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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Starting my TP mommy journey - meet Cooper!
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Member Since:
29 March 2019
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30 March 2019 - 12:47 pm
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Hello everyone! I’m not sure if this is the right place to do this, but I just wanted to introduce myself (and my new pup) to the community because I just found this website and started an account last night.

I’m brand new to being a tripawd mommy and I’m a constant flurry of worry now thinking that I might not be protecting him well enough or allowing him too much activity, or maybe not enough, etc. That’s why I was very excited to find this website and the community of people and families dedicated to helping other tripawds live long, happy, healthy lives!

A little about Cooper – he came into my life 2 weeks ago (as of today actually!) when I adopted him from a woman who was fostering him after his amputation. He has only been down a limb for 5 weeks now, but no one told him because he doesn’t seem to have missed a beat at all.

Dunk and Coop

(Sir Duncan the Loud on the left, Cooper on the right - you can still see his shaved hind quarters)

All I know about his life before me is that the man he was living with died at home and wasn’t found for a while. He had other dogs in the home along with my Coop and Animal Control said that he was bit by one of the other dogs and since they weren’t found for a while, the wound got so infected the doctor wasn’t able to save it.  The records show that they did try some really heavy antibiotics and kept him almost fully sedated for about a week while they tried to see if it could heal, but I guess it was too far gone by then and they had to remove the leg.  It’s his back right leg (and from what I’ve seen, I guess that’s a small blessing?  It seems like back-leg amputations seem to be a little easier on the dog than front legs?).

My Cooper is a 2-year-old, 50-pound Black Lab (possibly a mix? He’s solid black and looks very much like a lab, but he’s a little smaller than most full-grown labs so who knows?).

And I can’t even begin to tell you how much joy he’s brought to me! He’s the sweetest, most snuggly dog I’ve ever had and has the best temperament as well.  He loves people and children and other dogs and seems completely unfazed by my other 2-year-old hound mix (Sir Duncan the Loud) who’s a bit of a pest and is always trying to goad him into playing by mouthing with him or shoving toys at him laughing.

I’ve been incredibly (and pleasantly) surprised that I haven’t seen him display an ounce of aggression (at least not yet – I know that after only 2 weeks it’s hard to know for sure…). I really thought that after what he’s been through (living along and probably mostly foodless for a while, being badly bitten by a 'brother', getting a leg amputated, and being moved to/from 4 different “homes” in the last 4 weeks before coming to me) that he would understandably have some sort of aggressive tendencies, at least some fear or resource guarding aggression, but so far, I haven’t seen any evidence of that.  And he’s the only one of the dogs that I’ve adopted that doesn’t also have some heightened anxiety issues also.  He does display mild separation anxiety, but not too bad, and I’ve seen that lessening a little over the last 2 weeks already, so I think that once he realizes that he’s not going to be left again, that anxiety will fade away.

The only “behavior” complaint that I have (which is still very minor) is that he definitely has not had any sort of training or obedience work. He doesn’t know ‘sit’ or ‘down’ or ‘come’ at all.  I thought that maybe ‘sit’ was just an issue because of the newly lost leg, but he hasn’t given any indication of knowing any other command either – and when I give the commands holding a treat, he doesn’t offer behaviors or show that he knows that he’s being asked for something – he just stares at me with a blank, though happy, stare lol.  I’m going to try to start with ‘come’ for now while I teach him HOW to learn, since that’s really the only one that I feel like he NEEDS to know at this point.

Anyway, sorry for the long post – but hopefully you can tell how happy I am with my new friend by how much I like to talk about him! =)

I look forward to hearing from some of you/reading information with advice on how to help my buddy have the best life possible. Especially any information that anyone can share on how to manage high-activity play time with another dog in the house (Cooper and Duncan play HARD together – run around and wrestle in the back yard together for as long as I let them – they absolutely love to play together!).  And also any recommendations on supplements for bone/joint/soft tissue support and tips on massaging the remaining limbs to help with comfort.

 THANKS in advance and I look forward to continuing to read all of your stories! =)

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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30 March 2019 - 2:29 pm
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Hi Jamie! Welcome! Your enthusiasm and love for Cooper and your other dog, and animals in general, is wonderful. We are so glad you gave Cooper the loving home he deserves and joined us. Post as much as you'd like!

He sure had a ruff start in life poor guy. But now that he's found you, it's only a matter of time until you both develop a communication style that enables you to understand one another. I'm reading a pretty awesome book right now that we will review soon for our Tripawds News blog , it's called "Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible." I highly recommend you read it since you and Cooper are new to one another and this will help tremendously. 

Meanwhile, about your questions:

How to manage high-activity play time with another dog in the house (Cooper and Duncan play HARD together – run around and wrestle in the back yard together for as long as I let them – they absolutely love to play together!). And also any recommendations on supplements for bone/joint/soft tissue support and tips on massaging the remaining limbs to help with comfort.

That's a challenging situation but yes you can manage it. I will step aside on that and let others with multi-dog households chime in, because I don't have any experience there. But I will add that it's super important that as Cooper's guardian, you manage his activity so that he doesn't overdo things. He may play hard for hours on end now, but over time that can be detrimental to his joints and muscles. There are many ways you can help Cooper and Duncan work out their energy in other ways, like gentle obedience game training, canine nosework and interactive brain games . Hop over to our Tripawds Gear blog for lots of ideas.

About supplements and massage. yep, we've got you covered there too. Our Tripawds Nutrition blog has tons of supplements articles and here's a link that will take you to some articles about canine massage.

I also encourage you to pick up a copy of our e-book, Loving Life On Three Legs , which has tons of insight about raising a happy, healthy Tripawd. 

Finally, I would take advantage of the Tripawds Foundation Rehabilitation Therapy Reimbursement Fund. Even though Cooper had  his amputation a while ago, it will be so helpful to have him evaluated by a rehab therapist. They can tell you what he is and is not capable of as far as activity, address any underlying issues related to him being a Tripawd, and show you some good exercises for doing at home. And the best part is the foundation may pay for your first rehab visit ! So do check it out, it's worth the effort.

Thanks again for joining and congrats! 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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30 March 2019 - 10:13 pm
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Hi and welcome.

I posted in the thread that Rufus started- where you asked about activities.  You can go back there and read my response with some suggestions- it's post #5.

4 homes in 2 weeks?!?!? That's a ruff start.  My Tripawd Elly came to me at 10 months old and I was her 4th home.  I'm glad that Cooper seems to be getting over his separation anxiety.  Elly has severe sep anx- it has been quite an education for me.  She was also very fearful of, well, everything.  She is now 4 and we have made great progress, but she is still shy around strangers and it is easy for us to have set backs with her sep anx.  Thankfully it's only mild at home, although when I'm gone she spends most of the time looking out the window.  She is at her worst in my truck- I think because she kept getting taken to new places and left. 

We also made great strides taking classes.  We did all kinds including tricks, obedience, strength and balance, shy dog...  All the classes helped with her confidence and gave us ideas for games to work on her core strength.

By the way- Sir Duncan is very handsome- I love the brindle color!  I'm a sucker for black dogs though, before Elly my last 4 dogs were black.  Elly has piebald markings and is white and black.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Member Since:
25 March 2019
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2 April 2019 - 5:33 pm
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Hi Cooper. Glad to see that you have found your forever home. I have a 4 yr old black lab/mix named Maggie. She was rescued from a horrible situation. Losing a leg, Maggie lost her front right, has not slowed her down. As for training, we have taken Maggie to a local training school where is received one on one training from an instructor and now we do weekly group sessions with other dogs. The trainers understand Maggie's situation and allows for additional rest time as needed since she is the only tripaw in the group. Training has helped. She weighs 70lbs. and is hard for my wife & I to pick her up when she decides to be a little stubborn. She is responding very well to the training makes our life a lot easier too.

We would NOT trade our Tripaw for nothing. She gives much love and joy in our life. Our goal is to continue with the training, which also helps with strength building, and to provide her with the best life ever. This site has been a blessing to us and shows us what we need to be doing to ensure the highest quality of life for Maggie.  

Looking forward for updates on Cooper.

Dave & Maggie


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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5 April 2019 - 10:17 am
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Just wanted to add my welcome to  HANDSOME COOPER ( and his handsome  sidekick LOUD....guessing he's quite loud)!   Looooove the avatar  photo!  Two happy smiles  going on over there!😁😀

You've  gotten great input  so I'll just say ditto!

Looking  forward to following  the adventures  of your pack.  You are rhe PERFECT  DogMom for Cooper!!


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:
4 April 2019
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13 April 2019 - 10:31 am
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Hi.  This is Brownie's Mom. Brownie is a choc lab and 3.5 weeks post op of amputation to front leg due to bone cancer. I am new to this site but have found it so helpful. Everyone really cares and and gives great advise that I have taken to heart. They have helped me get thru some tough days.

I have a total of 3 dogs which are all rescues. I love them all but I have always had a special bond with Brownie. We all have that one dog in our life we have a special bond and for me that is Brownie, and I have a feeling Cooper will be yours.

Brownie actually belonged to an ex neighbor of mine. His first 10 months was on a 6 ft chain even though there were 3 acres fenced in. My heart broke watching him watching my dogs running and playing. So when the man went to work I would go get brownie and put him in my yard so he could play and put him back before the man got home. Brownie then figured out how to get off the chain and climb the fence into my yard.  Then I looked over one day and Brownie was on a chain, the type you pull a car with. I went to the man and begged him to sell me brownie and he finally did.

Now brownie was a mess when he first came to live with me. He broke my bay window, chewed a huge hole in my couch and anything he got a hold of. But I realized his first 10 months he was treated like a cow in a pasture.  But after a lot of love and patience he became the best dog and best behaved dog that I have ever had. Now he is stubbrand and I have no idea where he gets that from. Lol

Cooper will always know you rescued him and he will be loyal. He wants to please you but probably just doesn't no how yet but he will learn. A lot of love A lot of treats. 

I say I rescued Brownie, but I really think he rescued me. People say he is lucky to have me, but the truth is I  am lucky to have him!

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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