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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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Be More DogWhat does it mean to Be More Dog?

Find out in Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now by Tripawds founders Rene and Jim. Learn life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Get the book and find fun gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.

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Finding a new Path
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
8 November 2021
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8 November 2021 - 6:57 pm
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I know I “should” be happy since my tripod is doing well. But she’s a small four-year-old black lab and was so full of adventure. When she wants to do things she used to do and can’t, I feel so sad for her. Her leg was lost to a very severe rattlesnake bite last month. It is a hind leg.

I live in a fairly remote and rugged environment and she was my backcountry dog. I took her a short distance up a wash in the mountains yesterday and she was super happy, but today she seems very tired. I’m wondering how those of you who’ve been through this ahead of me judged what was appropriate.

The Rainbow Bridge

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9 November 2021 - 9:51 am
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Hello to you and your pup! It was good chatting with you and I'm so glad you decided to post. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away.

Remind me, what is her name? 

So, you bring up a point which I have been meaning to write about in the Tripawds News blog . The grieving over a lost limb part. See, around here we like to say that amputation is always harder on us than it is on our pets, and that is so true, both during recovery and after. And I think that a huge reason why it's so hard on us is that many of us grieve over the outdoorsy lifestyle we have lost with our dog (and sometimes, cats who are "adventure cats" too!). For dogs who like to hike and run with us, that transition is a tougher one for us to make. Not being able to take our buddy along on long distances is heartbreaking for us and I would think oftentimes for them too, when we have to leave them at home. 

I know how this feels because I felt what you are feeling when our Jerry lost a leg. He was our running and hiking buddy, and once he lost that front leg, anything more than 15 minutes or so was too much for him to do. In time, Admin and I both learned to embrace and feel gratitude over the fact that he was still with us at all, and we adjusted accordingly. We had to rethink what "fun" meant to all of us, and we found ways to keep Jerry part of the family. And what we discovered is that there is so much more to our relationship with our dogs than throwing a ball or going on long walks. They are capable of sooo much more, and that's why so many dogs are great at scent work and obedience games, the kinds of things that work their mind harder than they work their bodies.

So, what I would suggest to you is to first make an appointment with a canine rehabilitation therapist. The Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit , where they will assess your girl, and let you know where she is at physically. They will educate you about her strengths, weaknesses, and what kind of activity is appropriate or just too much. They will show you how to keep her injury free through specific exercises and activities. This will be so beneficial for the both of you, as it's not just about rehab but about rethinking your fun together and ultimately building a stronger bond.

I hope this helps. Give yourself time to get used to your new way of life with her. And oh, consider one of the more rugged dog stroller models. They are so great at allowing our Tripawds to come along for longer distances with us! Most dogs will adapt to them and you can take her out with you, allow her to walk a little, ride a little, and not feel left out.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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9 November 2021 - 7:41 pm
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And what we discovered is that there is so much more to our relationship with our dogs than throwing a ball or going on long walks.

So well said.  And as always, Jerry has offered you great insight.. 

And four weeks is not along time at all for a dog recovering from MAJOR surgery, all while adjusting to three.  Generally,  not always, it takes about a month for a dog to get comfortable with their new gait and for all their muscles to adapt to being used in new ways.

And it does take a lot of energy to do on three what they used to do on four,  She may have over done it on that walk and her muscles are sore, thus the need for rest the follow day.  She can still do those "adventures", but with more rest stops inbetween and some modifications.   The reality anyway is dogs prefer to stop and sniff, sniff, sniff and uncover what each sniff reveals to them. That is another way dogs have their own form of adventure. 

All your sweet pup cares about is she gets to spend time with you in whatever form that may take. She doesn feel sorry for herself at all.  That's  a human trait that somet we transfer to our dogs.  Your pup is living I  the the present.  She had a great adventure  with you the other day and loved it.  Now she's resting and relaxing and she's with you....and she loves that.  

When she does do too much all at once, give her lots of muscles massage, all up and down her spine, her neck and shoulder.  You can even do it over a warm towel from the dryer for even more benefit.

So yeah, if you do have access to a Rehab Specialist in the area,  you can learn lots of ways to help her build her core strength, protect her remaining limbs, etc.

So she took in a rattlesnake eh?  She's a RockStar Tripawd Warrior!   Glad she is okay and survived  it.  So scary.

Stay connected and let us know how she's doing....and how you're  doing,  okay? 


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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