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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Madison, WI
Member Since:
14 June 2009
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26 June 2009 - 10:49 pm
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Three Legged Dog Yoda

Yoda is my first dog as an adult.  The first dog who is solely my responsibility.  About a year and a half after our family dog, who lived 17 years, had to be put to sleep, before I had a home and job conducive to getting another dog.  Wow, that was only a year and a half?  My doglessness felt so much longer.  But to help deal with that hole, I volunteered to walk dogs at the local Humane Society and that's how I found Yoda.

Yoda is a probable doberman mix.  He has the coloring of a chocolate lab, only with higher white socks and a bigger star on his chest than I've ever seen on a lab.  He was almost 3 when I got him and is almost 6 now.  (I hope to send in tripawd pictures pretty soon, but his avatar comes across pretty well).  He is sooooo mellow.  To the point of being anti-social almost.  The anti-socialness though was likely due to neglect in his early life.  It was his second time being surrendered to the Humane Society when I got him.  He has a “knot” in his tail, and a rib that sticks out a little on one side, which his vet said looked to be previous injuries.  His Humane Society records said something about him being left a dog park.  And once we ran into a vet who recognized Yoda and told me she treated him at the Humane Society because he had been just “skin and bones” when he was brought in.  The thought made me so mad!

Early on I wasn't sure if Yoda and I were bonding or not.  Our family dog had been so effusive and so adored getting attention, but Yoda almost seemed to tolerate attention rather than enjoy it.  After I'd had him only 3 weeks, my dad came by to walk Yoda for me as a favor while I was at work one day, but there was a mishap with the leash and Yoda took off!  I searched, but it was hours after by the time I was able to leave work, and my dad had searched right after it happened, so Yoda could have been long long gone.  I finally convinced myself to go home and sleep on the couch by the window until I could take more action in the morning.  About 12 hours after my dad lost him, I woke up and looked out the window (for like the 15th time) and there he was standing outside the fence!  My front yard is fenced in, including in front of the driveway, but the driveway gate was wide open.  But Yoda was standing by the little gate to the walk that goes up to the front door, as if waiting for permission.  Well I sure gave it and he came running in!  I stopped worrying whether or not we were bonded after that and gradually he showed more affection and a love of belly rubs.

A few months ago Yoda started limping at the dog park.  The ground was fairly muddy and uneven after the thaw, so I thought he could have easily pulled or strained something and by the next day it was gone.  During the next trip to the park, the same thing happened though and eventually the limp lasted days and so I took him in.  His vet guessed tendonitis or a calcification in his shoulder and put him on Rimadyl and restricted his exercise and that was suppose to clear it all up.  The first time the limp did show a lot of improvement, but then it came back and a calcification did show up in an x-ray, but the limp slowly continued to get worse despite the continued Rimadyl and restricted exercise.  This all lasted about 2 months.  The night before I was to take Yoda in for more extensive x-rays than he had gotten so far, he intently licked the area where his tumor would be found, on his right radius.

Yoda's vet told me he probably had 2 months tops.  They could refer me to the UW Vet school, but the treatments they could offer might not be worth it to me.  Another of the vets who sometimes sees Yoda told me that amputation might be a possibility, but that it's a very painful procedure and Yoda was already in a lot of pain.  Now this sounded strange to me, because before Yoda even started limping, I had seen a special on PBS about people and their dogs.  That's right, I saw Jerry and his pawrents!  So, though trying not to get my hopes too high, I asked to be referred to the UW Vet school to see what they had to say.  They confirmed what I remembered from that program – hopping on three legs is better than limping on four! Big Grin  And, with chemo, Yoda could live a year with a high quality of life, maybe even two.  After two awful months of watching Yoda limp on four legs and have to give up playing ball and going to the dog parks – it was a no brainer!

Now, when I got the bad news from Yoda's regular vet, I didn't tell any of my friends or co-workers.  I didn't want to talk about it until I knew what I was going to do.  The result was, I think, I sounded a little too happy when I did start telling people.  To them it was: “Yoda has cancer and has to have his leg amputated and get chemo.”  To me it was: “Yoda gets to lose his limp and go to the park and play ball again instead of having to be put to sleep in 2 months or less!”  I did my best to explain when they looked at me funny.

Yoda's front right leg was amputated on June 5th and he has been doing great so far!  Especially since he got those heavy-duty painkillers out of his system.  He recently had his first bloodwork following his first chemo and everything came back good.  He didn't show any signs of side effects to the chemo either.

Yoda, the-borderline-antisocial dog, is suddenly very into visiting with the neighbors!  It used to be, when we'd go for walks, if neighbors wanted to say hi and pet him, he'd be like, “Ok, fine, I'll stand here for a little bit, they can pet me or whatever, but we have a walk to finish!”  Now he nearly drags me over to any neighbor who shows interest in saying hi and he even looks at the person and wants to sniff their faces (he doesn't lick) and swing his butt around for their convenience to give him a good scratch in his favorite spot.  This new occupation of Yoda's, so far, has brought out a lot of sharing of stories about ill or passed pets or even illl or passed human family.  Sad stuff, but seeing Yoda perform this therapy for people fills me with enough pride and happiness to balance out the sad.

Yoda's latest conquest as a tripawd: successfully devouring a rawhide chip one-pawed!

Yoda&Mom united: 9/5/06 …….… Yoda&Leg separated: 6/5/09……… Yoda&Leg reunited: 10/14/09 ……… ……………….………….………….……. Yoda&Mom NEVER separated! …………………….….……....….…… Though Spirit Yoda currently free-lances as a rabbit hunting instructor for tripawds nationwide

Kirkland, WA
Member Since:
2 June 2009
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27 June 2009 - 5:00 am
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YAY YODA!!!  What a great story!  We are all pulling for you little guy Big Blink  I, too, have found that being a tripawd parent has brought along the new responsibility of being a "voice" for amputation.  I get the comment "what a hard choice!" a lot.  I think it's funny because to me, the choice was not hard at all.  Our dogs do not care they only have 3 legs.  With amputation, the primary tumor is completely gone, and so is the massive pain for our dogs.  While Jack was a candidate for limb-sparing surgery, I could not live with myself knowing that even though the tumor was gone, there would still be cancer cells living in his leg.  Our job is to give our little troopers the best chance at a happy life for as long as possible, and amputation is the first step.  I think our little miracles give us the chance to help others, not only our pets.  Like you said, people see you with a tripawd and want to share their stories with you.  We did not ask for our dogs to develop cancer, but in doing so, we are able to be an outlet for others who may not be able to share their experiences with anybody else.  Here's to many many more rawhide-devouring sessions, and congratulations, Yoda, on your awesome success so far!

<3 Laura

Northern Indiana
Member Since:
15 January 2009
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27 June 2009 - 6:47 am
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Welcome to our community, all of us wish we did not have to be here....but forever thankful at the same time! I loved the story of Yoda. Ahh...yes nothing like a Tripawd to gather friends and neighbors!! It sounds like you are on your way and have a great attitude. That will help Yoda more than anything.

Keep up the good work and remember that every day and moment matters!

Gineej & Paris

Grateful for every moment we had with Paris… regrets!

Honoring her life by opening our hearts & home to Addy!

Member Since:
20 May 2009
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27 June 2009 - 8:23 am
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Good to read your story and hear how Yoda is doing so well.  My Emily, also a doberman mix, had a rear leg amputation and is getting around really well.  People don't understand unless they have gone through this why we are upbeat about amputation.  Amputation and chemo are alternatives to losing our sweeties within a couple of months.  One guy at my work wont talk about Emily because he thinks it is too sad for her to have three legs.  What would be sad is to lose her.  We, on this site, know that we celebrate our tripawd puppies!  Yes, it is a club we didn't want to belong to but it is wonderful to have this support from people that understand.  Continue to be upbeat and enjoy your Yoda!

Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.

Mesa, AZ
Member Since:
27 April 2009
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27 June 2009 - 9:03 am
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What a great story Yoda has and a great Pawrent to go with it!  Our tripawds bring out the emotions some people would never show if they hadn't met our little ones.  One friend of ours cried when he met Chuy.  He couldn't believe how happy Chuy is all the time even though he is missing a leg and had the FHO surgery!  These babies have so much to teach others about life, just by doing the Tripawd hop down the street. 

Gooooo Yoda, show them what it means to live in the moment!Kiss

Chuy, showing everyone that Tripawds do everything 3 times better than regular dogs!

Chuy's Short Stories

Northern CA
Member Since:
23 December 2008
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27 June 2009 - 1:03 pm
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Yoda's Mom

What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. It is so amazing what these tripawds do.  Wrigley was so proud to be a tripawd, especially when she wore her red ruffwear harness . She loved the attention she got and I loved the people we met because of it.

True indeed that these little furbabies have so much to teach us and others about life. Even though Wrigley is gone, we still remember he lessons. Live in the moment-that's what life is all about.

We wish everyone on this journey all the best. We are blessed with such special creatures.

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

Member Since:
16 February 2008
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27 June 2009 - 7:03 pm
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Thank you Yoda's mom for sharing such touching story.   Yoda, you lost a leg which not only had rotten tumour, but also with anti-social cells.   Enjoy being with people, show your true friendly self!  We all wish you well!


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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30 June 2009 - 3:48 pm
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Three Legged Canine Cancer Survivor Yoda

I see now why you named this beautiful guy Yoda! Winker Thanks for sharing his wonderful story. While we are sorry to hear about the cancer diagnosis, we are so happy you saw the Nature program featuring Jerry before having to go through this.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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30 June 2009 - 4:01 pm
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I have no idea how I managed to miss this thread, but I found it at the very best time.  It brought a smile to my face and made my heart happy.  Yoda is a beautiful pet, and I absolutely love those ears.

I can only wish you and Yoda the easiest journey possible.

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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