It has been two months since my dog Brandy had his front leg amputated and I thought I’d share an update. He’s doing great – I think - no, I know, it was harder on me. I was the epitome of a helicopter mom, worrying about everything! Dogs live so much in the moment. They aren’t thinking about whether or not the cancer is gone, or where it might have spread, or about being extra protective of the remaining front leg. Brandy wanted to chase a ball and go for a walk and I was the one limiting his activity!
I bought several rug runners to cover our slippery floors so he could have safe traction and I feed him on a step to make it more comfortable for him. We also purchased a pet step to help him in and out of the van. Jumping in was easy but I was worried about him jumping out and landing with all 65 lbs. of weight on his one remaining front leg. That’s actually what fractured his bad leg and forced our hands to do the amputation in the first place! C & D Pet Products (cdpets.com) sells well-made carpeted pet steps in varying heights and everyone who allows their pets up on the couch or bed should have one. Ligament and tendon tears are very common and often caused by landing wrong when getting down from high places (especially a risk if your dog is overweight or has back issues).
It’s totally funny to see me taking him for a walk. He only has two speeds now – run and stop! I think walking is awkward because of the bouncy hop each step requires and when he runs it sort of smooth’s out with the forward momentum. But he wants to smell and mark on every tree and bush so I call it my interval training! Run from bush to tree and make a quick stop (without falling over the dog), then run to the next tree! I’ve gotten some mighty strange looks for sure – and I know some people must think I’m cruel to be running with a 3-legged dog when it’s warm out but I let him set the pace and just follow his lead. He would probably go further than he can handle because he’s not aware that we then have to go back all that distance. He hates turning around so I’ve become clever in figuring out circular paths that we can follow so he doesn’t realize we’re heading back home!
He just had his post-surgery check-up and everything looks good. His appetite is as good as ever (still gets into the garbage if given the opportunity! Typical Retriever!), his weight is stable and he has energy and interest in doing things. His fur is growing back and soon you won’t be able to notice the surgery site. If it wasn’t that he was standing like a ballerina (front leg centered and turned out slightly for optimal balance) you wouldn’t even be aware that he was impaired. And that’s the way he would prefer it! He accepts all treats and belly rubs but is not interested in sympathy or being coddled. That’s a lesson I hope to learn from him.
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30 p.m.; Thur.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30 p.m.; Sun. 1-4:30 p.m.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.