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Need advice regarding teaching Holly to walk on a ramp
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16 January 2018 - 1:15 pm
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Hi!

We are looking for some advice regarding teaching Holly to walk on a ramp. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to fix the misspelled tagline. 🙁

Our Bernese Mt. Dog Holly was recently diagnosed with cancer in her front left leg. The cancer has not spread beyond the leg as far as we can tell from various testing including chest x-ray, ultrasound, blood work and urinalysis. She is scheduled for a front left leg amputation on Friday. Things have been moving very quickly since she was diagnosed with cancer a little over 2 weeks ago and we are a bit overwhelmed to be honest. We just got the ok to move forward with the amputation a few days ago. We have been trying to get everything we will need to make Holly’s transition to a tripawd as easy as we can. New ramps were built for her yesterday so that she will be able to get out to the yard after surgery. We tried walking her on the ramps today to get her comfortable with the idea with no luck. She is refusing by going around them and insisting on using the steps. For those of you that needed to use ramps, how did you train your babies to walk on them? 

Livermore, CA
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16 January 2018 - 1:34 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to fix the misspelled tagline.

You need superpower (moderator or admin)-I fixed it for you big-grin.

I’m sorry you are dealing with cancer! What kind of cancer are you dealing with?

Is Holly food motivated?  You might try a trail of snacks going up the ramp to see if she will follow. 

I never had any luck with ramps with Tripug Maggie- I built 3 over the years and she would not go near them!  Some dogs won’t- there is an issue that I can never remember the name… but Maggie also would not go up or down stairs with open backs, or walk on decks where she could see through the cracks.

Here is a blog post on getting dogs used to ramps– it’s older but I would guess still has some good information.

How many stairs does she have to go up/down?  Once healed most dogs do OK on stairs as long as there is good traction , if there is only a few she may be OK without the ramps.  You are wise to think about this now though! It is important to reduce the stress on the remaining legs.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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16 January 2018 - 2:01 pm
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Hi Karen,

Thank you!

Holly has either histiocytic sarcoma or hemangiosarcoma, we are waiting for the immunohistochemistry results to come back. It’s a very fast growing tumor as her metastasis rate was over 100. The whole thing grew over a period of a few weeks and our vet was able to remove as much of it as he could but he could not get all of it as it is intertwined with her tricep and other nerves, tendons and ligaments. 

I will try your suggestion regarding lining the ramp with treats, she is fairly treat motivated, thank you! I’ll also check out the blog you referred to above. We put the ramps out front as there is one step coming out of the door and then she would walk a bit and go down 2 more steps. We now have 2 ramps for her out there. She would have to climb over 8 steps to get outside from the back door and that would be way too much post op. She is almost 8 years old and has some arthritis in her back leg, so we are trying to make the adjustment as safe and easy for her as possible. 

Thank you for sharing about Maggie! How long did it take for her to feel comfortable with steps? 

The Rainbow Bridge

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16 January 2018 - 3:19 pm
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Hey Holly and family, thanks for joining us (sorry you had to!).

For many dogs, ramps are scary because dogs have a difficult time gauging distance when standing above an object. The phenomenon is called “The Visual Cliff,” and basically what it means is that some animals have such poor depth perception that a look down to the ground from a ramp is terrifying.

For instance, our own Wyatt Ray loves swimming in lakes and ponds, places where he can gradually descend into water. But when we put him next to a swimming pool and try to encourage him to  jump in, he refuses. He does not do well on ramps. BUT he has learned to do great on steps. As a rear-leg amputee, he has a hard time going up stairs (dogs have all their propulsion in the rear legs). But our front-leg amputee Jerry, did great going up. He was more unsteady going down, as all front-leg Tripawds, which is when the Ruffwear Webmaster harness came in handy.

BUT since Holly is food motivated, anything is possible and she may be able to overcome this. The article Karen linked to has good tips to get you started. Be patient and let us know how she progresses. 

And meanwhile, best wishes to you both this week. Keep us posted in Treatment and Recovery, we’ll be waiting!

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16 January 2018 - 6:30 pm
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Hi Jerry,

Thank you for all of the info, it explains a lot as to why she is so hesitant. I did go back outside with her this afternoon/evening (after reading the article above and receiving some feedback on a fb post) and I bribed her with american cheese. She did go up and down the ramp a few times, so we will repeat this over the next few days in hopes of increasing her comfort level. I’m also looking into a harness for her and have had a few recommendations. The Ruffwear harness that you use, does it cross over the incision area? 

The Rainbow Bridge

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17 January 2018 - 10:36 am
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You are so welcome. Glad to hear the processed cheese food worked! Whatever it takes, sounds like you guys put a lot of work into those ramps. What a lucky girl! 

The Ruffwear harness that you use, does it cross over the incision area? 

For front leg Tripawds the front strap it may rub (nobody has ever mentioned it has, but we like to play it safe). We recommend waiting until stitches/staples are out. But if you must use it immediately post-op because you have too many stairs for her to navigate, you can just put a t-shirt on underneath the harness. Check the Tripawds Gear blog for our harness recommendations and holler with any questions.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia
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17 January 2018 - 12:36 pm
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Just want to add a warm “welcome to the family”  Holly! We’ll look forward to seeing some pictures of your cute self  and hearing all about your adventures as a spoiled tripawd 🙂

Let us know if you jave any questions regarding.  It’s not a picnic for a week  or tow, that’s for sure. 

Most dogs come home with Tramadol, Gabalew, Rimadyl and an antibiotic.  Tweaking the pain meds for the right dose and right timing specific to Hollupy can be a bit of a trial and error at first.  Just keep your Vet in the loop of the intial doses seem to be working…or not.

We’re here for you, okay?

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Livermore, CA
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17 January 2018 - 2:55 pm
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Hi again,

Maggie was fine right from the start going up or down a couple stairs- she was a small pug with a rear amp. I was lucky at the time that I lived in a single story house with only a couple steps by the front door and off the back deck.  She did spend time at my parents house which is a split level.  Mag never did get to the point of being able to climb more than 3 or 4 stairs so she was carried up stairs at that house.  She would go down anything! In general front amps will have more issues (IF they have issues!) going down things since they are landing on that one front leg.  Rear amps will have issues going up.

Fast forward a few years and my second Tripawd Elly and I now live in the split level house.  Elly is a little pug mix who lost a back leg after being hit by a car.  Elly is a bit smaller than Maggie was and she flies up and down the stairs! She is younger than Mag and much more energetic.

It’s great that Holly will walk on the ramp! I would think with some practice and encouragement she will get used to using it. Maggie absolutely refused to ever set a paw on any of the ramps I built. Not built in vain though, quad-put Tani eventually needed ramps when she got older- she had no hesitation at all using them.

The phenomenon is called “The Visual Cliff,” and basically what it means is that some animals have such poor depth perception that a look down to the ground from a ramp is terrifying.

Thanks Jerry! I don’t know why I can’t remember that, Maggie could have been the poster dog for the phenomenonbig-grin

I found out recently that my quad pug Obie has issues with open back stairs.  The result was me carrying my 4 legged dog up (and then back down) two flights of stairs while my Tripawd hopped just fine on her own!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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18 January 2018 - 11:55 am
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Thanks Jerry! We did order her a harness but we are very concerned that it would rub her stitches or stables when she gets home. We have a lift that wraps around her mid section with handles that we are hoping will work for now. I had read that it is possible to remove the one side of the strap on the harness if needed. I only saw this written once, so I don’t know if it is true or not. Have you had any experience with this?

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18 January 2018 - 12:01 pm
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Hi Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie!

It’s very nice to meet you! Holly is going in for surgery tomorrow morning, very early. Thank you for the advice about the pain meds, we will keep a close eye on her when she comes home. From what we were told they will keep her in the hospital for 2 days. We are very nervous about when she comes home in regards to what she will need initially. We will keep in close contact with the vet as you suggested. We don’t want her to be in pain and we don’t want her overmedicated either as we would be afraid that she would fall and injure herself further. 

Virginia
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18 January 2018 - 12:10 pm
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Just stay connected.  We also have a helpine staffed by volunteers who have all been through the recovery part a d have a lot of insight!

1 844 TRIPAWD

Update js when surgery is over.  Oh, and don’t be surprised if they say “Surgery is  taking longer than expected.”  That’s normal jargon for a lot of things like a dleay in starting, etc.

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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18 January 2018 - 12:19 pm
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krun15 said
Hi again,

Maggie was fine right from the start going up or down a couple stairs- she was a small pug with a rear amp. I was lucky at the time that I lived in a single story house with only a couple steps by the front door and off the back deck.  She did spend time at my parents house which is a split level.  Mag never did get to the point of being able to climb more than 3 or 4 stairs so she was carried up stairs at that house.  She would go down anything! In general front amps will have more issues (IF they have issues!) going down things since they are landing on that one front leg.  Rear amps will have issues going up.

Fast forward a few years and my second Tripawd Elly and I now live in the split level house.  Elly is a little pug mix who lost a back leg after being hit by a car.  Elly is a bit smaller than Maggie was and she flies up and down the stairs! She is younger than Mag and much more energetic.

It’s great that Holly will walk on the ramp! I would think with some practice and encouragement she will get used to using it. Maggie absolutely refused to ever set a paw on any of the ramps I built. Not built in vain though, quad-put Tani eventually needed ramps when she got older- she had no hesitation at all using them.

The phenomenon is called “The Visual Cliff,” and basically what it means is that some animals have such poor depth perception that a look down to the ground from a ramp is terrifying.

Thanks Jerry! I don’t know why I can’t remember that, Maggie could have been the poster dog for the phenomenonbig-grin

I found out recently that my quad pug Obie has issues with open back stairs.  The result was me carrying my 4 legged dog up (and then back down) two flights of stairs while my Tripawd hopped just fine on her own!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls  

Hi Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls,

Thanks for sharing Maggie’s story, I just finished reading her blog, she was quite the little trooper! 

It sounds like Ellie has mastered zipping around on her own, that’s so wonderful! 

We are really hoping that Holly continues to use the ramps post op, at least initially until she gets stronger. She’s 86lbs, and although I have been carrying her when needed, I’m not always going to be home to do so. We have a wrap (around the abdominal area) with handles to use for her immediately post op if needed, along with towels and blankets and we did order her a harness for when her stitches come out. She is going in for her surgery tomorrow and they plan to keep her for 48 hours post op in recovery.

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18 January 2018 - 12:25 pm
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benny55 said
Just stay connected.  We also have a helpine staffed by volunteers who have all been through the recovery part a d have a lot of insight!

1 844 TRIPAWD

Update js when surgery is over.  Oh, and don’t be surprised if they say “Surgery is  taking longer than expected.”  That’s normal jargon for a lot of things like a dleay in starting, etc.

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!  

Thank you! We will keep updating, this group is amazing! Thanks for the warning about “surgery taking longer than expected” I think we would have fallen over if we had heard that without a warning. So far we have to have her to the hospital by 7am but they won’t tell us yet what time her actual surgery is going to be as they stated they won’t know until the morning. I think we will be happy when she is stable and we can see her little face.

Michigan
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18 January 2018 - 9:22 pm
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Cassie isn’t a tripawd, and we only have 2 steps from our deck, so it wasn’t too hard to get her to use a ramp.  Although my husband couldn’t get her to do it!  lol  I held onto her harness and walked right next to her, basically forced her to use the ramp.  At first she would step off the side before she got to the bottom, or when going up she would start at the side rather from the bottom, but she eventually got the hang of it.  Once she got used to it, I was able to use it to get her in & out of the car, too.  

I think Kathi (murphsmom) said that they trained their Murphy to use a ramp by laying it flat of the floor first and getting him to walk on it, maybe with it next to the wall so he couldn’t go off the side?  I think she has a video someplace …

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy  http://murphyh......pawds.com/

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old.  He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  

Donna.png

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19 January 2018 - 8:36 am
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Welcome to the nicest community on the internet! Everyone here has been by my (digital) side since Otis’ amp and I couldn’t have done it without each and every comment, post, and piece of advice. 

Our friends lent us a ramp for use getting Otis in/out of car before his limp was diagnosed as OSA. Otis prefers to jump — he once jumped over three downed logs AND a golden retriever (all in one jump!) while hiking. The only way we could get him to use the ramp was to lay it flat on the ground and have him walk back and forth over it many times. Once he seemed comfortable with that, we made him sit on it. That seemed to help a lot. Our old dog trainer told us what Jerry said about depth perception, which made a lot of sense to me when I watched Otis interact with the ramp. Now that he’s a tripawd HE IS STILL TRYING TO JUMP INTO THE CAR! but we won’t let him until his stitches are out. We found that along with the treats/ training on flat ramp, if we have a person standing on either side of the ramp, Otis is more likely to feel safe going down/ up. Also, with his cone on, his peripheral vision is limited, and for some reason I think that helps him go up the ramp (but not down). I think really he would probably prefer one of those trailer hitch mounted stairs for car use. 

We have three steps out to the front yard, and I was trying to avoid using the front door when Otis first got home for surgery, but he prefers it to the no step back door, and he handles those 3 steps really easily, so hopefully the same will be true for short segments of steps for your girl. He is very tall so most steps aren’t really a problem for him anyway. 

Best of luck! 

Camille & Otis

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