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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Decisions, Decisions.....
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Metro Kansas City
Member Since:
23 October 2008
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26 October 2008 - 5:24 pm
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As most of you know, Calamity has been dealing with complications from her shattered leg since November of last year. It's been a long haul for her, many trips to the vets, many surgeries, many pills and much money out of our pocket. She is a blood donor at our local speciality clinic/emergency (, so we get a small discount, but it does not cover all of the expences we have had.

Someone mentioned "surgeon's choice" in another thread and I thanked God I have such wonderful doctors who care for Calamity. These doctors consider themselves partners in her care. They give me all the options & we weigh them together - always. I am never bullied or forced into any corners in her care & every decision has been made to try to give her back the quality of life she once had.

Dr. Desch - her most recent surgeon had the most heartfelt conversation with me the day after she broke her leg the last time. He said he was sickened wehn he came in to see her there once again with her leg broken. The x-ray showed some lytic area, but more than was before with the osteomyelitis. She had been off antibiotics for about 8 weeks. Everyone had pulled all of her x-rays and looked at the area, all felt pretty positive that is is infected bone that will not heal rapidly. Dr. Desch laid out all of our options to try to heal her once again. This included repairing the fracture with a plate & screws once again (we removed the last plate becuase of the infection in her bone). We discussed how this would be a tough heal once again as the infection would get to the screws again and she'd be in a splint for months again. We discussed a bone graft - would not hold on the infected bone. We discussed trying to keep her splinted and give her antibiotics trying to heal the bone first, then repair - geeze, this would take months! Everything we talked about was only speculation if it would ever work. We talked about amputation, both of us very reluctantly.

He asked what kind of dog Calamity is - knowing most greyhounds are very calm, maybe one of these options would work for her. I explained that Calamity & her brother Morgan run & play constantly. She loves to chase toys that are thrown to her in the yard & race the others to the toys. She loves to do laps after she poops! She is the one who always instigates play.

After hearing this, he said "you would not be wrong to choose amputation for her, get her back to being a normal dog quickly". This words calmed my heart knowing that, as a surgeon he wanted to fix her, but after seeing her come there for almost a year, he wanted her to be normal once again.

I took some time, talked to a lot of vet friends I have and other doctor friends I have. I prayed. All I could see was her running & playing in the yard again. That vision made my decision.

I know the cancer made the decision for most of you & as I read each & every story my heart breaks. I pray that all of your dogs get their normal lives back and everyday I pray that all of the people reserching canine osteo will someday find a CURE. If you only knew how much I hate that monster..........

Janie & Calamity

Member Since:
26 July 2008
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26 October 2008 - 6:47 pm
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"Decisions Decisions" is definitely right.  While we here have all had to make the decision to do amputation once, you have been in that position several times.  Once is stressfull enough.  The year you've had with Calamity is nightmarish.  I know she will do very well as a tripawd once that painful painful leg is no longer holding her back.


Connie & Radar

Member Since:
28 May 2008
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26 October 2008 - 8:06 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost is a monster...a very ugly monster. Thank you for sharing your decision process with us. What a very difficult year you and Calamity have had. Keep that vision strong in your mind's eye and have the faith that she will run and play strong again.

All our love and prayers are with you. Please keep us posted.

Heather and Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

Member Since:
9 October 2008
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26 October 2008 - 10:36 pm
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I also agree with you about cancer being a monster.  It causes so much fear and guilt in you as a loving pawrent because you love your furry pal so much and would never choose anything that would knowingly cause him/her any pain.  I found somewhere on this site a Doug and the B Brothers link that talks about the fear and guilt and strategies to combat those feelings.  That helped me a lot and continues to help me but fear and guilt still occasionally kick my butt (and probably will continue to do so at times).  However, at least I'm more aware of it and try not to let my anxiety kick in and let Jake see that because it obviously causes him more stress.  Jake and I also pray a lot and it has helped us immensely in the past few weeks. 

You mentioned knowing that you knew you had made your decision because you had calmness in your heart.  That is exactly what I felt.  I was in a state of devastation after I initially spoke with one of the vets (on Oct 6th) about the dreadful diagnosis of Osteosarcoma.  She had a different perspective than the specialist who is now my doc.  The initial vet's perspective was that Jake was older (12 yrs old) and has arthritis in his other rear leg.  She just kept on saying that she wished she had better news.  I know this vet is really good but I was hoping to hear SOME hopeful news after receiving such a dreadful blow.  I was numb when I went in that evening and met with the specialist to review the x-rays with me and discussed my options for Jake.  I went home and cried for 24 hours straight.  I couldn't eat or sleep and just felt sick.  I spoke with my brother who has two furry pals and is a loving and dedicated pawrent and he kind of snapped me out of it and reminded me that I did have more hopeful options... amputation.  I thought about it and yes, that is when I felt the peace in my heart.  I knew that was my decision for Jake.  That evening is when I found this wonderful Tripawd website and here we are on our journey of recovery and trying to live each day to the best that it can be.... even if it involves being lazy couch potatoes some days!

 It sounds like your decision will give Calamity the chance to alleviate her pain and also let her run and play which is what her beautiful spirit is all about!  You and Calamity will be in our prayers.  Please let us know when she will be going in for her surgery. 


Luv Spirit Jake, Smooch, Baby Gus & Mom (Sherri)

Member Since:
27 July 2008
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30 October 2008 - 12:59 pm
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Hi KCGrey & Calamity,

I may be able to help you know that your decision to amputate is absolutely the best decision you could ever make.  In 1986, I had spinal fusion surgery between L5 & S1 discs.  The surgery went great, but an infection (unknown to my doctor or by me) had started in the graft site on my right hip.  Right after the surgery, everyone was so impressed with my mobility and I was really upbeat that I no longer had that horrible low back pain (I was 28 years old).  As the days went by, instead of getting better, I was getting sicker.  I was having more and more pain by the day and I kept going back to the hospital for more xrays. The doctors thought, perhaps, a bone chip had gotten loose in my spine and that's why I was having the new pain. They would send me home with more pain meds and I would keep returning to the ER in worsening pain.  Four times in three weeks I returned to the ER and by then, they decided that I was just seeking pain meds.  I went home again and cried my eyes out because the surgery that, at first, had been so successful was causing me to have pain so terrible I wanted to die.  After 4 weeks the pain had worked it's way from the graft site high on my right hip down through my hip joint and into the femur.  By the time I went to the hospital that night I was absolutely delirious with pain.  They immediately hospitalized me and it took them another two weeks to discover that I had osteomyelitis (a hideous infection in my bones).  All this time I was on Demerol for pain and even the smallest rotation of my right hip would have me screaming in pain.  The point of my story is not to have you feel sorry for me, it's to show you that your dog, Calamity, is probably in the same amount of pain that I was in with her osteomyelitis.  People don't realize how "alive" our bones really are.  I know I didn't until it happened to me.  The pain is beyond the scale of 1-10, it is a 20!  And, dogs don't show pain like humans do.  If I had a dog who had the same problems your dog is having I would immediately amputate the limb to end the horrendous pain.  Finally, for me, they put me on I.V. antibiotics which took care of the bone infection, but I had to give myself these I.V.'s for 6 months, 3 times a day through a catheter they had put into my chest (the drug was Ancef) and after that, was on oral antibiotics to fight staph for another year.  I hope you can see why I told you this story.  It's difficult for me to even think about what I went through with that bone infection.  These are very "painful" memories for me.  I just want you to see that "amputation" will most likely be the best decision you could ever make for your beloved Calamity and I hope you soon see that I am right.  Ask any doctor and they will tell you that a bone infection is one of thee most painful things you can ever go through.

Your friends, Blazer, Kitty Kimber & Vicki Tankersley

Metro Kansas City
Member Since:
23 October 2008
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30 October 2008 - 5:53 pm
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Thanks for those words. It really helps me know that I made the right decision for her. All other signs show she's healing except the the "pain episodes" she has. They break my heart and question my decision.

Thanks for sharing your story with me.

Janie & Calamity

Janie & Calamity

Member Since:
27 July 2008
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31 October 2008 - 8:03 pm
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Hi Janie & Calamity,

I'm so glad my story helped for you to see that you really did make the right decision.  The healing pain of recovery is nothing compared to the pain of an infection, and or cancer in the bone.  You will soon see that Calamity will be so full of life once she is all healed up.  I figured if my story would help at least one person who might be on the fence about amputation vs trying to save a limb, I'd go for the amputation any day. 

Your friends, Vicki, Blazer & Kitty Kimber

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