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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Emmett Says "Ruff Off, Cancer!"
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Member Since:
31 August 2019
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19 September 2019 - 5:03 pm
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This group has been such a blessing.  We are just over two weeks post-amputation and I have turned to these resources and forums more times than I can count so first and foremost:  thank you.  This has been a saving grace and the community I didn't know I needed!

Right around the beginning of July, Emmett started limping.  He had been staying with some friends so we wrote it off as a doggo injury from playing with friends too much and had him rest.  Two weeks later, the limp persisted so I took him to the vet.  He had previously shown sensitivity in his shoulder so we assumed it was there and our vet followed our lead.  We did scans and saw nothing; a sprain was diagnosed and rest/anti-inflammatories prescribed and went on our merry way.  

By mid-July, we weren't seeing a difference.  Well, we were...but it was the slightest bump forming on his front ankle.  I called my vet again and she reviewed the scans, noting that they were taken just above the ankle.  We met as soon as we could and from there the overwhelming dive into osteosarcoma began.  As we sat on our living room floor--she is opening her own practice so she had made a house call--I cried as she told me what the bump likely meant and that I needed to prepare myself for the possibility of amputation.

The next day we were at an oncologist and presented with an overwhelming amount of treatment options that all pointed towards treating our otherwise healthy, seven-year-old Golden, for cancer.  We met with the oncologist and then a radiologist and the only "answer" we were given was that there were options. (And that there was a wonderful resource online called Tripawds!)  After agonizing debate, many tears, patient phone calls with our trusted family vet, and a lot of reading, we made the decision to go with the "gold standard" and amputate.  As I read Three Legs and a Spare I recognized all of my same feelings and motions, down to wanting one last hike.  (We took it easy, we promise!)  After that whirlwind journey, Emmett became a happy, hopping tripawd on September 3rd.  

When I went to pick him up, I was beyond relieved.  The nurses reported how well he was doing and he hopped out with a smile on his face.  I heeded all of the advice of the forums and focused in on his handsome grin and took him home, amazed as he hung his head out the window as we drove. It was better than I expected.  Then I went to get him out of the car on my own.  My stubborn, do-as-I've-always-done dog wiggled from my support and hopped out of the car, landing slightly on his newly amputated side and yelped.  My heart broke and I began to shake.  Every bit of confidence I had gained at the vet, shattered.

The first day was the hardest.  He would lay on his side and randomly yelp in pain a few times; he would not know how to get up and didn't want to eat.  But around three a.m., we saw our boy:  he wanted to do as he always did and sleep upstairs.  He hopped up our first set of five stairs all on his own, determined to get to bed.  My husband coaxed him down (another Three Legs and a Spare rule broken...he was sleeping on the couch next to him) and he hopped back down those stairs on his own, which is quite a feat for a new, front legged tripawd.

After that day we can say we are so grateful for how seemingly easy things were.  When we had questions, these forums or our vet answered instantly.  He independently went to the bathroom from the time he left the hospital and was able to fully potty by day three.  He ate (with some extra special treats, of course) and these forums helped us to plan staggered meds.  When we felt he needed more Gabapentin, our vet readily gave us the go-ahead. By the second night he was hopping back upstairs to bed and even insisted on getting on our bed.  While our hops were much shorter than our old walks, he was smiling and figuring life out, one hop at a time.  His incision healed nicely (perhaps it was our homemade "Ruff off, cancer!" shirt??) and he showed interest in toys within the first few days.  While it certainly isn't "before," his spirit and his joy have affirmed us that we made the right choice.

Last night, though, was tough.  He started chemo (carboplatin) yesterday morning and came home with a fraction of his energy, no appetite, and rare smiles.  It was heartbreaking and yet another stop on this journey where we questioned our choices.  I rushed home early today, certain I would find him lethargic and having been sick but, to my surprise, I found my happy hopper.  

I don't know how long we may have the gift of time with Emmett but I do know this:  he is teaching us more about life than we ever could have expected, and with a smile.  I wanted to share this story so that anyone beginning this journey knows that there can be joy and sorrow on the other side, often times intertwined.  We are very much still on the journey but trying to enjoy the ride.

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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19 September 2019 - 7:40 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I'm so glad you decided to post and introduce your warrior Emmett!  And I love 'ruff off cancer'- we need a picture of that shirt.

Be sure you let your oncologist know about his down day after chemo- the side effects can be cumulative and there are meds that can be given to help counteract them and keep Emmett bouncing.

He sounds like he is doing really well- and great job adapting the 'rules'.  While they do come from years of experiences on this site I've never thought that one size fits all.  My Pug Maggie refused to eat out of her raised dish and her favorite bed was a soft, sloppy snuggle ball as opposed to the firm beds we often recommend here.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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19 September 2019 - 10:20 pm
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Thank you soooo much  for taking the time to share Emmett's journey so far.  It is such a privilege  to get to know this spunky strong willed fella' and his devoted hoomans!  

And kudos to you for doing your homework, reading the e-books, researching  the forums and being as prepared as anyone possibly  could be for the recovery  AND all the victories and milestones Emmett is experiencing!

You did an excellent job  of chronicling how you got here in a way that inspires and reassures anyone starting this journey.  You have faced the hurdles with a great attit6 and delightful wit! Love the tee shirt! And yes, we must see a picture!!  And love Emmett's avatar pocture too!  A whole lot of personality  shiniing through!

And yes, as Karen said, mention  Emmett's reaction to the chemo and if, necessary,  the dose can be adjusted.  Actually, if  his 'side effects" only lasted less than 24 hrs, that's less "down time" than some dogs experience. 

Oh, and I know Jerry will ask, what Clinic/Vet guided you to Tripawds?  I'm  sure she'll want to send them pamphlets telling her clientele  all avout Tripawds.

Shhhh....our secret......I hadn't  read all the e-books  when I brought Happy Hannah home.  Actually didn't  even join until day six.  Anyway.....shhhh.....I put a mattress downstairs on the floor and slept with her for months on end!  She never did master going up stairs ,and there was nooooo way she was not going to sleep with me and I with her. Nope, "tough love" never entered my mind...or capabilities!!

Thank you again for your informative and much appreciated post.  Looking forward to more!


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

PS. Here's how to add photos

Basically you need to:

Upload photos to a photo sharing website like, or your own Tripawds blog
Copy the Image URL
Return here to paste the Image URL into your blog post 

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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