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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Pennsylvania


Member Since:
4 July 2023
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10 July 2023 - 3:42 pm
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How do you deal with "what ifs?" and overwhelm while trying to continue to make good decisions?

We're one week into Juno's (9.5 year, 37 lbs. hound mix) recovery from hind leg amputation for osteosarcoma and this weekend was really rough for me (she, by contrast is doing great :). As I've continued to learn more about different treatments and approaches, I've realized if I had it to do again, there are a few things I'd do differently. Like, I didn't know that to consider/do immunotherapy you need a sample from the amputated leg (which is now gone), or that we may have had more options/better care at an AAHA accredited facility (and should we change now, after amputation, but before any type of chemo/treatment?!)

The thing is, her care has been great as far as I can tell, and her recovery is going smoothly (except those few rough days at the beginning that everyone mentions here in the forums.) Her case of osteosarcoma is pretty textbook and her care so far has also been pretty textbook and measures up well to what is mentioned in Three Legs and a Spare (which I found and read after the amputation was done). But still there's that sense that if I'd known more at the beginning I could have chosen better or had the chance to consider other options...and should I still consider other options now, or should I save my emotional energy and stay the course.

The thing is, overall I've generally found it pretty easy to stay positive (with the obligatory parking lot/backyard cries and grief and the rollercoaster from time to time because: human.) June is doing well and I'm savoring every moment with her idiosyncratic nature. But I didn't find Tripawds until after a lot of the early decisions were made and most of those were made with the help of a great little book by the Tufts veterinary faculty called Good Old Dog. However, as I learn more and more (and more) I'm discovering there's a pretty fine line between being informed and driving myself mad with so much knowledge that all want is a do-over or to run screaming. And also knowing there's even more I could be learning for the continued journey ahead, but that too much can lead to drain and overwhelm at a time when perhaps my energies may be better used being present with and enjoying this crazy, beloved creature who's been a huge part of my life for the past 8 years.

Thanks so much to Rene, Jim, Jerry, Wyatt, and all of you here. This is perhaps the brightest corner of the internet I've ever discovered - especially given the grim events that have brought each of us here.

Natalie & Juno (aka June)

Colorado
Member Since:
15 March 2023
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10 July 2023 - 4:23 pm
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Hey Natalie,

I relate to this sosooooososo much. I too missed the vaccine route, and had the same "ugh, what if" especially when Ellie showed signs of spread so early. It sounds like you are handling it remarkably well, good on you for allowing the obligatory cries, I think that's a vital step a lot of people don't take or don't take enough of *cough* me *cough*. when I feel that spiral of what ifs or it's not fair coming I tend to say affirmations of "you made the best decision you could for her with the information you had at the time".  over and over and over, then I usually cry, haha.

Because you have. The truth of the matter is all of us will get decision fatigue. There are so many decisions to make with really crappy vague possibilities so it's really hard to be confident even if you think you made the best one. 

I tend to still research when I get anxious, I do that for pretty much everything, it actually gives me the illusion of control so I gain energy from it weirdly.  With that said, if Ellie comes over for pets, or gives me any attention voluntarily I pretty much drop what I'm doing and she gets my full attention.  Above and beyond I think that's the most important part.  Regardless of how much you read/study/decide you need to treasure this time with your pup, because you simply don't know how long you get.  That's the crappiest part, that I think leads to a lot of the what ifs.

I also think it will get a little easier as he continues to heal- seeing them continue to get back to their usual happy selves helps a ton.

Please give Juno a pet and hug for me, I hope this brings, if not comfort at least, peace in mind that you aren't alone in what you're feeling.

New England
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10 July 2023 - 4:25 pm
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Ah, the age old question of "what if...?". It's a dangerous path to head down, but one that beckons strongly. 

First of all, you did the best thing for Juno by amputating the leg with osteosarcoma! This stopped the pain and crucially got the cancer out of her body. It's important to move quickly with cancer, so that limited your time to educate yourself to the extent you have now.

You are doing the best you can for your dog. Be kind to yourself. 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 July 2023 - 4:32 pm
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First of all, so very glad Juno is recovering  well!!  And ues, it's still very early on but it does get better and better.  Any sog part "hound"  pulls at my heart strings.  They are rough and smart and gen and full personality 

  

  I'm discovering there's a pretty fine line between being informed and driving myself mad with so much knowledge that all want is a do-over or to run screaming. And also knowing there's even more I could be learning for the continued journey ahead......

We get all the confusion  amd the what ifs.  We all do oi because there is always something "new" popping up or if only we had known "X" then we would have done "X".

First of all, you have done the most important  thing!  Ypu jave gotten rid of that bum 

You have  given her a chance at extended  pain free quaility  time.  And that is all Juno cares about!.

I can only speak in general terms about some of the clinical trials.  They are trials.  A lot of these  trials  aren't  necessarily  all that well studied yet and still inconclusive.   So the fact that your Surgeon or Oncologist  didn't  delve  deeply into these options is not unusual.  Some are "free".  Some  require a multitude of Vet visits.  Some ste only offered at a handulf of clinics or teaching  hospitals across the Country.   I know one of ther big unknowns  with immunotherapy  for osteo is it os still undetermined  which dogs may or may not respond.....even which breed, etc

 

    too much can lead to drain and overwhelm at a time when perhaps my energies may be better used being present with and enjoying this crazy, beloved creature who's been a huge part of my life for the past 8 years.

 

Guess I'm trying to say that it is  waste of valuable  energy  to look in the rear view mirror.....especially  if there are still a lot of uncertainties.  Juno may not have even qualified  for some of these trials of cells saved or not.  What was ....was....what is now is all that matters.  You have made the right decision  for Juno and I know you will  find peace in that.  

NOW is all we have with our dogs.    The only "do over" that ever causes  anyone "regret" around here is to worry about things out of our control.  To let cancer overtake your mind with  the "what ifs and if only"  interferes within your time with Juno in the present.  And the present is all we have.  The present is all Juno cares about. 

If you haven't  had a chance to download  Be More Dog ....Jerry's story , it's a great read.

So stay of Google, cut your computer  off and go give Juno some extra tummy rubs and cookies and smooches for us🥰  You are doing a great job and he is lucky to have you as his hooman who clearly  adores him.

Find peace  in knowing  all is well in Juno's world.....and you are his world amd he enjoys living  in 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!

Pennsylvania


Member Since:
4 July 2023
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11 July 2023 - 6:28 am
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Thanks to each of you - @Whitney, @mischief, @benny55. Apart from all the amazing, valuable (if somewhat overwhelming) information on this wonderful site, sometimes (most times?) the most valuable thing about Tripawds is that chance to be "seen" by people who get it. People who've been there, and no matter the feelings, the outcome, the path taken or not, they too love a dog (even a hound!) dearly and know at least a bit of what it's like to be in your shoes. And that means a lot - even as I wouldn't have wished it upon any of you.

Juno has received all your hugs and pets and is curled up on her bed near me looking very content as she continues to recuperate.

On a positive note, I have her signed up for rehab and am really excited about that because the thing she loves most in life is training - she's a dog who loves a job and lights up like a lightbulb when we're working together. I think rehab will be right up her street. ...and I may treat her to a bit of nosework later on too. It will be like Jerry's roadtrip for us, but better suited for June, who isn't too keen on the car or travel. smiley2

Thanks for your comfort, commiserations, and pawsitivity - it all means a lot.sp_hearticon2

Natalie & Juno (aka June)

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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21 July 2023 - 9:25 am
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 I'm discovering there's a pretty fine line between being informed and driving myself mad with so much knowledge that all want is a do-over or to run screaming. And also knowing there's even more I could be learning for the continued journey ahead, but that too much can lead to drain and overwhelm at a time when perhaps my energies may be better used being present with and enjoying this crazy, beloved creature who's been a huge part of my life for the past 8 years.

Natalie I'm sorry I missed this post earlier. 

What you say here is so valuable: it's so true about feeling overwhelmed and second guessing yourself. I think that for those going through the cancer journey now, things can be even more overwhelming than when we went through it with Jerry. There are just so many more treatment options and ways to approach care, and a million more ways to beat yourself up for not having the funds or time or energy to do all of them.

But what you say above is spot on: instead of spending 12 hours a day in front of a screen doing research every day to try to save our pets, that time could be better spent being together and doing the things they love. That really is the best medicine in a lot of cases, it makes them so happy to know our energy is focused on them, right here, right now.

We all do the best we have with the information and resources we have at the time. Our animals know that.

Pennsylvania


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4 July 2023
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21 July 2023 - 2:44 pm
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Thanks @jerry for such a thoughtful reply - and no worries about timing. Yeah, I’ve really been thinking lately that amid the ever increasing array of options, we all have a limit somewhere - time, money, mental/emotional/physical energy, even our own health and relationships. In this cancer journey with our furry companions something hits a wall for each of us at some point. Or best case, we can get to know our walls (and theirs!) well enough to slow down or change directions before we hit them 😉 - I’ve seen a lot of lovely examples of that to learn from in these forum pages.

…time could be better spent being together and doing the things they love. That really is the best medicine in a lot of cases, it makes them so happy to know our energy is focused on them, right here, right now.

Yeah, some months ago I was introduced to the idea that 1) Love and Support and 2) Stress Reduction are the top two ways to prevent or support treatment for cancer in humans, so it’s very likely the same in dogs. And regardless - at least we gave them a great time!

Thanks again. This is a pretty amazing community.

Natalie & Juno (aka June)

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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21 July 2023 - 8:19 pm
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Well said Natalie♥️

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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25 July 2023 - 9:12 am
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Your post resonated with me.  I was paralyzed in the decision making process by all of the options.  While I’m glad there are so many immunotherapy vaccines in trials, it also makes the decision making process extra overwhelming.  My mind starts thinking “what if one of them has the perfect formula to help my dog live longer …. but which one?” Some are extremely difficult to get.  Am I failing my dog if I don’t manage to get hold of one?  Do I drive a dog that dislikes riding in the car 26 hours round trip (twice) for one of them?  What if he only has a limited number of days left and we spend most it driving all over for treatments instead of doing the things he loves?  What if I opt not to pursue one of them?  Will I always then think he might have lived much longer if I had done it? The driving/travel would only be a blip if it added a lot of good quality extra time to his life.  What if? What if? What if?  It keeps me awake at night. I probably am kidding myself that I have more control over what happens than I actually do, but feeling powerless is equally as bad as the “what ifs” in making decisions.  From my perspective, you probably got the amputation done more quickly than you would have been able to if you were weighing options, waiting for specialist appts etc.   I think there is a benefit to quick action.  And, I don’t want to put more decisions on your plate, but you could still get the Yale immunotherapy vaccine which does not require tumor cells.  If a location was somewhere not so far from me, that would be an easy decision to do it. 

Pennsylvania


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30 July 2023 - 1:44 pm
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Yes - I feel you. I know you've tried your best for your pup too amid the soup of options, even as the process has taken its toll on your sleep and stress. I'll quote @mischief's wise words and say:

You are doing the best you can for your dog. Be kind to yourself. 

And @jerry:

We all do the best we have with the information and resources we have at the time. Our animals know that.

I must admit I sleep better now with more decisions behind me and increasing perspective. Also, Juno is beck to her energetic I-need-a-job-now self so it's harder to overthink things when I'm getting caught up in new training and projects with her. I hope the same for you too in your pup's own way.

 

From my perspective, you probably got the amputation done more quickly than you would have been able to if you were weighing options, waiting for specialist appts etc.   I think there is a benefit to quick action.

You're probably right - at the time all we knew was that the cancer was aggressive and so we acted fast.

...you could still get the Yale immunotherapy vaccine which does not require tumor cells.  If a location was somewhere not so far from me, that would be an easy decision to do it. 

Wow. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know this about the Yale vaccine, I just assumed it was like the ELIAS. And more than that, there's a study site 45min from us!! It looks like Juno probably qualifies, but I'll call and find out for sure. It's worth a shot.

Thank you soooo much for sharing, especially when you have limited access for your own pup. I remember telling someone about the ELIAS vaccine recently and feeling a wrench that I couldn't offer the same to my pup.

And I know what you mean about a dog who's not keen on the car. I knew from the start of this journey that whatever we did with Juno would need to be pretty close to home.

Thank you again so much. I am sending you, yours, and your boy our best for your journey, days full of love (as Onder's owner wished us), and peace in your decisions. sp_hearticon2

Natalie & Juno (aka June)

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