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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Worried About Canoe Trip
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Forum Posts: 11
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7 November 2009
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21 September 2010 - 8:39 am
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I have a terrible anxiety about Rita getting hurt....she is 11 and a rear legged amp. she has arthritis in her one back leg she has left. I know I am a worrier in the first place and everything will be fine....I just need some advice on these two outings and how I feel like she is safe.

  Canoe trip, she has gone on a few just not since losing the leg.  I am picturing her trying to get up in the canoe and tipping it, and since she has not swam (no place to take he to try) since losing the leg, she will then drown.... so maybe I just need a life jacket and I won't be freaking out about it..... and her slipping and getting hurt is also a concern.

 I shouldn't be this worried over these things because she won't do anything she doesn't think she can but this girl is my heart and she just gets tired and needs to rest and I do not want to cause anything to happen to her. I don't want to put her into a situation that she will have to push herself too terribly hard though.  I know if I stress she stresses, so I need a plan to make me feel confident that she will not get hurt, at least no more than a little scratch..... advice please!

Here and Now

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21 September 2010 - 10:43 am
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heavenlygarcia said:

... so maybe I just need a life jacket and I won't be freaking out about it...

I shouldn't be this worried over these things...

No, you should not worry. And you really should consider a Float Coat life jacket for dogs before going anywhere near the water. It will help both you and Rita feel more comfortable.

And once you get there, take things slowly and don't force Rita. Here's a video Molly's people shot of them getting Molly used to getting in and our of the canoe...

With Rita being a rear leg amputee, you might just need to lift her into the boat, but the Float Coat has a handle thet will help with that too. The best advice ... relax and enjoy your trip together! Rita doesn't worry about wether or not she'll be OK, she just is.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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21 September 2010 - 10:45 am
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I would get a lifevest for her in a heartbeat and just keep letting her do what she is capable of.  Trouble knows her limitations - and won't try anything she is unsure of.  I just watch out for her for my sake, I think.

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.

Golden, CO
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21 September 2010 - 1:09 pm
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I can definitely help with this one!  I think a canoe trip is a great option for a tripawd.  For Molly's 1 year ampuversary, we headed to the Boundary Waters Wilderness for a 10 day expedition.  She had gone on only one canoe trip before when she was very young and it was actually a bit of a disaster because we couldn't get her to stay in the boat.  She was such a crazy waterdog… she just wanted to jump out of the canoe all the time to swim. Still, despite having some concerns, we decided to go for it and do the trip.  We chose a route with short portages, though there were a couple that were perhaps an 1/8 mile.  We made sure Molly always had her Float Coat vest on so that we could help her in and out of the canoe (it has a great handle).  I would hold the boat steady while Doug lifted her in.  We found the most comfortable spot for her was in the front of the boat, between my feet.  She liked being able to survey the scene ahead from up there:)  I even sewed her a waterproof doggie mat to keep her comfortable.  We put all our gear in the center of the canoe and the boat seemed quite stable (knowing our circumstances, our outfitter helped us pick the most stable canoe for the trip).  I would also recommend wearing shoes that you don't mind getting wet. By being able to stand in the water next to the canoe, you can hold it much more steady while lifting in your pup.


On the portages, I always ran (yes… Molly liked to travel at galloping-tripawd mach speed) next to her holding her handle just in case she tripped.  I was often more worried about tripping myself as she still seemed so sure-footed on three legs as long as she was moving quickly.  On the longer portages, we would stop and rest for a while half way.  While I was walking/running with Molly, Doug would carry the canoe.  We would then take turns making a return trip for portage packs while one of us waited with Moll.  Then it was back into the canoe for more adventure!  


I did worry that Molly might jump out of the boat like she had on that trip long ago, but she never did.  Even on one rather harrowing day on big water with large waves, she didn't seem fazed by the choppy motion or water sloshing over the front of the boat.  She just looked ahead into the wind like a brave sea captain:)  We made sure she always had her Canine Float Coat on and tightly secured (as it does loosen up a bit once wet).  I would not recommend making the trip without one of these… it would just be too dangerous.  The Float Coat works amazingly well at keeping a tripawd upright and above the water.  Doug and I also always wore our life jackets for our own safety and in case we had to jump in and help Molly.


We did do a couple short practice runs before the trip (one of which is in the video posted above). We borrowed a canoe from our friend and went to a nearby reservoir.  The first time, Molly went crazy (as you can see in the clip!)  We could hardly get her to stay in the boat because she just wanted to run around and swim.  After a while, she settled down though.  Then, on the second test run she did great and sat peacefully in the canoe.  If you can't practice ahead of time, is it possible for you do do a test run when you get to your destination just to try it out before you are all loaded up?  I found that with each day that went by, Mollly became more and more accustomed to being in the canoe.  After a while, she got so used the routine that she would stand next to the canoe waiting to be lifted in. It was very cute.


I will say that Molly had always been a very athletic dog, and though she had some minor hip issues, was very strong on three legs at the time of the trip.  Still, what is nice about canoeing is that the whole time you are in the boat, your dog is really just laying down and resting. When we got to camp, Molly had ample time to sleep too (though she usually wanted to go swimming… with her Float Coat on of course). The only strenuous part was the portages and we were just extra careful on those.  If there were any rocks or roots on the trail,  I would give her extra help with her handle on those sections.  I am not sure if your trip involves any portages.  I would also make sure to bring a warm doggie jacket and an old sleeping bag (or at least a very warm blanket) for Rita.  I know sometimes Molly got chilly after being in the water so much.  Extra dog snacks are good too.  We also made sure to bring her Ruffwear Vest so that when she wasn't wearing her Float Coat , she would also have a handle for assistance.


Now that Molly has passed, those memories from the canoe trip are some of my most cherished.  I am so glad we went.  It really proved to me what a tripawd is capable of, and I know if lifted Molly's spirits to have such an amazing outdoor adventure.  Good luck and please let me know if you have any more specific questions.



Molly was diagnosed with Synovial Cell Sarcoma (grade 3 with hystiocytic markers) and had her front leg amputated on August 15th 2008.  We had a wonderful two years with her until she passed at age 13.5 on August 29th 2010.  As far as we could tell, her cancer never returned.

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21 September 2010 - 8:35 pm
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Thank you all for the advice!! I am going to get her a life vest in the next couple days.  Rita is a very calm dog, though a bit wiggly to get comfy.  Having a handle to hold on to her when she is adjusting her positions in the canoe is a must.  But Rita does need something soft to lay on.  You said you made Molly a waterproof one?  What material did you use?   Maybe towels with plastic sheet over in?? 

She has a lovely pink fleece that she will have so  when we get her dried off a bit and she can keep warm under in it.  She also has a belly sling that helps me get her in to the car and it could be useful for getting in and out of a canoe.

I know  how much she will love this trip, and she needs a good trip she almost 1 year tripawd!!  And I love to see her sweet little face looking so happy.  Thank You Everbody Again!   we appreciate it.

Golden, CO
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23 September 2010 - 6:41 pm
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The waterproof dog mat was made with a 2" thick piece of 3' X 2' foam from the fabric store.  I slipped this in a large heavy duty black garbage bag and folded over the edge with a bit of tape just for extra protection from water (and because my zippers and seams on the outer cases were not completely watertight).  I then sewed a rectangular pillow-type case with a zippered edge around the foam and plastic bag using this fabric:


For even more strength, I then sewed a second rectangular pillow-type case with a zippered edge out of ripstop nylon and made this the outer layer.


So the whole mat was basically four layers- foam, garbage bag, zippered waterproof fabric case and zippered ripstop fabric case.  It worked well and was very light weight.  Water leaked into the seams and zipper along the edges a tiny bit, but never saturated the foam because of the garbage bag and waterproof fabric combo.  The outer layers, because they were nylon, dried really fast and protected the garbage bag from punctures.  Hope this description makes sense.  Please let me know if you have questions.

Have a great trip!


Molly was diagnosed with Synovial Cell Sarcoma (grade 3 with hystiocytic markers) and had her front leg amputated on August 15th 2008.  We had a wonderful two years with her until she passed at age 13.5 on August 29th 2010.  As far as we could tell, her cancer never returned.

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