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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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Forum Posts: 59
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18 January 2009 - 1:11 am
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Hi everybody! Let me introduce you to Shadow, he's a 10 or 11 year old black Lab that I rescued from the pound 9 years ago.  We live in Southern California.   We took Shadow to the vet this past Tuesday for a limp he's had on/off on his front left leg the past couple months, and the vet suspected bone cancer (osteosarcoma) , which the oncologist confirmed on Thursday.   Needless to say, I've been an emotional wreck this whole week trying to come to terms with this diagnosis. The tears are still fresh but I am trying my best to stay upbeat and clear headed so Shadow can get the best care possible.

Currently, the x-rays do not show any other bones affected, and the x-rays of his lungs are clear.  This makes us hopeful!  Our oncologist sent us home w/Tramadol to manage the pain (our family vet had him on Rimadly, which I rather not give him if there is an alternative).  This seems to be helping because he's still as playful as ever, and able to go for his walks without the limp.  Shadow is going in next Tuesday for a bone scan, just for assurance and if all is confirmed that all his other bones are good, we are going to schedule him for amputation.  Everyday I see him in pain, it reassures me that this is the best decision.  After he recovers from his surgery, we will start him on chemo and try to stop this horrible cancer from taking over my baby.  We are treating him at the Veterinary Cancer Group in Tustin, CA, and I'm feeling good that this is a good facility that will provide him with the best treatment available.

I'm so happy to have found this forum, Jerry and all the stories here have been so helpful and inspirational in helping us make the decisions on how to treat Shadow.  I hope with the amputation, chemotherapy, some lifestyle changes and our love, Shadow will stay with us for another couple years.  I know Shadow isnt ready to leave us yet, he's still got alot of life left in him! 

Thank you so much angel Jerry and his “pawrents” for this wonderful website and resources! I joined this forum hopeful that everybody can share their experience with us, is there anything that I missed that should be taken into consideration before we move onto the amputation?  Please share!

We will report in as we progress in treatment .  This will definitely be a hard fight, but my boy is a tough guy and he has his momma that will do anything for him to make sure he's ok.

Tina and Shadow

Tina and Spirit Shadow

Here and Now


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18 January 2009 - 2:15 am
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Shadee76 said:

I'm so happy to have found this forum, Jerry and all the stories here have been so helpful and inspirational in helping us make the decisions on how to treat Shadow.


Thank you so much, that means a lot. We maintain this site for exactly this reason – to help others going through the difficult decisions so many of us have face. It is only as helpful as it is, because of the participation of users like you. Thanks for joining!

Stick with the Tramadol, it worked for Jerry and Rimadyl tore him apart inside. Be sure to check out our top ten amputation concerns post for answers to common questions. You can also search these forums for specific issues and don't forget to check out the blog. We look forward to hearing more about Shadow and send best wishes for a complete speedy recovery and long pain-free life.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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18 January 2009 - 1:09 pm
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You and Shadow will find a lot of helpful, faithful friends here.  We have all been right where you are starting.  We know what you are feeling.  We help each other stay strong when emotionally we think we can't make it another day, and we celebrate all the small victories along the way.  In Trouble's early recovery days, I found much strength here.  As she has become pretty stable, I find inspiration and hope.  I'm sure you will too.  Welcome!

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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18 January 2009 - 1:40 pm
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Hi Shadow – welcome to our special family. We are sooooooo hoppy that you found us here at Jerry's place. It is surely the place to obtain a wealth of information on this dreaded disease, ways to fight it physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have never been involved in a such a phenomenon of instant care, support and love. All because of the love we have for our dogs…amazing souls that they are.

Zeus was 10 years old when he was diagnosed (April 3rd diagnosis and April 9th amputation of 2008) and he is approaching 11 on March 8th…he has SOOOO much spunk and life in him, I pinch myself that he is doing so well. Don't let age stop you…Shadow will do well as long as the doctors give you the go ahead with amputation – which it sounds like they have.

If I had to summarize our experience it would be to say that the initial diagnosis was an enormous emotional blow, but once the truth settled in and we obtained all the facts and made the decisions we made, we moved forward on the journey and it's been a hell of a journey. The recovery period is difficult – no way around it. It's a huge adjustment for both pawrent and fur child…stay pawsitive and upbeat – I went in another room when I had to cry – and remember that Shadow will mirror your emotions and follow your lead. We have to be strong for them just like we would for any human child.

Chemo was not bad for us – Zeus had no side effects…except for a little fatigue the afternoon of treatment. If you can have someone be with Shadow after chemo, it is comforting for them. If you can arrange to be home or have someone home with him after surgery – at least for the first 3 days – that is huge as well. I was very, very lucky…my dad came from Ohio (I lived in Maryland when Zeus had his surgery) and stayed with us for 10 days so I could get some rest and still go to work if I needed to. The extra pair of hands for physical and emotional support was priceless and I know that our recovery was so successful in part because of him being there. Thanks dad!!!

We get xrays done every 3 months to check for lung mets and yes, those are stressful for me…(and he is still clear 9 months later) but I have really turned over Zeus' future to my higher power…I personally believe that Zeus will be with me physically as long as he is meant to be here and then he will be with me spiritually – forever. We focus on the here and now…one day at a time. Our lives truly have not changed all that much except he cannot do hour long walks with me anymore…he goes for about 15-20 minutes at a shot…sometimes a little longer and sometimes he is just too tired to go 5 min and prefers to just lay in the grass and chew a stick. That was a little hard for me to accept – but what choice did I have? He's here with me and he's happy, healthy and still my baby that I love with all my heart – I have learned to enjoy laying in the grass with him on a blanket and just being with him.

…not to mention the life's lessons this guy has taught me – I cannot put into words the gifts he has brought into my life, it is very powerful and beyond amazing. This disease is horrible and unfair and cruel, but somehow we have found the glass to be half full and have an enormous list of things to be grateful for each day. Daily gratitude is not something I practiced before…not until this happened.

I hope some of this helps…and I hope i wasn't too preachy – I have just found this experience to be a life changing one…in a positive way. I know there is unimagineable heartbreak down the road and I dread the day. I feel the pain, probably a little too much, whenever we lose one of these special souls on the site…but I would not trade for one minute the joy and happiness that I have with Zeus now just to avoid the pain down the road.

You are not alone through this – this place is with you every step of the way…someone will always be here to answer a question or give a virtual hug.

Please keep us posted ~

Love Heather and Zeus

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

Orange County, CA
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18 January 2009 - 3:00 pm
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Hi Tina & Shadow.  My husband John & I also live in So Cal (Tustin in Orange County).  Our dog Max had his left front leg amputated 9 weeks ago today (Sunday, 1/18).  The first 4 – 5 weeks will be very rough; lots of yelps of pain, and not too much sleep for you.  I can assure you that things will get better after that timeframe.  You just have to take things one day at a time during his recovery period.  Max is being treated at the emergency clinic in Fountain Valley (All-Care) due to a referral by our regular vet.  However, my sister's dog Lucky had her cancer treated at the Tustin Clinic, and we have been there for other animals/illnesses.  They are a very good hospital.  Feel free to PM me if you want some firsthand details on your and Shadow's tripod life.

Diane

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18 January 2009 - 3:41 pm
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Thank you all for your kind words, support and advice. This forum is going to be integral in helping us get through this. 

Jerry's pawrents:   We are currently giving Shadow 50mg of Tramadol every 6 hours to control pain.  Shadow weighs about 100lbs (he's a tall Lab).  Our oncologists said we can give him Tramadol WITH the Rimadyl, for maximum pain relief but I really don't want to risk any complications associated w/Rimadyl.

Shana and Trouble:  Thank you for your kind words and inspiration. 

Heather and Zeus:  Your response was extremely helpful!  Thank you so much for all the advice and expectations.  Luckily, I telecommute so I will be home with him as he recovers after surgery and during his chemo treatments.  My husband will be taking a week off after his amputation surgery as well so we can both be there for him (and in case I need physical backup cuz my boy is 100lbs!!) 

Diane and Max:  Thanks for the advice and expectations.  I will PM you for more details about the local vets.

Our gratitutde, positive thoughts and hugs to everybody and their tripawds!!

Tina and Shadow

Shadow and Tina

Tina and Spirit Shadow

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20 January 2009 - 8:07 pm
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Hi Tina & Shadow,

We are so glad you found tripawds.com.  This site has helped so many people, such as yourself, cope with the tremendous shock of hearing your dog has osteosarcoma.  You have definitely come to the right spot for support and information and we will definitely be here for you.  If you are worried about putting Shadow on Rimadyl, there are other NSAID's on the market that may help without causing any bad side-effects.  Rimadyl works for some dogs and others do better on Metacam or other similar drugs.  Dr. Pam can give you more information on this in the “Ask the Vet” forum.  Good luck to you; stay pawsitive and I'm glad you are going to keep us updated on Shadow's progress. 

Love, Blazer, Kitty Kimber & Mom (Vicki)

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20 January 2009 - 8:35 pm
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Cherry's dad here,

Yes you will find a great deal of help and support here. Words cannot express how much it has helped us. Cherry faces her fourth and last chemo treatment tomorrow. We opted for both the amputation and chemo. In fact, the first treatment was only hours after the amputation. They felt that this provided the most effective treatment. Get those cancer cells before they settle anywhere else.

We have faced our share of complications. Not only have I posted in the treatment forum here, but I also posted a diary on the Internet. This provided a factual assessment of what was happening. That way I could look back and make an honest assessment of our progress/regress. You can find the diary at http://home.com…..ryjourney/

Lately, we have been seeing the sparkle in the eye and the enthusiasm that had defined Cherry. This is why we chose this path. As time goes by, I know that I will see the more often. Remember to treat the spirit as well as the body. For Cherry, that has come to mean daily trips in the truck. She is never disappointed no matter how long/short.

Good Luck, Best Wishes, and all our Prayers

Bob & Cherry

Orange County, CA
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21 January 2009 - 12:02 pm
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Tina, how did Shadow's bone scan turn out?  Did you schedule him for amputation, or were you given some other option?

Diane 

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21 January 2009 - 1:12 pm
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Blazer, Kitty Kimber and Vicki –  I will definitely check out the ask the vet section to figure out which NSAID would be least harmful to Shadow.  He hasn't shown any side-effects to Rimadyl, but I rather not put something in his body that can potentially harm him.  Thanks for the advice!

Bob and Cherry –   Cherry is an inspiration, and as the days go by and I process all this info (its only been a week since diagnosis),  Shadow is still Shadow.  He still has the sparkle in his eye, and gets super excited when we go for a walk or during playtime.  I have to remember that no matter how sad we may be, we still have to keep things upbeat and normal for Shadow. 

Diane – Shadow was gone all day yesterday for the bone scan, and we should get the results back today from our oncologist.  I've called to leave a message for her and we'll probably hear back from her later this afternoon when she does her phone calls.  I'm praying that there are no other tumors in the body, please keep Shadow in your thoughts.   We've seen the surgeon for the amputation consultation, and really all we are waiting for his the bone scan results to proceed.   I'll keep you guys posted.

Tina and Spirit Shadow

North Carolina
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21 January 2009 - 2:00 pm
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Shadow will do just fine…..Blue did. This forum is tHE BEST isn't it. Thanks Jerry and everyone else

Lorrie

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21 January 2009 - 4:07 pm
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Good news everybody…just got a call back from our Dr… Bone scan doesn't show any other affected areas.  Just the one in the left humerus (shoulder).  It did show a little bit of arthritis in my hips, but the doc said it doesnt seem to be cause for concern right now.  So now that we know, time to schedule surgery.  I've also made an appointment next week with a holistic vet and nutritionist that treats cancer to find out how to eat healthy and take supplements to kick this cancer's butt!

Blue- glad to see you are recovering and already up and about!!  This gives me hope that Shadow will get through this.

Thanks everybody for the support! 

Tina and Shadow

Tina and Spirit Shadow

The Rainbow Bridge



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21 January 2009 - 4:29 pm
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Oh that is wonderful news Tina! Give Shadow a big smooch from us.

We are here if you need anything at all. Keep us posted on the surgery, and later, we’d love to hear more about your visit with the holistic vet and nutritionist. How fortunate to have access to such knowledgeable folks!

Good luck! Woof!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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21 January 2009 - 4:39 pm
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Great news Shadow and yes…it's time TO KICK CANCER's BUTT!!!

Paws forever pal ~

Keep us posted on the date of surgery so we can say extra, extra prayers.

xo

Zeus

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

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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21 January 2009 - 8:59 pm
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Great news on the scan.  That's the kind of news we want to keep hearing!

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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