this I mean he shoves his head under my hand if I'm petting the cat sometimes.

Any thoughts, ideally from people who've tried this, are appreciated.

The Rainbow Bridge

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6 October 2010 - 11:47 am
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Hi Simon and Mom,

Congratulations on reaching your amazing one year ampuversary! Yeay!!!!! We hope we get to see a pic of Simon in his birthday hat!

Bless you for considering adopting an older dog, that says a lot about what great people you are.

My pawrents have always had one dog at a time so they can't really share any experiences like that here. But I will say that if you're not sure if Simon would get along indefinitely with another pup, why not consider fostering an older dog? That way it's not a permanent commitment (unless you and Simon fall absolutely in love!), and Simon can have a variety of older buddies to hang out with?

Thank you so much for joining us here. We hope you'll please consider registering so that your posts can appear immediately and not require moderation 🙂

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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knoxville, tn
Forum Posts: 1705
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6 October 2010 - 5:50 pm
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bravo that you are considering an addition.  we are a two dog, three cat family.  all of our 'kids' are different temperments, and came along 'one at a time'...and for the most part get along ok. 

i guess the closest  i can get to answering your question is to think of our neighbors.  they have a 12 year old springer spaniel who's been an only girl for about four years.  she was pretty set in her ways, and in the 'retirement' mode.  they recently rescued an 8 month old 'pit mix' boy.  at first, everyone wondered if bailey would take to this puppy, as he is a pistol - a mile a minute, knock you down, ball of energy.  bailey sat back for a little bit (probably hoping that gus would find another home), but she has really taken to him.  i watch them in their yard actually playing, and bailey holds her own.  she's proven to be the 'big sister' and has set seems to have given her a 'job', and she seems happier with that. 

jerry offers a great suggestion to foster a pup, and see how it goes. simon might just find a new 'job' in a sibling...

good luck with whatever you decide.  welcome to the forum too.

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


6 October 2010 - 6:24 pm
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Hi Simon's Mom,

First off- congrats on a year with Simon- that is awesome for bone cancer.  I bet you have a lot of experiences you can share if you want to.

My situation is a little different- but I will share my experience.

I lost my Tri-pug Maggie about 4 months ago.  I have Maggie's younger sis Tani.  They were together most of their lives and Tani had never spent more than 6 days as an only pug.  When Mag was diagnosed with her second cancer last March I knew I would need to consider another pup to keep Tani company (Tani is 10, Mag was 11).  The problem is that Tani is antisocial when it comes to dogs, she does not like other dogs, the best she does is tolerate them.  She and Maggie however were inseparable.  After Mag was gone Tani was very mopey, low energy, and always looking for her big sis.  When I took her for a walk she was always lagging behind me.   I decided to adopt another pug, I got Obie, a 4 year old male, about 3 months ago.   While they don't play much, they are pretty much always together.  Tani is much more energetic now, out in front on every walk.  Over all Tani seems happier, and the two interact more and more everyday.

Tani has aspirations of being alpha (Mag was clearly the alpha before, but there were tussles) so I though a male would be a better idea than another female.  Obie is mature enough to not drive Tani crazy with puppy antics, but is young enough and active enough to get Tani moving a little faster.  I am letting them work out their pack order (I also have aspirations of being alpha oh-my) and so far so good. 

I've had one pug stretches in my life, and two pug stretches, and I like having two.  Even as a kid we always had two dogs.  Pugs are pretty small so two don't take up much room.  And pugs tend to like company, although not all do.

We would love to see pics of Simon, and hear more about his tripawd adventures.

Good luck with your decision.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Las Vegas, Nevada
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6 October 2010 - 7:06 pm
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 That's wonderful news about 1 year!  Simon sounds like an amazing dog! 


I vote yes on getting another pup!   Not only do dogs typically like companions which isn't always obvious until you get one – but there are so many dogs that need good loving homes.  And you are one!

I have the most spoiled brat in fur that pretends to hate everyone but when she lost her companion last year, she was in a daze.  She doesn't act like she likes her new brother, but she can't live alone and she secretly loves him.

Go for it! 

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.

Northeastern PA
Forum Posts: 116
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19 September 2010
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6 October 2010 - 9:07 pm
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Congrats on the anniversary!

I can share my experiences with Zack. He was an only, very spoiled pup from the day I brought him home at 5 weeks old until just before his 11th birthday. Much like Tani in the above post, he has always been more interested in people than other dogs (he thought he was a person with 4 legs, so now with only 3, we'll never be able to convince him otherwise!) Then, one day on the way to work about 3 years ago, I found a boxer puppy on the road. I took the pup to the SPCA thinking some family must be going crazy missing him, but after 3 days he was not claimed. I took Zack in to see how they'd get along - the puppy wanted to play & be around Zack's face, but he was having none of it. So, we knew it wouldn't be a good fit. By then, we decided we wanted to be a 2-dog family, so tried some more shelters/other puppies. Finally, a volunteer at one of the shelters suggested an older boxer mix (about 8 at the time) who had just been returned to the shelter after 8 months with her pawrent (he had been chosen from a lottery to get her & then got a terminal illness.) We figured we'd give it a try, and they were a perfect match - Izzy tried to sniff at Zack's face once, he turned away, and then she did the same, and they've lived in relative harmony ever since.

They pretend to ignore each other, but there are signs of their co-dependence. Izzy has been mostly deaf since we got her, so she takes her cues from him (especially when we first brought her home & she was learning our routines.) And, I have photographic proof of them cuddling up (really it's usually just their butts touching each other, but we'll take what we can get!) When Zack was gone for two days for his surgery, Izzy didn't seem to miss a beat - but I've never seen her as excited as the night we brought him home. She actually jumped off the ground & then cried every time we took him out for the next day or two.

My advice would be to definitely try an older dog, and have the dogs meet in neutral territory - you should be able to tell within a few minutes how they'll get along. And, keep trying until you find the right one with a personality to mesh with Simon. Best of luck.

Zack, King of Dogs, 1996 to 2010

Zack lived a full 14 years, even to the end.

The joy and memories he provided us will last a lifetime.

Surviving him is his sister, Izzy, a 12-year-old boxer mix quadpawd.
And the latest addition, Zula, an 11-month-old pit bull mix tripawd.

Livermore CA
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6 October 2010 - 10:55 pm
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Hello Simon's mom

Congratulations on the ampuversary, first of all.  One year is pretty exciting.

I live in a pack of 4 dogs.  Cemil is the alpha dog and while sometimes one or another of them doesn't feel like sharing me for a moment, I think they all like having each other as dog friends.  They play a little bit every day, but mostly,  just hang out together.  And they seem very peaceful doing that, so I think they enjoy the dog-company even if they aren't really doing anything.  I would encourage you to give it a try.  With a single dog, they can really focus on you, but when there are multiple dogs, you get to see them acting like dogs, with dogs.  It's a little different.

One thing to be aware of...not all dogs know how to act around other dogs.  When Mujde came to live with us, she had been a single dog all her life and had to learn how to live in a pack of dogs (getting along with other dogs and knowing how to live with them is different).  Knowing the history of the new one with regard to dog pack familiarity will be useful.  If both dogs have always been singles, you may have your hands full for the first few weeks.


Cemil and mom Mary, Mujde and Radzi….appreciating and enjoying Today

Cemil's blog

Orange County, CA
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7 October 2010 - 9:41 am
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     I strongly agree with the advice here.  I'm a firm believer that two dogs are better than one.  They're pack animals on an instinctive level, and while you're the pack leader and the center of your dog's life, you're still a different species.  Like Cemil said, it's not always a play issue – dogs just like being around each other, even if they're just laying around in the same area and not actively interacting.

     I think having your dog meet with potential buddies in a neutral area is a very good idea.  And on the day you decide to bring a new dog home, don't lose heart if they're not instant best friends.  Our first two dogs were Shadow (a lab/border collie mix) and Max (a lab/husky mix), who grew up together.  Shadow died of a rare blood disease when he and Max were about six.  Max was absolutely devastated, and completely lost without his buddy.  So we got an adult dog (Linda, an English lab) to be his new friend.  Max was always kind of an alpha dog, so we weren't too worried about bringing Linda into into the mix.  She doesn't have a dominant bone in her body.  Linda was the best thing that ever happened to him, although they didn't interact much for the first few days.  But having a new dog around the house instantly improved his morale, and it wasn't long before they were inseparable.  I think it made a big difference to have Linda there as a buddy when Max got cancer and became a tripawd.  It's always nice to have a friend around when you're not feeling well.  There were never any issues about Max's suddenly missing leg.  The most Linda ever did was give him a curious sniffing when he came back from the hospital.

     Once Max died, we didn't want Linda to be lonely.  She has very little interest in other dogs, and probably would have been OK if we had kept her single.  But we like having two dogs, and we didn't like the idea of leaving Linda alone if both of us were working.  So we got a puppy named Bernie, who Linda absolutely loathed at first sight.  For the first week, she actively avoided him, and snarled and moved away whenever he tried to get near her.  We thought we'd made the worst mistake ever by adopting him.  But about a week later, Linda surrendered to the inevitable and started to tolerate him, then finally started playing with him.  That was about eight months ago.  Bernie is still a horrible little monster and a complete menace to civilized life, and he often annoys Linda (and us) to the point where it's a miracle we don't throttle him.  But they do love each other, and they'd be lonely if the other wasn't around (especially Bernie, since Linda is his favorite toy).

     So yes, get another dog.  I think the one you have already will be happy about it in the end.

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8 October 2010 - 1:04 pm
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Thanks for the advice and words of encouragement, everyone!

You helped talk me into it.

We actually ended up with a pup, a little chocolate lab we've named Stella.

Simon met her first and he approves. She even seems to have put a little spring in his step. I'm hopeful they'll be great friends and that he can help us teach her a thing or two.

I wish you all well with your dogs and am thankful for the forum. I'm not much of a poster, but I did get a lot of advice from this site when Simon first had his surgery and was slowly but surely recovering.


My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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8 October 2010 - 1:20 pm
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Trouble had been an only dog for 11 years when we brought Duke into the mix.  We were super cautious and did a LONG drawn out introduction.  It was literally weeks before we allowed them together.  Duke was crate bound for 2 weeks just so Trouble would be used to him being in the house.  After that he was tethered to one of us constantly when he was uncrated for about another two weeks.  Then we left him to drag his leash for another week or so.  Just in case we needed to quickly stop him, we could grab the leash or step on it. 

Duke LOVES Trouble.  She is his buddy and he protects her - even from us!  Trouble more or less just tolerates Duke, and makes sure he doesn't get more attention, treats, or toys than she does.

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.

Grandad's Garden
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8 October 2010 - 6:58 pm
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Hey Simon and family-

We are a very large multi-dog family.  As Max's dad said, dogs are pack animals.  They like having another being around.  But you do need to be sure you match energy levels and "personalities" to avoid conflict.  You know Simon, so take him with you to "interview" prospective new dogs.  Meeting on neutral ground will help alleviate any weird territorial issues at first and you will be able to get a better read from Simon on what he thinks of the new dog. 

Also, we have found that before bringing a new dog home, take them both out for a nice, long walk and get everyone good and tired.  

Good luck!

The Rainbow Bridge

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8 October 2010 - 8:33 pm
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calpurnia said:

Hey Simon and family-

We are a very large multi-dog family.

Now Cali, isn't that putting it . . . mildly?

They have TWENTY SOMETHING DOGS!!!! clown

Take it from Cali's pack, they know dawgs!

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