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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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Porter & Mom, new to the site!
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Member Since:
12 February 2012
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12 February 2012 - 2:55 pm
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Hey everyone - I'm so glad I found this page and forum!  We're at the very beginning of our journey.  Porter is a 6 1/2 year old lab/great pyrenees mix, and he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on Thursday 2/9.  His front amputation is scheduled for Tuesday 2/14 (Valentine's Day, ironically - we love hime more than anything in our lives!).  No visible mets in his lungs, which is great.  Of course, we are very worried - both about the amputation surgery, making sure he recovers well, and then putting together a good plan to continue to fight the cancer.  Porter has been seeing an acupuncturist for the last 1 1/2 years (for general health, not for any specific issues) and she will be working with me to put together a plan for herbal supplements and a switch to homemade food after he finishes his chemo.  We don't yet know what the chemo plan is.  This website has been amazing in finding out people's real world experiences with helping dogs adjust to a life on three legs, making their world comfortable and easy for them, suggestions for meals and nutrition, and getting a real life expectancy prognosis.  

Here's a different question.  Porter is a registered pet therapy dog, and we have been volunteering weekly at both an alzheimer's home (carpet floors) and our local Shriners Hospital (slippery floors).  If he recovers well, I think I'd like him to continue his volunteer work - especially Shriners, because they treat kids with orthopedic problems (ironically) and I think he might be a great inspiration to these kids with bone problems.  But do you think the risk of him being three-legged in these environments is worth it?

12 February 2012 - 3:41 pm
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Hey Porter and pack,

Welcome to Tripawds.  Your future posts will not require moderation.

It sounds like you have been looking around the site so hopefully you have seen Jerry's Required Reading list and the e book Three Legs and a Spare.  Both are good places to start with information on what to expect with amputation, recovery and treatment.

Porter is beautiful by the way!

As far as the therapy stuff- I think if it is something Porter likes you should find a way to keep doing it (once he has healed up).  Here are some traction ideas from our gear blog.  Scroll down past all the carpet stuff since you are talking about visiting places.  He is probably pretty big??  You could also consider a wagon or stroller to get him around the hospital.  Our local pal Shelby does lots of hospital visiting.  She is smaller though, a small Golden, who has her own wagon and the staff to pull it!

Good luck with the surgery, keep us posted on Porter's Progress.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Edmond, Oklahoma
Member Since:
7 January 2011
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12 February 2012 - 4:06 pm
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Welcome Porter and Mom; sorry about the OSA diagnosis, but it sounds like your mom already has a good game plan to fight the cancer.  Be sure to update us on Tuesday with how the surgery went (his ampuversary date will be an easy one to remember.  Of course it depends on the dog, but Porter is young and I would think he could easily handle the slippery floors once he's fully recovered.  Scout went to school a lot and had no trouble with the slippery hallways; just be sure to keep the fur on his paws short; you could also try the booties, although a lot of dogs find them an annoyance!  I bet Porter would love to continue his therapy work  and will be a HUGE inspiration to the kids.

Scout: January 31, 2002 to November 7, 2011

Scout's diagnosis was "poorly differentiated sarcoma"; amputation 1/11/2011.  Scout enjoyed 9 fantastic years on 4 legs and 9 glorious months on 3 legs.  If love alone could have saved you…

Leicester, NY
Member Since:
11 February 2011
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12 February 2012 - 4:27 pm
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Welcome Porter and Mom!

Spirit Samson was Spirit Tripawd Daisys four legged "brother" and ruled as the self proclaimed head of the Monkeybutt Federations East Coast Division. Lady Chunky Monkey stayed from Oct 2011 and left for the bridge in Apr 2012. Miss Perdy is left and has some big pawprints to fill.
Do you have what it takes to be a Monkeybutt? Find out more at the Monkeybutt Federation

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 February 2012 - 5:50 pm
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Hey Porter, welcome. Looks like that pawesome moderator Karen gave you the rundown here, so if you have any questions about all that, you know where to ask 'em.

An osteo diagnosis really sucks, but as you can see here, many of us have made those smarty pants doctors look sooooo silly when we beat their "odds" and kicked cancer's butt for a long time. I've got my paws crossed that you will too.

As for therapy dog stuff, yes, if you love it, do it. Talk to others here who are already in the know, you'll find that being 3-legged makes them in demand, everyone wherever they go wants to meet them and I'm sure the same will be true for you as well.

I hope your surgery goes smoothly and you're back into your routine in no time. We'll be here every hop of the way!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
18 January 2012
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12 February 2012 - 7:35 pm
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Welcome Porter and Family!  I'm sorry you needed to find the site, but I'm glad you did.  It has been tremendously helpful for us in our journey.  The therapy part sounds great!  Be patient.  It will be a little while before he's ready for that.  Focus on getting through the first two weeks.  I found having friends to give us towels and sheets (Baby was a little 'drippy' at first) was very helpful. Also - get puppy training pads.  I lined up a friend to stay in the house for awhile when we had to go to work.  That way I knew meds were given and Baby was staying quiet. 

The 'Three Legs and A Spare' download book is well worth it!  It really helped us know what things would look like, what to expect in recovery, etc. 

Get lots of rest - Porter will do great, I'm sure, but for some reason we humans wake and worry at every little sound so we get very tired!  

Once Porter is a strong hoppin' boy he will look for normalcy.  If visiting people is normal, it will be just what he needs.  Hospital floors can be quite slick, so you might want to get some booties for him.  They sell some through the tripawds site. 

Best of Luck!  Blog a lot - it helps.  We always enjoy pictures of each others'  furbabies.

Judy and Baby

Member Since:
12 February 2012
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12 February 2012 - 7:51 pm
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THANKS everyone!  For the welcomes, and for all the helpful advice!  I'm already on the search for friends with no-slip rugs we can borrow, and am planning on downloading the book as well.  And I plan to keep blogging as well.  This sure seems like one of those situations where we certainly didn't want to have to meet you all, but we're very glad we did!  We'll keep everyone posted after his surgery - I'm sure I'll need more advice then! laugh

Much thanks,

Kevin, Sandy, and Porter

New Zealand
Member Since:
6 November 2011
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12 February 2012 - 8:18 pm
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Just wanted to say Hi and welcome to you all. You will find this site amazing and so helpfull and full of advice if you have any problems.

Good Luck with the surgery.

Sarah, Kayla and Sarge

Peoria, IL
Member Since:
8 November 2010
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13 February 2012 - 1:10 am
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First off, Porter is stunning. Does he have gray fur?

Second, Sammy become a therapy dog after he became a tripawd. He had no trouble with hardwood, concrete or tile floors until his other front leg started to bother him. However, once he slipped a few times, he was really wary of smooth surfaces. We ended up with  an unsightly assortment of throw rugs, runners and yoga mats. The yoga mats actually worked better than the rugs, were fairly inexpensive and are quite portable. They just night work for your purposes.

— Beth and Spirit Smilin' Sammy

Smilin' Sammy, March 16, 2004 – Dec. 5, 2011
Golden retriever, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2010 — right front leg amputated November 2010. He fought valiantly to stay with us; but a second diagnosis of osteosarcoma, this time in his left front leg, was more than our golden warrior could overcome. He loved his pack — and everyone else he met.

We loved him even more.
Thanks for the pennies, Sammy. They helped.

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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13 February 2012 - 6:10 am
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Hi Porter.  You are one handsome dude.  Sorry you got cancer.  You'll feel better once that awful pain from your leg goes away.  Good luck with your surgery today!

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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13 February 2012 - 9:10 am
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Oh my goodness, Porter, you are such a handsome boy! Sorry you had to find us here, but you won't be sorry you joined the group. Lots of knowledgable and supportive folks here!

Good luck with the surgery. Keep us posted. The cancer diagnosis is so very scary, but there can still be LOTS of amazing times ahead!
Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Member Since:
12 February 2012
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13 February 2012 - 6:24 pm
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Beth - yes, he does have gray fur!  We think it's because of his black lab/great pyrenees.  Porter has the greatest network ever - the outpouring of love in texts, emails, and conversations has overwhelmed me.  Every person that asks if they can help, I tell them we need no-slip rugs - and I had two bags on my porch tonight, and expect two more tomorrow morning - thanks to the Tripawds community, I knew just what to ask for!  Thanks also to the comments about continuing therapy work.  The yoga mat idea sounds great - assuming his healing goes well and after the chemo, I think that will work perfectly when he goes back to his volunteer work.  

Porter is chewing his rawhide tonight - he's carried it around with him for 4 days (a gift from a caring coworker) and hasn't touched it.  Tonight he's attacking it with gusto - I wonder, does he know it will be harder to chew a bone with only one leg?!  I will post again post-surgery - many thanks again to everyone!

Sandy & Porter

Kansas City, MO
Member Since:
21 January 2012
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13 February 2012 - 9:07 pm
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I hope everything goes well for Porter tomorrow and he gets a smooth recovery. Hopefully, he'll be back to volunteering in no time!

Member Since:
18 January 2012
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13 February 2012 - 11:41 pm
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We had a beautiful Great Pyrenees named Humphry (hump-free get it?)  He was a rescue and was terribly shy, but we had a real bond.  The coloring on Porter brings back wonderful memories of our too short time together. 

Baby and I will be thinking of you and Porter tomorrow and sending tons of strength and good wishes.  Try to rest -  the surgery can take awhile.  Baby's was 5 1/2 hours because she's so large (155lb) and had so much muscle to cut through.  Yours will probably be shorter, but know that even though Baby's took a long time, she handled it very well.  Time doesn't mean there's a problem.  It's just the vet being careful with our bigger babies so no worries! (I'm assuming Porter's got some pyrenees size - he may take after the lab side and not be so big, in which case.... nevermind)


Wags and Smiles and Lots of Good Wishes

Judy and Baby

Member Since:
1 February 2011
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14 February 2012 - 12:06 am
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OMD!!! Porter is gorgeous!!! Welcome to the site, and hope you have a speedy recovery period. We can't wait to see more pictures and hear more of your story!

Rio's momma, Micki

the Woo

~ ~ Rio ~ ~
Forever in my heart...

April 2000 – January 20, 2012
Diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer in June 2007. Left rear leg amputated Feb. 8, 2011.
Mets discovered Aug. 31, 2011. Read more of Rio's story here.

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