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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I had gotten Bart as a give away when he was six weeks of age. He was the biggest (by far!) of his litter and the cutest little ball of fluff i had ever seen. I could hold him on one hand. Bart had an incredibly rich life. In the thirteen years and one month we spent together we were only apart for about five days or less. My boy went pretty much everywhere with me. My only thought at the end of the day was seeing my Bart. Bart was an amazingly athletic boy who could jump and run as high and fast as any dog i’d ever seen. He was such a loving dog and always wanted to be either on my knee (he was a bit big, but it didnt bother me) or at my feet or on my bed with me. Bart was hardly ever sick in his life. When i did take him to the vet for a checkup he’d get sooo excited as he loved his friends at the vet. He was a mixed breed. His mum was allegedly a Red Heeler according to her owner. To me Barts mum looked like a dingo, not like any red heeler i had ever seen and his dad must have been some sort of collie, i think a border collie. Life went on perfectly for about eleven years when something started to slow Bart down. He didnt look sad or in pain, just not as quick as he once was which i put down to age. Six months later and i noticed a very slight limp in Barts gait. Took him to the vet who said it was probably arthritis with which i agreed it could be and he went on some anti inflammatorys. This actually seemed to help for a couple of months but then the limp slowly returned. He still never complained and got around alright but i was unaware of just how much pain he was in. I took him back to the vet and was given anti inflammatory meds again. By this stage the disease was quite advanced unbeknown to me. I have since been told that bone cancer is like someone holding an angle grinder to you bones 24/7. Excruitiatingly painful. By this stage Bart was not putting any weight through his leg and looked miserable. I took him back to the vets and got a different vet to look at him. She instantly suspected osteosarcoma and took an xray of his leg. What i saw devastated me. The cancer had eaten 2 thirds of his humerus away.I couldnt believe his leg hadnt snapped. I felt so guilty for not diagnosing it faster. I didnt know what to do, did i put him down to end the pain? i absolutely agonized over this for 24 hours. I mean he was almost thirteen by that stage but if i knew anything about Bart it was that he was tough. A real fighter, not just a bit but hard as nails tough, brave beyond comprehension and still so full of love to give that i just knew he wasnt ready to say goodbye. So after much soul searching and consideration I booked him in. Dropping him off and leaving him at the vets was one of the hardest things i have ever done. I gave him a huge cuddle and kisses and walked away and bawled my eyes out. The vet called me mid op to give me an update and told me he was doing well. She also called me post op and told me the same thing. I held off going in to see him that afternoon because i knew he would be confused when i couldnt take him home. I had to wait till the following morning. Before his op the vet had told me he had anywhere from 2 weeks to a MAXIMUM three or four months. That he wouldnt eat for a few days and wouldnt use his bowels for about 5 days and he might take a while to get on his feet, especially considering his age. No, not Bart. When the vet went in the following morning (12 hours post op) Bart was standing up in his cage tail wagging, she opened the door and he lapped up the pats and had a biscuit treat. She left him and walked around to the other side of the surgery (30 odd meters) and heard something behind her. Of course it was my boy Bart. She had forgotten to latch the cage and Bart had followed her wanting more pats and treats. that really blew her mind. I picked him up soon after and he was so happy to see me he could barely contain himself. I took him home and he went straight up the moderately steep yard and proceeded to open his bowels with gusto. Good old Bart. He had defied all that was predicted for him and took losing his leg in his stride. He was never sad or down. Now the pain had gone he was ecstatic. Back to normal. Sure he was a bit tender for a few weeks and had to have tramadol for that time but after that he was entirely pain free. The next six months were absolutely unbelievable. It was as if he knew we only had a short while left. The amount of games, love and treats he packed in to those six months was unbelievable. He would wake me every morning progressively ealier by licking my face with more enthusiasm than usual and want to go outside and play and see his doggy friends down the road. And eat. And eat. In fact each night when i’d be watching tv or something he would stand next to the couch and bark at the top of his lungs for food or a play. This is something he had never done in the previous 11 years. Eventually Bart developed a little cough. This didnt worry him at all and he got on with life, but i knew it had gotten to his lungs. It did eventually get worse. He was having trouble going any great distance and the exertion would bring on another coughing fit. As much as didnt want to admit it i knew our time together was coming to a close. Although the cough was annoying him it didnt seem to cause any pain. The last week was difficult. I had exams for nursing and assignments due and i struggled to cope. At this stage it was just one day at a time. The last night Bart spent the whole night laying next to me on the loungeroom floor where i had decided to sleep as he couldnt get on the bed anymore. That morning he was telling me he had had enough. Im sure he didnt want to leave but there was just nothing left in the tank. He just looked so tired. I took him to my parents house because it is the one place that was a constant throughout his life and the place he felt truly safe and loved by his grandparents and uncle. I laid with him telling him how much he had changed my life for the better and that he didnt have to fight anymore. I had arranged for the vet to come to the house and put him to sleep. When the time came he was cradled in my ever loving arms surrounded by his loving family. His end was dignified, peaceful and free of pain. A perfect end to a gentlemans life. There was no tension, he simply took his last breath and went to sleep in my arms. I miss this dog so much everyday and life can never be the same again for having had him in my life. He taught me honesty, humility, courage, love, joy, play and every other lesson i value so highly. It was my intention to bury Bart under the pear tree at my parents house as he loved to sit under it and look down the driveway to see what was happening and guard the house. The only thought i could think was what if they move? I couldnt bear the thought of him being alone with new people he didnt know so i made the difficult decision to have him cremated. It was the best decision i could have made. Now he will go with me until the day we can be buried together for eternity. Bart was my son, my life, my love, my everything. I love him more than words could ever express. I miss him like sleep. But the painful memories of losing him are rapidly being replaced with the knowledge that my life is all the better for having known him and memories of the goodtimes. I know one day i will have another dog, and i will love it as dearly as Bart, but Bart will always hold the most special place in my heart as he was my first dog of my own. Upon Barts passing i borrowed Lord Byron’s words to eulogise him, who in 1808 had this to say about the loss of his best mate Boatswain:
Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
BOATSWAIN, a DOG,
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18, 1808.
So to anyone who has had the distressing news that their dog has osteosarcoma, please, i beg and implore you to amputate, there is so much support from people on this site, i know i couldnt have survived or made the right decision without the reassuring stories i read on here. Your dogs time is not up. Not by a long shot. Once the pain of the cancer is gone you will be richly rewarded. Far more than you can ever imagine. At least give them that chance, you owe it to them. Yes the end is hard but i rest easy knowing i made the right choice by my ever beloved Bart.
R.I.P. Bart, i love you to the moon and back and miss you everyday. Until we meet again my boy, to be reunited forever xoxoxox….
Oh my gosh, thank you so very much for sharing Bart’s story. My Momma is sitting here bawling her eyes out after reading your post. It’s so touching and unbelievable to know that you were comforted so much by everyone’s story here, yet never posted until today. Thank you for having the courage to give him a chance at more quality time with you, I’m thrilled that you were able to spend his last months together, pain-free and loving life.
Yes, once you are touched like this by a beloved friend, life is never the same again. It’s always better and more meaningful, your hero’s lessons will never leave you, nor will his spirit. And now, it will never leave ours.
Run free Bart, watch over our Tripawd heroes.
16 October 2012
Wow, Thank you for sharing Bart’s story. I too bawled my eyes out. Rip Bart, run free and enjoy yourself.
Michelle & Sassy
Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
07/26/2006 - Sassy earned her wings 08/20/2013
05/04/2006 - Bosch, Sassy's pal, earned his wings 03/29/19 fought cancer for 4 months.
"You aren't doing it TO her, you are doing it FOR her. Give her a chance at life."
25 January 2013
Oh my gosh…what a beautiful tribute. I’ve been bawling along with everybody else who has read this. Thank you for your sharing your story.
Libby & Amy
Liberty (Libby) was diagnosed with OSA on 1-22-13. Right front amputation on 1-31-13. No IV Chemo. Metronomic Therapy started 2-19-13 along with supplements and some home cooking. Lungs clear until 1-06-14. She's still her happy, hoppy, bossy self. Living the dog life to the fullest and a proud Winter Warrior. :) RIP my Libby 4-21-03 to 3-19-14
27 December 2012
So many tears. So many. I feel you said it beautifully: “I miss him like sleep. But the painful memories of losing him are rapidly being replaced with the knowledge that my life is all the better for having known him and memories of the goodtimes.” After so many years, our dogs are family and it’s so easy to take them for granted. They are always there, always here, that in the first moments they are not…it’s a gap that doesn’t close. And it doesn’t close for a long time. I’m glad to read that there is a replacement of emotions happening for you. I wish you lots of HUGS. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, loving story. What a pal. What a dog. The world is a better place because you two had each other. Rest in peace, Bart, but also run free and fast! It was a pleasure to read your story. (sniff, sniff, tears…)
ACL tear in right hind leg 12/5/12 and scheduled ACL repair surgery 12/21/12. Pre-op xrays revealed osteosarcoma. Amputation 12/28/12. Chemo (carboplatin) started Jan 10, 2013 and ended on April 5, for a total of 5 doses. He handled carbo like a champ! No side effects. We started metronomic therapy at his third chemo and have been also doing some holistic treatments. He's a lively, playful 10 year old huskie-boarder collie and a very proud member of the Winter Warriors! Our love. Our funny little guy!
25 April 2007
Thank you for posting these details. Do you have a photo of Bart you would like us to share with his story on 03/03?
22 January 2013
It’s probably too late to use Bart for the big 3/3/2013 post. I cannot figure out how to post photos of Bart. I would really like to share them. Any help would be appreciated. Otherwise feel free to send me a message on facebook. Just mention you found me on Tripawds and I’ll add you Then you can feel free to copy and paste any photo of Bart you can find His story should be shared. rick mathew mcarthur. Just look for the tripawd dog as my profile pic
12 February 2013
Hi Rick. Most of us take advantage of the blog section to upload media (pictures or videos) to a location on the intraweb. Then you can insert the URL from the photos into your posts, or just insert them into the blog and post the blogs. Some of us also use other photo hosting sites, like photobucket. To insert the images into the forum posts, you click on the little tree in the toolbar just above the post window. (I only just figured this out myself because my work computer doesn’t allow me to see the toolbar). Would love to see pictures of your Bartholemew. Your initial post was so touching and you clearly portrayed the bond that the two of you shared.
Karma (Brendol’s mom)
Adelaide is a young tripawd Husky, from an injury. Her amp was on 10/1/12. She has 4 sisters, Aissa (a senior border collie/chow), Maggie May (a puppy Great Pyrenees), Mathilde and Morrigan and 1 baby brother, Bagheera. We are all watched over by our angel Brendol, who was dx with OSA 1/30/13, amp on 2/6/13, and left us on 8/20/13.
You can read their stories at http://adelaide.tripawds.com and http://brendol.tripawds.com
13 September 2011
Oh boy. I am also bawling my eyes out. That was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing Bart’s story.
Karen and Spirit Magnum
Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/
1 March 2013
oh my goodness that was a beautiful story thank u for sharing ur story my tripawd destiny who lives down under
has a very similar story she had her amputation just over a month ago her left leg we found out she had osa in her leg and we got the biggest shock thinking it was arthritis any longer and the bone in that leg wouldve snapped early decection is important so is amputation.
27 December 2011
What a beautiful story!! Your Bart is one handsome boy. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Joan and Lily
Our beautiful Lily was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her front leg on 12/14/11 at age 8 and had amp on 12/16/11. She completed 5 rounds of carbo. She was so brave and kicked cancer's butt daily! She lived life fully for 4 years, 3 months, and 15 days after her amp. My angel is a warrior princess. I miss her so much.