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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Timber: recovering from Dec 30 surgery
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Member Since:
13 July 2009
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2 January 2010 - 8:47 pm
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Quote from other thread:

7:05 pm January 2, 2010 timbersmom

"Thank you all for your posts! Gives me some much-needed perspective…Timber had surgery on 12/30/09. I brought him home yesterday…New Years Day…and kept thinking…"What have I done?!" He's 11 years old and a little arthritic. Osteosarcoma claimed his back leg. Have I doomed him to a painful, frustrating struggle? Will he be happy again? No one told me about the 2 weeks from hell…well, here we are and it helps knowing that y'all have no regrets and time heals…meanwhile, I'm grateful for a great harness I found to help with bathroom breaks for my 120 pound boy…so glad I found Tripawds…WAY more good info than anything the vets provided…"

Hi Timber,

Thought I'd move your post into its own thread so people will notice your bright new face. I don't think your pretty picture came with the text (what kind of dog are you? You look like my last pup, a lab x shepherd cross). Only Jerry has the secret to work that magic.

Even though my dog was only 8 yrs at diagnosis in July, he was a slow starter following surgery of a fore limb so I wondered for 2-3 weeks whether this had been the right thing to do. Turns out his hips were considerably weaker than we had known. In any case, he did eventually bounce back and was swimming, running like a madman up and down steps and generally having the time of his life, at least I was having the time of my life with him. Things do not always work out. Sometimes complications happen, but usually the dogs recover after a few week interval (that is the long side, but your dog is older and arthritic by your description). With Tazzie, I only got 4 & 1/2 months post amp before metastases took their toll. But he was his lively and happy self until the very end, when quite suddenly you could see the pain starting to overtake.

Of course, the pain was considerable following amputation, but that was a pain from which he eventually recovered. The bruising can be worse on days 2-5, so don't be surprised if he seems worse (and the colour gets more flamboyant) before he gets better. Amputation is generally a bit tougher for fore limb amputees, but I don't know how arthritis might affect that. You can find lots of older and giant dogs (150 lbs and up) on this website that are doing or have done just fine.

Susan of Tazzie

palos park, illinois
Member Since:
2 January 2010
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3 January 2010 - 9:04 am
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Thanks, Susan of Tazzie, for popping me into the forum and sharing your journey.
Timber's a 120 pound white German Shepherd that we rescued when he was 3(years, not pounds), he's 11 now. Timber came up lame the end of May.
Based on x-rays, vet thought osteosarcoma or bone necrosis from fungal infection or trauma, but bone biopsies were negative.
2nd round of limping in August, biopsy osteosarcoma but not typical...
I heard about the Cyberknife in Gainesville<Florida...intensely focused radiation could spare his rear leg.
I roadtripped from Chicago to Florida mid-September...ooops, equipment down for a week...ooops, his tumor's too close to the surface, the treatment would destroy the skin and ulcerate the area and require skin grafts(just what I was trying to avoid...all kinds of trauma for my bud)and couldn't they have seen that from the x-rays we sent them BEFORE I drove all the way down to Florida?
Back to Chgo. for palliative radiation for the pain and chemo...I did NOT want to amputate!
In December, the leg fractured...and I just couldn't put my boy here we are...
vets are encouraged that this is an atypical osteosarcoma...moving very slowly...Timber's lungs are we just need to get these next 2 weeks behind us!

Denise of Timber

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3 January 2010 - 9:05 am
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Tazzie said:

Hi Timber,

Thought I'd move your post into its own thread so people will notice your bright new face.

Great "move" Susan, we want Timber and Mom to have their own topic thread so that they can post directly with questions, observations, and updates.  This will help pull it to the front where we can comment back directly.

We are very sorry to hear of Timbers diagnosis and surgery, but you have found a great community filled with wonderful people who will share their diverse experience base, provide helpful suggestions, and give support.  I have to agree with both Susan and Shanna from you original posting.  They are two of our greatest contributors and will never lead you afar.  Hang-in-there during this first two weeks from hell.  Normally I have a whole list of suggestions to add but rather than fill this page just let me provide this LINK.  Emily's mom, another one of our great contributors who I hope will add here as well, would suggest elevating the feeding and water bowls.  This will help with the balance.

Pawsitive Thoughts Headed Your Way,

Sprit Cherry's Dad

PS: Denise: Your post just above poped up when I posted Sprit Cherry's reply.  Glad to see you found us over here.  Also, there is a place in my heart for Chicago - BS, MS, and PhD from Northwestern University, and two sisters in Wilmette.

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3 January 2010 - 9:47 am
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Gosh Bob - I grew up in Wilmette and used to live across from Dike (sp?) stadium. As kids, we parked cars in the alley for football games. . . That was a few lifes ago.

Denise and Timber: Wow. What a journey you have made. Yeah, you would think they (UF) could have figured things out before you drove to Chicago. I recently tried to get to CSU for radiation on a subcutaneous met, but it was too late in Tazzie's journey so we only made it to South Dakota.

Such delays as you describe (excluding the side trip to Florida) are often reported on this website. Dogs often have misdiagnoses for several months, but still do okay. In fact, Jackers is celebrating 7 post-amp months today even though he had a long delay before surgery.

On the bright side, we have recently heard from an oncologist who participated in a 'chat' on this website that as long as the primary tumor is present, the onset of metatastatic tumors seemed to be delayed. Of course the primary tumor can pump out met cells, but supposedly the body produces its own defences in the form of something called angiostatins (warning, my information may not be reliable, this is based on one conversation and a very small bit of digging into the web), which it stops producing when the primary is gone. Something I read indicated that those angiostatins work like anti-angiogenesis drugs, which means they reduce the formation of blood vessels that feed the tumor. Anyway, even though we need to amputate to get rid of the horrible pain, it does not necessarily mean that the cancer is spreading more quickly than it would otherwise. (On the other hand, I also read that dogs that have surgery within one month of limping have a good prognosis post-amp, so I don't think anyone should get too bothered, regardless of whether they were quick or slow to get a diagnosis and to amputate).

The Glucosamine mentioned above should be important for Timber given you mention arthritis. Perhaps fish oil would help as well, but you have probably already looked into dietary issues. I am a big advocate of Power Mushrooms. When Tazzie's mobility and spirits started to fail due to the blasted met, woosh, he got his game back and cruised along blissfully for another 8 weeks. (By then, the met was horrendously big.)

How is Timber doing now? Is he getting around on his own yet or do you need to support him? It often takes a while before a dog gets their first poo and even pee (might as well mention that now Wink ).

Susan of Tazzie

Wesley Chapel, FL
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3 January 2010 - 10:23 am
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Hi Denise (Timber's mom),

I'm so sorry to hear about all you and Timber have been through already… but you have definitely come to the right place for information and awesome support from the Tripawd family!!!

My 10yr old golden retriever, Jake… was also diagnosed with osteosarcoma after his front right leg suddenly fractured while he was playing with Wolfie. Our nightmare began then… After doing tons of research, and finding this wonderful website, we went ahead and had Jake's leg amputated. We were expecting the first 2 weeks to be rough, and even had some doubts about what we had done when we first saw Jake and brought him home. But those doubts quickly went away. Luckily, his pain was managed quite well with the medications, although some dogs have seem to have bad reactions to it. He had a compression bandage around his chest/incision for the first 5 days, and that seemed to help alot with edema (fluid buildup) around the surgical site. There was alot of draining the first week… that's also normal. Jake wore a T-shirt to help prevent him from licking at his wound once the bandages were off… and when we couldn't watch him (like when we were sleeping, or had to leave the house), he had to wear an e-collar.

We got a sling to help him go out to pottie, and as soon as his sutures were out 2 weeks later, we used a ruffware harness… which was a tremendous help! Jake was only 85 pounds, but boy did our backs ever hurt trying to help him get around. He had a great appetite the whole time… loved to play and cuddle with us amd Wolfie. Two weeks after the surgery, he was cleared by the vet to go swimming. That was his and Wolfie's most favorite thing to do. One of the wonderful Tripawds members (Toto's Mom) generously sent Jake a K9 Float Coat to help him swim. You can see Jake in action and read all about his story on Jake's Journey at

To prepare for Jake's first 2 weeks at home… I took time off of work to stay home with him. We placed doggie beds and comforters in several rooms of the house, where we'd all hang out, so that Jake could plop down anywhere we were. He got very tired quickly, and that was to be expected… he was recovering from such a large surgery, pain medications… and having to now bear all his weight on the remaining 3 legs.

I switched his food from Royal Canine prescription restricted calorie to Blue Buffalo holistic food for seniors. I cooked a turkey/chicken stew with veggies and brown rice and added that to his dry food. I also put him on several supplements such as high dose glucosamine/chondroitin, fish oil, and other stuff. Being a senior, I know that his remaining joints were going to have extra stress on them so I wanted to make sure he would be protected. I also made my own homemade liver treats, where I'd bake slices of liver with some garlic and parsley in the oven. He was super spoiled and super loved until the very end.

But, by the 6th week, he started showing signs of weakness in his back legs… and then the very last day, he started having extreme pain in his back and couldn't move. His cancer had spread to his spine, and at that point, there was nothing left to do… no way to control the pain anymore… so we put our baby to sleep. Jake almost made it to his 2 month ampuversary…

Most dogs survive at least 4-5 months after their surgery… some up to a year or so, a few almost 2 years. We took a chance, hoping that Jake would be one of the lucky ones too… but it was not meant to be. But… we have absolutely NO regrets in doing the surgery, as he got to have several wonderful and pain-free (after he recovered from his surgery) weeks to spend with us and his 'little' brother Wolfie. We wouldn't trade that for all the money in the world. We miss him so much, but know that we did everything we could… and Jake knew that he was so loved, until the very end.

So, I really hope that your beautiful Timber is also one of the lucky ones… and that he heals quickly from his surgery without any complications… and can get back to living and enjoying his life, and being super spoiled by you!!

My previous german shepherd was also named Timber and my current shepherd is Wolf (Wolfie). I also used to live in Chicago for 6 years… (Shaumberg, then South Elgin) and my husband and I both worked at Northwestern. I miss it soooo much!

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… ….. CANCER SUCKS!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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3 January 2010 - 2:40 pm
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Tazzie said:

Quote from other thread:

No one told me about the 2 weeks from hell…

Welcome Denise! We are sorry to hear about Timber, but glad you found help here at Tripawds.

Every dog recovers differently, but they all have one thing in common. They will pick up on your emotions and follow your lead. If you believe the next couple weeks will be a living hell, it very well may be. The best thing you can do is to try and pretend – at least around Timber – that all is normal and life is going on as usual, while giving him plenty of rest and just taking things one day at a time.

PS: Thank you Moderator Tazzie for starting this new topic for Timber! FYI... If you select the Move Post option, you can select a forum to which can just move the post, thus starting a new topic which will retain the user's avatar and keep others from replying in the other topic. If you have questions or need clarification, please post in the Tech Support forum . Thanks again.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Coquitlam, B.C. Canada
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28 November 2009
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3 January 2010 - 3:54 pm
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Hi Denise, welcome to this wonderful supportive website. My 10 yr old golden just had her front right leg amputated on Dec. 29th so we are very close to the same timeline as is Holly on this forum. We got Tehya home on dec. 31st and so far so good. She has been doing very well in managing to get up and out on her own her appetite is good and she seems to be quite comfortable. We are off to the Oncologist Vet on Tuesday to see about starting Chemo treatments so we will see how it goes from there. Right now she is on an antibiotic, Percocet and Gavependin (sp) might not be right sorry but it is on my blog if you are interested.
We too struggled with the idea of amputation but in reading more on this website we decided to give her a fighting chance. Our prayers now are that we will beat the odds and be able to keep her for quite awhile longer.

Good luck to you and Timber and we will be following his progress closely.

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20 May 2009
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3 January 2010 - 4:22 pm
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Hi Denise,

Sorry I am so late joining the discussion.  I am sorry about Timber's diagnosis but in light of it, I am so glad that you decided on amputation.  An osteosarcoma is so terribly painful that many dogs feel better right after amputation than they did before hand.  When my Emily was diagnosed finding this web site saved my life and I hope that we can help you, as well.  I love what Bob says about feeding the spirit.  Find something that Timber loves and make sure he still can experience it.  After his recouperation I think you will find that he will be able to do everything he could before, maybe not for as long.  (Emily still liked to jump on the trampoline!)

Remember that dogs are first and foremost pack animals and Timber will look to you for guidance.  Be positive with him and he will be okay with the amputation emotionally. Physically, remember it takes time.  However, no matter how long it takes, cancer was eating away at the bone, painfully.

Emily, too, was a back leg amputee and I do think while I think it is an easier recovery, Yoda's Mom/Gerry's Foster Mom, may diagree.  She is had both and I think she could attest that all dogs recover differently.

My other suggestions are raise Timber's food dish to help with balance.  Dogs, especially tripawds, use their heads for balance and it will be easier if Timber doesn't have to lower his head so low.  It doesn't have to be one of those expensive raised dishes.  We had Emily's on a little stool.  Thoe other suggestion I have you are probably already doing.  That is to put Timber on a good glucosamine supplement.

Good luck and know I am praying for you.  Keep us informed.  No one understands this like those who have gone through it.    Share your worries, and your successes!  We will laugh and cry with you!

Debra & Angel Emily

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.

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3 January 2010 - 4:31 pm
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tehya1 said:

Good luck to you and Timber and we will be following his progress closely.

As I told Tehya in her posting I like the idea of you two linking up and supporting each other.  Nova, Max, Trouble, Tika and I all had our amputations over a four week period.  We kept track of each other and provided support.  It was nice to have a little Ampuversary group like that.  Hope to hear from you soon.

Spirit Cherry

4 January 2010 - 11:21 am
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Hi Timber- I posted this on the other thread before it got moved.  I moved it here  in case you missed it.

You have received lots of good responses- I hope Timber is doing well.


Welcome Timber.

Never good that you had to look for this site- but great that you found it when needed.

My pug Maggie is one of the smallest tripawds, she is also a rear amp and now weighs less than 16.5 lbs.  She is nearing 11 years old and had her amp over three years ago.  She has mast cell cancer, not osteosarcoma, but her prognosis after surgery was not too good.  But that is a story you can read in her blog sometime if you are interested.

Mag had her amp before this site was established, I just found it last fall while looking for some hints on helping her get  better traction .

I was also unsure at the beginning, and Mag didn't help me feel better as she took a long time to adjust.  But she was being the same  obstinate pug who hates any change in her routine. After she was done with her chemo treatments she became her old self again and I have absolutely no regrets about any of the decisions I have made for her.

I hope the healing process goes well for Timber.  Please take advantage of all of the knowledge and support you will find here.

Karen and the pug girls.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 August 2009
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4 January 2010 - 2:16 pm
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Yes, welcome Timber!  Best of luck on your recovery! Here's hoping the rest of the two weeks are easy!

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.

palos park, illinois
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2 January 2010
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7 January 2010 - 5:03 am
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Gosh, this site is so amazing! Thank you Susan of Tazzie, Spirit Cherry's dad, Angel Jake's mom, Tehya and Darlene, Debra and Angel Emily, Karen and the pug girls, and Cometdog...WHEW!!! Your wishes and tips and sharing are much appreciated! We're 8 days post-op and things are looking good...when Timber stood up and walked by himself on day 3 my heart just soared...he's such a trooper...just wants to go out and play in the snow...his incision looks more week till the staples come bleeding, no discharge, no swelling, no bruising, soft and pink as a baby's bottom...I think my surgeon was extraordinary! (Dr. Etinger, Arboretumview, Downers Grove, Illinois) Timber's only getting Tramadol post-surgery...that seems odd to me since he was on that plus Gabapentin and Amantadine before when he was dealing with pain from the tumor...oh well, he seems to be doing just fine...I was so focused on recuperation from surgery, that once he perked up, I thought we were home just occurred to me (duh) that we still have 2 more rounds of chemo and he'll need to be monitored...meanwhile, his feeding dish is raised, he gets supplementation with glucosamine/chondroitin, organic freeze-dried greens powder with probiotics for digestive health, omega-3 fish oils,... on alternate days, he gets home-cooked lamb, brown rice, assorted veggies and chicken broth...or ( raw chicken/veg/fruit patties with chicken broth with green pepper and carrot chunks...willysmom offered to send me her leftover K-9 Advantage...any insights on it's effectiveness? ...wish I could post pics to show you how Timber the magnificent is doing, but starting up a blog is a bit more than I can handle right now...I'm just glad I can lurk, and peek, and post on the occasional forum topic and get some insights from other people's blogs...
Denise and Timber

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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7 January 2010 - 5:19 am
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Just the kind of update we all like to hear.  Timber is off to a great start.  You don't have to start a blog to post pics.  They can be posted right here.  We'd love to see the beautiful Timber.

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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13 July 2009
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7 January 2010 - 8:33 am
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Two more chemo treatments? Does that mean you began chemo before surgery?

palos park, illinois
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2 January 2010
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7 January 2010 - 11:18 am
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Yes...Timber had 4 radiation treatments and chemo 4x...I did not want to amputate, but when his back leg fractured, I caved...

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