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Quad to Tripaw

Canine Osteosarcoma leading to amputation

Quad to Tripaw

Recovery is tough

January 19th, 2018 · 19 Comments · Uncategorized

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Sawyer is 9 days post-op. Here’s a run down.

Lots of cuddling and reassurance. He did pretty well getting outside to pee and has eaten a little. Otherwise, he hangs out on his bed. One of his biggest obstacles has been our hardwood/tile floors. We’ve tried RuffWear boots which work okay but afraid that he’s gonna catch his toe and trip. Putting down some throw rugs has really helped. I went crazy and ordered a few things to help him with traction: non-slip socks, paw pad and toe grips. They have been delayed due to weather but I’ll let you know what works. I am most excited about Toe Grips. Hopefully, they live up to my expectation.

Sawyer with his boots

Up until about Day 6, he seemed to be doing well. Tired and groggy. Eating and going outside to potty. Day 3 he finally pooped which was very exciting for me as I was starting to worry.

The last 3 days have been really hard. He often just starts “yelping” usually after waking up. Until this week, I have only ever heard him yelp once which was when a squirrel that he caught bit his nose. I was chasing him around the dog park like a crazy person trying to get him and the squirrel separated. He continued to cry and try to eat the squirrel. The poor squirrel and I lost. Ended with Sawyer’s nose bleeding, poor dead squirrel and Sawyer as happy as a calm at his handy work. Those were good days, unless you are a small woodland animal. (Hey, he was bred to hunt. I hate it but I don’t get mad at him.)

Anyways, he has a lot of “twitching” at the incision site and he seems very anxious as well as more clingy than usual. He’s on Gabapentin 3x day, Tramadol and Vetprofen. Everything that I have read suggests that he has “phantom limb pain” which is ironic because the surgeon told me that dogs don’t suffer from this malody. Yesterday, we tried some doggie massage and warm compresses. They seem to help. I can’t wait for his sutures to be out so I can ask the surgeon about wrapping the area for support like I have read in some of Tripawds blogs. Mostly, he just wants to lay next to me. Luckily, I have the week off as originally we were going to Florida for some sun and warmth.

Afraid that I am babying him too much but then we’re only 9 days out from surgery. He is only eating like once a day with a lot of coaxing. He is not at all interested in his dog mates who have limited access to him right now. Usually he and Rosie love to cuddle and I think that she’s missing him.

Rosie and Sawyer cuddling before surgery

I feel bad for my other 2 dogs. My temper is very short with them which is unusual. I am still taking them for a good daily hike. But I have definitely scolded them a lot this week. Rosie is kind of a bulldozer who is used to getting her way by using her body weight so when she is in the same room as Sawyer then I keep a very close eye and often have to shoo her away. Harley is used to being my constant companion. Out of the 3 , he has always wanted to be with me as much as possible. Keeping him separated from Sawyer means separate from me which is driving him insane.

I am struggling because I am not sure that I made the right decision. Maybe I have just subjected him to a life of pain at the end. That makes me so sad and depressed. But then he’ll get up and hop to the door like nothing is the matter. So only time will tell. The morning that I took him for surgery, we were waiting and a woman had her dog there. Her dog also had some kind of cancer of the leg and was having a resection. She asked about Sawyer and I told her that he was having an amputation. She looked horrified and said “I’d never do that to my dog.” I started babbeling about how I have researched Tripaws and it seems like even older dogs do well, trying to explain myself. But her comment has lingered with me since that morning. Murphy got really angry with her and just turned away. Many people have been horrified that I would subject an 11 year old dog to an amputation. Other people’s judgement is really hard. Makes me second guess everything. And gives me constant guilt. All I want is the best for him.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Sarah

    Thank you for sharing. Hope that sawyer starts to turn the recovery corner quickly. I‘ve made the decision to amputate my Gus‘ leg (he‘s a large Chesapeake Bay Retriever – osteosarcoma) and surgery is Monday… I‘ll be anxiously watching your blog and hoping he improves.

    • sawyer

      Best wishes. It’s harder than I thought. I’m not sure what I expected but really the vet kinda made it sound like they bounce back right away. Overall he is doing well. I recommend reading about the pain management on Tripawds. Sawyer did have a block during surgery which I think helped. But did not have a Fentanyl patch afterwards. Wish that he had. I unfortunately read this part 3 days after surgery when too late to ask for it. He has been on Gabapentin since before the surgery which is a good idea. The Tripawds website has lots of excellent advice so I recommend reading as much as possible before. And don’t be shocked by the incision.

  • Jill

    Please don’t be so hard on yourself! You made the best decision you could for your dog! We are 2 days post op for our 7 year old rottie who had her left front leg amputated as a result of cancer. We also have 2 other young dogs we are keeping away from her for now. It’s tough.

    One day at a time….keep your head up

  • chyshuman

    You could be future me. I have never, in the 10 years of being chy’s human, heard her yelp in pain despite her numerous escapades. I can understand how that would be so upsetting.

    At the age of 12 she’ll be starting her adventure as a tripawd. The first time I told my family my dad immediately said “don’t do that to her, she’s had a good life just put her down”, and later said that if it was him he would fight tooth and nail before removing her limb. It totally made me feel like I was failing my girl. That the decision to amputate was an easy out instead of the best decision to preserve the quality of her golden years.

    I think it’s easy for people to judge who aren’t faced with this situation. I will fully admit I always said if my dog got cancer I would put her down, and would never amputate. After researching the topic, and seeing how well dogs adapt, how could you not proceed? That lady’s comment was a knee-jerk reaction, and one made out of ignorance. Rest assured you made the right decision for you and Sawyer; it doesn’t need validation from others for it to be correct.

    Hang in there! This is a tough spot that will pass.

  • paws120

    I just read your story. After seeing so many people in here put in your position, I honestly believe you made the right choice no matter what people say. You know at day 6 he no longer has those great veterinary drugs and anesthesia in his system. Most people around this time end up having to tweak the meds some. Sometimes it’s dosage, sometimes it’s timing. If he is uncomfortable, call your vet and speak with them. As a doctor, you know that they have wiggle room in the doses, and most doctors will start with less rather than more. You are at the tough part of the recovery right now, please hang in there and don’t waver. In a couple of weeks you will have your Sawyer, it’s just going to take some time and pain management. Your others will need attention too! They know something is going on, but I am sure they are confused. Your Velcro baby is probably more Velcro with your pregnancy and needs some one on one while Sawyer rests. Your other baby, Rosie, needs it also. I found that I had to remove myself from Huckleberry to make sure my others didn’t feel forgotten or neglected. With 3 dogs and a pregnancy you certainly have your hands full!! Please breathe… get some YOU time. Hot bubble bath, meditation, naps. You have 2 to think about and you need to unwind for that little bun in the oven. Once you all get through this part your life will come back together. I was just as much a mess about Huck, but my baby making days are over, *smile* Please don’t regret this, you will come out ok but you need to slow down and breathe… and as Sally would say.. get some chocolate 🙂
    Jackie and Huckleberry

  • Emily

    Only you and your husband know what’s best for your family. You did your research, you got other opinions, and you ultimately went with your gut. Even if you are unsure know that with what little info I have I support your decision. Because that’s what I needed most 11 months ago when my boy lost his rear leg after a failed reconstruction of a deformed leg. At first I listened to nay-sayers and I was positive I had made all the wrong decisions. But as time went by it got better and I started to believe those who supported my decisions. Give yourself time to process this change and remember that there are those who are rooting for you and support the difficult decision you made.

  • Super Stu!

    Hi Sawyer and furmily

    chyshuman said it perfectly…!
    “I think it’s easy for people to judge who aren’t faced with this situation. I will fully admit I always said if my dog got cancer I would put her down, and would never amputate. After researching the topic, and seeing how well dogs adapt, how could you not proceed? That lady’s comment was a knee-jerk reaction, and one made out of ignorance. Rest assured you made the right decision for you and Sawyer; it doesn’t need validation from others for it to be correct.
    Hang in there! This is a tough spot that will pass.“
    I couldn’t have said it better myself!!

    Sawyers twitching and sudden yelps does sound similar to Phantom Limb Pain (I’ll just call it PLP). Stewie was on a similar dose of Gabapentin for both pain and PLP. You are doing a great job of easing his symptoms. Be sure to talk to your vet regauany concerns. It doesn’t surprise me that your vet hasn’t heard of pets with phantom limb pain, it seems to be a recurring theme!

    Our Stewie boy was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on July 5th 2017. Were we’re horrified at first with the thought of amputation, but our vet gave us the link to Tripawds and we haven’t looked back!

    You are getting through the worst of it. Give Holly another couple of weeks and you be amazed at the hops and bounds she is (literally) making! You got rid of her deep, achy pain! Well done! She will recover from the surgery. She wouldn’t have recovered with her sore leg!

    Don’t be too hard in yorself, recovery is really hard on us all! Furmily included!

    All the very best to all of you!
    Petra, Stewie 🐾 and his Pride >^,,^<

  • benny55

    Just catching up on your blogs. Your Sawyer is soooo handsome! Actually, quite adorable!!

    Okay….some deep breaths…..really…take a couple of deep breaths. What you are experiencing emotionally as far as second guessing your decision is sooooo “normal” this early on. It doesn’t make it any easier, but it might help give you some reassurance from those of us who understand what you are going through.

    Your handsome Sawyer has just had MAJOR surgery and his adjusting to three legs AND is on some good pain meds. He’s a larger, “mature” dog and needs to take things really slowly. He just needs potty breaks and back in for rest. Nine days is still very early in recovery.

    Based on what you’ve said, you are stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, uncertain and “sad”. We can all relate! Your energy is is NOT strong and confident nor upbeat. ALL your pack feels this. It makes them all feel “something is wrong”, out of whack.

    Every little improvement is a HUGE improvement and needs to be celebrated. Sawyer IS mobile. He’s peeing, pooping, drinke and eating “some”.’ The meds can certainly mess with the tummy. Try ANYTHING …..any yummy food you can think of to get him to eat. Warmed chicken, cheese pizza, scrambled eggs and bacon, canned cat food, stinky liverwurt…you get the picture!

    Yes, phantom limb pain exists!!! It usually strikes completely out of the blue and a dog will yelp and jump up and try to move away from the pain. It lasts just a short time…maybe 30-60 seconds. Gabapentin is the best med for it.

    Continue with the ge tle massage all up and down his spine, neck and shoulder area. Massage the muscles, not the bone area.

    The best solution for hardwoods is to get non-slip scatter rugs for traction. Good traction is a HUGE requirement for Sawyer’s safety and CONFIDENCE!! The booties, toe grios, etc may take some getting used to. Sawyer will gravity to the rugs quickly and easily.

    If you aren’t already, try giving the Tramadol and Gabapentin an hour or so apart as opposed to at the same time. Of course, I’m not a Vet so discuss that with yirur Vet first.

    I saw in your earlier post you cancelled the first surgery (and second one also I think). I also cancelled Happy Hannah’s first surgery! I was PETRIFIED! I was a blubbering hysterical mess!
    I could not believe I would EVER amputate her leg!! Once I finally went through with her surgery, it took me three weeks before I could FINALLY say I did this FOR her and not TO her!!

    As far as what that person said to you un the waiting room, thst was uncalled for and so misinformed!! As you’ve said, you’ve done your research. You know what you went through to get ro this point. You know your Sawyer best! You KNOW he has a will to live pain free! You KNOW he would want this chance! You KNOW he has a lot of living to do!

    It is clear how much you love Sawyer (and all your dogs)! You ARE doing what’s best for Sawyer! I know it’s hard to see while in recovery, but this was definitely the right decision to keep Sawyer pain free!

    STAY CONNECTED!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! We are here to help in anyway we can.

    And yes, add the chocolate to Jackie’s suggestion of bubble baths and meditation.
    …and those deep breaths!

    Lots of hugs

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

  • cvb5

    Jackie and Huckleberry helped me so much in the forums. Otis had a great first week in recovery and then became super lethargic and had one day where his incision was twitching and he yelped out several times (by far our worst day). Two things we did other than what you’ve already mentioned: added back on his anti inflammatory to go with gabapentin and tramadol and also realized he was fighting an infection. We go into vet today to make sure he’s on the right antibiotics. Best of luck to you … It will her better. -Camille and Otis

  • dawn3g

    Hang in there.

    Our Fallon, also 11 years old, is now at day 101 post amputation and doing awesome. Before the surgery everyone we spoke with said to expect a difficult time in the recovery period–2 weeks was cited a lot. One greyhound mom friend of ours said it was like turning a switch one day, her dog all of a sudden was fine. We were lucky that Fallon weathered this pretty well, it was us, the humans, who were all stressed out and yelling and swearing, which is not our nature. That improved also. Fallon did do the death scream at times when laying down, but this was also short lived.

    We have another dog, and it was really hard to keep a balance of giving Maggie even minimal attention, as their needs are so different now. We’ve come out at somewhat of a balance now. I think a lot of it is figuring out the way it needs to be so you can achieve that new normal. That takes time, and Sawyer is still healing.

    We get a good dose of judgment from others about our decision to amputate, and have heard “we are fighting a losing battle”. I think the people who make statements like that just really don’t know. They have not done the research, talked to everyone, read everything, to help make an informed decision. Try not to take it to heart, you know what’s best for Sawyer.

    PLEASE don’t second guess your decision. You made it knowing your boy better than anyone and doing the research to weigh all options. You’re in a really acute stage right now, Sawyer is still healing, it’s hard to judge the future on now. So please hang in there, we’re rooting for you all and sending all kinds of positive energy your way.

    Dawn and Fallon
    (and Paul and Maggie)

  • Super Stu!

    Hi again, I’m sorry when I said to give Holly a couple more weeks to recover, I meant Sawyer. 🤗 Sawyer! will be back to her ‘new’ self in no time!
    All the best.
    Petra and gang.

  • Tina

    You are doing great! My kahlua is going in on Tuesday for amputation if her hind leg. I think the decision was one of the hardest parts at first. People judging about this and that, some people I told who clearly don’t have pets were wondering why I would do it and spend that kind of money in my dog. Money is just money I say. People have no right to comment on your decision it sounds like you made the right one so forget about them. I hope it gets easier for you soon and all your dogs can be together again soon. Hang in there your a great mom!

  • paws120

    Just checking in to see how you are doing. As you can see by the responses of some amazing people, you are not alone! I hope you are all doing ok, and hopefully you will check in soon to see enough support to make you smile and feel some better about your decision. Like I said before, hang in there.. I think all of us that have had to decide and chose life have gone through what you are going through to some degree. The reasons for amputation are not all the same, but they were all decided upon to try and give our furbabies the best chance to live out a good quality of life pain free. The beginning is tough, but it will get better.
    Hope to hear from you soon,
    Jackie and Huckleberry

  • jerry

    It’s unbelievable what some people will say, I’m sorry you encountered that rude person. She doesn’t get it and she never will. Forget her. And remember that you’re in a place where people understand that age is just a number when it comes to dogs and cats. Sawyer will prove that again and again as he dazzles you with his great attitude. Follow his lead and you can’t go wrong.

  • Michelle

    We have had a lot of older dogs here do great. I think you did a great job of researching. Most people don’t find our site until after the dogs amputation. Sawyer sounds like he is doing pretty good for 6 days out.
    Forget that rude person at your vet clinic 🙂

    hugs to you & Sawyer.

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  • Lennea

    Wow. Lots are going through this. Dropped my Zeus off today and he goes under the knife in the morning.

    Eager for your next update!

  • sawyer

    How’s Zeus?

    • Sallie Barnett

      I have to admit that I can related to both sides here. I had a 8 year old Bernese mix that had bone cancer, and while amputation was an option by one, I was told by two vets that the amputation would do nothing to slow to progression, and would only lengthen his life by a few months. To me it made no sense to have those months be rehabilitation from the surgery. He lived for 3 times the length I was told, pain free, and was active and loving life up until he gave me the nod that he was ready to go.
      I think I made the best decision for him.
      Fast forward to 2.5 years ago and my 7 year old husky was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma. There was no indication it had spread, and the only way to get the required margins was amputation. At first I said no for the same reasons as the prior dog, but then I did my research on the cancer, and the prognosis with amputation, and found this fantastic site. My husband and I quickly changed our approach and scheduled her surgery. I have never for a minute questioned that decision. She is one resilient pup, and her husky stubbornness probably helped a great deal. She was on some pain meds after the patch came off but not for more than a handful of days, and she refused help for the most part. She was up and ready to go. She refused to go potty out front, which was right outside the room we made for her recovery. It was not until we let her go out back that she began to go regularly. I have often told people who say things like ohhhh poor dog she only has three legs, do not feel sorry for her or tell her because I am not sure she knows, and she does not feel sorry for herself!!

      Hang in there, sounds like the pup is doing better, and I hope you have stopped listening to the uninformed!!!

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