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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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Going on day 7, need some support
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Vancouver Island B.C.
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29 May 2012 - 3:24 am
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Hi all, im a new tripawd owner, and am so happy to have found this site !!!

Ill try to make this as short as possible, but have a feeling it wont be …I rescued my dog Wilson at 2 weeks old, he was in rough shape, and was lucky to have made it, he is now 12 years old and as healthy as ever, besides the damn cancer he had, and still thinks he’s a puppy. For the last 5 years we have been battling a tumor on his left paw/leg, have had surgery done twice over the years to have it debulked, but it was back with a vengence for the third time, i brought him in tues 22nd for a 3rd debulking, knowing deep down it was very possible, the vet would convince me otherwise as it had grown so much bigger in just the time the appointment was made, and beyond yet another successful debulking. I had mentally prepared myself the best i could that he was likely going to be having an amputation instead, which ended up being the case, as tests where done, and cancer had not appeared to have matastasized else where.

One of my concerns is, now that ive read more on this site, he could have benifited by being on pre op meds. If we had known prior to our appointment, i wonder if my vet would have put him on them first, he didnt mention anything about it, and said it would be fine to do the amputation at the same appointment which was just intended to debulk one more time. Over the past 6 days he has yelped out in pain about 5-6 times, the last time being day 6, had gone about 2 days with no yelping prior. Im wondering if he could be experiencing phantom pains and if Gabapentin prior would have benifited him, or if its still just pain from the actual surgery.

He was sent home with Medacam, antibiotics, and Tramadol 50mg (1 every 8 hours), which didnt seem to be enough as on day 2-3 he started trembling slightly, called the vet and was told to double up on the meds (2 every 8 hours) which helped but still often had a very slight tremble that sometimes you could only feel, not see, after a couple days vet said to back off a little, but now i am finding he needs relief sooner than every 8 hours so i have started giving 1 1/2 every 6 hours, as he get more trembly at around the 6 hour mark …still even going on day 7, does this (trembling) happen sometimes ?

Also, i was told he would be taking the whole shoulder when we decided to do the surgery, which i thought would be the best after some of the research i had done prior, just incase. Turned out a mid humeral amputation was done instead, which initially i was very concerned about, and still some what am, as his little stump wiggles around (and probably spaziming), and looks like it must be painful while healing when it moves, im not crazy about the look of it, but vet said he thought for him, and being a little older, it was a less invasive surgery and felt it would give him better balance, if so, and its not detrimental to my pup, im fine with it, and can get used to the stump (more of him left to love right ?).

Ok, so what im wondering is…
1) Would Gabapentin have been helpful, still a possiblity to go on ? Phantom pain, or real pain, how can you tell ?
2) The trembling, is this common ?
3) Does he seem to be in more pain that what he should be on day 6/7 considering his medication doses, i know it varies but in general ?
4) Am i justified to be concerned about a mid humeral amputation, it’s not a long stump, must have cut it just below the joint, but it sure can wiggle.

Thank you so much if you read this whole thing !!! Id be so greatful for any advice/info !!!

Thanks so much !!!
Brenda

PS

My time zone here, is not correct, ill see if i can correct it, im actually from Vancouver Island B.C. Anyone else on here from the Nanaimo area ?

knoxville, tn
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29 May 2012 - 6:56 am
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welcome brenda a wilson!!!  sorry you had to find us, but it’s a great place to be when you need support from others who have traveled or are now traveling this same road.  when gayle lost her right front leg, they took the leg and the scapula too – explaining that it would heal faster (no bone cutting, only muscle,tendons, etc) and leave a cleaner profile once healed.  we found that to be a great way to go, but not all vets do that… you want to make sure the stump heals well, and doesn’t get bumped and such.  wilson will figure out how to best adapt (our tripawd brothers and sisters are so smart!!) and will be fine.

the continued pain could be phantom pain (thankfully we didn’t have that) and gabapentin is usually prescribed for that.  it doesn’t usually last for very long, but it’s scary to think you pup is suddenly screaming in pain. 

tramadol is a great pain killer, but it sure can wack up our pups.  gayle got very ‘loopy’ on it, and was just not herself.  once we could wean her off of it, she was much more herself.  tramadol can cause excessive panting and trembling…so you might be seeing a result of the meds… we were probably getting back to a ‘new normal’ after 10 days or two weeks.  every pup is different.  don’t hesitate to talk to your vet if you think you need more meds, that’s what you are paying them for.  pam is our moderator vet, you can always post some questions in the ‘ask a vet’ section and she will check in with her thoughts.  she had a tripawd mastiff, so has personal and professional experience…

looking forward to pictures of wilson!!

 

charon & spirit gayle

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

Rock Hill, SC
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29 May 2012 - 7:15 am
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Welcome Brenda and Wilson.  Sorry to hear that Wilson is having such a hard time of the recovery.

Re: Meds – Zeus (11 yrs old at time of amp) was not on any pre-amp meds, either.  He came home on Gabapentin and Tramadol.  I do believe the Gabapentin helped, as we only had one incident that I believe was phantom pain and it was very minor.

Re: Trembling – I have read about many dogs trembling and panting from the Tramadol, but it can also be from pain.  Honestly I think them being unable to tell us what is wrong is one of the worst parts of this ordeal.

Re: Length of time – Zeus was scheduled right from the start to be on both meds for two weeks full dosage but we ended up using the Tramadol for an extra two weeks at a lower dose because he strained his back.  Some of the dogs have come off the meds after a week, but in hindsight I really believe that he needed them for at least two weeks so I am glad that we gave them for that long.  Maybe it has something to do with their older age?

I can’t really weigh in on the partial amp.  One week into the recovery is still really early, so try not to stress too much unless he really seems to be sick or hurting.  The meds can really affect everything from their appetite to their personality.  Good luck and keep us posted!

Lisa

Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...
http://zeuspod......pawds.com/

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 May 2012 - 7:54 am
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wilsy said
Ok, so what im wondering is…

1) Would Gabapentin have been helpful, still a possiblity to go on ? Phantom pain, or real pain, how can you tell ?
2) The trembling, is this common ?
3) Does he seem to be in more pain that what he should be on day 6/7 considering his medication doses, i know it varies but in general ?
4) Am i justified to be concerned about a mid humeral amputation, it’s not a long stump, must have cut it just below the joint, but it sure can wiggle.

Hi Brenda. Welcome, we’re sorry that you’re going through a rough patch but at day 7 it’s still pretty early. Most dogs will start to show their old selves at about the second week. I have to run to work but I’ll try to answer your questions:

When you say trembling, what do you mean? His entire body? Or just the stump? Is he crying out in pain? If so, when? Randomly or say, when he tries to walk? Keep track of his symptoms so you can share them with your vet and he can diagnose the issue better. Gabapentin is still something you can use after surgery if it’s phantom limb pain.

Pain is all dependent on the dog, and is very unique to each one. As I said, most dogs will start to show signs of their old selves during week 2. Pain is also hard to distinguish from over-medication. Sometimes, too much medication like tramadol will give dogs similar symptoms. It’s a balancing act that you and your vet need to work on.

The humeral amputation. Generally when this happens we see dogs with healing issues, as far as the incision goes. But that’s not to say all of them will experience it. Keep an eye on the incision to make sure it doesn’t open up. Honestly I have to say that I’m kind of surprised hearing how your vet said he would do one thing and did another. But you can’t do anything about that now, just keep an eye on things and make sure he heals.

All stumps wiggle too, regardless of front or rear leg amputation sites. It’s just the nerves getting used to things, they still think a lower leg is there.

Hope this helps. I’ll try to write more later.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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San Diego, CA
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29 May 2012 - 12:00 pm
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You’ve already gotten some good advice/answers from others, but wanted to say welcome to you and Wilson. He’s a cutey!

You are definitely still in the early days of recovery. At this point it’s hard to tell (at least it was for us) what was pain and what was the effects of the pain meds. If only they could say “it hurts” or “i feel so loopy!” Any crying out could def’ly be phantom pain and as others mentioned gabapentin is usually the way to go with that. All pups recover at their own pace, but you should start to see some real improvement anywhere around day 10 -14. Hopefully that will be the case with Wilson.

Hang in there and keep us posted.

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!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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29 May 2012 - 9:10 pm
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I’m so sorry you find yourself here with us.  Wilson sounds like a real trooper and I bet he’ll come through this recovery with flying colors once the pain gets under control.

You’ve got some terrific advice from everyone and I have not much to add but for immediate relief, you can try ice on the site. It’s a wonder cure!  Knocks that throbbing right out!  

(Frozen peas work great or crushed ice in a baggie.  If you are using crushed ice or a gel pack, make sure it’s wrapped in a dish towel and don’t leave on for more than 10 minutes – don’t want to cause any frost bite! And just know gel packs are actually colder than ice so be cautious with gel pack. Repeat every 2 hours if needed.)

 

Keep us updated!

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.

Vancouver Island B.C.
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30 May 2012 - 3:57 am
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Thank you all so so much for your replys !!! I think as of 1/2 way thru the day today, ive seen a definate improvement ! I have him back to the 1 Tramadol evey 8 hours, as it seemed to me he was over medicated, as, with some of the changes made in the times he got his meds, it made it so he got his Medicam, Tramadol, and antibiotic all with in a 2 hour time frame, vet said that would be ok as they dont interact with each other, but im sure they did. Once things wore off a little, he became more himself, and trembling slowly got better, until pretty much gone, even now being on 1 Tram, with 8 hrs inbetween, he is ok, keeping fingers crossed it stays like this, and continues to improve, as when he came home from the vets he was doing extremely well, then on day 2/3 seemed to be in more pain.

Ive finally let him roam loose in the house a bit tonight, with a very close watch, ive had him in a make shift enclosed area made with the back of a couch, loveseat, and matching chair, and a big speaker as my door, to give him about an 7 x 7 square area right up to the sliding glass door, he seemed quite content to be in there, with his cushy bed, and the big window/door to look out, plus i let him lie out (tied) in the grass, on and off through out the days, when it was nice weather out. He has been peeing, pooping, eating, and drinking fine, but really didnt seem to want to walk/hop much at all, until this eve, he has much more omph now that he isnt so drugged and only did a small cry out once today, its always when he lying down and then he pops up really quick, so it could be phantom pain , thats startling him so he jumps up, or he was already starting to get up, and it hurt from getting up, so far ive missed it everytime, i just hear him yelp and by the time i look its too late to really tell what happened …but thats getting alot better.

My biggest concern at this point is the way it was done, being mid humeral, i am actually kind of fuming inside, but trying to keep it together as its already done and nothing i can do about it now, but im really struggling with it, and dont want to make a stink with my vet as we still have to carry on together for awhile and i dont want it to be on unpleasant terms, he already explained why he decided to do it this way, but i still dont agree. We didnt have a huge discussion about how it would be done, he just matter a factly told me he would be taking the whole scalpula, and as that was what i wanted for him, i didnt question it, or discuss that part with him further, so i guess perhaps he thought it wasnt that important to me, but it was, but didnt think i had to tell him that as he already told me, he would be doing it the way i had hoped for, my mistake, i guess i should have double checked with him, before i left my wilsy there. I do like him, i believe he is a good vet, but i am baffled by his decision …If its not as uncommon as im thinking it is, please let me know, id love to hear any possitive stories about it being done this method !!!

My other concern, is his right elbow, is becoming red and sore and a little raw, which i have made a cut out wool sock with a unscented maxi pad stuck to the inside of it, fit it over his leg to cover elbow with padded part, with diaper cream on elbow, with stretchy gauze tying it to his collar loose as possible so it doesnt pull on leg or collar, so it doesnt slip down, seems to be somewhat working, but im wondering if this is going to be ongoing, or do the elbows eventually callous ?

Also, im guessing some sort of non slip bootie is a common thing to use, especially indoors on slippery surfaces, he slides out on almost everything it seems when he’s sitting, does he have extra slippery paws, oops, paw ?

Again, thanks so much to each of you for such great info !!!

I will post pics soon, i dont see a way to attach a pic here right now, there must be a photo thread, ill check it out and post some soon …but meanwhile Wilson is a Husky, Dalmation, Boarder Collie (or Blue Healer) X

3am going to bed, was just waiting to give med …gnite ….Brenda

knoxville, tn
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30 May 2012 - 6:27 am
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hey brenda, glad wilson is doing better with the meds.  the remaining elbow will eventually callous up, but we had the same situation with gayle’s.  it got scraped when they did the amp, and it got sore and infected, as it was her pivot point for getting up and down from a laying position.  we had to have water therapy and eventually had it stitched shut (it was a mess for us), so i made up an elbow pad that she was able to wear to keep pressure off of it.  go to the tripawds download section and look back through the posts, i’ve put a file with pictures in there showing what it looks like and how to make it.  the maxipad sounds like a good idea – be careful of the diaper cream, as you don’t want any infection to set in (trust me)… 

hope you can get some rest in the days to come, it’s gonna get better.

 

charon & spirit gayle

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

The Rainbow Bridge



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30 May 2012 - 7:37 am
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Hi Brenda,

Oh that’s great to hear Wilsy’s doing better. His recovery environment sounds perfect, and what a good boy he is for staying there and soaking it up!

I’ll tell you, if there’s one thing that this situation teaches us, is that regret is a useless emotion. It keeps us focused on the past, and robs us of precious time together. Dogs know this, it just takes humans a while to figure it out. In the meantime, if you like your vet, then yes, by all means, go forward with him but make it clear that you want to be included on all future decisions before they occur. It sounds like he  has a “paternalistic” approach toward medicine, which we discussed at length in last week’s Tripawd Talk Radio episode with Dr. Nancy Kay, you may want to listen to it:

Tripawd Talk Radio Welcomes Dr. Nancy Kay

Also, this book might be something you want to check out:

Dr. Nancy Kay’s 12 Things to Expect from Your Vet

I can’t say every dog with a partial amputation does badly after surgery, because we usually only hear from the ones who do have issues. Like I said, nothing you can do now except keep an eye on it carefully and make sure it’s healing right.

Oh, about sore elbows. Check out this post about making homemade elbow protectors: 

Gayle Shares Her Homemade Elbow Protector Plans

Have a great day today, I know it will be better!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Rock Hill, SC
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30 May 2012 - 7:42 am
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Zeus had a ‘strawberry’ on his remaining front elbow but it never progressed to a sore and eventually it did callous over.  He also developed a small spot on his chest where it rubbed on the ground, but it also healed.

Although he only cried out once, there were a few times that Zeus looked a bit freaked-out and they were always as he was trying to stand up.  It was almost as if he forgot the leg was gone and it startled him when he tried to use it to stand.  The avatar is small so I can’t really tell, but is Wilson a husky?  If so, they can be vocal dogs so it may be that he is crying when he is unsure or startled?

As to the slipping, be sure to trim any hair sticking out between the toes on his front foot.  Zeus also slides alot and that helps us tremendously (as do the 200 multi-colored throw rugs covering our floors laughing).  We tried the Musher’s Secret that you will see mentioned sometimes on this site.  I never could tell if it really helped with the slipping, but it seems to make his paws more supple and I use it to avoid them drying-out and possibly splitting.

Lisa

Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...
http://zeuspod......pawds.com/

Las Vegas, Nevada
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30 May 2012 - 2:21 pm
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So happy to hear Wilson is seeming better.

I’m sure you are overwrought and sleep deprived so try not to focus on the surgical procedure right now. Those types of issues escalate in your mind when you are worn out.  You can broach the subject when you are well rested.

In the meantime, just keep loving up Wilson and getting him better!

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.

In your heart, where I belong.
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30 May 2012 - 5:34 pm
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Brenda, I wanted to welcome you, too. As was already said, over-medication and pain are so hard to differentiate. You just kind of have to know and trust your own dog. Most dogs who are hurting a lot tend to pant. Trembling alone may not be pain. I’d be more concerned with the yelping. I don’t know if Gabapentin has serious side effects or not. If it doesn’t, you might want to ask your vet for a supply to see if it changes Wilson’s behavior.

Most of us lay in a supply of throw rugs to keep the slipping and sliding down. Yoga mats are good, too. I used them in my laundry room because they can get wet.

As for the stump wiggling, I do think most stumps wiggle. Dakota has no stump (scapula removed) but when he’s really happy his chest twitches. Now that’s creepy!

Jerry is right about regret. Don’t go there. The 30 seconds you spent on regret already is enough. Put it behind you and work on getting Wilson rehabbed. Seriously, regret will eat you up. Yes it’s wrong that the vet didn’t check with you and go over his plans once he changed his mind. No there’s nothing you can do about it except change vets if you want a better communicator. What Wilson got out of the relationship is a better life going forward. So…forward!

Shari

From abandoned puppy to Tripawd Warrior Dude, Dakota became one of the 2011 February Furballs due to STS. Our incredibly sweet friend lived with grace and dignity till he impulsively raced over the Bridge on 12-15-12.

Dakota's thoughtful and erudite blog is at http://shari.tr.....pawds.com/

krun15
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30 May 2012 - 6:01 pm
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Hi Brenda,

I didn’t get a chance to welcome you earlier.  I think what Lisa (zeuspod) really said about the throw rugs was that it looked like a clown exploded!  One of my favorite descriptions because my house looked like that too.

And I second the trimming of the fur and the Musher’s Secret.  Tri-pug Maggie was a rear amp who started slipping a lot as she got older.  Trimming the toe fur and applying the MS really helped her.  Her pads were really dry and cracked- the MS helped keep her pads supple which hugely improved her traction .  You can find info on Musher’s Secret and other traction ideas in This Section of the Gear Blog.

Maggie’s rear amputation was called a mid-femoral amp.  The name is a bit misleading as there was only a small part of the femur left.  You could not see it looking at her, but you could feel it.  And you could see it if she moved it.  She was a Tri-pug for almost 4 years and never had any problems with her stump or the muscles around it.  The surgeon explained to me that that surgery was easier and faster than trying to dis-articulate at the hip.  Maggie always had trouble with anesthetic, so I was happy with a faster surgery.  Maggie often sat or laid on her amp side, and she she even developed a ‘fall into a sit’ maneuver that she used to change directions.  I don’t know if a front stump and a back stump have the same potential issues- but as I said Maggie never had any problems.

I know it is much easier to say than to do- but you do need to let go of what happened with the surgery.  You might ask your vet to be more communicative in the future so he knows you want to be involved in all decisions.  I think it is critical that you have a good relationship with your vet, especially when you are dealing with long term health issues. And it is better for you to have a clear head so you can focus on Wilson’s recovery.  Just look at him- does he care about any of this?  We say here to ‘Be More Dog ‘.  It took me awhile to get the hang of it, but Maggie taught me what was important in life!

Karen and the pugapalooza

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30 May 2012 - 9:55 pm
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Brenda,

Eleven and half Sara is going on her 4th week;  I was also over medicating her the first three weeks with tramadol. Since I’ve backed off on the pain killers, she has proved to be fairly active and agile.  She has also been smiling, alert, and has her tail held high, proud to be a tripawd.  In fact, for the first time she ran to greet her daddy when he came home this evening.

When she appeared to be in discomfort, I also used the frozen peas covered with a terry towel on her incision, something she appreciated.  Also, at some point in the day, make it a ritual to massage her head, neck, backbone, hips and remaining legs as she is arthritic and that infrastructure receives quite a bit of jostling as she hops and undulates her way up stairs (avoids the wonderful ramp her daddy made) and about the hilly yard.  There are several videos on massaging tripawds that I used as guidelines.  She loves them. So does her quad sister (littermate) and younger brother.

Karen’s advice is “spot-on” – no looking back, no regrets.  Look forward to make it work better for you and Wilsy. Everyone does the best they can with the information they have. The little rascals sense when we are upset.  They accept their situation as is and waste no time or energy on any category of negative feelings. They are too busy living their lives.  They are remarkable in so many ways.

Prayers for you and Wilsy.

Lavenia, the Belle Sisters and Mozart.

Vancouver Island B.C.
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4 June 2012 - 2:20 am
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I only have a minute here, but have been feeling bad for not replying ! Thank you all again for all the support and great advice. There are things in each post that i would like to address if only i wasnt so tired, lol ! I run a business from my residence offering horse board, so am presently looking after Wilson, and 12 horses on my own, not an easy task.

Wilson goes in on the 5th (will be 2 weeks) to get stiches out, i will give a more detailed update after that, but meanwhile he is doing ok, incision looks good, no infection or drainage, i think his recovery may be going a little on the slow side, but it is steady, touch wood !

Will give more of an update soon, when i can hold my eyes open, with pictures (if i can figure out how, lol) !

Thanks again ! ….Brenda

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