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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Not a candidate for amputation - but still need your help
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Member Since:
4 November 2016
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6 November 2016 - 6:19 pm
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Does anyone have experience with acupuncture ? Ginger had one treatment prior to the diagnosis, when we thought her limp was due to a pulled muscle or something. I was told it would take 1 treatment per week, for at least 4 weeks before any noticeable effects.

I ask because that whole vet appt kinda put me off. I was told after the fact that this vet was self-taught acupuncture. She had no official qualifications and I was a little uncomfortable with it when I found out. They also took the most useless Xray ever - both front legs one on top of each other which makes it impossible to see any signs of cancer (or break, for that matter). The whole thing kinda left a bad taste in my mouth after spending over 300$. We ended up a week later, back at our regular vet, who had to re-do Xrays since the previous ones were useless and they diagnosed the cancer...

Apparently there is another vet that does acupuncture about 90 mins drive from me. I will look into it if you all recommend it

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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6 November 2016 - 7:06 pm
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Oh gosh can't blame you for feeling that way, I would too. All vets who practice acupuncture must be certified to practice it by official schools like the Chi Institute, no exceptions.

Acupuncture is highly recommended by the world's best vet pain management specialists. One of them, Dr. Mike Petty discusses it in this article he wrote for us:

And more insight:


Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
30 August 2016
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6 November 2016 - 7:30 pm
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Julie I'm not sure exactly where you are in Canada, but I just wanted to add some info too in case its helpful!  I know you mentioned Montreal but I know you are also heading to Florida soon, so I just wanted to say there's a board certified Oncologist,  Dr. Kevin Finora at the Central Toronto Veterinary Referral Clinic, its in Toronto, Ontario. He's been amazing for my Kylie. Its about a 2hr drive for us to see him.

Sounds like if you have a good plan for Ginger's care while you're away, you will rest a little easier.  So glad you found the harness! I hope it give you both some help. Ginger sounds like a real sweetheart. I hope tomorrow is a better day xoxox

Member Since:
2 April 2013
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6 November 2016 - 8:45 pm
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Hi Julie ~

I've lost a dog while out of town (we tried to make it home, but didn't make it in time).  Taz hadn't been sick before we left, one day our dog sitter noticed that he seemed to be not acting right and called me.  She took him to our vet who did lab work, x-rays & gave him pain meds before sending him home (and talked to me on the phone).  He wasn't sure what was going on, or if he did, he didn't tell me over the phone.  But Taz passed before we made it home and 11 years later I still feel guilty that I wasn't there for him .... I didn't hold him, kiss him, tell him good-bye.

Have you heard of the penny jar for measuring good days vs. bad days?  http://tripawds.....ife/    Basically, you decide what things are the important things - eating, being able to potty, wagging her tail - whatever the things are.  And every day, you put a penny in the jars - either 'yes' or 'no'  and when there are more no's then there are yes's, then it's time to think about letting her go.

The decision is always yours to make, and it's always a hard one to make.  And it's always a gift we give to them - and end to the pain. 

I'm glad you have a plan, and hopefully her pain will be managed better awhile longer.

Hugs to you,


Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

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  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs


Member Since:
15 July 2016
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6 November 2016 - 9:33 pm
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Hi Julie,

The pain management vet we met with at Tufts University is one of the anesthesiology professors, not from oncology.  She does traditional meds, holistic, and acupuncture.  Very clearly NOT self-taught.  In our case, she decided Milo would best be served by a chiropractor, and she was right.  

Regarding your upcoming trip, I have no advice, just empathy.  We had a 10 day trip starting on 21 October.  I was worried about Milo taking a turn while we were out of the country.  I had arranged for a dogsitter we could trust.  I had cooked up a storm.  But alas, he took a bad turn before the trip so we said our goodbyes earlier than hoped for.  

It's just so hard to know.  I made the best decision I was capable of, yet I still worry whether I made the right one.  The logical part of my brain doesn't always agree with my heart.  As you are caught up in your emotions and grief, please try to find a few moments to listen to that logical part of the brain and know that you have been doing amazing things for Ginger for 8 years, and have always done your best.  She knows that!


Jenifer & Milo

P.S.  Have fun at Homestead.  Texas was rain delayed so the only driver I know that has a lock on a final four spot is Jimmy.  He's not a favorite of mine, but I don't mind him.  He's not Kyle or Keslowski.  Blech!  Last year was fun to watch with Jeff Gordon on his last race.    


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 November 2016 - 9:40 pm
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Can't tell you how many times I've read your posts, read the responses, and still find it difficult to offer any guidance. There is a lot of advice and a lot of wisdom in all the caring and suplortive responses.

Like Donna, I was gone when Buckwheat was rushed to the Vet (completely unexpected). Long story short, the Vet kept him in pain meds (unsuccessfully) with the hope I could get there in time. I didn't. And he was in pain because I couldn't stand the thought of not being there to surround him with love as he exited. Obviously, none of this was intentional. My guilt, like Donna's will never go away. When a dog is in pain...or a human for that matter...they don't care who is with them...they just want the pain gone!! That was my growth lesson.

I think it's good to have plans in place. It's just that sometimes "the best laid plans...."

Ginger is thirteen yrs old. Ginger has pain as a result of osteosarcoma. She's at risk for fracture. Ginger has bad hips. Based on what you've described, her "good days" are lessening.

Just take it day by day, And I'm not saying this is the case with Ginger, but there comes a point when we know things won't get better. Oh, maybe there's a little "feel better moment" here and there, but nothing that makes a huge difference in quality. Or maybe we could get a few more weeks of being "fairly comfortable" with pain meds before the downward turn.

Just in general, again, not saying this is the case with Ginger, but because there is no possibility of a big turn around, there comes a point when anytime would be the right time. And yes, offering the gift of release a day too soon, is far better than a day too late.

Ginger, I offer these thoughts with the most sincere of intentions of just trying to support you the best way I can as you struggle with this part of the journey.

Listen to Ginger. Pay attention to what she's telling you.

Wishing you peace and clarity and surrounding you with strength and love

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie

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!

Member Since:
4 November 2016
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7 November 2016 - 10:03 am
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You guys are awesome. I really can't thank you enough for helping me through this despite this not being an amputation case. I keep re-reading your posts, over and over. Feels like a hug when you need one 🙂

Saturday was a so-so day. It was cold and rainy and her hind end was unstable. Yesterday we were all at work but it was a bad day since she had diarrhoea (hey, the carpet needed a cleaning anyways !). Today is better, I am home and it's sunny. I'll check out the penny jar - cool idea !

There is a war going on inside me. Heart Vs Brain. They disagree completely. Living inside my head right now is no fun...

My BRAIN is saying that dragging this on makes no sense. Lets face it, she's not going to get better. It will gradually get worse until we make the final call. It believes there is a phase where it's too early, a phase where anytime is OK and a phase where it's beyond time to make the decision to euthanize. My brain tells me I'm at the beginning of phase 2 - anytime now is OK and will prevent future suffering. My brain says it makes no sense to drag my parents into the decline. It makes no sense to 'tough it out' until I get back from vacation so I can euthanize then. My brains says to chose a date where we can put her to sleep calmly, at home, with all her family there, before it gets too bad for her.

My HEART thinks my brain is a heartless ass. My Heart is crying over the unfairness of all this. It wants to buy harnesses, and bring her to different vets and try anything just so my Brain shuts up. My Heart yells at my Brain saying "SEE ! She's doing good today ! She's perfectly FINE !". It looks into Ginger's eyes and says "not yet, OK ?". It smiles when Ginger wags her tail and barks at me to go get her toy that rolled out of reach. It misses all the things she used to be able to do. It calls home during the day from work to check in on Ginger (no one else, just her) and makes me take vacation days to stay home with her. It goes on full-alert when it hears something that might be a cough (it wasn't !). My Hearts wants more time, another week, month... Because my Heart will shatter when Ginger leaves.

The hard part is that they are both right. At this point, both sides are pulling hard until I see a sign that tips in the balance of one or the other. 

On the bright side, my Heart will tell you that Ginger is doing OK today. It's sunny and warm-ish which is always better when you have arthritis of the everywhere. Cold rainy days are harder on her. I am waiting for a call from the Oncologist at the Center DMV in Montreal and hopefully he'll have some suggestions. They also offer acupuncture (by someone certified !!) so I'll ask about that even though my Brain thinks that "4 weeks to see an improvement" seems like a very long time right now. 

Thanks for listening everyone. Being able to write all this out really makes it easier to deal with.

Norene, TN
Member Since:
21 October 2014
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7 November 2016 - 1:56 pm
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Bless your heart.

I only have one thing more to add. Be prepared, because no matter what you decide, you'll always carry around a pang of guilt. All fur-pawrents do. It's only natural.

But try to remember, this is the way cancer is. It's a ruthless bastard that makes you second-guess every decision you make. It'll send you on an emotional rollercoaster, even though we both know when the ride is over, the result is still the same.

Don't give in to the demon and be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for not being able to cure Ginger's cancer.

Peace be with you,


Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

London, UK

Member Since:
15 December 2015
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7 November 2016 - 11:22 pm
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Do ask about acupuncture. That four weeks to see a result thing is not necessarily true. Different dogs react differently, just as people do, but for my Meg the effect has always been obvious and immediate. Her first session (when she was still on four legs) she went in limping and came out not limping. It was that obvious. The effect lasted about five days and then started to wear off by day six. Day seven she would have another treatment and she stopped limping again. It also had a great effect on her mood and made her really calm and peaceful. 

Sending you hugs and all positive thoughts at this terribly difficult and distressing time. 

Meg and Clare (and Elsie Pie) xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 13, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 

Member Since:
4 November 2016
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17 November 2016 - 1:16 am
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A lot has happened so I thought I'd write an update.

I called last Tuesday and got a really quick appt to see the oncologist. I think it was a cancellation and was for the next day and I was really happy. I called my parents and was so excited when I told them about it. My mom gently suggested that if they take Xrays and sedate her for it, that maybe they should just put her to sleep if they saw the cancer had spread. My dad suggested that he could take her in for euthanasia if I didn't want to. I felt like I had been punched in the gut... They had given up on Ginger and were gently pushing me to euthanize her. I know they were not doing it to be hurtful but I was so upset. I told them that everything I am doing is out of love and that when Ginger didn't want to be here any more, THEN AND ONLY THEN would she go and *I* would be there for her. I was so mad... Didn't talk to them for days... I know they are doing it out of love and worry for me, not to be jerks - but it hurt...

Anyways, oncologist was great ! They did a bunch of Xrays and blood test and everything came back 'bad news'... The cancer has spread to the lungs... She had already started to cough so I knew - this just confirmed it. Her BUN/CREA (kidney) levels were elevated. It is the natural progression of cancer to move to the lungs and the effect of years worth of pain killers / anti-inflammatory meds on her kidneys. I took it fairly well. The shocking part was that she had 4 broken ribs ! I've had her all this time and never knew ! There was a bump on her side but I assumed it was those fat lumps. Nope, it was the end of a rib. They said it was all healed and nothing recent so I assume this happened before I got her (she was a puppy mill rescue, no telling what she went through). The great part is that she had so many suggestions on how to help Ginger. We discussed Palladia and I'm still on the fence about it. We talked about Fentanyl patch but she suggested I try the Emla patch first and we decided to do a bisphosphonate treatment.

They shaved Ginger's shoulder and applied the Emla patch. In case you are not familiar with it, its the same as the Emla cream. It's lidocaine / prilocaine and is a local aesthetic. I though the vet was off her rocker - basically "Ora-gel on a patch" for cancer pain ?? Well, I figured what did we have to loose, right ?

IT WORKED ! There was a noticeable change in her attitude and limp. We hadn't seen her like this in weeks. She was lying on her right side again. She rolled in the grass on her right side... She was still limping but you could tell this was so much better. Plus the patches cost 8$ for 2 and they stay on for 4 days. Don't even need a Rx ! We were able to reduce her Tramadol by 1/2. Seriously, I was shocked in the difference. Even the vet noticed it when we came back yesterday !

Yesterday was her bisphosphonate treatment. She was gone in the back for a long time and I came back to get her a few hours later. The treatment wasn't even that expensive (330$). Then TODAY !! She wasn't limping !!! She TROTTED across the yard. I'm going to say that again. She TROTTED across the yard. For a dog that's been limping for 10 weeks now, and getting worse every week, to see her TROT is magical ! I was in tears !! I'm teary eyed writing this - HAPPY tears ! You don't get many of those moments after a cancer diagnosis. It is freaking awesome !! 

I know ultimately that cancer will win the war but for right now, we won a battle and I am so happy. I would never have found out about all this if it weren't for all you people and your wonderful advise. You are an amazing group. Because of you, my beautiful Ginger has gained back a huge piece in her quality of life - a scale that had been tipping the wrong way for weeks. I can't thank you all enough ! 

Ginger trotted across the yard - I can't say it enough heart

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14 February 2016
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17 November 2016 - 4:24 am
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What great news!  Although we never know how long we will have together, each good day is something to celebrate!   Glad you found such a good oncologist.  Can you post a photo or video of her trotting across the yard?  We would love to see it.

(And please remember that many of the medical options we have today are fairly new.  Your folks might not even be aware of what the realm of possibilities are today, let alone that people can and do aggressively treat cancer in dogs.  And that is not even mentioning that we view "winning" very differently around here - a trot across the yard is a victory).  

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Copperas Cove, TX
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12 May 2016
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17 November 2016 - 6:56 am
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Hi Julie and Ginger,

I am just catching up with your story.  I can tell you and Ginger have a wonderful relationship!  I can totally relate to what you are going through.  I recently lost Bandit to his cancer, and I have lost a beloved pet while traveling. It was a dark, cold rainy night.  I was driving somewhere in Arkansas in route to Texas when the call came in from the Emergency Vet Max was being treated at.  Max had been there all day.  He wasn't getting better.  In fact, he was getting worse.  I had to make "that" decision going 75 mph down a highway.  He said my baby was in pain.  That was it.  I could not let him suffer.  My experience with Bandit was exactly what was mentioned in an earlier post.  Tracking good days and bad days in visual way.  Baby Bandit did have mets in his lungs and had been coughing for some time.  He would have days he could not hold his weight so would not walk or stand.  Looking back there were more than signs that I did not take in account because I did not want let him go.  When I walked in my door from work and he had dragged himself in to be there the second I walked in and he could not stand I knew.  I knew he loved me, he knew I loved him and I knew he needed to rest.  We went to the vet and asked his opinion; hoping for a reason to take him back home with me.  But I knew.  I looked Bandit in the eye and said " what do you want me to do Baby Bandit?"  He gave me the same look he gave me when he told me not worry about the amputation.  It would be all good.  He was tired.  I stayed with him.  I actually laid on the floor spooning him so he could feel my love from head to tail.  God I am bwling.  ugh.  My point is this.  relax..Be More Dog are will know.  He will tell you.  Your Mom and Dad love you too.  They love Ginger.  It is hard for them to see you going through this hurt.  I know cause my Momma was heartbroken for me and with me.  You will be in my thoughts and prayers.  Sending hugs and my angel Bandit is sending a  Paw-5 to Ginger. 


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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17 November 2016 - 9:01 am
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DEB...We cry with you as we read your post. But to know you listened to Bandit, to know he was surrounded by your love that day, and everyday, is true devotion. His legacy is continuing on tnrough you.

JULIE! Hearing that you and Ginger are having great quality time is so exciting!! It's wonderful, wonderful news!! Conti ue to make every seco d count! Ginger sure is!

Quite frankly, to hear how well she is feeling considering every issue her check up uncovered is miraculous!! TROTTING AND PAIN FREE.......BEAUTIFUL!! Proof that Ginger doesn't give a rip abput any ole' "diagnosis"!

Please, please, please know that your parents were coming from a genuine place of love for you AND for Ginger! When your parents were thinking about the gift of release it was a courageous and selfless act of love for you both. In fairness to them, probably "regular" Vets without as much experience as your Onco, would suggest the gift of release based on those tests.

But it sounds like you've found a WONDERFUL Oncologist who has some great options for giving Ginger some great quality time!

So happy to hear this great news!! Cheering for you Ginger!! Ginger is a SUPERSTAR and quite the little MIRACLE dog!! 🙂

Love and 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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2 April 2013
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17 November 2016 - 9:26 am
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Wow!  How amazing that she's trotting across the yard! clap I can just picture it big-grin And I agree with Christine, we need pictures/video.  Enjoy this time that you have left.  Take pictures, with you in them, and your parents too.  Hold her, take her for a walk, get her a cheeseburger, do a paw print impression, make her a cake, do some of those special things that you put aside for "someday."

And Deb, yes, I was crying, too.crying  It's never easy ...


Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

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  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs


Member Since:
27 July 2014
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17 November 2016 - 9:28 am
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Great new Julie and Ginger! I also live in Canada, on Vancouver Island and it sound like you are getting great care for Ginger. I'm so glad you tried the bisphosphonates . My sister is also on them and I've read really positive outcomes for people and dogs. Science sure can be wonderful in helping the ones we love.

My sister, who also has cancer, will not allow a negative word to be spoken. Ginger would be the same, only positivity and living in the moment. And you are doing great at reflecting Ginger's outlook and energy. 

As Sally said, Ginger is a SUPERSTARsuperstar and Julie is a SUPERSTAR superstarsuperstar

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona heart

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