For those of you who have been following Barret’s story, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of canine cancer following a surgery to remove a lump. The only option available that would save his life was to amputate his front left leg. My last post about Barret’s surgery I covered some of the products that were helping us through the recovery stage.
We’re about 3 weeks post-amputation now and I have to admit that Barret is doing even better as an official Tripawd than I anticipated. Every time we take him out in public, we get a barrage of questions about his condition and I’m starting to realize that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about 3 legged dogs and I’d like to set the record straight!
1. Big dogs aren’t candidates for amputation
Most of the time, after telling Barret’s story, I am told “It’s lucky he’s such a small dog, if he were bigger he wouldn’t be doing as well/wouldn’t have been a candidate for surgery.” FALSE! My new friends over at Tripawds.com have shown me that big dogs can do as well as small dogs as tripods. I’ve read the story of a Great Dane, a Mastiff, several Huskies and German Shepherds… they’ve done just as well on 3 legs as any of the small dogs on the site. Some have even fared better than their terrier counterparts. Size isn’t an issue and I’ve even seen the story of some older dogs with arthritis that were still able to thrive after amputation.
2. Old & stubborn dogs won’t adapt to 3 legs
FALSE! Dogs are a lot more resourceful and rebound a lot faster than humans. I think a lot of us like to apply human emotion to dogs. If I had to have my arm amputated, it’d be harder for me to adapt than for a dog to adapt to three legs. Dogs don’t over-analyze things or reflect on the past. If your dog wakes up with one less leg tomorrow, he just rolls with the punches and does what needs to be done to carry on being a dog!
Additionally, I’ve never met any pet or human more stubborn than a cat. Cats make wonderful tripawds too! We had a cat in the family that had 3 legs following an accident of some kind (he was adopted with 3 legs) and I’ve met several cats who have lost a limb later in life only to rebound amazingly.
3. Your dog will never be the same after amputation
I’m actually going to say TRUE to this one, but not in the way you think. Your dog will have the same personality, though it takes a few weeks for the drugs and pain to wear off. They’ll have a different walk, but the same zest for life, even more if there was pain in the limb that was amputated.
I think that Barret is even better than he was before surgery. This entire process has bonded human and canine even closer. Before surgery, he was my “first” dog, my oldest child, so to speak. This process has turned him into my heart dog. I love all my dogs, but Barret and I have a special bond now that can never be broken.
4. Other dogs will tease or attack your dog
FALSE! In my experience, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I haven’t come across a dog yet that has seemed to even notice that he only has 3 legs. I had to separate my other dogs to keep them from playing too rough. They didn’t seem to understand that he was recovering from anything at all.
5. Recovering from major surgery is too hard on a dog
In my opinion, this is FALSE. I’ve read a lot of other stories of Tripawds who had very “rough” recoveries, but I think it’s the humans in the situation who are having a hard time, not the dogs. I hovered over Barret at home for almost a week after surgery before I realized that the more I hovered, the worse he seemed. He was picking up on my anxiety and fear and becoming anxious. Once I learned not to jump at every noise or move he made (and to leave him alone for a little while) recovery seemed to smooth out. Just take things one day at a time.
Whether you’re considering amputation because of an illness (like cancer) or because of an injury or deformity, I truly believe that almost any dog or cat can adapt to life on three legs. You’ll be truly amazed and inspired by how animals can handle just about anything you throw at them and will make you want to be more like your dog. If you’re not convinced by my tale, hop on over to the Tripawds website and post your situation in the forums and take a moment to browse the user blogs (here’s Barret’s blog). The wonderful caring people on that site will help guide you to the right decision for your beloved pet.