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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I apologize in advance because I am long-winded…
Huey is a 6 year old (almost 7, now) retriever mix. His mom was a golden retriever who was meant to have show-quality golden retriever puppies – but she had 4 furry black puppies! Whoops! We adopted Huey in 2002, when he was 14 months old, and he’s been a wonderfully goofy, sloppy, funny, loving member of our family ever since. My husband and I have always referred to him as our "son."
In February of 2007, we found out that I was pregnant – Hooray! Huey was going to be a big brother!! We couldn’t have been more excited. I was given a due date of November 2, and my pregnancy was thankfully uneventful. We were, however, thrown for a loop (the first of many) in August when our cat, Lily, was diagnosed with mammary gland cancer. She had surgery to remove a tumor on her chest and was given a grim prognosis. Her cancer was untreatable, had already spread to her lymph nodes, and she had 6-12 months left. Lily seemed unfazed by this diagnosis and was her usual, bossy self for two months. She was jumping onto the back of the couch the day of her surgery!
In October, our entire family was thrown for another loop when my grandmother went into the hospital with pneumonia. She never got well enough to go home, and was sent to a hospice. She passed away the night of November 2 – my due date (which the baby ignored). I wasn’t sleeping well for many reasons, and woke up around 4:00am on November 4th to find Lily gasping for breath. We rushed her to the emergency vet hospital, where we made the difficult decision to have her put down. I had promised her on the day of her diagnosis that I would not keep her alive and in pain for my own sake.
Now, through all of this, Huey had been my rock. He knew put his head in my lap and let me cry when I needed him. He was amazing. I was also on a mission by this point to get the baby OUT – so Huey and I were walking in the park a lot. We went for at least an hour every day, on trails through the woods that we previously didn’t even know existed. He is a wonderful dog and loves to go off-leash, and he really enjoyed our walks through the woods. When he started limping in early November, I thought that he had perhaps sprained his ankle or was beginning to get arthritis. I am sorry to admit that as an overdue pregnant woman, I had other things on my mind.
Our beautiful daughter, Maegan, was born 11 days late on November 13th, after 25 frustrating hours of labor. Huey stayed with my mother while my husband and I were in the hospital with her, and his limping didn’t get any better. After we got home from the hospital, I scheduled a vet appointment for him. On November 19, I found a tick on Huey’s back and became very scared that he had Lyme disease (I didn’t realize at that point that Lyme disease symptoms take months to show up). My husband called our vet immediately, and they were able to squeeze Huey in that evening. He came home with the extremely unexpected and devastating diagnosis of osteosarcoma. He had a tumor in his left front leg. We went to another vet for a second opinion, and the diagnosis was confirmed through a biopsy. Huey had his leg amputated on December 13. We were referred to a veterinarian that specializes in internal medicine, and he began chemotherapy treatments in January.
Thus far, Huey has done amazingly well!! He was understandably lethargic for a few days after surgery, but quickly adapted to being a "tripawd." He still loves to play, can jump on the couch and bed, jumps up to look out the window, and is basically just the same goofy dog we always had. He’s responding very well to the chemo, and has no signs of the cancer spreading. He was due for chest x-rays to look for metastasis today, and because of excellent results on his bloodwork, the veterinarian decided that they weren’t even necessary. We are hopeful that Huey will be one of the lucky dogs that is able to beat osteosarcoma.
What angers me is that originally, we were basically told that Huey had no hope. Our original vet had a "doom and gloom" approach and told us that, at best, Huey had 4-5 months left. This opinion was confirmed by the research that I did on the internet. I am so glad that we went for a second opinion. The veterinarian who amputated Huey’s leg approached osteosarcoma as a treatable disease and referred us to the internal specialist. We were expecting to have a dog in rapidly declining health and to be facing a horrible decision soon – but we aren’t. Huey is happy and active. He’s responding well to treatment, and we are thrilled. He’s also a wonderful big brother!!
25 April 2007
I wanted to post pictures of Huey, but apparently I did it wrong…
We fixed that for you … not sure what went wrong there.
Huey is a wonderful dog! Thank you for sharing his story. And there is no need to apologize. You can never be too long winded when it comes to trying to explainthe feelings of putting your dog through the ordeal of amputation.
My people know … they tried and it turned into this website!
26 January 2008