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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?

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Meet Charlie
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PA
Member Since:
31 March 2015
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1 April 2015 - 10:06 pm
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I first met Charlie when he was 5 1/2 weeks old. My brother had heard about a little of gold and black puppies that were up for grabs and when I saw a photo of the tiny golden fluff ball they picked out I knew I had to have one. I was single, 25 years old, and recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I needed something to take my mind off of things, I needed the dog I had wanted for a while, and so I went to find a new buddy. 

The puppies were in a garage all scattered about. All the goldens had been taken and there was  one male left. I wanted a male but the girls were just so cuddly and so amazingly cute I was starting to change my mind. The I noticed one I hadn't taken a look at under neath the water heater just sleeping. I thought to myself, hey here's an independent little dude, perfect! 

Even now hearing the word independent and Charlie in the same sentence makes me laugh. 

The mom was a purebred Golden Retreiver and the dad was some sort of massive black beast. It's still up for debate whether the dad was a Newfoundland or a Great Pyrenees. Either way, Charlie has some "Newfy" moments and at times looks like a black Golden.

 I was living near the beach in Southern California at the time and Charlie and I quickly made the dog beach our second home. He watched my friends black Lab tackle a wave like it was nothing and soon the ocean became Charlies first love. At one point even challenging a curious sea lion over his ball in the water. 

Fast-forward 6 years and that tiny ball of black fluff turned into a 106 lb force of awesomeness. I had moved from the beaches of California to the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. (that's an even longer story and yes - it was because of a woman/now wife).

This is where Charlies story starts to mirror that of many, many stories on this site. I noticed a slight trembling of his right front leg when he'd sit. It wasn't consistent and sometimes it'd be so long that I'd forget about it until it happened again. When Charlie was around 9 months he had a limp. The vet at the time said sometimes there body grows at different rates. And that a flap of tissue on his shoulder could have over-grown and caused some irritation and after some rest he was fine. I grew up with big dogs, one of my good friends is an amazing Dog Groomer/Nutritionalist in CA and we'd always talk about Chuck and his massive body and tiny little legs. So the trembling I thought was just some soreness and nothing much. Charlie like a lot of dogs never does anything with minimal effort. Everything Charlie does he does with gusto! When you live your life with such zeal that even a leaf tumbling in the breeze is an event worth celebrating, aches and pains typically follow suit.

But the trembling turned into a limp. We rested him as much as we could. Living next to a small lake we had him in the water and swimming to try to burn some energy with the least amount of impact but as I stated above, swimming can sometimes look like a competitive sport with Chuck.

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After a week of not seeing any improvement I took him to our vet and she took an xray. I was worried most about the possibility of a fracture of some sort. Maybe a tear in the joint? When the vet tech came back to the room she said that the Doctor wanted to see me and that she'd watch Charlie. The look on her face should have told me something more was up but I still just thought it was a fracture in the foot. The Doctor showed me the xray and told me she was not expecting to see what she thought was osteocarsoma. It took almost a week for me to learn to say that damned word, before then I hadn't had the slightest thought or idea that Charlie's little limp could be cancer.

My wife and I did our Googling...we did the consult....we crunched the numbers. On a whim we decided to get a consult from a hospital that was closer than the initial referral and we have been thankful ever since. 

We knew that Osteosarcoma can present on a specific type of blood test. We knew that the lungs would statistically be the next target if it had or were to spread. And we knew we could afford an amputation and chemo. We knew that amputation was only going to remove the pain, not cure the cancer. So before making the decision we ran the blood, and took more pictures. When everything came back clean we moved forward with the amputation.

Late morning, on the day of the surgery the doctor called and said everything went good, he was recovering and she felt good about the surgery. That afternoon I hadnt heard from the vet so I called while on my way to pick up my wife from work. The vet tech put me on hold for a while, came back on the line and apologized for the wait but said the doctor and nurses were with a patient and it'd be a few more minutes. I had a bad feeling about how she said it. Minutes later the doctor got on the line and explained that Charlie never fully recovered. His vitals were not stable and that she thought there may be some internal bleeding. 

We rushed to the hospital and they explained everything that they knew. The doctor thought that maybe a muscle hadn't closed or stopped bleeding but that they'd need to go back in a second time to fix this. Or we could wait. But it wasn't good. He had already waited and things started to go down hill.

It's cruel that money comes into play but it's a fact of life...at least our lives. The doctor came back and said that she had worked it out, they capped the bill at the higher end of the original estimate and that they'd take care of the rest. Charlie went back under for a second time and for longer this time. It was hours until we got a call that he was doing good and we could come see him.

It was a complete 180. We were able to say hi before the second surgery and he was as lifeless as I've ever seen him. Struggling to breath, trying to get up to see us but unable too, he lay on that table slowly fading. And with all that he just wanted his chin scratched. I heard his heart rate slow on the monitor when I just sat next to him scratching his chin, his breathing steadying. I didn't want him to go back under be he needed to. And when I went back to see him after the second surgery he had his gusto back....well as much as you could expect.

He had to have a blood transfusion, a bunch of meds....the staff and surgical team stayed late to take care of him, and the hospital picked up a hefty sum of money from the bill. They were amazing.

We got Charlie home and started his road to recovery. It wasn't easy the first week. The  first night he experienced what I could only imagine was phantom pain . Jumped straight up from a laying down position and ran to me screaming....

He wasn't eating. After two days of that I started buying chicken and rice in bulk and hand feeding it to him. It took another week to get the apetite close to where it was. But we managed. We started going for short walks down the back yard in the direction of the lake. Each night just a little further. Then Finally we were able to get him in the water. A powerful swimmer, Charlie is still a nutcase and we thought unless we got him a life jacket he'd either sink, or just go in circles. 

The two pictures below show a condensed view of recovery...6 days post op, 14 days post op

6 days post op

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And this was 15 days post op:

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On that note, I'll end this part here and continue tomorrow with what it's been like almost 10 months after surgery.

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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1 April 2015 - 10:27 pm
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WOOW!!! I am absolutely riveted to Charlie's storh!! This is a real "page turner" indeed!!!

We all understand the sheer fear when you get the diagnosis. Just dealing with the diagnosis and the amputstion are difficult enoigh. But then to have it compounded by the complications from surgery...how awful!! It sounds like Charlie has the entire staff wrapped around his paw though. They clearly are committed to him!!

These pictures of your boy....oh my...he is so handsome!! His coat is beautifu. And his smile...such a happy boy! You can see the Golden...the Newfie...the Pyrenees all a huge part of marking Charlie...Charlie!!

I LOVE the picture of him on the dock gazing out over the lake. The reflection, the serenity, this is magnificent photo to treasure forever.

Thank you for sharing the photos and the journey...so far!! Can't wait for the next chapter!

Extra chin scratches for Charlie tonight!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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!

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Member Since:
17 May 2014
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2 April 2015 - 9:12 am
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Welcome to Tripawds!

Johnnie is also 10-months post-op, also a front-leg amp, a 90lb male Golden Retriever that will turn 7 in June (yes, we will make it !!!).  Glad to meet Charley. 

Waiting to hear the rest of Charley's story.

regards,

Daniela & Johnnie

Our awesome Golden Boy was diagnosed for OSA in April 2014 in the proximal humerus, front-leg amp on 05/20/2014. Finished chemo (Carbo6) on 07/10/2014. Ongoing treatment: acupuncture + K-9 Immunity Plus ( 3chews) and home-cooked no-grain diet.   Stopped Apocaps because of liver issues.   Liver issues: controlling altered enzymes with SAM-e and Milk Thistle.  October 17:  started having seizures.  Taking fenobarbital for seizures.  April 18: started prednisone.

Martinsburg, WV
Member Since:
3 June 2014
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2 April 2015 - 1:54 pm
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Wow...Charlie has quite the story and I'm so glad you shared it with us.  It's truly inspirational and shows that Charlie was not ready to give up and let cancer kick his butt...Charlie is kicking cancer's to the curb!!!

Charlie is a beautiful boy and I just want to give the big boy a BIG Ol' HUG!!  I love reading how you and Charlie came to finding each other out there in sunny CA. 

I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter in Charlie's amazing story!!

Hugs

Sahana and her Angel Leland

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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2 April 2015 - 2:11 pm
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Oh BRAVO! I'm so glad I waited till I had some quiet time to read this, it was well worth the wait. What a story and the recovery part...well I was really worried there. Thank you so so much for sharing Charlie's story and the amazing rebound. That last photo says it all!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Westminster, MD
Member Since:
31 August 2013
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2 April 2015 - 3:57 pm
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Hi Ryan and Charlie,
Welcome to Tripawds, you have definitely found the best place to be under the circumstances. What an absolutely gorgeous guy Charlie is, as well as an amazingly strong dog.....that must have been very scary for you. He is certainly a fighter! The diagnosis of cancer is an even more scary thing for sure. My own precious angel Polly fought another type of ugly cancer and this community is a wonderful place to be while taking this unwanted journey.

Keep us all posted on Charlie, and live each and every day in the moment!
Bonnie, Angel Polly' and new crew

Orrtanna Pa.
Member Since:
25 January 2014
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3 April 2015 - 5:35 am
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Hi, welcome, great story. Love the picture of him looking out over the dock. I am glad he is ok. That moment in the vet's office when you hear the word Osteasarcoma for the first time.... Your stomach just drops. Your heart gets broken in about 10 seconds and 7 syllables. I am glad to hear he is doing well and enjoying his swims, although this winter in Pa............indoor swimming was the only swimming happening. Looking forward to hearing more about this beautiful boy. His acquisition story reminds me a bit of how I got My TY Guy except I paid $100 for him. Some of the best $ I have ever spent. Lori, Ty & the gang

TY GUY, Best Black Lab ever! Diagnosed  and had amp in January, 2014. Kicked MRSA's butt. Earned his angel wings on April 16, 2014. Run Free my boy and don't forget a shoe. Ty is a proud member of the " April Angels". Ty sent us Daryl, a Tripawd rescue in Sept. of 2016. Daryl is 5 +or -. We are also Pawrents to Chandler, a Border Collie mix who is 15 and 1/2, Lucy, a Corgi who is 7, 2 minis, 2 horses, and a feisty cat named Zoe. Zoe had a non skeletal Osteosarcoma removed in July 2015. No Chemo, she was at least 16. She is going strong although she is now completely blind. She is now close to 20 and her hobbies are eating and sleeping in front of her personal heater. 

Member Since:
15 December 2012
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3 April 2015 - 12:04 pm
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Wow you had me on the edge of my seat with Charlie's story. So glad he came out okay and he has wonderful pawrents. Can't wait to hear more about the handsome boy.

Penny and her gang

Norene, TN
Member Since:
21 October 2014
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3 April 2015 - 12:26 pm
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Like everyone else, I was biting my lip to see how Charlie recovered. I love the picture of him asleep in the chair. It's as if he's lying in the palm of God's hand. Very, very sweet.

WELCOME!

pam

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

Member Since:
1 April 2015
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23 April 2015 - 5:50 pm
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Thanks for sharing - our german shorthaired pointer is 3 weeks from surgery and just had first chemo treatment yesterday....we are hopeful but the doctors are guarded on expectations....

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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23 April 2015 - 8:23 pm
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Hi Trey,
Please consider starting a new topic all about your pup so we can follow along with your journey. Thanks for joining, lots of hugs & 3-paws up to you & your GSP!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

PA
Member Since:
31 March 2015
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23 April 2015 - 9:20 pm
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Apologies everyone for the typos in my original post and for the lateness in my follow-up. It hasn't been that great since I originally posted this. I'll try and keep this shorter than the first post!

Charlie spent last summer being the same old goofy dog we've always known. Barking to be included in everything, never wanting to get out of the water, and trying to figure out why we still had a loud hairless puppy (my infant son at the time).

The surgeon who had performed the amp finally got news that the tumor was most likely, >80% chance to be specific, fibrosarcoma and not osteosarcoma. The data on fibro is weak since most of the times it's missed diagnosed apparently. Regardless we knew it was the best outcome we could hope for. We elected not to do chemo. In my original post it reads we could afford both surgery and chemo, we can and could not. Plus after what he had gone through with the surgery our goal for as long as it took was to make the rest of his days the best we could.

I'm going to skip ahead a bit to New Years day of this year. We had apparently entered an eternal winter in this part of the country. Charlie loves snow almost as much as he loves the water but unfortunately all we really had was ice on top of snow for most of the winter. New Years day Charlie got out of his chair and went to head outside when we noticed he wasn't using his back left leg. To say after the surgery we became paranoid (or neurotic) about this dog would be an understatement. So off to the emergency vet we went. No obvious signs of injury, no urgent condition could be found so some pain meds, and a follow up with our regular vet the next day  or two for what we thought was arthritis. 

We couldn't get in right away to see our vet and he seemed to be doing better so we didn't prioritize it as much as we should have and about five days later things didn't seem to be going well. I'm a stay-at-home-dad during the day (freelancer at night) and that day my son seemed to be getting ill. My wife was recovering from the flu so we just figured our little guy was coming down with it. Charlie also seemed off. He was having issues with his leg again and generally acting different.

We take the kid to his doc and he turns out to be just fine, probably teething that day. We get home and start to figure out what could be up with Chuck. I stayed up with him that night, getting more and more worried. He was restless, couldn't get comfortable, moving from one place to another every 30 seconds or so but never too far from me. He'd just stare at me like something was wrong but I didn't know what I could do for him. My son at the time was still in a crib but we had a twin bed for him when he got older. I brought that mattress downstairs for Chuck hoping it'd bring him some comfort. It never seemed to work. All night we played out this loop of him going from chair, to floor, to couch, to bed, to chair..at one point I called the ER vet to ask about gum color. We set an appointment up for that morning. I went upstairs in the middle of the night and my wife woke up to see him. While I was upstairs she was down with charlie petting him, talking to him. She came back up and said he seemed fine. I thought she was nuts.

Just a few hours later, Charlie still visibly uncomfortable and acting strangely, we got ready to take him in. Not knowing if this was cancer, a bad injury, infection...we were stumped.

I was tired. Like super tired but knew I had to pull it together to get him in and see what was up. I sat down on the couch to put my jacket on and couldn't life my cell phone up to my pocket. I then noticed my breathing was off. The next four days I spent in the hospital, three of which in the ICU. Above I mentioned I had T1 Diabetes. I'm on an insulin pump. A pump basically is a tiny pager-sized device that holds a cartridge of insulin which as a thin tube that goes to what's called an infusion site...actually it connected to a plastic piece that has an adhesive part to it which sticks to your skin and a tiny cannula is what's stuck in you for a couple days to deliver insulin. Anywho, that part. The part that actually sticks in your skin had failed the day before and I hadn't caught it. Too tired, too concerned about my son who I thought was coming down with the flu, and my dog who I had no idea what was going on to notice that I was getting sick, very, very sick. 

When you don't get any insulin for a length of time you can end up with what's called ketoacidosis which is what happened. I'm not going to get into details but there comes a point where you have so much ...poison (ketones) in your system that your body begins to try to expel them with your breath. Nurses, doctors, people who know that smell will smell it from a few feet away as they did that day in the ER. When I left the house for the ER, it was relayed to me that Charlie went over to his bed and fell asleep for the rest of the day. 

He knew I was getting sick. He could smell I was sick. It wasn't him that was ill, it was me and I didn't clue in on it. The afternoon I was released from the hospital we took Charlie to the vet still thinking something was up. That's when we found out he was fine albeit some arthritis. The rest of the winter was spent trying to find a balance between his love for frigid air (thick double coat), and what's good for his hips. 

In the last few weeks things have taken a bit of a turn downwards. We're going in tomorrow for a consult with his surgeon. He's operating more as a bi-pawd than a tripawd at the moment and not eating that great. The last few weeks is a bigger story than I have the energy for right now as I'm quite concerned about him again (but I'm doing ok this time). His quality of life isn't what it has been, he's not eating, and he barely gets up. On the other hand he has moments where he seems fine...we're at a loss of what to do next so we're trying to get some answers. I wrote a little more about the recent stuff here: http://tripawds.....ood-ju-ju/

Thanks to everyone for their responses, its' amazing how connected pets can become. 

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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23 April 2015 - 10:04 pm
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Okay...just sent you somme ju-ju over on your other thread...buckets full!

Goodness gracious, shat a read this post was! Fascinating that Charlie coukd tell uou were "ill" from smelling your breath! Quite a fella'!

You hang in there and update us tomorrow.

And typos??? Are you kidding?? If I apologized for every typo I made...OMD! Into infinity!!!!!!

Se dingnyou best wishes! Take care of yourself too, okay?

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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24 April 2015 - 8:36 am
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hey thanks for the update here. You guys have been through SO much. I answered your other post, please know that we are thinking of you and hoping for some very good, pawsitive results from today's visit.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Martinsburg, WV
Member Since:
3 June 2014
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24 April 2015 - 11:46 am
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Wow...Charlie is definitely one special pup!!  To be able to alert that your body was in distress without formal training (I'm assuming) is completely amazing.  Our connections with our fur kids are truly special bonds!

You guys hang in there and I'll be sending positive thoughts Charlie's way for his upcoming vet apt.

Sahana and her Angel Leland

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

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