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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Nervous about bringing my boy home from surgery today
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5 October 2021 - 9:02 pm
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Great news- Atticus is on the move! On Monday he started getting up on his own, and even walking towards our front door to let us know he wanted to go outside. We are doing very short leashed potty walks (just down a house or two) which seems to really lift his spirits. He’s standing more and more, and even stood and ate some food out of his raised bowl for the first time since surgery. Today he tried to lift his remaining hind leg to pee and lost his balance, which broke my heart a little. I’ve been putting his bed on our front porch and letting him lay there outside, which is his new favorite thing. I never trusted him off leash in an unfenced area before, but he’s not really a flight risk anymore…

We did have several days without pooping, which had me concerned. Fortunately, he pooped twice today. He’s a big walk pooper, so I got the idea to take him on a very short walk, which got him pooping. He seems pretty much over the chicken/kibble/water/chicken broth mixture I was feeding him. I switched over to canned food and am adding water in, because he is not interested in drinking water from a bowl. We are trying to transition off of the codeine today (or at least reduce how often he gets it) so that should help as well. 

A few times he’s gone over to our stairs and looked up forelornly. His “room” is upstairs (he loves sleeping in our guest room/bed), but I think we’re a ways away from going up the stairs. 

Virginia




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6 October 2021 - 9:15 am
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Loooooving this update!!!   When the sparkle starts to come back and routines start to return, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And when  "walk pooping " returns, all is well with the wworld!!😎

Tha ks for sharing the good news!   Can't  stop smiling😊

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!

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6 October 2021 - 10:21 am
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That is really good news! I love this! smiley_clapYou knew exactly how to get his spirits perked up and that says so much about your bond with Atticus. I'm so glad that he's more mobile and getting around a bit. Everything you described is exactly what needs to be done to get him all healed up. 

When it comes to the drinking, you're doing that right too. Have you tried just putting chicken broth in his bowl and seeing what happens? Hopefully the Codeine withdrawal will encourage him to drink up.

How many stairs do you have? Did you get a harness for him? I can't recall. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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16 October 2021 - 6:15 pm
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It's been a week, so lots to update! Lots of ups and downs as well.

We got the pathology report back on Tuesday, and it wasn't great. The two masses removed from the muscle were confirmed sarcomas so he is at Stage III. It looks like it was metastizing up the leg. Our surgeon thinks he got it all, but the fact it was spreading is not good. It also turns out Atticus does not have osetoblastic osteosarcoma. It is either hermangiosarcoma that metastized in the bone, or telangiectactic osteosarcoma. Both have a worse prognosis, and his expected survival time is less. The chemotherapy protocol is slightly different as well.

Our surgeon was considering starting chemo this week at his two week recheck (Wednesday), but Atticus was not doing well, and we all agreed it wasn't the right time to start. Up through Wednesday he seemed very listless, depressed, and unlike himself still. I had to handfeed him and coax him into eating and drinking (and eating is his favorite thing ever). He was not getting up on his own at all, just lying on a bed in our office ignoring everyone. At this point I was still thinking I had made a terrible choice, and ruined his last few months.

When we went to the recheck, the surgeon said that his incision looked great, he was moving fine, and that we are considering him healed from the surgery. The altered behavior could be two things: the cancer metastizing, which seems unlikely now- we had an abdominal ultrasound done days before surgery, and his change in behavior was immediate following the surgery. The other option was that he is very anxious and depressed about the loss of his leg, and the trauma of surgery. We all agreed that this is likely, as Atticus is a very sensitive dog.

Our surgeon says this does happen, especially with sensitive dogs. It also doesn't help that we had the surgery done when he was still fully weight-baring on the bad leg, so it was an abrupt change. Who would have thought moving fast to get rid of the painful leg would make things tougher? I should have expected this. Atticus is very moody and can get quite grumpy. When we got our Great Dane puppy he spent an entire month sulking, refusing to come out of his crate, ignoring us. This reminds me of that month.

We left our appointment with instructions to get him up, back to his normal routine, doing the things he likes to do. Now that I know he is healed from surgery, I feel more comfortable getting him up and moving around. It's been 4 days and holy cow, what an improvement!

We've been going on more frequent short walks, and saying hi to other friendly dogs. We go in a loop around our block, and I have to jog to keep up with him. We've also been trying to get him up eating from his bowl, instead of lying in bed while I handfeed him. I'm proud to say he's eaten the last 5 meals standing up at his bowl! With the help of a little steak...

Yesterday was a big first as well. Atticus loves the dog park more than anything. He's actually a serial dog park humper, so usually we leave the park in shame. It's earlier than I am comfortable with to go back there, but we have to get his spirits up if he's going to be well enough for chemo. So we went. He had a blast, and in the few minutes we were there, I saw the old Atticus again. We left after about 5 minutes, because I didn't want to overdo it. And he got the same look in his eye he use to get before he started humping, and I didn't want be the person there with a three-legged humper. As we walked in the park, someone loudly said "That dog has three legs!" I had to control myself from congratulating them on being able to count.

Today I came home from teaching a class and for the first time, he greeted me at the door! Then I drug his bed out to the driveway in the sun while I put up Halloween decorations. He loves lounging in the sun, but saw a neighbor's cat and was about to take off and chase it, so he lost driveway privileges for a while.icon_lol

So overall, things are looking up a bit. I'm choosing not to dwell on the crappy prognosis, and take it one day at a time. I am celebrating every step he takes back to normalcy, and enjoying every good moment. Coming up soon- we may start chemo next week, and on November 6th he has his first appointment for physical therapy with a certified Rehab vet. 

Virginia




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16 October 2021 - 9:51 pm
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Oh my gosh!!   I'm almost jumping up and down with joy as I read all about the ways Atticus is being Atticus again!! 

Trying to reclaim his title  as dog park aerial humper...YAY!!!👏

Greeting you at the door....YAY!!!👏

Eating standing up!!   YAY!!!👏

Reminding the neighbor's cat he's still boss.  YAY!!👏

After readi9n all about Atticus being so "sensitive ", it makes sense he needed to feel "normal" again  and enjoying the security of being avle to do all his refular routines. 

As we say around here, "prognosis-schmognosis". Every dog is different and many dogs defy  any gloomy prognosis.   Atticus has already proven he's not your "normal recovery dog".  He does things his way, at his own pace and with a zest for getting  back to being Atticus,  

Seeing Atticus so happy now and seeing his sparkle come back in a big way is therapeutic  for Atticus and for you!!  You have a great  attitude  to jist focus on the now and make every moment the best moment ever!  

Give that sweet boy a big smooch for us, and lots of extra steak!  He deserves it!

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!

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17 October 2021 - 10:07 am
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YEAH! Atticus the three-legged-humper is BACK! smiley_clap

This just made my day, I'm smiling big smiley4 Thank you for letting us know.

That's awesome he's going to rehab! Don't forget to apply for the rehab grant with Tripawds Foundation .

Interesting observations by your surgeon about him being depressed. Everything they said, when put in perspective with how sensitive he is, makes sense. We used to say "dogs don't get depressed," and mostly that's true--what looks like depression to us is really just recovery related issues like feeling blah. BUT, the more times goes on the more we see that dogs who are sensitive souls in nature can in fact have a few more hurdles during recovery. I'd love to see a scientific study done on that some day. Thanks for the reminder that it can happen to some pups.

Yes, focus on the here and now. Prognosis schmognosis. Nobody knows how much time we have, with or without cancer. Atticus doesn't care what the path report said, so follow his lead as best you can. Looks like you are doing a GREAT job at that! 

Keep us posted and you might want to start a new topic since he's graduated from recovery! 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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23 October 2021 - 6:29 pm
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First chemo appointment is Wednesday! Hopefully we can work with the vet’s office to minimize how much time Atticus is inside- he hates being at the vet. We decided to wait to start chemo until week because we are spending the weekend at the beach. He is having so much fun- I almost couldn't keep up with him.

I am finally to the point where I am really glad we did the surgery. Without the amputation he would not be running on the beach, or playing at the dog park. I’m not even sure he’d still be around, with how his pain was increasing. Now we are getting good time, and he’s not on any pain meds. I’m struggling a bit knowing with his type of cancer this time might be really short. But we have it right now at least.

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23 October 2021 - 7:31 pm
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Oh goodness,  the best photos!!  That week is time well spent!  ❤  

Keep breathing and doing what you're doing! You all look so happy and that quality time is what matters. 

As Sally would say,  there's no time stamp on Atticus. Go ahead and check his back end,  you won't find one🤗

You're living your life the way it should be lived.  

Paws crossed for the rest of your journey❤

Hugs, 

Jackie and Huck ❤❤❤

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Phoebe, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

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24 October 2021 - 1:48 pm
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Now THAT is the spirit! Look at you guys just enjoying the day and living in the Now. I'm so hoppy for Atticus and the pack! smiley_clap

Yesh, see what you can do about making the chemo visit as comfortable as possible for him. In the Before Times, many vet practices would let pet parents and pets be together during chemo, because really it's just a lot of hanging out to make sure there are no immediate side effects. Maybe they can send Atticus outside with you if the weather is good, and you can just hang out in your car by the clinic to keep an eye on him? Dunno if that's possible but it can't hurt to ask. Let us know how it goes!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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24 October 2021 - 5:58 pm
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Your attitude  and the way you are embracing  each day inspires  us all !  You 've found the silver lining  of this journey  and that is  to  make each and every moment  fully focused on the now!  You have the inner strength and depth of love for Atticus  to not let this piece of crap disease  interfere  with your enjoyment of savoring the present watching Atticus so hapoy being  Atticus💖

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!

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26 October 2021 - 8:03 pm
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So happy to see Atticus is feeling better. Beautiful boy and beautiful pics!

Many of us thought we made a mistake in the beginning. My boy was almost 12 at time of surgery. He seemed so sad and I thought he was mad at me. He hated that I was being a helicopter mom. I decided just to let him be and let him figure things out. On week three I had my boy back.

Please don't waist time going by statics. When I was going through this I was given the same advise and I wished I would of listened. Brownie was given two to three months but lived an addition year and he was happy just like your boy is 

It just made my day to see happy boy with happy humans. Remember if you don't let cancer still your joy, cancer will never win..

Great job Attics😀

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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26 October 2021 - 11:32 pm
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Thanks everyone for the lovely kind words. I’ve gotten such comfort from this website and forum during some of the hardest weeks of my life.

Grief is a funny thing. I lost my dad somewhat unexpectedly this year. Up until I found out Atticus’ diagnosis, that grief for my dad was all-consuming. Out of the three family members that were the closest to me, my dad and Atticus are in the top three. Since I found out about Atticus’ cancer, I just haven’t had room in my heart for grief about Dad. It’s all for Atticus now. I guess I can look at the bright side of that, right? No more tears about Dad.

Last night I had a dream that Atticus fell down this deep wide hole in the ground. I couldn’t see the bottom, but I could see that it was deep enough that he couldn’t survive it. It’s easy to tell what my subconscious was thinking there. Regardless, I’m trying to hard to live in the now and enjoy this time. We are trying every weekend to do something fun. Last weekend was the beach, the weekend before was wine-tasting. Next weekend I’m thinking Home Depot. The last time we took Atticus to Home Depot was 3 years ago, and he peed on a wreath and we had to hustle out. This time he can pee on whatever we wants and I’ll just buy it.

Atticus is such a trailblazer to me. He redefined the word survivor, and how I think of osteosarcoma. When I got his initial diagnosis, my experience with osteosarcoma was that finding it meant very swift euthanasia. I am so happy that we were able to give a second chance to live pain free. In hindsight, he’s had pain signals present for a while, but tonight, sleeping at my feet tonight there’s none. 

Thanks again for comforting me during those dark three weeks, when I thought I made the wrong choice and I didn’t think it would get better. Since Atticus and I were brave and strong and made it through the surgery, I will be wrapping up this thread and starting a new one to talk about the new chemo journey. 

One more picture from this week- Atticus in go-mode while I’m trying to enjoy scenic viewpoint at a state park beach.

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27 October 2021 - 12:53 pm
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You have had earth-shattering, whallops of a lifetime this year, I'm so sorry for your loss of your dad. And to be trying to cope with grief while dealing with an osteosarcoma diagnosis in Atticus, no wonder you have exceeded your emotional capacity to do both. Even the strongest person in the world would find it hard to maintain equilibrium between the two. You made a good choice to focus on what's in front of you now.

But the way you are handling the situation now says so much about your ability as a survivor, as an advocate for Atticus. Your walks in nature are healing for the whole pack, I'm sure they've got a lot to do with renewed perspective. Those adventures are such good medicine. Atticus is sure to make the most of them, even if it means peeing on something at Home Depot!

We'll follow you along in a new post. Thanks for opening your heart and sharing such a ruff time with us. We are here for you in the ruff times, and we look forward to more of the good. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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28 October 2021 - 6:02 pm
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Hello my dog Sophie had a front leg amputation 8 days ago due to osteosarcoma. She is 11 years old and a bulldog lab cross. She is walking better and has her balance but had a lot of swelling in her front paw. We are icing it  3-4 times per day and massaging it. It is not completely down but going in the right direction. I wanted to post to let you know it is very difficult time and I also have a lot of guilt. It is difficult to watch our pets in pain. Sophie is slowly recovering. This evening when she went out for a pee, and  she charged across the street down and up a curb, and then back across the street. We were very surprised and happy she had a burst of energy. Now she’s snoozing again - I think she’s exhausted. I wish Atticus all the best. Sophie’s recovery is not a fast as I expected but improving. Take care Michelle and Sophie

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28 October 2021 - 7:58 pm
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 I wanted to post to let you know it is very difficult time and I also have a lot of guilt.

@fitlemer it is so incredibly nice of you to share Sophie's experience. Thank you from the bottom of my sp_hearticon2

It helps so much for folks to know they aren't alone. And you aren't either OK? Please start a new topic all about Sophie so that we can support you in your journey, and celebrate Sophie's wins!

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