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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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Our Carter boy
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Richmond, VA
Forum Posts: 21
Member Since:
12 January 2009
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13 January 2009 - 12:55 am
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What a whirlwind – or should I say tsunami – this past week has been.  Carter, our beloved soon-to-be 7-year old retriever/setter mix was showing just a slight limp just after we returned home from the requisite family holiday visits.  We had a friend stay here at the house with him and his little Jack Russell brother Linus.  We watched him for a couple of days then called the sitter and asked if anything had happened while we were away.  When the answer was no we made an appointment with the vet for Saturday thinking that it was to be just a strain or sprain.  After the xray was read and the initial diagnosis of cancer was given we were in disbelief and shock – but it was supposed to be a sprain!!!  We scheduled a follow-up visit for monday with more xrays of the lungs to see if the cancer had spread.  The vet prepared us for the worse stating that most likely when  the tumor is discovered the cancer has already spread to the lungs.  After reading the xray our vet determined that the cancer had spread into the lungs but encouraged a second opinion.  Unfortunately here in the Richmond, VA area there are no oncologists so we booked an appointment for Friday in Northern VA at South Paws with an oncologist. 

The week was hard – i even had to ask my partner to pull off I95 as we drove up to the visit so I could be sick and sick I was.  We were ready for the worst and expected the worst just to be prepared.  Fortunately the second opinion gives us hope as the oncologist determined that the cancer has not spread into the lungs nor anywhere else.  He also stated that the tumor is not in the usual place and is not the usual shape of osteosarcome but it is a tumor of some kind in the bone.  As we all now know the suggested treatment is the amputation then chemo.  The costs were higher than I could have even projected but we reflected that we could either vacation this year or prolong our dear Carter's life – the choice was obvious.

We have our ups and downs – interestingly when one of us is up the other is down and vice versa.  Carter has been our delight for the past 7 years and we want to protect him from pain – to protect him from the pain, amputation is the answer.  We are going through the usual fears right now…will he be able to jump that log he always jumps down at the River?…will he still play defense when his little brother tries to catch the frisbee?…how will he do his favorite stretch off the sofa?…what if something happens in surgery?  Knowing that so many others here have been through the same experience is more than comforting.  We are confident in our decision and reading all of your stories only bolsters that confidence.

We have already taken Carter to a local therapeutic doggie pool, Paws to Swim, so that he knows the layout and routine when he is ready to swim again (he is a water dog in every sense of the word).  We understand the swimming to be a great rehab tool.  We ordered the Ruffwear harness tonight in anticipation of our continued although abbreivated river walks.  We read the answers to the most frequent questions and plan to invest in runners, a thick mattress and his favorite treats tomorrow and Wednesday.  And we even viewed the post-surgery photos so that we can be prepared. 

We hope that the post-amputation biopsy will be a bit of good news but we are prepared to accept the osteo diagnosis.  We are also prepared to make this the best year…or part of a year…or few months of Carter's and our lives.  He brings us such joy – from the sweet bay of his howl on command to his clever discovery of treats when we play CSI to his pawing at our approaching enemy hands for “how dare you tickle my foot.” 

We will rely on you all for your strength and wisdom and promise to share what we learn in return.  This is just the continuation of our W-A-L-K (yep we gotta spell) with our beloved Carter boy and look forward to his three-pawed hop down this next fork in the trail.

Greg and Ben (carter's dads)

Metro Kansas City
Forum Posts: 248
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13 January 2009 - 1:45 am
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Greg & Ben,

What a brave thing you are doing to help Carter! It's not an easy road, at first, but it gets better & you'll be so thankful for the choice you have made. Carter will thank you too.

After Carter heals, he will be able to do all the things he does now. He'll do it all with gusto & vigor and pain free. He will not miss that leg, I promise you.

All the things you are feeling now are normal, I certainly felt them. Some days I still look at Calamity & wish it was different, that she was “whole” still. Calamity would have it no other way than how she is now. She races, yes RACES, with her brothers & sister once again, she jumps to her spot on the sofa & the bed. She falls & quickly jumps back up as if nothing ever happened. She lives!

Prepare yourselves for an emotional 2 weeks after his surgery & lean on any of us here to get you through it. Remember to take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, or one minute at a time if need be. Remember to breathe!

I'll be thinking of Carter & you as I light my daily candle. Feel free to e-mail me if you need to.

Janie & Calamity

http://www.trix…..gspot.com/

Janie & Calamity http://www.trix.....gspot.com/

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 28741
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13 January 2009 - 1:45 am
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cartersdads said:

…what if something happens in surgery?


Bless you for taking such good care of your boy. You ask all good questions. This one is the only one which requires you to really prepare yourselves for … which it seems you're doing quite well.

Bad things are rare but can happen during and shortly after surgery, but without amputation you know bad things will happen. What if something happens in surgery? Then you know you did everything you possibly could to extend Carter's quality of life.

All the other questions … the running, the stretch, the favorite log … these are new experiences you get to enjoy for the first time all over again with Carter. You may be amazed and just what he will do to, well, amaze you. Life may be different in many ways, but in many ways it will be much better.

If anything, you will learn from Carter to stop asking “what if?” and just live life to the fullest, every moment of the way.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Manchester, UK
Forum Posts: 210
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2 February 2008
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13 January 2009 - 9:09 am
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Welcome Greg & Ben & Carter!

As has been said, you WILL get to enjoy watching Carter do all those things again but when he does them after his surgery, they will be even more fantastic than they were oriiginally – and, you'll come here and post about each one as it happens (as I do now with Darcy) and we'll all cheer along with you Laugh

Darcy – tripawd since 16th October 2007.

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

Forum Posts: 729
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13 January 2009 - 1:17 pm
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Greg and Ben…WE WENT TO SOUTH PAWS!!!! YOU ARE IN THE BEST HANDS!!!

Dr. Brehm did Zeus' amputation and Dr. Schaffer is his oncologist. Zeus will be 11 on March 8th and he is 9 months post amputation and is doing amazing. Let me know if you want to chat or meet Zeus to see how wonderful he is doing. I literally live 15 minutes from the facility and would be more than happy to meet you guys if you're up for it or if it will help you.

I have never ever regretted one dime or one moment that I have spent on Zeus since his diagnosis…and yes, I here you about thinking it's a sprain and getting that horrific news. We are sooo happy to hear that the second opinion resulted positively when it came to lung mets. Stay strong and pawsitive.

Please contact me if you think it may help you get through this. I would love to help.

You can reach me at hkourcklas@comcast.net

Heather

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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14 January 2009 - 1:17 am
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Zeus said:

Greg and Ben…WE WENT TO SOUTH PAWS!!!! YOU ARE IN THE BEST HANDS!!!


Wow, is that the coolest coincidence or WHAT?

The universe works in such awesome ways.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Richmond, VA
Forum Posts: 21
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12 January 2009
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14 January 2009 - 10:59 am
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Hi all – we are just home from dropping off Carter at the hospital and his amputation is scheduled for 12 noon.  We hope to report good news later tonight or tomorrow morning.  We did get a bit hesitant after xrays on his hips yesterday showed some fairly advanced arthritis but the surgeon did some testing and reported that Carter has no idea what his xrays look like and is still a strong candidate for the amputation.  We did move forward and look forward to visiting him tonight. 

Incidentally – while we did the second opinion at South Paws we stayed here in the Richmond area for the surgery at a location recommended by South Paws.  We had driven up north about 2 hours for the second opinion and are so glad that we did. 

Post-biopsy results we will make our decision on the chemo treatment.  I am sure i will be back asking advice on that as well.

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14 January 2009 - 12:38 pm
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We're saying tons of prayers today for Carter…and you both! Sending good pawsitive energy and thoughts your way too…please keep us posted.

Love

Mom and Zeus

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

Forum Posts: 42
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14 January 2009 - 12:48 pm
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I know it is so awful and shocking to get that diagnosis, then the decision making, and then the recovery from the surgery. Be strong for Carter and be assured better times are around the corner!

Jane and Ember

Metro Kansas City
Forum Posts: 248
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22 October 2008
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14 January 2009 - 1:16 pm
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TONS of prayers for Carter today! I think Calamity's amputation surgery took about 2 hours, a much shorter surgery than the 5 hour one for the initial repair!

When he gets home, start him on a glucosamine supplement, it will help his arthritis a lot!

Janie & Calamity

Janie & Calamity http://www.trix.....gspot.com/

Richmond, VA
Forum Posts: 21
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12 January 2009
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14 January 2009 - 9:17 pm
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whew…a BIG sigh of relief…We just returned from visiting hours and Carter is doing great – though a bit drugged.  His surgery was complete about 1 PM and he was awake and alert by 2:30.  The surgeon called us again this afternoon at 4:30 to say that even though Carter had received an epideral that he was already up and trying to figure out how to walk.  When we went for visiting hours this evening they told us that he had become anxious while alert and couldnt quite get comfortable and was walking a bit in circles trying to figure the whole thing out.  They gave him a bit more sedative so he would settle down and heal.  He was pretty out of it while we were there but it was good to see him nonetheless.  Knowing that he did all that he did today just after surgery we are sure that he is going to bounce right back and adjust well. 

i do have to say that I am glad that when we saw him for the first time that he was a bit out of it as we could take in the shaving and the suture.  It truly was not anywhere near as bad as I had expected.  I will post some pics after we get him home.  Seeing some on this site before we went truly helped me.  As a black dog his looks a bit different than the ones I saw here so I want any others who have black dogs to see what they may expect.

He will stay tonight and possibly next just to be sure that all is a-okay before coming on home. 

I tell ya folks – its going to be okay – its truly going to be okay. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 January 2009 - 9:38 pm
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cartersdads said:

… its going to be okay – its truly going to be okay. 


That's the spirit! Glad to hear Carter pulled  through OK. Sounds like he's off to a good start and in great hands. Just remember to take it one day at a time. Looking forward to hearing more about your new lease on life with Carter. Congratulations and thanls for the update.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 104
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14 January 2009 - 10:00 pm
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Hey Carter's dads — just wanted to drop a quick note to tell you I'm so glad all went well with Carter's surgery today.  First major hurdle down – Carter will be home and healed before you know it – but you do need to be patient with the healing process. 

Also wanted to let you know that you don't have to worry about whether he will be able to swim, jump logs and play with his little brother — my choc lab went for his first hike 10 days post op – we took it slow initially but within 3 weeks we were back to our normal length hikes – he was swimming as he always had before and chasing his tennis balls!  He will teach you so much about resilience and how to not feel sorry for yourself for one second — you will be amazed.  Enjoy every minute!

Northern CA
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14 January 2009 - 10:20 pm
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I am so glad to hear the surgery went well.  Jack's mom is right- first hurdle down. You will not believe how well Carter will heal so quickly. Our Wrigley had her amputation surgery on Dec. 22 and she is running through the back yard already. Those 2 weeks of recovery were tough.  But you will get through it and before you know it be back to doing the things you did before. We've been back on our walks ( a little shorter than they used to be, but still pretty amazing)  The neighbors can't believe how well Wrigley gets around.

We also have another dog ( 100 lb Shepherd) and I had no problems with him after Wrigley came home. He was so glad to have her back- he also suffers from separation anxiety. I did and still do have to watch him, to make sure he won't hurt her. He likes to give her big hugs  sometimes and the other day he almost knocked her over. But I do notice her anticipating him more and protecting herself.

We ordered the harness too . It just came today. It will be perfect for walks to the river, getting in and out of the car…

We'll keep you in our thoughts and prayers-  just hang in there. It is so amazing how these dogs adapt.

Keep us posted.

Seanne and CA Wrigley

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

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14 January 2009 - 10:40 pm
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Good stuff….REALLY good stuff. This is an incredible journey guys…live it, really live it one moment at a time – you won't regret it.

We are glad to hear that surgery went well – Carter sounds like he will be just fine and like Jerry said – he sounds like he is in great hands with you both 😉

Wrigley – soooooo happy to hear that you're doing well too.

Much love,

Heather and Zeus

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

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