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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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My Special Mix, Buster
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
26 December 2008
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26 December 2008 - 8:45 am
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I found Buster when he was six months old and there was obvious signs of abuse and neglect.  I already had Autumn, my rottweiller and didn’t want another dog.  I gave Buster to four different homes and he was returned "due to his energy level".  I also picked him up at the shelter twice… thanks to my getting him his shots immediately upon finding him.  Buster had some behaviorial problems and could be a handful unlike Autumn who was quite, secure and had undergone every expert advice that I came across.  It took some time but Buster blossomed into a ‘mostly’ obedient dog.  He was always loving and sweet and very smart.  It was just us three, Me, Autumn and Buster, and every free moment I spent with them.  On November 3, 2007 my forever dog, Autumn, died suddenly at 9 years old.  It hurt so bad that I didn’t think I would survive and that is when my little man, Buster, became my hero.  His bond with me strengthened, he blossomed further and he stayed by my side.  He was my only reason for getting up and he made sure I did.  Sadly, he started limping and was eventually diagnosed in November of 2008, with osteosarcoma in his front right leg.  His front left leg had been broken before I found him and had not been treated but the surgeon said Buster still could be a tripod since the joint in the left leg was stable.  I and everyone I knew thought that removing Buster’s leg was nothing short of terrible or cruel. I knew nothing of tripods but everything about dogs in general.  Still hearing the statistics from the surgeon led me to take a one week vacation from work to be with my baby and do nothing but research the best route from him.  After seeing Jerry and all the dogs on this website, my decision was made and my feelings changed.  It also helped others close to me understand why I made my choice (not that this mattered).  Buster had his right front leg and lymph node removed on 11/18/08 and he was sent home the next night.  The first night did not go so well and doubt within me rose.  The doubt stayed there for awhile in the beginning of Buster’s recooperation.  However, Buster being Buster he began improving quickly and his level of mobility was amazing.  Shortly after the surgery and during Buster’s amazing progress, the surgeon called with more bad news – yes this is possible.  Very very rarely does ostesarcoma metastize into the lymph nodes and when it does survival time decreases for the animal.  In Buster’s case we knew it had gone to the right lymph node as it had been removed and tested during the amputation surgery.  After again performing extensive research directed to this specific issue we elected no chemotherapy due to the statistical survival times.  We did not give up as an all natural war was launch to drive away the demons threatening my Buster.  Buster and Autumn had treated with a homeopathic vet for a very long time before either one had any life-threatening problems.  Buster received supplements, herbs, remedies, magnetic therapy, classical music therapy etc.  His energy level was incredible as was his ability to ambulate.  It truly was amazing.  On Friday December 12, 2008 Buster came with me to drop off Christmas gifts.  The owners of the place where he was groomed were not there and the girl who usually grooms Buster came to greet him and he went wild with joy.  Believe it or not but in all the excitement I had to actually point out to her that Buster’s leg was gone.  After playing Santa we went to the park where he took the longest walk (of course with some breaks) that he had taken since the surgery.  We were stopped by some dog owners there who were absolutely amazed at Buster’s ability to move about on three legs.  Later that evening I went out for an appointment and when I returned Buster looked uncomfortable.  I decided to take him in my room (he sleeps with me) where he is more comfortable on the bed.  Buster would not move and he weighs about 100lbs.  When it is dead weight it is even heavier.  I attempted to pick him up and we both slammed to the ground where I landed on top.  For some stupid reason my only thought was we over did it on the walk.  I dragged him to my room and when I tried to place his leg on the steps to my bed he fell over with no control.  That was my moment of realization – or one of them anyway.  Our vet was in a concert and he was too heavy and fragile to move.  For 3 hours I called the vet and held Buster in my arms while he struggled to breathe as his breaths slowed and slowed.  It wasn’t peaceful.  Toward the end I told Buster it was okay to go and begged Autumn to take him so this suffering would end.  Finally the vet called and rushed over.  By that time Buster had just stopped breathing but the vet said his heart was beating.  She gave him "mouth-to-mouth" then tried to stimulate his breathing with a needle.  The needle made him take one final breath and then Buster passed away.  They believe it was a clot from the surgery or the clot could have been formed by the cancer – though this was an unusual turn of events and he did not go because of the disease.  Buster was only 7 years old and all I had left and I feel very cheated but thankful for him that he didn’t have to go down "very sick".  And even though his death may have been a result of the surgery I would still recommend this procedure to any dog owner.  I am a true advocate and Buster’s short time after the surgery and quick recovery period was much more joyous than the pain he felt before the procedure was performed.  So this is for my little man who was such the trooper and happy as can be as a tripod.   

Metro Kansas City
Forum Posts: 248
Member Since:
22 October 2008
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26 December 2008 - 1:45 pm
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I’m so sorry that Buster had such a rough passing, but the bright side is that he was with you, his love. You held him and that gave him the strength he needed. In his last moments, he only felt & cared about your love. That is how dogs are. You have to believe that, to him, being in your arms was peaceful to him.

I’m so glad that this forum gave you the courage & wisdom to relieve his pain by amputation. It is why I stay even though my greyhound did not need her amputation due to cancer. Through the strength of this forum, I know now that I would make that decision in the future where I always said I would not.

I know you have 2 special angels watching over you and giving you comfort daily. Just think of them & you’ll see them all around you. With my 9 angels & the 5 I have at home, my house gets crazy sometimes and that make me laugh!

Hang in there & heal gently.

Janie & Calamity

Janie & Calamity

Forum Posts: 729
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28 May 2008
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26 December 2008 - 3:16 pm
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Nikki – I can feel the love you have for Buster and Autumn through your post. I’m soooo very sorry for your heartbreak. I really appreciate as I’m sure many do, the courage that it took to write that and relive that experience on paper so fresh in your life.

I’m so glad that you were there for him as difficult as it was, I’m certain.

I hope you find peace in knowing that you gave Buster a life that he would not have had without you…he will be with you always, I believe that.

Much love and many prayers for you to find peace and acceptance during this really difficult time.

Thank you again for sharing this with us ~



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

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28741
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26 December 2008 - 3:34 pm
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Thank you very much for joining the discussion forums Nikki!

Please accept our deepest condolences for your loss of Buster, but know that sharing your circumstances is sure to help others faced with similar decisions.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 387
Member Since:
27 July 2008
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28 December 2008 - 9:03 pm
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Dearest Nikki,

How difficult this must have been for you.  Knowing that Buster weighed far too much for you to move him and your vet attending a concert.  Those three hours must have seemed like an eternity.  I don’t envy your position in the least.  What a wonderful pawrent you were to hold and love and cry over your beloved Buster as he took his final breaths.

You gave him so much more than anyone else ever would have in his short life and, for that, you should be commended.  My deepest condolences to you.

Love, Vicki, Blazer & Kitty Kimber

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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3 January 2009 - 1:34 pm
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Nikki, I am so sorry for your loss.  Knowing we all must face it just doesn’t make it any easier.  RIP sweet Buster, you were so loved and will be sorely missed.

Hugs to you Nikki for being strong enough to share your story. 

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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