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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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Wrigley II Home
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Forum Posts: 19
Member Since:
5 January 2009
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9 January 2009 - 6:24 pm
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We just got home from WSU with Wrig. Ashamed to admit it, but we chickened out a little bit.  When we pulled into the parking lot the first thing we saw was a Rottie, getting helped on a potty break, that just had amp surgery. She looked so miserable and helpless.  It made my heart sink and made us question everything.  Although, after talking with the doc and sleeping on it we have changed our minds, and the best quality of life for Wrigley II is one in which he can run, play, jump and be free!  (He did have a treatment of radiation to help with the pain since we were so unsure of how we would proceed. )  We are happy to say his lungs are clear on the x-rays. One point for our team! Laugh They will do a ct scan before surgery and hopefully they still won't see anything.  Has anybody had that situation? Plan surgery and then find out mets were in the lungs? Did you change your mind and decide just to keep them comfortable? Is life expectancy really only a few months then or can chemo help at all? We want to have this decision made before surgery on Fri.

Of course the first thing I did when we got home was come here.  Like always, it made me feel better. Jerry, I watched your 21 month ampuversary video. It made me smile, laugh and cry!  A good cry,  it gave me so much hope that Wrigley II will be himself again and will be able to do all the things he loves !! I can't thank you enough for that.

I can't say that I'm not scared out of my mind, and that I don't burst into tears at times, but when I feel doubtful and need strength, I will  think of you.

Forum Posts: 115
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9 October 2008
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9 January 2009 - 7:07 pm
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So glad to hear that Wrigley's lungs are clear!  Smile  Jerry certainly is our inspawrational hero as far as him having a happy, active and wonderful life for almost two years after amp surgery.  Unfortunately, no one knows what the future holds for our beloved fur babies when it comes to cancer.  I understand that you saw the Rottie at the vet's who looked miserable and helpless but don't forget that she JUST had surgery and dogs don't usually like being at the vet's- they prefer to be in their secure home.  She probably didn't have her pawrents with her and she was probably on heavy meds and they aren't themselves when they are on those meds.  

We certainly all understand here on this site just how difficult this decision is to make but you have to understand that the amputation surgery takes their pain away and also helps the cancer from spreading and risking fractures… which happen pretty easily after that cancerous mass makes the bones brittle.  Our fur babies are extremely resilient and adaptive and they certainly do not look at amputation as we silly humans do.  It is a personal and very difficult decision to make and a leap of faith for sure but I have to refer to Jerry's motto…  “it is better to hop on three legs than to limp on four”.       

Luv Spirit Jake, Smooch, Baby Gus & Mom (Sherri)

Forum Posts: 2000
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22 August 2008
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9 January 2009 - 10:43 pm
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Good news on the xrays!  Remember that most dogs (95%) already have tiny lung mets at the time of amputation but only 10% are visible on rads. I would still pursue amputation even if mets were visible on the CT scan but chemo may not be needed.  Listen to the docs at WSU because they have lots of experience with this disease.  Just remember that statistics apply to the average case, and some dogs do better than expected but some will do worse.  The most important thing is ending the pain by taking the leg off.  I have seen dogs live 1-2 years just with amputation and no chemo or other care.

Keep us updated!

Pam and Tazzie

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 27443
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25 April 2007
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9 January 2009 - 11:56 pm
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Don't be ashamed to admit anything here, we are here to listen and not to judge OK? Promise. And all pawrents can relate to your emotions. In fact, if my Mom and Dad had seen what an amputee dog looked like right after surgery, they might've done the same thing you did.

We are so glad though that you talked to the vet and thought it over. Much applause! Yeay! And, that you came here afterward to see my videos. We are honored that we can help you and Wrigley like that.

Be strong, and with Wrigley's dog outlook, you can get through anything, we promise. It won't be easy, but it will make your pack stronger and your life will never be the same (in a good way).

Good luck. Keep us posted OK?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 173
Member Since:
17 December 2008
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10 January 2009 - 10:59 am
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Hey Wrigley II! Dont let the Rottie scare you…..the final outcome far outweighs that. The pain meds really do make the dogs act goofy and miserable, but take comfort in the fact that they are doing their job and it only lasts a few days. Im not going to tell you that the whole process is a breeze…because its NOT. The first 2 weeks are tough, but after that initial healing period your dog will be moving faster than ever. Max took off out the door of the vet last night because he had to go potty and the doc and I had to run after him. Its simply amazing.  Everyone has to make their own decisions of course and there are NO wrong ones, so take what we all can give you and make your decision and dont look back. We are here for you!! Good Luck!Cool

Paula and Spirit Max

Northern CA
Forum Posts: 314
Member Since:
23 December 2008
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11 January 2009 - 12:04 pm
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HI Wrigley ll – Wrigley from CA here.

If I had known in advance what that 2 weeks after amp surgery would be like- I would have freaked out.  Believe everyone on this blog that says it is hell. I did freak out on many occasion during that 2 week post op- I made several trips back to the vet, some on emergency, some on my own  just to put my mind at ease. But fast forward to week 3 and I  know we made the right decision.

Yesterday, I was putting my tennis shoes on and was going to the gym. In the past, whenever my dogs see me get my tennis shoes, they go crazy, cause it usually means ” a walk”. Well, when Wrigely saw me go for “the shoes” she came running( hopping briskly) over, did her usual whine of excitement and twirled around once or twice giving me the please please let me go dance. So we put on her coat, got the leashes and Wrigley, Rookie and I  headed out the door just like we have done before.  You would think she has been a tripawd forever.  I was a little nervous how far to take her, but I let her lead.  We went  pretty far- I shortened it cause I was nervous of over doing it for her. But she did great. It is truly better to hop on three legs than limp on four.

As far as the xrays and other stuff. Wrigley showed no lung mets on any xray prior to surgery.We did not have a CT scan- just went right ahead with amputation- and decided on that fairly quickly without really thinking. We did watch Jerry's videos prior to surgery and it definitely  helped make us feel like this was the right thing to do.

We met with the oncologist and they give you the “median” statistics, that are not really that encouraging. But when we left the oncologist office, my husband said we've come this far, we have to keep going. Wrigley had her first round of Carboplatin on 1/8. So far, so good. She has not shown any side effects. She will get her blood tested on Thurs 1/15, then back for another round of Chemo on the 29th- they will use another drug that time. Wrigley's oncologist likes to use combo treatments. She told me even though studies show that it really doesn't make a difference, she feels that if there is one cell resistant to one agent, she hopes the other agent will get that cell. So I am trusting her. I have had long conversations with her , and in the end she said ” why don't you let  me worry about the administration of the treatments,  so you can focus on taking care of your dog when she is at home. ” ( she was very nice when she said this, but it hit home- she is the Dr. and I am going to trust her)

So, if we did not amputate, Wrigley would still be in excrutiating pain, she would be miserable, I would be miserable, and we probably would have put her down by now. By amputaing, we still have our Wrigley, and for the most part ( minus a leg) she is the same dog. Slowly but surely we are adjusting to life on 3 legs. She is getting to be a pro at stairs- figured out the doggy door may present a problem, but we'll get around that.

Take each day at time- remember the dog does not have regret about the past, or worry about the future. There is an article our paper today that talks about dog behavior- and says that to them every day is like Christmas, every meal is the best meal they have ever had, every walk is the best walk they have had. They live in the moment- not the past, not the future- just the moment and savor every ounce of the moment they can.  So live like a dog- and enjoy every moment and never doubt any decision you make. Live with your love and belief- don't live with doubt.

Good luck – we'll keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

Keep us posted

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

Forum Posts: 19
Member Since:
5 January 2009
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11 January 2009 - 4:26 pm
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Thanks to all of you again. I know everyone here is going through the same emotions, just all at different stages. We are trying to keep this all in perspective.  We know surgery is the very best thing, so we are really trying to get our heads in a “good place” about it all so we have a pawsitive attitude and his recovery will be a little easier.  These past few days we see more and more that we have made the right choice, Wrigley is in pain, not sure his meds are helping all that much. The Dr. has talked about the averages but we will be blessed to have any amount of time whatever that may be. As long as he will be happy and pain free in that time, is all that matters to us.  I was  worried how long it would be before he would be excited about a walk, so that was good to hear.  I was hoping our expectations weren't to great. 

Question?: My husband travels, will I have any problems taking care of Wrigley by myself? He is 90# so I worry about helping him around if need be.  My sister has offered to come over, so I was just wondering.

Any other suggestions for what we will need do to prepare for his homecoming? We have started to put runners down. Do I need to worry about him tripping when he hops?  So many things to worry about!

I guess we to will trust the Dr. as to what chemo is best for him. I'm intrigued by the posts about supplements etc. so I will read more posts on that. We want to give him every possible advantage.

All of you are such a blessing to us. I'm sure we would be puddles on the floor by now, not knowing which way to turn. I will keep you updated. 

Northern CA
Forum Posts: 314
Member Since:
23 December 2008
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11 January 2009 - 6:21 pm
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Preparing for Wrigley to come home-

We have a two story house  and was told Wrigley would not be able to do stairs for  awhile so I set her “recovery” room up in a downstairs game room. It has a sofa bed in there so I slept on that for 2 weeks while she healed. It was Christmas break for the kids, so my daughter slept with me. I was told Wrigley may leak from her incision, so I bought a bunch of waterproof mattress covers at Target and put them on the floor ( which already had carpet). I put extra sheets on her dogbed so I could wash it easier if she leaked on that.

I already had the raised feeder so I put that in the room. That is something I would highly recommend so they don't have to try and balance eating and drinking low.

I had a baby gate that I put up to make sure she didn't wander out of the room at night.

You probably won't sleep for the 2 weeks after. If so , it will be off and on. For me it was like having a newborn again- up every couple hours.  There were nights that were worse than others with her yelping and being uncomfortable.

As far as you being able to do it by yourself- I think you could. The only thing that would have been hard for me was getting Wrigley out of the car if I had to take her to the vet ( which I did) I have an Tahoe so I could lift her up and in OK by myself, but when we got to where were going I usually had one of my kids ( both teenagers) with me to push her out a bit so I could get just the right position to lift her out. ( our Wrigley is only about 60 lbs)

Yes runners are a must on the slippery floors. They need the footing.

But after those 2 weeks are up, you will really feel like you get your life back. Wrigley is now going up the stairs on her own, down with a little help from mom and dad.  She is wanting to go for walks, she cruises around her backyard seeing what critters may have passed through, sniffing each and every bush. She went to the  back to see if her fence friends were out to say hi. She is comtemplating chasing the squirrels . Trying justify the energy expense right now I guess.

If I think of anything else I 'll post back.

Best of luck- You can do it!

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

Northern CA
Forum Posts: 314
Member Since:
23 December 2008
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11 January 2009 - 7:24 pm
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CA Wrigley with a few more things

Wrigley hated the cone they tried to get her to wear to keep from bothering the incision ( she had her front left leg ampuated) so we used an old t-shirt to keep it covered. She eventually ended up getting it bandaged to help control the leakage, but the shirt worked great the first week. We just slit the back a little so we can tie it to make it not hang.

Also, I ordered the Bella's hot/cold pack because Wrigley did require “warm compresses” . Bella's pack worked very well to not get too hot.

I also ordered the Ruff Wear harness for us to have for Wrigley. It hasn't come yet, but I think it will work wonders for helping to get  her in and out of the car on my own, help with stairs, and help on some of the walks we go to – like the river- where the terrain is a little uneven.

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

Forum Posts: 19
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5 January 2009
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11 January 2009 - 7:35 pm
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Hi Wrigley CA

Thanks for the info. We have two stories also but our main living is on the main floor so we won't need to go down stairs until Wrig is healed.  We have the raised bowl, we have a ramp for the car. I will go and get the other items asap. We have been talking about having his surgery sooner. Today does not seem to be a good day for him, he may have over did it on is walk today, not sure. I can't stand to see him in pain. I'll be calling the vet tomorrow to see if we can move it forward.

Thanks for all your helpSmile

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