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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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Sudden disinterest in her dog beds - wanting to be in smaller, contained spaces
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1 August 2022
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28 August 2022 - 7:33 am
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She’s been on Gapabentin the entire time (and even before surgery), so there’s nothing more to add there. She’s also on CBD and I’ve started her back on Metacam until I can get in to see the vet. I wanted to get her on a muscle relaxant, but we haven’t gotten a prescription yet.The last time she had her neck and spine looked at physically was right after she tore her ACL and the vet was doing a physical exam, so around 3 weeks ago? No x-rays or anything, I didn’t think her neck was an issue then. She did have an MRI on her spine back in June (when they were looking for the tumor but couldn’t find it) but again, no neck issues that I was aware of at the time. She doesn’t yelp or really show any response when I touch her neck or spine although she does look back at me when I get near her hips. The yelping and such happened immediately after surgery, day 1, although it was impossible to distinguish the yelping etc from “surgery pain” to this. But I do believe it’s been an issue for her since then, likely getting used to her new gait.

We have our appointment on Weds with our rehab vet to get x-rays but I’m not sure it can wait… she now physically looks in pain (not just anxiety symptoms), and her tail is totally tucked and has been since last night. I am going to call the emerg vet. Unfortunately there is no neurologist working weekends so I don’t want it to be a waste of our time as getting here is always an ordeal. I was really hoping this was a muscle strain or tension but those seem to self-resolve after a week or two, so doesn’t seem like a strain. I am really really hoping this isn’t something more sinister like IVDD. I am now 100% certain that all of the anxiety leading up to this was her in pain and not behavioral. 

I was taking a video of her today when I caught her mid-yelp – she was standing and leaning down to lick her front leg (one time, she got peanut butter on her leg, so now she’s convinced it’s always there lol) and bending her neck down. She yelped, and then ran from the pain. It isn’t always the same position she’s in when she yelps but I thought this was good starting info for the vet anyway.

My poor girl… she has been through so much. 

The Rainbow Bridge


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28 August 2022 - 12:41 pm
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Oh poor Marley! I was so hoping she was better today. I’m glad you took a video for the vet. If you do take her in sooner, you probably won’t get any real answers from an ER visit but at least you’ll get some stronger pain medication like a muscle relaxer to help her feel better until a diagnosis is found. 

It can be so hard to tell where they are hurting. Pain can look like it’s in one place but be somewhere entirely different. IVDD is more of a gradual thing (our Wyatt Ray had it), but amputation could exacerbate it if the condition wasn’t caught before surgery. But don’t get ahead of yourself OK? I know it’s hard not to. See if you can get into an ER to have her better medicated (remember NSAIDs only address inflammation, and CBD is not a total substitute for acute pain like this).

You are doing such a great job keeping you head on straight. This will get figured out! We’ve seen many situations like this get resolved over time. Check out Bender the Bulldog’s story for some hope:

https://tripawd…..anagement/

and this one too:

https://tripawd…..-recovery/

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28 August 2022 - 2:03 pm
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My hubby had to take her to the ER while I unfortunately had to stay home, but I wrote up a decent “helicopter” mom write-up of her history, current meds, issues, goal outcomes for today (ie muscle relaxants)… lol. You were right, the visit was mostly useless! They did NOT want to give her a muscle relaxant and instead told us to increase her Gabapentin. They gave us a script for the Amantadine too. They did not do x-rays as we had x-rays done last week on her abdomen, and I guess it also covered her lower back, so they already had them and said they were “within normal limits.” Now I’m wondering if them positioning her for the x-ray last week triggered some pain in her… her body is SO fragile right now. They said it could be “a fracture, infection, soft tissue injury, osteoarthritis, tumors, disc disease” or something else entirely. Heck, they didn’t even want to refill her Metacam prescription without new blood work (she last had a full panel <60 days ago).

The vet said the pain is in her lumbosacral spine, which makes sense as that is where she would look back when I would touch it over the past two days. I mean, this latest issue may or may not even be related to the other issues we’ve experienced this month with the restlessness, yelping, refusing to lie down, etc… I can’t tell if this is something “new” or something that just has advanced to the point it is obvious now. DOes that make sense? They want us to follow up with the surgeon who performed her amputation, even though the amputation site is, according to them, “well-healed and non-painful.” Around and around we go. They also said she isn’t constipated as her stool is “soft and normal colored” but… she’s been pooping like once every 3 days, maybe, that’s constipation to me? To say I am frustrated doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Thank you for those links, that is exactly how I have been feeling throughout this entire journey. Hopeless and angry that I made such a huge decision to try to better my dog’s life, not make it dramatically worse. Akeela’s mom hit the nail on the head. It’s always a question of “when is enough enough” when her issues seem to be compounding and overcompensation from other parts of her body causing further issues. So, I’m not sure WHO to see now – do I go back to the surgeon? We are 0% interested in any other surgery for her, and the long laundry list of “possibles” is daunting. Can the rehab vet even offer anything? We still have our appt on Weds with her for a re-assessment on how her laser is going, so I guess it can’t hurt. I can ask about acupuncture, cold laser, muscle relaxants, and maybe what testing she would recommend based on what she thinks after she does the physical exam.

OOOOF!

The Rainbow Bridge


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28 August 2022 - 6:14 pm
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OOOOOF indeed! I’m so sorry that visit didn’t come up with anything. Sounds like the ER vet was being overly cautious. It’s tough because they don’t know your dog’s history or whole health picture, as much as you tried to give it to them. We see that happen a lot.

I can’t tell if this is something “new” or something that just has advanced to the point it is obvious now. DOes that make sense?

It absolutely makes sense. In some rare situations, an amputation can make an undiagnosed condition show up. Not saying this is what’s going on, just thinking back to dogs like Akeela who we’ve seen here. 

she’s been pooping like once every 3 days, maybe, that’s constipation to me

Sounds like it to me too.

Can the rehab vet even offer anything? 

Almost always, yes, as long as they offer a range of modalities. It’s been our experience that rehab vets have a better understanding about pain management (as long as they are a DVM as well as a therapist) and they think outside the box. Surgeons do surgery. ER vets handle emergencies. Rehab therapists tend to address the root cause better than either. Yes, ask those questions about other treatments and investigative work, it’s time to add them in to find out what exactly is causing her to feel so crappy. 

I’m so sorry this is so hard for you guys! I wish I would make things better for you.

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28 August 2022 - 7:02 pm
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Overly cautious is exactly what it was! I guess you’re right – and I suppose this wasn’t a true “emergency.” Any time I start Googling I swear everything is EMERGENCY! TAKE THEM IN NOW OR RISK SUDDEN EXPLOSION! I’ve become hyperaware of everything that the tiniest thing sends me into a tizzy…not that this was a tiny thing.

Honestly, the rehab vet is the only vet I have trusted. I have felt so frustrated and gotten the runaround from soo many specialists that I just don’t even want to hear what most of them have to say anymore. She has always been honest with me, so I will ask for her honest opinion on what options Marley has for this latest issue, and tell her I’d like to be more aggressive now that we are 4 weeks post-surgery. Curious if we have even made any progress on the ACL as well, or if she’ll be able to tell at the Weds appt. Yes, she is DVM as well as a therapist. You’re right – surgeons do surgery and ER vets handle emergencies. I need to remember this. I don’t want Marley to have any other surgeries, so, I’m not going to see a surgeon! 

Here is a shot of Marley from yesterday enjoying the sun <3

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28 August 2022 - 7:27 pm
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Btw, I didn’t realize you were the founder of the site – thank you for building such an AMAZING space. I would be an absolute mess without this forum. I just read Jerry’s story , and his back markings are somewhat similar to Marley’s, which of course means I think he’s an absolute cutie. I have such a soft spot for GSDs! What an inspiring story, too. But Marley didn’t enjoy hearing the barking from the video ; ) (she’s a little dog cranky)

How does one give back?

Virginia




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28 August 2022 - 8:40 pm
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Jerry can respond more in depth, but by sharing your journey this far in such detail will be extremely helpful for anyone facing similar  situations.  This site is all about learning  from each other’s experiences, espec when situations are “unique”.

Right now you focus in “giving back” to yourself and your sweet  Marley by staying strong and focused on getting to the bottom of his issues.  And you ARE making progress!  I’m so glad they seemed to  confirm he may have a spine issue.  That just makes soooo much sense when you explained earlier about how his neck hurts, how is tail is tucked in, etc.  If that can be identified  as at least part of the issue, steps can be made towards a solution. 

Glad you at least got them to give you a prescription for Amantadine. Good job!

Yeah, most dogs poop everyday, but with his cruciate issue, poss spi e issue, etc, he may be putting it off because  it’s “uncomfortable ” to take the poop  position.

STAY OFF DR. GOOGLE!!!  Seriously!!  That “fake Doctor” often does more damage than good!  Especially  if the person doing the googling  tends to go off the edge into the abyss with worry!

What’s your energy like around Marley right now.  I know it mist be almost impossible  to be relaxed, calm and confident and to try not and agonize over worse case scenarios. 

It wouldn’t  hurt to talk to the Surgeon.  Cant remember  the exact “name”, but every now and then random pain like this is a result of a nerve not being properly  sealed off.  It sends jolts of pain.  The dogs become so fearful not understanding  where the pain originates, they are afraid to even move and anticipate  there may be pain.  Does he mind you massaging around the incision?

Anyway, just throwing stuff out there.  You are stronger  than you realize.  We see it!!

(((((((((Hugs))))))))

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

PS. Love that photo of Marley. Sich a sweet face…a lot of gentleness in those golden eyes.

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!

The Rainbow Bridge


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29 August 2022 - 6:49 pm
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Oh oh oh that photo and your very sweet posts just made our day, thanks, we needed that today. And you are so welcome. 

I’m so so so in love with Marley and yep I’m totally a sucker for pointy-eared GSD looking doggies too. She has a lot of sparkle in those eyes and lots of love and energy to give. We just need to figure out what is preventing the energy from flowing smoothly. The fact that your DVM is also a therapist speaks volumes about how she thinks, so I’m confident that she will come up with something to help.

Now one thing that stuck out with me is, you mentioned she is four weeks out. I know it feels like four months to you. I would for me as well. But in the big picture, it’s really not a long time for a dog her age. In fact it’s pretty normal to have a longer recovery as a senior dog. Yes she is having some untreated pain but the last four weeks has been a continuous up and down trial and error rollercoaster of trying to figure it out. It’s exhausting and it sucks. AND she’s dealing with another issue too. Double whammy! But try to see the bigger picture when you start feeling sad. She has a terrific therapist on her side to get her mojo back. Be firm but assertive at the visit and let them know that you are ready to do what it takes to help her get there. 

Please keep us posted OK? Sally’s input to keep your energy as centered and positive as can be is exactly what she and you need right now. 

P.S. There are many ways to give back to Tripawds financially or volunteering or both. We appreciate your asking. sp_hearticon2

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30 August 2022 - 4:27 pm
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Sally, what you have described is exactly what I have feared since the first time I heard the yelping! (Day 1 of surgery) The surgeon told me the yelping was normal for at least the first few days, which I believed because…she got her leg chopped off, I would be yelping too. But then we dealt with the ACL tear and this and that and it was hard to tell WHAT was causing the yelping at the end of the day. I wondered if the original yelping just morphed to a new issue for the yelping. Nerve stuff is so, so tricky. I did always wonder if it was something to do with the surgery and the nerves being damaged or something. The thing is, she doesn’t mind me touching that area at all. She really doesn’t mind me touching any area on her body, and the yelps come at the most random times. It DEFINITELY doesn’t help her feel confident with her body, surroundings, etc which I know is a big factor in the anxiety we have seen over the past 2-3 weeks. Breaks my heart thinking about it as she doesn’t know when it’s going to hit, and neither do I, it always seems so random

How does one even know if this phantom limb pain or real pain? That is what is stumping me right now. I did call the surgeon today and left a message explaining the issue and seeing if he has any ideas. We see the rehab vet tomorrow so I will also see if she has any ideas too.

Yes, four weeks out and it does feel like an absolute lifetime! I did want to mention that over the past few days, she had been sleeping through the night and her behavior was great. Yesterday was the BEST day we’ve had since surgery. She got squirrely in the evening and didn’t have a great night (first time in a few days), but it was so nice to see some of her personality come back. I just wish it would last longer, I miss my girl! We have her “big brother” here for the week, the only dog she’s ever successfully been around, and I feel like it’s made her want to sort of “rise up.” 

HOping for a good update tomorrow once we talk to the vet.

The Rainbow Bridge


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30 August 2022 - 6:59 pm
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Awww I’m glad to see that you are wrapping your head around the entire issue. It is VERY complex and emotional to figure out. You are doing such a great job. I’m especially overjoyed that she is having some good days! YAY! I wonder how much of that is due to her buddy who came over? What’s their day been like? Yes, a dog will rise up to overcome all sorts of things if it means playing with their favorite companions.

So what you are describing sounds like phantom pain . It’s very real pain, and what you’re describing is exactly how human amputees describe it. I write for a human amputee publication and talk about it quite often with my interviewees. Phantom pain doesn’t originate in a place on the body that you can literally touch, so if that’s what this is, you won’t be able to pinpoint it that way. The pain starts at synapses and neurons in the brain that begin misfiring when trying to communicate with a leg that doesn’t exist.

The pain feels like little electric shocks and the worst part is they happen without warning. Sometimes the pain is consistent and the person feels little ongoing shocks for a chunk of time. Sometimes the shocks are a one-and-done for a while. It often happens at night. About 60-80% of amputee humans feel phantom pain . Sometimes it goes away for good, occasionally it does not. It’s manageable. There are lots of things you can do to manage it as a human (in fact I’m working on a story about how psychedelic-assisted therapy is helping amputees deal with it, by rewiring the pathways that interpret the pain coming from the brain). For animals, things like dry needling acupuncture are very helpful along with Gabapentin. 

If you haven’t already, see this post about a study that was done on phantom pain in dogs:

https://tripawd…..ogs-study/

Paws crossed for a GREAT visit tomorrow! sp_hearticon2

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1 September 2022 - 6:42 pm
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Marley still prefers to stay in the basement, while the other mutt is usually on the main floor with us, so there isn’t a ton of interaction. But when they’re outside together…the Bobbsey twins are back in action barking at anything that dares to breathe within 100 yards. 

So we went to the rehab vet yesterday for Marley’s first check-up since the ACL tear about 4 weeks ago. The check-up was okay – I asked all my questions. She thinks she is stabilizing more on her back legs so progress there. Re: the yelping: she did a physical exam and didn’t think Marley had a herniated disc or pinched nerve based on that. Marley didn’t react at all to the exam other than when she was squeezing near the hip flexor area, which is quite tight. She agrees and thinks it is phantom pain , which obviously sucks because we haven’t been able to successfully treat it yet. It still mostly just occurs when standing, lying down, or recently again, when she bends down to drink water or lick a bone, which is why I thought it may be neck/back. Her back isn’t hunched over still like it was last week though. She did give us a prescription for muscle relaxants so we’ve been trying that. She is sleeping a lot, but then back to being squirrely and crazy middle of the night. And the yelping continues at 5-10+ times a day (that I hear).

Phantom pain feels like a really crappy outcome to all of this. Electric shocks sound just…awful. I have read that article – I guess we are in the minority: 9% (6/64) described pain from 1 to 3 months after surgery.

The vet wasn’t super keen to do needling / acupuncture just yet, saying she thinks Marley is too tight for it. If phantom pain doesn’t originate in a place on the body that you can literally touch…then how do you know where to put the needles for needling? I wasn’t really thinking yesterday during the appointment! I am always focused on Marley hopping around acting stressed out so it’s hard to pay attention to the conversation. She wants us to continue with the laser and add in her hip / hip flexor area, and tomorrow we add in hydrotherapy (just standing on the treadmill for now). Marley has really started hating the laser treatments because she doesn’t want to lie down, so it ends up us basically pinning her down for 5 mins/side and it’s awful. None of this feels good.

We had someone give Marley a massage a couple of weeks ago, but that was before she built up an insane resistance to lying down (I think it was just starting then). I would love to give her a massage or even just pet her for a while, but the only places she will lie down are in her crate – where I can’t really reach – and on the grass if we’re in the backyard. We used to cuddle and snuggle so much, she’s a very affectionate dog, or was, so this is tough as well as I know she could use the extra love.

Just remembered: I’ve had needling a few times and oooooooooh it HURT! So I guess I can understand the reluctance? 

The Rainbow Bridge


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2 September 2022 - 8:44 pm
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OK so that is REALLY good Marley is showing interest and activity when her buddy is around. YAY! And that her back isn’t hunched, that is progress!

I’m glad she had a full exam at the rehab clinic, and that your therapist agrees it’s phantom pain . It does suck. It’s not often that it lasts a long time, and there are ways to treat it but it takes time for some pets. You guys will get there! What muscle relaxer did she prescribe for Marley?

It makes sense that the vet didn’t want to do the acupuncture just yet since she’s too tight. The body probably just isn’t as receptive when it’s in that state. So with the muscle relaxers, hopefully that will get her into the right place where the acupuncture therapy can work like it’s supposed to.

About the laser therapy: If Marley is not enjoying it, I wonder if the therapeutic benefit is reduced? That’s something to discuss with your vet. Hopefully with the new medication she will be more mellow and receptive to massages from her favorite person (you!).

The Rainbow Bridge


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3 September 2022 - 7:24 pm
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marleymoo said
The CBD I bought is full spectrum – https://cbdpet……ctrum-500/. I don’t know much more about it. 

Wanted to let you know that I got some good feedback about this, and the vet experts at Veterinary Cannabis Education & Consulting gave it a paws up too. I asked the company for their COA (Certificate of Analysis, proof that the product is what it says it is), and you can rest easy knowing they are testing for all of the important factors like toxins, heavy metals, and amount/type of cannabinoids in the oil. It’s good quality.

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5 September 2022 - 12:01 pm
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Okay, that’s wonderful re: the CBD! I did consult with an expert before purchasing and that was the one she advised I check out. You know, we really noticed a difference with the CBD after a few days. It seemed to mellow her out a lot and we had fewer panting/pacing episodes, especially at night. She will still want to go outside a couple of times a night ~3 times a week, but way, way better than before.

Marley is on Methocarbamol (Robaxin). We had her on it 3x a day per the vet, but wow, she slept basically the entire day until 5PM! I’m not sure it made much difference, and now Marley seems to have injured her left leg yet again. She doesn’t want to bear weight on it and has problems getting up from a lying down position sometimes. When she is standing, she gets off balance and wobbles and has to readjust her stance. She also fell flat on her face twice the other day just from a standing position. She just looks so fragile you know? I’m almost scared to touch her especially when standing. I’m disappointed as I thought the therapies were helping her torn ACL. She did hydrotherapy on Friday (just standing in the water to get her used to it) and although she did not like it, I was happy to try something new. Imagine our surprise when she managed to stand herself up and get her remaining front paw up on the ledge to try to get out icon_lol She has always HATED water! I agree re: the laser. Right now it’s much more stressful than therapeutic, so we may need to cut it out. We opted out of it on Friday.

I’m feeling disappointed and a bit at a loss. If we can’t do conservative therapies, and/or they don’t seem to be helping much, I am right back to either considering putting her down or moving in and getting surgery on her back left leg (TPLO I think it’s called). I am trying to read stories now on the site about other dogs who’ve gone through it but the site has been so slow! I found one about Chuy and am on the hunt for any others. Honestly, I am not sure if I can do another recovery, and I know this one would be so much worse. Especially with winter coming up…which I was already reading with her unsteady gait as is! I’m also concerned about the amount of muscle she has already lost and what being on more crate rest will mean for whatever is left.

We are going to rehab tomorrow again (this time she’ll be in the tank with a life jacket) and I will ask them about a leg brace as well. I also want to get the vet’s opinion on if she thinks Marley is progressing adequately or not, given the latest setback. I also booked an appt with the surgeon for next Monday, originally because I wanted to see if they had any ideas about the yelping, but now it may be a consultation for the surgery. We’ll see.

On the VERY plus side… Marley’s yelping the past two days has been EXTREMELY minimal. Yesterday I heard a single yelp (and was more like a whine) and today so far, at 11:30AM, just one sole whine when we were outside. This is such a godsend! We went from 5-12+ yelps a day and sheer panic from her to just a couple of whines, and I actually think that was pain from her back leg (she looked back both times).

Virginia




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5 September 2022 - 7:08 pm
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Okay, first let’s celebrate  the “very, plus side”,  Marley’s  pain has diminished  greatly. A godsend indeed!!!!  HUGE VICTORY!!

And yes, face plants do happen with front  leggers as they learn balance and regain strength.   Generally, this would be somewhat normal, but I understand  why the weak back leg can cause this to happen too.

Quick question on the hydrotherapy.  And this is in the FWIW column,  While I know it can sometimes be helpful in recovery for a tripawd, it seems counter  productive when taking a conservative  approach for the cruciate  injury.   Part of the “conservative ” approach is to keep things low key movement wise so scar tissue can form, little activity, no manipulation  of leg, etc. So asking this strictly  from a curious  approach and a learning experience why this is beneficial   in Marley’s situation.

Thank you for taking the time to share detail AND how you are fee during all these “challenges”. All this is so helpful for others who may experience  this down the road,

I so hope you can get clarity from the Orthopedic Surgeon  on his opinion about surgery, as well as cause of the yelping.

Yes, the site has had connection issues but the Admin Guy is working non stop getting it handled.  Jist the fact that it was up long en for me to see your post is a good sign!!!

In the meantime, we have the Tripawds Helpline available.   Injappen to be “on duty” tomorrow (Tuesday) and would be glad to offer any insight  I can regarding TPLO surgery  (cruciate repair).  I have a front legger who has had the surgery  on both rear legs a year or two apart.  I have a front legger who has had the surgery  on one of the rear legs.  So yeah, Injave more experience than I would like!!  Yeah, recovery is rough at first.  But once it starts kicking in, once the toe touching starts, , then more and more pressure  isn’t  far behind.

Because this is so close to the amputation  recovery,  that does add an extra layer of crap to a crappy situation!😡🤬   

Assuming there are no back issues and the yelping  seems to be “under control”, you may be able to go as things sre for a little bit and gain a little more time away from amputation  surgery.  Your Surgeon  should be able to advise you on this.

Had to chuckle at Marley becoming  quite determined to get out of that water!!  That kind of determination mis a plus on this journey!!

And you are an amazing  advocate  for your Marley.  You np have been on an awful roller coaster ride, but hopefully  things are starting to get better now.

((((((((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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