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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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Griffin's Journey
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New York, NY
Forum Posts: 374
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24 March 2020
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2 April 2020 - 6:08 pm
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Hi!  I’m Stacy, mama to Griffin, 10 year old goldendoodle and light of my life!  I am writing my initial post a few hours after receiving a call from the surgeon that Griffin came through front right leg amputation well with no complications.  Thank goodness!

Griffin moved home to New York City when he was 8 weeks old.  He became a certified therapy dog when he was just over a year old and we have spent the last 8+ years volunteering at a local children’s hospital.  In fact, we had just renewed our Pet Partners certification a week before Griffin’s cancer diagnosis.  I can’t wait to get back out there (after Griffin has healed and the world returns to semi-normal after coronavirus) and inspire everyone who is trying to beat the odds!

Griffin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on March 17th during his annual physical when I requested for x-rays to be taken to determine why Griffin had been limping for about 3 weeks.  I was devastated by the diagnosis and worried by the staff vet’s (not our regular one) recommendation not to amputate due to Griffin’s size (68 lbs) and age.  I secured an appointment with a surgeon at Long Island Veterinary Specialists that week.  Chest x-rays were clear and a biopsy was performed on March 20th.  The surgeon warned that the biopsy results could take up to 10 days, but they were ready that Monday.  Osteosarcoma – confirmed.  While I wasn’t surprised, I had been hoping for a diagnosis of pretty much any other cancer.  The surgeon at LIVS recommended amputation, but I was conflicted because of the original vet’s statement against that course of treatment.  I had researched stereotactic radiation (“cyber knife”) therapy and luckily live close to a facility in New Jersey, but I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable with the risk that he might later fracture his radius and ultimately still need amputation.

One of the top veterinary hospitals in the country, the Animal Medical Center, had been my first choice for specialists, but when I called after the initial diagnosis, their first available appointment was April 21st.  However, with the confirmed biopsy results, Griffin was considered a priority patient, and they squeezed him in for a consultation on March 26th.  I couldn’t go inside the facility with him due to coronavirus restrictions, but I had been there a few times for minor medical issues for Griffin previously and was always impressed with their level of care.  The AMC surgeon who examined Griffin called me to present his findings.  He said that he absolutely recommended amputation and thought Griffin was an excellent candidate due to his overall great physical shape.  There was something about this doctor that just put me at ease – he was confident, compassionate, and clear – and I was finally at peace with the decision to move forward with amputation.

The last week has only reaffirmed my decision as Griffin, even on pain meds, was increasingly more uncomfortable and limping more severely.  Dropping him off at the AMC this morning was hard, but only because I hate being separated from my boy.  Griffin’s surgeon, Dr. Spector, has been amazing throughout this process, responding to my emails and recommending various steps.  He emailed this morning to say he examined Griffin and reported that he was resting calmly and comfortably while waiting for his surgery.  Dr. Spector called me both before the surgery and then again afterwards to let me know that Griffin came through the procedure well and with no complications.  One of the interns just called with an update that Griffin continues to do well this evening, with no signs of pain or bleeding.  He is on track to come home tomorrow!

We will proceed with both chemotherapy and physical therapy in the coming weeks after Griffin heals from the surgery.  I would love any advice from Tripawd parents, but especially about those topics.

Finding the Tripawd family has been a lifesaver these last few weeks, from reading through forums to discover what other pet parents have experienced to learning about gear and ways to make our home more comfortable for Griffin.  I am excited to share Griffin’s journey here and become part of the Tripawd family.

xoxo

Stacy

Griffin in NYCImage Enlarger

Griffin & StacyImage Enlarger

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Forum Posts: 27195
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2 April 2020 - 7:39 pm
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Awwwww Griffin is such a love! Welcome Stacy! I’m so glad you decided to post and tell us all about your sweet boy. I can see in the photo that you two have an incredible bond that will become even stronger now, if you can believe that!

You are in GREAT hands at AMC. I don’t know your surgeon but many members here have had wonderful experiences with the clinic. They are outstanding! Even during this pandemic situation it’s great to know they are still at the top of their game and helping pets and their people in their excellent way. Great choice and excellent work at advocating for Griffin. 

It never ceases to amaze me when a vet says a dog isn’t a good candidate for amputation, strictly because of size. Sixty eight pounds is actually quite small in this community! We’ve had dogs as large as 175 pounds become Tripawds and they did great. So good job following your intuition and seeking out more modern-thinking and care. smiley_clap

Chemotherapy is a hot topic around here, and you should know that there are no right or wrong choices. Every situation is different and what is best for one is not necessarily best for another. Whatever route you take for treatment, we will support you 100%. If you do decide on chemo, you can rest easy knowing that most dogs go through it with little side effects other than lack of appetite and nausea for a little while. They handle it much better than we can imagine.

As for rehab therapy, did you know that the Tripawds Foundation will pay for your first rehab visit if you see a credentialed CCRT or CCRP practitioner? Click on the link for details!

I have to run now but I just wanted to say hello and that we can’t wait for your updates on Griffin. smiley4Keep us posted, stay healthy and know that things are gonna be a-ok!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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New York, NY
Forum Posts: 374
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2 April 2020 - 7:54 pm
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Hi!  Thanks for the warm welcome!  I’ll be sure to provide regular updates and I look forward to continuing our conversation!

Virginia




Forum Posts: 19092
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2 April 2020 - 9:41 pm
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OMD!!!   GRIFFIN IS THE CUTEST THING EVVVVER!!!  I’m head over heels in. love with this snuggle bug!❤   Cannot wait to see more pictures!

And what a great job as a therapy dog…especially  now as a Tripawd RockStar!!

YAY!  SURGERY  IS DONE!!!  I am soooo glad you got another opinion and felt so comfortable  with that Surgeon.  Clearly  your instincts were right.😎

My Happy Hannah was 125 lbs at the time of her amp and she handled  three legs like a fluffy Ballerina😎  No problems at all.  Walked out of the clinic the next day with no help.  Some dogs need help leaving the clinic and some dogs aren’t  mobile cery mich fir a couple of days.  Every dog is differe.

If you have hardwood floors you’ll need nonslip scatter rugs for traction .  No stairs and no jumping, just short leashed potty  breaks and then back in for more rest.  Drinking  and peeing are important.  Eating and pooping may be off for a few days.

Raised food bowls, firm bedding are also beneficial.   Squishy beds make it hard for a tripawd  to get their footing.

Jerry addressed the Rehabilitation process and thoughts on chemo.  The chemo really is an individual  decison.  No right, no wrong.    A decision out of love is always the right decision. 

Get some good rest while you can.  It has been exhausting  emotionally  for you to get to this point.  Griff is seeing pink elephants  right now and doing just fine😎

STAY CONNECTED !  YOU ARE.NOT ALONE!  The first week or two can be a little rough.  It’s  major surgery, all while adjusting  to three.  We’re  here to answer any questions and help you navigate  thru recovery  and onto a glorious pain free life!!!😎

Let us know when he gets home.  Oh and you can try a towel sling to help Griff navigate  at first.  As a front  legger he may have a face plant or two, but that’s  normal.

Hugs 

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!

New York, NY
Forum Posts: 374
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24 March 2020
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3 April 2020 - 8:56 am
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Hi Sally!

Thanks for the encouragement and words of advice!  Griffin has used elevated feeders his whole life, so we are set there.  I purchased a bunch of non-slip rugs to cover exposed areas of my hardwood floors and a new bed with bolsters (although he usually prefers the wood floors – go figure!) to make our home more comfortable for him.  I also bought an inexpensive sling to help him get around, especially when we are outside.  Living in an apartment in NYC will make bathroom breaks a bit more complicated, but we are up to the challenge!

The surgeon called this morning to report that Griffin is getting around with minimal help.  They will stop his local anesthetic meds at noon to see if he remains comfortable and if so, he’ll come home this afternoon.  I can’t wait!

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Griffin testing out his new bed earlier this week!

Virginia




Forum Posts: 19092
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3 April 2020 - 9:48 am
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Such a great update!!!    And you are a great Mom!  Good job of covering  all your bases😎So excited Griffin is doing well and coming home!!!   You are Griffin are definitely up  for any challenge!

And he looks so comfy in that bed.  Such an adorable pup😊

Hugs

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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3 April 2020 - 10:42 am
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He is just beautiful like a giant teddy bear.

My Brownie was 10 days before his 12th birthday and weighed 90 lbs at time of amputation. 

Brownie hopped around his food bowl happily for one year and eight days. I was worried about his age, but Brownie proved me wrong. And I am So happy he did…

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 27195
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3 April 2020 - 11:46 am
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Ohh paws crossed your sweetheart gets to come home! He’s so adorable. What a champ!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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New York, NY
Forum Posts: 374
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24 March 2020
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3 April 2020 - 6:04 pm
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Griffin is home!  I picked him up a few hours ago.  He is still a bit out of it and definitely very wobbly!  He peed a river on our way into our building and basically pulled me the whole way home from the parking garage even though I was trying to support him with a sling.  He took his meds with a bit of coaxing and just polished off a cheeseburger from a real burger joint.  He is resting comfortably but definitely perplexed as to why getting up, down, and around is so much different than before.  He’s already made the rookie mistake of rolling over onto his right side while laying down and then couldn’t get himself back up. icon_rolleyes

These last 2 days were such a relief because I know that the source of his pain is now gone.  I was absolutely confident in the ability of his surgeon and the AMC team as a whole.  Side note – I have insurance for Griffin that will cover 90% of his bills up to $20,000 for the year, but it was a nice surprise to see that his surgery was $2k less than the estimate ($4,200 vs $6,200).  I was expecting the bill to be a little lower since he didn’t stay a third day, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a third less.

Thanks to everyone for their words of support! I will continue to post updates and ridiculously cute photos of Griffin!

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3 April 2020 - 6:44 pm
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Yea Griffin is home! You will see he will start to inspire and surprise you everyday!

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 27195
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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3 April 2020 - 7:16 pm
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Hey Griffin! We are so happy you are home and on the mend. Don’t let those crazy pink elephants bother you too much, they will be gone in a couple of days.

That’s pretty cool that the vet bill wasn’t as bad as you thought. Can I ask what pet insurance company you’re using? Feel free to leave a pet insurance review for others in the community 🙂

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

New York, NY
Forum Posts: 374
Member Since:
24 March 2020
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3 April 2020 - 7:33 pm
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I have Petplan but I don’t actually recommend it for new policies.  I purchased our plan in 2011 when Griffin was just over 1 year old.  About 4 years ago, the company changed owners and the terms of the policies changed in ways that I don’t think are a good as others out there.  For example, I went from having a yearly deductible of $300 to a per “condition” deductible of $150 and the annual premiums increased significantly.  However, by that time, changing Griffin to a new plan would have mean introducing the potential of pre-existing conditions, so we stayed with Petplan.  Griffin is 10 years old.  The annual premium this year is $1,700 with $150 deductible per condition and 90% reimbursement up to $20,000 per year.  There have been times when I considered whether or not premiums that high were worth it.  I would ask myself, “What if he is hit by a car or gets cancer?” and kept paying the premium.  I am very glad I stuck with it.

To be fair, Petplan has been great this year and they have sped up the time it takes to have our claims processed, which used to be up to 30 days but has been fewer than 2 weeks recently.  For claims submitted by the end of March, I will wind up being reimbursed the pre-surgery costs of diagnosis, biopsy, and meds in an amount that exceeds the cost of the premium for the year, which makes the years when we submitted few/no claims worth it now.

I know a few pet parents who have Healthy Paws and who highly recommend that company.  

Virginia




Forum Posts: 19092
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3 April 2020 - 8:11 pm
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WELCOME HOME GRIFFIN!!😁😁

And look at your cute self all doped up and snuggling so comfy in your bed!!   

Amd YAY for peeing!!😎

Hope tonight is smooth sailing.  Sometimes dogs actually seem to do “okay” (relatively  speaking) the first couple of days.  Then when all the hospital  meds are out of their system  they can have a bit of a crash.  So get some rest while you can!

Hugs 

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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4 April 2020 - 9:44 am
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Welcome home Griffin!  Oh, you look so cute!  Sally, what an awesome thing to have Griffin as a therapy dog.  I feel he will be twice the therapy dog after this!!  Like you said, he’ll give others courage to overcome their troubles/disabilities/etc.  Griffin is so lucky to have you guys as the head of his “pack” smiley4   

I look forward to following his progress.  I don’t have Jake’s surgery date yet but believe it to be 4/9 or 4/10.  I’ll get him home just in time for Easter (:

New York, NY
Forum Posts: 374
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4 April 2020 - 6:04 pm
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Griffin has done well during his second day home.  He is drinking lots of water and urinating regularly, pooped a little bit this morning, takes his meds without an issue, and ate a full meal for dinner tonight – yay!  He is getting around fairly well but seems to tire super quickly and then freezes while standing with his back legs trembling.  When that happens in the house, I encourage him back to his bed or if he is on a rug, to lay down there to rest.  We live in an apartment in NYC, so rather than tax him just by getting in/out of our building, I’ve been using a wagon to bring him to a grassy area close to our house and then letting him sniff around there.  When he freezes while we are outside, I stand close to let him lean on me and if after a few minutes he isn’t ready to walk again, I carry him back to the wagon.  I do have a support sling, but he doesn’t really need it when we are walking (either he walks well or stands frozen), but it is helpful for assisting him in standing from a down position.

Our surgeon, Dr. Daniel Spector at the Animal Medical Center, continues to be phenomenal!  In addition to calling me twice a day while Griffin was at AMC, he remains very accessible by email, often answering my emails after 9pm!  He sent an email last night to check up on Griffin’s first day back home, and then followed up again today (on a Saturday!) to see how he was doing and offer me encouragement.

Thanks to all for the continued support!

Griffin standing outside - April 4thImage Enlarger

Griffin outside – April 4, 2020

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