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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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Amputation at 12, are there any other older dogs out there feeling tired like me?
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28 May 2010 - 8:34 pm
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Dear Friends:

I am Rosie, a Golden Retreiver.  I had my left front leg amputated in March 2010.  I had just turned 12.  I did good with the surgery, and I’m doing relatively good, but I am tired.  I just don’t have the energy I used to to walk around a lot.  They have me walking every day short walks twice a day per the Rehab Doctors request.  They said it would be slow progress.  My back legs shake when I walk a lot.  I get tired and breath heavy just walking for 5 minutes.  Will I ever get my energy back.???  I know I’m old but I licked this Cancer thing for now, I just wish I had more energy.  I lay around most of the time, and I get stiff.  My mom and dad make me sit pretty and walk as much as they can.  I have lost weight but still have a hard time walking.  I’m on Dasuquin with MSM.  Just started that.  So I hope that helps.  I go swimming now too.  That really makes me tired , but they say it is good for me.  My mom massages my legs to try to keep them from getting stiff.  I just wonder if I’m the only old dog having trouble walking around. 

 

Amputation saved my life from cancer, but walking is difficult for me now.  Wish I had more energy.

 

Rosie – Golden  Retriever.

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28 May 2010 - 8:50 pm
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Magic was 11 in Feb and had his amp in March, five weeks later he has lung mets and none of the chemos helped.  Before the amp, we used to walk about an hour a day and he pretty much couch potatoed the rest of the day, having lost his companion about  5 years ago and I had not gotten a replacement (well he loved the kitty, but he went to the Bridge last week).  Magic now goes to some park to play off leash with whoever is there and does pretty good (regular parks and dog parks….just watch for the dog catcher and pick up after your pooch) …he has been to a couple of dog parks….since he doesn’t chase balls (he always felt that if I was going to throw that ball away I didn’t want it and if I wanted it and had thrown it away, I could just go get it myself) he has been chasing the dogs who are chasing the balls.  He also has made friends with some little dogs.  His most active time at one park was a Pit chasing a ball    and a chichuahua chasing the Pit and Magic chasing both of them….he is now probably getting a little more active stuff than before, but when we walk the walks are much shorter.  He was overweight when we started and has lost from 114 to 91 last sunday and I’m sure he has lost a little more…now we want him to EAT.  I’d say give Rosie some time….she is older and still recovering from major surgery, and learning how to do all the same things with three legs.

and hey, 12 is NOT old….my first wolfdog lived to 15 and the last three years he was on rimadyl and had terrible terrible hips and that was what finally got him.  So  enjoy her and just remember she is learning a new way of being and maybe do three shorter walks til she gets used to it!!

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28 May 2010 - 9:29 pm
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Harley is 9.5years (on the older side for a Rottweiler), we are 6.5months post amputation, and his energy is no where near what it was before he lost a leg.  So, you aren’t alone.  Harley also takes Dasuquin w/ MSM.  He’s super happy hopping around the yard, or going on short walks.  Do I wish he had more stamina?  Yeah.  But he’s happy, so I am.  

Hopefully the Dasuquin & massages will help with Rosie’s stiffness.  smile

Amputation on 11/10/09, due to Histiocytic Sarcoma in left elbow. Angel Harley earned his wings on 06/24/10.

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28 May 2010 - 9:48 pm
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Don’t feel bad Rosie.  Yes, Comet is coming up on 12 years old, too.  She’s only 38lbs but I see she is slowing down a lot.  It’s worrisome. It pulls at my heart strings but there is nothing I can do.  I’ve done it all (I think).  She has had to hop her whole life so I have a comparison of what she used to be like. 

When we would come in from going out to eat dinner, it seems like it was just a sort time ago she would run and grab a toy and stand on her back legs and twirl.  Not now.  She sometimes isn’t even up off the ground by the time we unlock the door and open it.   She makes a half hearted attempt to trot to get a toy. 

I can see her body just not handling the strain of 3 legs and two back knee surgeries as time goes by.  She, too is starting to swim again is exhausted that night and even stiff and sore seeming the next day.  She seems to get a boost of energy when I massage her.  I even got some muscle relaxers from the vet last week but only gave her a 1/2  of one.  It knocked her out for 24 hours.  She is on Rimadyl everyday and I just started giving her a supplement.

Sometimes I mistaken her lack of mobility for depression.  Maybe they go hand in hand.  But she gets depressed more and more.  I don’t see her laugh like she used to.  She’s always been moody when she didn’t get her way but not depressed. Having a spring loaded 13 month puppy doesn’t help sometimes because he can play for hours.  He doesn’t understand why she can’t and he makes her mad  a lot.  When she does feel good, she’s great but those days are getting fewer and fewer.

I’ve even asked my vet if there has been any studies on lifelong 3-legged dogs.  I would just like something to compare her to.  I know hopping takes it toll.  

But then again, even as a 40-something year old, I can’t do what I’d like physically either!  way-confused

Comet’s mom 

 

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

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28 May 2010 - 10:59 pm
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Rosie and Sandy,

Miss Cherry turned 11 the day before her amputation, which is very senior for a Standard Poodle. During her examination at the chemotherapy/surgery team, they discovered a growth on her single functioning kidney. The odds were really stacked against but she overcame those odds and an excellent 405 days. However, to say that she got all her stamina back is to be less than honest. She still loved to go for walks, but with the extra effort required to “hop”, we just had to go slower and take a few breaks. She would still run in the side yard and play with her toys, but just not as long as she used to play. In fact, Cherry’s background/banner is a photo taken more than ten months after the amputation. There is nothing to feel bad about as long as you enjoy the activities. It is not about the quantity but rather the quality. Cherry and I just took more truck rides and less long walks around the neighborhood. I never minded stopping while she caught her breath because I was with her. She never minded because in addition to being able to give everything a good eye, she was with me. Need we say any more.

I know that you both would like to see the bounce that was there as a pup, but it is more about the sparkle in the eye that I am sure is just as beautiful as ever. Keep on enjoying life even if this new “normal” is not the same as the old “normal”. Finally, you are just months into this journey and there has been a large insult to Rosie’s body. Cherry’s stamina and strength improved constantly for the first ten months before leveling off. Keep working, loving, and living for the moment.

Spirit Cherry & Dad

 

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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29 May 2010 - 8:44 am
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Well, I guess I have to chime in here with the rest of the old and tired crew.  Trouble had just turned nine when she had her surgery.  She had a pretty easy recovery as recoveries go, but she never returned to the pre-surgery stamina.  I sometimes think I didn’t push her hard enough to do a little more.  I let her set her pace always, and if she wanted to rest, we rested.  I knew about how far she could comfortably walk, and I didn’t push past that limit.  Now 18 months later, with age 11 quickly approaching, she is definitely slowing down. It takes a lot of effort for her to get up.  The three leg gait has taken a toll, but still I would not have made a different choice.  She has been with me for 18 more months, and she is a joy to be around (when she isn’t being a pain in the butt).  It simply has made me love the older dogs more!

We go in on Tuesday for a consult to see what we can do going forward to make her a little more comfortable and maybe give back a little mobility.  I think the tired and sore isn’t so much a part of tripawdism, as it is a part of natural aging.

 

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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29 May 2010 - 8:47 am
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well, i don’t know…gayle is ten and a half now.  she loves to nap, and mostly just loves to be fur to skin close to me.  she is less active now, but is it the amputation, the on-going chemo, being ten and a half…  her sister is 14 and a half (a shepherd mix beauty) and we see her really taking it slower as well.  i guess being glad to have them both around, we aren’t looking too hard at a comparison of ‘then to now’ – just grateful for the ‘now’. 

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends

http://etgayle

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29 May 2010 - 12:35 pm
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Hi Rosie and Rosie’s Mum,

well,I would think its quite normal what you are experiencing. I had a Golden as well, Don, he was 10 at the time of amputation, had osteosarcoma in his front leg,and even though he didnt see to live more then 2 months after amputation I noticed a lots of lack of energy. Found it to be normal for an older dog,and now having to cope with 3 legs makes his job even harder. Well he suffered from arthritis in his remaning legs so am sure it had a lots to do with it as well. Our walks were very short as well,he would get like a burst of energy for a little while but then would get tired after a couple of minutes and just lay in the grass. Many times mum and I had to carry him back home.

You didnt mention if Rosie is having a chemo,it its an energy drainer as well,as far as I heared. Didnt have experience with it cos Don didnt go through it.  But well all in all,going through such a surgery at age of 12 isnt an easy thing so its normal it takes a bit longer then for a younger dogs to recover and gain back at least some of their old energy.

Maybe some kind of immune tablets or vitamins,might be of help, Don a sort of K9 immunity and it seemed to work well for him. But its all having a day at the time,  a mix of good an bad days. You must and probably are very aware that you are dealing with really tough illness that we all hate so much, and its taking away energy from their bodies much faster then normaly,so you just need to adapt to her new state and needs. And yes massage is definatly a must,was adviced to do that few times daily by Don’s phisiovet to keep his muscles not getting stiff which of course happens when they are not moving enough. Maybe having a ruffwear harness wouldnt be a bad thing as well. Don had started wearing it as soon as his stiches were out,and I would just hold him by it when notice he is getting tired and it really made a difference,could see him getting much less tired.

Well so all you can do is ease her as much as you can,have walks,and take a day at the time….and enjoy it fully 🙂

 

     All the best wishes to you both

 

              Daniela, Angel Don’s Mum

Wesley Chapel, FL
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29 May 2010 - 10:44 pm
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Hi Rosie’s Mom,

My Jake was 10yrs old when he was diagnosed and had his amputation… He was pretty much a couch potatoe before his diagnosis… Just living the good life… getting little bursts of energy when he’d play with his brother Wolfie… and when he’d go swimming in the pool. He still did the same things after his surgery… but I did notice much less energy. He couldn’t swim as long as he did before… and hopping around from one room to the other really made him tired… But he still got to cuddle with us, eat treats and play and seemed to be happy until the very end… I think his decreased energy definitely was a combination of his age, the surgery… and the cancer.

Maybe trying some of the other supplements folks mentioned here would help give her a little boost… But as long as Rosie seems happy, is still enjoying her life and isn’t in any pain… then I wouldn’t worry too much about her decreased energy.

Sending you and Rosie a big fat hug!

Angel Jake’s Mom

Jake, 10yr old golden retriever (fractured his front right leg on 9/1, bone biopsy revealed osteosarcoma on 9/10, amputation on 9/17) and his family Marguerite, Jacques and Wolfie, 5yr old german shepherd and the newest addition to the family, Nala, a 7mth old Bengal mix kittie. Jake lost his battle on 11/9/2009, almost 8 weeks after his surgery. We will never forget our sweet golden angel… http://jakesjou.....ipawds.com ….. CANCER SUCKS!

The Rainbow Bridge



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30 May 2010 - 9:28 pm
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Rosie, we can only imagine the amount of effort it takes for a senior gal to get around after surgery, but if it makes you feel any better, our own Wyatt Ray took many, many months until he really had the stamina to keep his remaining back leg upright while he walked. Only now, about ten months later, does he seem to have the stamina he should for a year-and-a-half-old puppy with three legs.  But then there’s Calpurnia, who is fourteen and she does pretty darn good for a senior Tripawd. Two months post amp really isn’t that much time to heal, it’ll take a while.

I’m gonna be nosy and just ask, but how’s your weight? Every pound of extra weight on a dog is like five extra pounds on a human. So stay svelte OK? Then you won’t have to work as hard.

Sounds like you’re getting all of the right physical therapy and activity that you should be. I say, be patient, you will start to get some energy back. While you certainly won’t have the kind of stamina that a puppy does, I’ll bet in another month you’ll show a lot of improvement. Hang in there OK? You are doing better than you think!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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30 May 2010 - 9:30 pm
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hugapitbull said:

I think the tired and sore isn’t so much a part of tripawdism, as it is a part of natural aging. 


 

Great point Shanna!

Let us know how the vet visit goes.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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30 May 2010 - 9:51 pm
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Thank you all you pawrents for helping me to see that being tired after amputation is just part of the deal being older and being a Tripawd now.  Rosie is doing okay, she is just tired, I worry too much I guess.  I’m not used to the new normal yet.  She’s already had chemo before the amputation as we had tried to save her leg and did a strong dose of radiation  to take out the cancer but her leg fractured and we eventually had to amputate her leg in March of 2010.  So we did things a little backwards.  But she’s been on K-9 immunity for 8 months along with other supplements.   We just switched to Chinese Herbs we went to the Herbologist/Acupuncture  Dr. at the University of Florida.  We did have her on Rimadyl but took her off as she had Liver Cancer too which was taken out last year.  So we are hesitant about how her body can handle Rimadyl it’s hard on the liver I understand.  Some dogs can take it with no problem, we opted to go more natural so we switched to the Chinese Herbs.  The herbs have had good success, I’ve talked to a few people who have had their dogs on these herbs for some time like over 2 years and they are surviving no more cancer!  It is supposed to fight cancer and build their immunce system, and the other herb does what Rimadyl does fights inflamation. 

You have to have a RX from your VET to get the Herbs.   We went to Dr. at University of FL and got our evaluation of Rosie, and the RX for the herbs she needed, and then you get the Herbs from Dr. Xie’s Jing-Tang Herbal ; 9700 West Hwy. 318; Reddick, FL 32686  Tel:  (352) 591-0561  Dr. Xie is also at the University of Florida head of Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine Dept. 

Rosie was put on 2 Herbs:  “Body Sore .5g”  cost $40.00  for 200 pills she is supposed to take 4 in a.m. 4 in p.m.  This is supposed to replace Rimadyl.    Then to replace the K-9 immunity they put her on another herb called:  “Wei Qi Booster .5g”  cost also $40.00  for 200 pills she is supposed to take 4 in a.m. and 4 in p.m.  So it is less expensive than the k-9 Immunity.  That was getting pretty expensive and we just couldn’t keep that up any more.  I hope these herbs will work.  She is having a little loose bowels with it.  I have to call Dr. and probably decrease her dosage and build up to it.  But they are all natural chinese herbs.  The Dr. who has these herbs is the head of the Acupuncture Dept at the University of Florida in Gainesville.  He is a very knowledgable Dr. in Chinese Medicine.  He has many other Herbs for different things.  This is his company that sells the Herbs.  He also teaches Vets how to do Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at his school in Reddick, FL.  This is near Gainesville.  So I hope these Herbs work for Rosie.   I’ll let you all know how she does on them.  Overall Rosie has done good.  She is supposed to get her 3 month xrays in a couple weeks to see if she has and metastasis to lungs. We are hoping for a good report.  She is 10 months out from her original diagnosis of Oesteosarcoma Cancer.  We are hanging in there and doing our best.  We are excercising as much as she can tolerate.  Tomorrow we try swimming in our own pool.  She has been to a dog pool but we can’t afford that any more.  We are getting tapped out.  We got her her own swimming life vest.  So we’ll see how she does in our little pool.  Just keep her moving as much as possible with out over taxing her. 

Thank you so much for letting me know that we’re not the only tired dog around post amputation.!!   Rosie is 12!! she is really trying hard to do her best.  Thank you.

Sandy – Rosie’s Mom

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31 May 2010 - 12:31 am
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rosiesmom said:

You have to have a RX from your VET to get the Herbs.   We went to Dr. at University of FL and got our evaluation of Rosie, and the RX for the herbs she needed, and then you get the Herbs from Dr. Xie’s Jing-Tang Herbal ; 9700 West Hwy. 318; Reddick, FL 32686  Tel:  (352) 591-0561  Dr. Xie is also at the University of Florida head of Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine Dept. 


 

My Vet and I were discussing a Chinese medicine on Thursday, and when he was looking it up on VIN, he came across Dr. Xie’s website (www.tcvmherbal.com) listed as a reputable place to buy it.   When I got home, I found out you have to be a Vet to purchase from this website, but anyone is able to search for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Practitioners (Acupuncturists, Herbalists, etc …) in your area from the website.

Amputation on 11/10/09, due to Histiocytic Sarcoma in left elbow. Angel Harley earned his wings on 06/24/10.

Portage Lake, Maine
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7 June 2010 - 8:34 am
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Hi Sandy,

I’m just seeing this question you posted….I just thought I’d copy/paste in a reply I wrote to a different thread this morning…rather than retype something similar – I’m being lazy!

Maggie was amputated Oct 2009:

————————————————————–

I want to add a few more thoughts…and PLEASE don’t think I’m trying to sway you not to do this…but just putting out some things about my dog…things to think about regarding your own dog.

My dog was healthy(well, except for this tiny thing called CANCER), not overweight, her structure could handle living on 3 legs, had been physically fit all her life – she did agility for 8 years, not to mention hiking and skijoring in the winter months.   She is a large dog at 65 lbs. and she was 9 years old at the time of amputation.  So, it appeared that she should be able to handle being a Tripawd.

Her recovery from amputation was miserable to say the least.(went off her food for two weeks and had a slight fever).  It being winter during her recovery phase was tough to get her exercised and I had to go outside with her at all times because I feared of her slipping and falling on ice in the yard.

She has great fears of slipping on some surfaces but that has improved thru the months with encouragement from me and some clicker training to get her courage back.

She has gained an incredible amount of strength back now with it being summer and me doing physical therapy with her.  But she still cannot handle long walks at all.  A half hour walk on relatively flat ground really is too much for her.  She’s pretty wiped out for the rest of the day.

I know there are MANY dogs on this site that it seems they do anything and everything they ever did before amputation.  Maybe my dog is the only one that can’t?  I dunno…. But you’d think with my dog’s background (physically fit/structurally pretty good) that she’d have had an easier time and could handle things better.

Just thought I’d throw out these comments. 

One thing that I didn’t get from my vet was the support and advice that is here at Tripawds.. I didn’t find this site until two months later. 

Just be welll informed and try to make the right decision for your Dolphin. 

Do I regret amputating Maggie?  NO!  BUT it would have been nice to hear the goods AND the bads that may or may not happen to my dog prior to amputating.  I felt lost and alone and felt right after amputation that I’d done the wrong thing.

Maggie can still do a little bit of agility…VERY short stints and not the large obstacles…she only does hoops that are on the ground…but she LOVES it and so do I to see her smile and run for a short time.  She now competes in Rally Obedience…but again, she cannot handle a long duration of even that. 

Just food for thought and AGAIN, I’m not trying to sway your decision…just trying to get you as informed as possible smile

Tracy, Maggie’s Mom

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09

Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13

http://maggie.t.....t-24-2013/

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7 June 2010 - 12:36 pm
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Hi Sandy: 

Sophie was 12 and a half when she had her amputation surgery. Like you, I agonized over the decision, and like Tracy (Maggie’s mom) regretted it immediately after – fearing that I had ended Sophie’s life – just in a different way than the cancer would have done. 

I was wrong. My 12 year old son pointed it out to me very clearly. The night we brought Sophie home from her surgery – I couldn’t deal with it at all. It was beyond my ability to cope – and I had some other very difficult things going on in my own personal world that I was not able to deal with at the time – so dealing with a newly 3-legged dog was not something I was prepared for in any way, shape, or form. My son told me I was treating Sophie like a freak – that she deserved better than that from me – and to pull myself together for her sake. 

He really did. And he was right. 

Sophie, a Golden Retriever, 12.5 years old, having just lost her soulmate (Keaton, a 14 year old Golden Retriever) 2 weeks prior, adapted to the loss of her limb very quickly. It wasn’t without problems, or setbacks. It took her a few days to get her balance, a few more days to be able to navigate the stairs in our house on her own. But she certainly adapted more quickly than I ever could. She inspired me, and humbled me. 

Is she the same dog she was before? No. She is different. She takes advantage of all of us – like when she stands at the sofa in the living room – her one front foot on the cushions – looking around over her shoulders – waiting for someone to boost her up – when she is perfectly capable of getting up there herself. She still goes for “walks” with her big dog-walking group in the day-time. But she rides in a Chariot – and she gets out to walk when she wants to – or when she has to pee or poo – and then she hops back in to be pushed some more. She still gets the socialization of the dogs, she gets to be outside, but she would not be able to do the hour or 90 minute walk without the Chariot. 

She sleeps a lot more than she used to. She doesn’t chase balls like a crazy woman anymore. She likes to chase them about 10 feet – and she won’t bring it back for another throw. She used to do it for hours – and man, she was fast !! It’s sad to think that she doesn’t do that anymore. But – as someone else said (CometDog) – as I am about to hit 50 !! (OMG) – there are MANY, MANY things that I can no longer do – and I still have both of my arms and legs – and I don’t have cancer, or chemo drugs to deal with. 

So – will Rosie’s energy level come back to pre-surgery levels? I’ll go out on a limb – totally a lay-person, wild guess, only my opinion – and say, no – but if she is still enjoying the sunshine and the breeze on her face, the attention she gets from and gives to you, and you still see the dog you know and love – then you did the right thing by her. She is going to be her NEW normal. She has adapted – and we have to too. It is much easier for them, by the way. 

Hang in there, Sandy.

Tana  

Sophie (1998 – 2010)

"Going Dog" def: living every day in the moment

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."

–Unknown

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