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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Maruk's Story-Onset to Amputation to Chemo to Now
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Maruk's Mom
1 April 2008 - 2:03 pm
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I have thought about doing a post many times, but second-guessed myself. Each and every situation our furry pals are in is different from the next. Sure, they may all center on that same nasty cancer beast, but…Dogs themselves are different. You and I are different. Our day to day lives are different. Who am I to possibly sway you one way or the other on any matter??

Then it occurs to me how incredibly valuable everyone’s posts were to me. It isn’t rules or cast in stone methods you’ll find on Jerry’s site. The postings transcend facts. It is camaraderie, knowing that you and your furry friend are not alone.

Each posting was a pebble that rippled in small waves. They were the catalysts to get me to do our own research for our own situation, while feeling grounded by others who had gone through similar events. For that rippling and grounding, I am eternally grateful.

Here is our story…

Maruk before his osteosarcoma amputation surgeryImage Enlarger

Maruk, our white shepherd, is the kind of dog that never stops. When he came up lame one day, we figured he took a tumble or stepped on something in the yard while sprinting to the back corner or possibly his little companion, Pixie, knocked the leg out from under him. Both had happened before.

After a few days, the leg wasn’t getting better, so into the vets we went. With Maruk lying on the floor, they felt his leg, waiting for him to grumble and indicate pain. Finally he grumbled at the knee joint…probably a torn ligament. We then met with a specialist, who knew better. All he had to do was watch Maruk’s gate. The specialist knew it was the hock, not the knee. Ultimately, X-rays and a biopsy proved it was Osteosarcoma cancer.

The family vets were shocked and felt horrible about not catching it. They have been wonderful family vets…and still are. It was an honest mistake, which happens due to our lack of ability to speak the Canine language. Maruk didn’t show any pain until his knee was touched. In hindsight, we know that he had been feeling the pain in his hock, but didn’t get fed up with the pushing and prodding until the vet reached the knee. This is why there are specialists.


Because of Maruk’s young age and his otherwise healthy body and strong will, we opted to have the leg amputated. As a puppy we were convinced that Maruk wasn’t even aware he had back legs. He always seemed surprised when he saw them or when they bumped into something. He was a carefree, easygoing, weird, little pup. He climbed over and into anything. Nothing slowed him up.

Maruk’s recovery from the surgery was remarkable! (As I hear many are.) Sure, he had to learn to move on three legs instead of four, but without the pain, he was a happy boy. Awkwardness beats pain any day.

We plodded along, keeping an eye on him….chemo sessions once a month for 4 months, 20 minutes at a time. Eventually, his little nubby healed. His fur grew back, and he was a happy camper 24 X 7.

About three months into the new lease on life, Maruk gave out a horse cough while at the groomer’s. The vets checked him out, and sadly enough, an X-Ray showed the cancer had spread to his lungs. The cancer spots appeared like blurry flakes of snow on a gray and black background. (In bad situations, it resembles a snow storm.)

All we kept hearing was how quickly the cancer spreads once it is in the lungs. Panic set in. We didn’t want our buddy in pain, so we began discussing euthanasia. Damn, that’s always such a hard call to make.

Thank goodness we snapped out of panic mode! Here he is a month later and doing well. Occasionally, we hear “the Cough”, but he is nowhere near ready to give up on life.

  1. He is still eating and drinking.
  2. He still wants to play.
  3. He still likes running outside.
  4. He’s going potty just fine too.
  5. His personality is still the same ol’ Maruk.

He isn’t giving up. He hasn’t thrown in the towel. Why would we?!?

He is back on chemo (which by the way doesn’t effect most dogs the way it effects humans, I am told). His chemo cocktail was changed to address the lung cancer (There are a variety of “cocktails” out there, targeting different aspects. Your specialist will go over that with you). Maruk is also on a pain medication that has “shown signs of curbing lung cancer growth”.

So. That’s where we are. Taking it a day at a time. Letting Maruk guide us. He’ll let us know. Your buddy will too. Believe in them and in yourselves. Your choices are out of love or you wouldn't be on Jerry's site. Laughing

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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2 April 2008 - 11:45 am
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Thank you for sharing Maruk's story! We are glad that you found these forum posts helpful and happy you shared your own.

We took the liberty of adding Maruk's photo to your post, because he is just so handsome. And obviously a strong pack leader ... NGU big fella.

(Never Give Up!) Laughing

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Kellie and Isabel (K
5 April 2008 - 1:47 pm
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Hi my name is Isabel and I am Kellie's mom.  As I sit here and read Maruk's story I feel like I am with you in spirit.  My Kellie was diagnosed also with osteosarcoma but it is on her front leg.  We are in the process of scheduling her surgery and her chemo and while doing so I sit and wonder if it will be the best thing to do for her.  As a breast cancer survivor myself I feel like it is as like Maruk, Kellie and I are not ready to give up.  I was sad and a bit weary when you say that after a few months the cancer came back in Maruk's lungs but that he is still being the best fighter and never giving up.  I will pray for all of you and at the same time prepare myself for whatever God has in the future for us.  I wish you the best and will keep everyone posted on Kellie's progress.  God Bless all of you!!!! and the best for Maruk.

David & Karla Br
6 April 2008 - 10:20 am
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We know the journey is not always easy, but Maruk is just one example of how determinated so many of us are. What a great story!  Thank You!

Dave , Karla, & HEIDI

Manchester, UK
Member Since:
2 February 2008
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7 April 2008 - 5:24 pm
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Maruk - Darcy Deerhound (almost 6 months post amp) thinks you are very handsome Kiss

Darcy – tripawd since 16th October 2007.

***Darcy would love to be your friend on Facebook - just search for Darcy Deerhound***

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