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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?

Find out in Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now by Tripawds founders Rene and Jim. Learn life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Get the book and find fun gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.

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Rufus becomes a Tripawd tomorrow
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Member Since:
28 February 2022
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7 March 2022 - 10:15 pm
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Hi Tripawds tribe.  My Rufus will be having his front leg amputated tomorrow.  What a roller-coaster journey it has been trying to make the decision.  Rufus is a beautiful 47kg (103lbs) 9 year old dane/lab which we adopted from SPCA when he was about 3 months old.  He has been pretty healthy with exception of a lung infection a couple of years ago (they think it may have been a seed?).  Other than that, a very healthy happy chappy.  A month ago I noticed a swelling on his front paw and took him to the local vet.. they thought it was the dreaded osteosarcoma… which was later confirmed.  The vet thought that amputation was not suitable for Rufus because he is a large older dog… at the end of his life span.  And that amputation would not get rid of this aggressive cancer and that he would only likely last a few months.  The question “do you want to put him through that”.   Gutted… and my only option was to euthanize him in the not too distant future as he would be in great pain.  I left in tears and went home frantically searching all my options/any options.. to save Rufus.   I came across an article about a vet in the country who performs spare limb surgery… so I approached Rufus’s vet  to query if that was an option…  The vet said that it may be possible and ask if I wanted to be referred to the “gold” standard vet in the city… it would be EXPENSIVE.  So began the journey …

Rufus went to the city vet and had a CT Scan and biopsy.  Yes, osteosarcoma was confirmed and no, not suitable for spare limb surgery. … but… a good candidate for amputation!!!  WHAT!!!!  I was completely thrown off guard as Rufus’s original vet said he wasn’t a good candidate.  The CT scan showed the cancer in his front leg (distal radius) but not found anywhere else or in his lungs…  

Now the rollercoaster… do I amputate or let him go while he is still happy.  The mere thought of amputation was horrifying (still is).  Thankfully, the vet put me onto the Tripawds website.  What an eyeopener. So many folks going through what I felt I was going through.  Including trying to explain to others the decision to amputate… not many people "get it", how you feel about your furbaby.  Most have said to let him go. Thankfully Rufus has a another great supporter, my son, who was completely for the amputation at the get go.  Tripawds most certainly help me make an informed decision.  Seeing all the blogs of success stories and the “reality” of the journey and the great links to other resources!  I didn’t feel alone and could see how other folks managed the decision making process and the recovery phase.   It gave me HOPE that at least Rufus has a good chance to live the rest of his days not in pain. Yes, he will be missing a leg, and yes will still likely succumb to the cancer,  but the pain will be gone.  That is what made my decision to go ahead with the amputation.. to give Rufus a chance.  

So big day tomorrow… thanks for creating this foundation… brilliant and incredibly informative. Bracing for the next few weeks.. but he has a good support team who love him dearly.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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8 March 2022 - 9:44 am
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Hi Rufus and furmily, welcome. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval, so post soon and let us know how he is doing OK? 

Your note made my heart sing, I'm so happy you found comfort through all the stories and information here. And I'm honored that the big city vet is the one who told you about us. May I ask who this vet is? It's a huge honor.

The gut instinct you had to seek a second opinion for Rufus speaks volumes about the bond you share with him. He's not the biggest member we've ever had join us if it makes you feel any better! And it's not easy to get past the negative naysayers (who most likely have never been faced with this decision, or living with a three-legged hero), but you did it! And I hope with all my heart that Rufus does really well and has a smooth recovery. Please let us know if you have any questions at all OK? Be sure to check out our What to Expect articles to prepare for his homecoming.

We'll be looking for an update! Stay strong, you can do this!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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8 March 2022 - 7:20 pm
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Well hello Rifus and his very wise and devoted  hoomans!!!   Yes, soooo glad you found this community!!  As you can see from Jerry's reply, as well as the research here, you are not alone!!!!  We understand like noothers can!  And while others are well intended,  you are the one who has done uour research, you are the one who spoke with the "gold standard" Vet and you are the one who found your way here and read about jow well Tripawds do!!

And as Jerry indictated, size and age don't matter.  You kmow yoir Rufus best, plus  he has been cleared  for surgery  by a Surgeon.  My Happy Hannah was a "fluffy" 125 lb Bull Mastiff at 8 1/2 years old when she had her surgery, 

Is Rufus spend the night in a fully staffed clinic?  While some do come home the same day as surgery, ot can be pretty rough that first night.  So if he can stay at a clinic and be monitored  that's  best.  He'll have good pain meds and see a few pink elephants!

YES, you are giving Rufus a chance at a pain free qua life full of more spoiling and love and treats and tummy rubs!  Rifus doesn't  have a timeframe stamped  anywhere on his butt.  No one knows how long we will be in this earth.  What we do know is that we need to stay in thrpe present and make every moment the gest moment ever!!  Rufus  lives in the now.  No worries about yesterday nor tomorrow,  just enjoying the bliss of the now.

Yes, do let us know how we can help you navigate through recovery.  It's  no picnic for a couple of weeks, but once recovery  is over you will be amazed at how Happy Rufus will be on three. 

We'll be sending all sorts of pawsitive energy from your new family straight to you and Rufus!!

Extra hugs 

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie 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!

Member Since:
28 February 2022
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13 March 2022 - 12:36 pm
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RECOVERY for Rufus.

Rufus is home and resting!!  Surgery went well with no complications and even had a brief get up and go the next day.

You asked who his surgeon was that recommended Tripawds site to us.  It was Aparna Tikekar at VSA vets (New Zealand). She encouraged us to visit the Site before making our decision to amputate, and we are so thankful that she did.  She has been brilliant the whole way through. Taking her time to explain everything and if we have any concerns to get in touch with her (no matter how small).

On another note, I just want to say that Rufus’s primary vet, who did not think he was a candidate for amputation, but they did not have the advantage of CT scan to see his overall condition.  They suggested we see the gold standard specialist city vet to do so and were able get him in within a week which was amazing as this clinic can have incredibly long waiting times to see someone. So I  really appreciate their effort.  We are all just hoping that this is the best for Rufus…   

We decided to complete Rufus’s journey with Chemo.  It was recommended that we start the day after surgery.  They believed Rufus would have a better chance if chemo was done prior to 5 days after surgery.

They nearly kept him an extra day  due to no appetite… (probably due to the chemo) but we managed to get a little bit of peanut butter in him to take a pill so he was allowed to come home.  The evening pills were a challenge though… but got there in the end.

He slept through most of the night (although I did not).  And got restless about 4am… just needed a big drink of water then somewhat settled after that.

Second night was a bit better with him waking around 3am and panting… not sure if it was from pain or if he was too hot… I tried to give the gabapentin and paracetamol a bit later (11pm) the next night to see if that would get him through the night.  He started panting again at around midnight but soon settled until morning.  So I am thinking giving the meds a bit later worked.

Day 3 he finally had a poop!  It’s the little things.  He is still tires quickly and after  he goes for a pee he wants to go back inside to lie down.  But he has gotten up on his own a few times to see where his people were…   He is eating (just) lying down but not out of the raised food station… will try to encourage that in next couple of days.

Day 4.  Rufus has developed a lump at the top of his scar on his shoulder.  So will be checking in with the vet today to see if it is okay.. seems like fluid.

We are just taking things a little at a time. 

 Thanks for the feedback and encouragement!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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13 March 2022 - 5:36 pm
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OH YAY! Thank you for letting us know how Rufus is doing. I love all the little details! It's a relief for all of us to know recovery is going so well. What a champ! And you are really handling things like an expert too. Getting his pain under control is a major milestone. You read him so well.

Thanks for sharing about Dr. Tikekar. She sounds great! It's an honor she told you about us. That's one very cool clinic you are working with, no wonder they have long wait times. I'm so glad Rufus got in sooner. And getting the chemo early too is a bonus. There are more and more oncologists doing it right away after amputation. I say whatever gives the patient the best chance at kicking cancer's butt, the better! 

Taking things one day at a time is exactly what makes this journey easier for us to cope with. You're doing it! 

P.S. That lumpy area could be fluid build up, a seroma . Paws crossed that's all it is, keep us posted.

And give Rufus some major smooches from all of us.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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14 March 2022 - 3:23 pm
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YAAAAY FOR RUFUS!!!   So glad he's home and starting the recovery process.  And he'savery smart boy to know he needs rest, rest, rest and more rest.  He just had  MAJOR surgery AND chemo, all while on some good pain meds while adjusting to three.  On top of all that, it takes a lot of e Merry and effort at first to adjust to the new gait, etc.

And to be getting up on his own right now is another sign he's gonna handle  the recovery just fine.

Yeah, I brought meals and water to my Happy Hannah at first too.  For now, do whatever  it takes to give him the nutrition  and fluids he needs to recover.

Oh. and we must celebrate poopiconpoopiconpoopiconWe love celebrating poopicon


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie 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!

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