Inspawrational Great Dane Moose Leads the Big Dog Parade

Three legged Dane Dog MooseWhen I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in November, 2006, my pawrents weren’t sure if I could have a good life on three legs. They went online looking for answers, and saw a video of Moose, a three legged Harlequin Great Dane. In the video, Moose was digging up the ground and looking for gophers. That video convinced my pawrents that I could live a hoppy life on three legs. If it wasn’t for Moose, Tripawds would not exist.

Now, whenever people wonder about whether or not a big dog can live a good life as an amputee, we point to Moose’s video, and let them decide.

Here is a touching recollection from Moose’s Dad Joel, about the day when Moose made a lasting impression upon the hearts and minds of residents in Santa Barbara, California.

Moose Leads the Big Dog Parade

Our favorite summer event is the Big Dog Parade in Santa Barbara. The clothing company Big Dog is based in Santa Barbara and sponsors an annual parade for dogs and their owners. A few thousand dogs and their owners walk down State Street to the park at the beach. It is quite a sight, dogs and people of all shapes and sizes, many in costume sauntering down the road to the beach. Thousands more people are lining the road watching the crazy assortment of dogs, people, and the occasional school band. As the 14th annual Big Dog Parade approached, Moose was beating the odds against bone cancer.

From Diagnosis to Canine Celebrity

Almost two years earlier, Moose had been dealt the worst diagnosis a dog can get, bone cancer. The local vet was very negative, and shared the story of another dog with the same diagnosis that did very poorly with the standard treatment of amputation. He said we should consider putting Moose down, or possibly amputation witch he said might buy Moose and us 6 months. At that my partner Ross told the vet he was not going to cut off his dogs leg and stormed out of the exam room.

Three legged Dane Dog MooseThe choice seemed a lose-lose. Put the dog down as soon as the pain meds stop blocking the increasing pain of the tumor which the vet said would be soon, or cut off his leg and let him hobble around until the microscopic cancer cells that likely were already streaming around his body grow up and kill him. Moose was only four years old, and other than the golf ball size tumor on his front leg, he seemed so healthy and full of life. We just could not put him down.

But what about the alternative, amputate the leg? I have seen many three leg dogs do amazingly well, but Moose was a huge harlequin Great Dane. How could a 140 pound dog that was 38 inches off the ground at his shoulders have any quality of life missing a leg? It seemed like disservice to the poor guy. As we researched things many told us that big dogs like Moose really can do well with three legs. Sure it is possible to survive with three legs, but Moose was a very active dog that loved to play and run around our five acre country homestead. Ross and I were pretty much completely against the amputation, but also not ready to put him down.

Both Ross and I spent time trying to understand what Moose wanted. After a couple of days, it was clear to both of us that Moose wanted to stay around and hunt for lizards, even if it was on three legs.

About the time we realized what Moose wanted, we found out about a bone cancer study at the UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The study gave Moose the best care possible, which could improve his odds at a better outcome. Part of what we sensed from Moose was that he didn’t care what happened down the road, only in enjoying the moment, whatever the conditions.

Moose became a big celebrity at the Davis Teaching Hospital. He went through the amputation and six rounds of chemo like a trouper. Through every treatment and test, Moose was the model patient. He would let them poke and prod and put him through whatever thing they had to do without the slightest disagreement. When I would pick him up after treatment or tests, he was always just happy to see me and looking for a fun time. It was a four hour drive from our house to Davis, and Moose and I searched out the best places along the trip to run, play, and pee, and boy did Moose run. The amputation did not slow Moose down one bit. His remaining front leg became stronger and stronger to the point that we called it the “Arnold Leg” after our Terminator Governor.

Three legged Dane Dog MooseThe small rural town that we live in got used to the huge three legged Dane. Before Moose’s amputation, he attracted a ton of attention simply by his size. Now that he only had three legs it was fun to watch people’s reaction. Most of the time, people would be attracted to him because of how big he was and come over to meet him. After a minute or two they would realize that he only had three legs. At that point most people would freak out and while in amazement that such a big dog could do so well with three legs, back away from the “disabled dog.”

Watching this over and over made me realize that I, like most others did the same thing when I saw a “disabled person” without realizing what I was missing out on. We had become so familiar with Moose’s lost leg and regularly would pet and caress the amputation site, seeing it as a beautiful part of our wonderful Moo boy, rather than an ugly deformity as most others saw it. I was deeply hurt on more than one occasion where a close friend that I admired greatly cringed and didn’t even want to look at the “deformity.”

Full Speed Ahead!

So as the Big Dog Parade drew closer, Ross and I got more and more excited about taking Moose to the parade. Moose had become so strong since his amputation and chemo that he had regained virtually all of his pre-amputation abilities. He had even figured out how to dig for gophers with only one front paw. Even with Moose so strong Ross and I were a bit concerned that he wouldn’t be able to make the few mile long parade route and back to the car. We felt that he would likely do fine, but if he had any problems we could just stop and one of us could go get the car. As the date approached Ross realized that he would be unable to go to the parade due to scheduling conflicts with work, and as a small business owner, he had no choice but to tend to his business. So I decided that I would take Moose on my own, and if Moose got tired I would get help from friends that lived in Santa Barbara.

Three legged Dane Dog MooseOn the morning of the parade, I had to get Moose fed and ready early so we could make the two hour drive and register before the 10 AM beginning of the parade. As always Moose knew that we were preparing for a road trip and was very excited. No problem getting him to jump into the car, he was ready to go! Windows down, head out, ears flapping in the breeze as we headed to town to catch the freeway. Moose was enjoying every minute. Moose like most dogs would make the most of every moment of every day, and today was no different.

We arrived in Santa Barbara a bit later than I had planned so we literally ran from the parking structure to De la Guerra Plaza where the check in and participants were lined up waiting for the parade to begin. Running was actually much easier for Moose than walking. With only one front leg, he had to hop almost strait up to walk slowly, but to run he was able to use his hind legs for impulsion and literally bounce off the single front leg. He could literally run as fast on three legs as he ever did with four, but it took much more effort to walk slowly with three legs. So there we were running at full speed down State Street weaving in and around the crowded sidewalk on our way to the Plaza.

We checked in, paid our entrance fee, got our number sign and found our place in the line with all the other dogs and owners waiting for the parade to begin. As we stood there, surrounded by hundreds of dogs and owners a few people would stop by to see Moose. And like always most would not realize he was missing a leg, but when they made that realization would tell me how well he was dealing with his “disability” and quickly fade away. It was an exciting and fun time just to be surrounded by all the dogs and “dog people”. I have always felt a connection to other “dog people” somehow thinking that we shared a common understanding of the canine-human bond. Today was even better, not only were we surrounded by all these dogs and “dog people”, but it was a party atmosphere with some very creative costumes for both the dogs and people and the local school marching bands practicing to get ready for their performance in the parade. I tried to get Moose to lay down as we waited in line so he could save his strength for the parade, but he was so excited that he stayed standing having to keep hopping on his front leg to maintain balance. We were in a specified order behind a group of about a dozen magnificent Great Pyrenees and next to a gay couple with their cute beagle mix who was loving all the excitement of the crowd. I struck up a conversation with the two guys next to me exchanging all the information about our dogs and our lives.

As the procession began to move, and the bands began playing their marching tunes, smiles and excitement filled the air. How could anyone keep from smiling at this wonderful scene. I was having a hard time keeping from crying out of joy. How I never expected to be able to experience this wonderful moment with my beloved Moo boy when we got the dreaded diagnosis, and now here we were beating the odds and strong as ever enjoying every moment. As we turned the corner from the plaza and started down State Street we were able to see the crowd three or four deep lining the sidewalk to watch to procession of crazy dogs and their companions. The crowd would react to each new group of dogs passing by with hoots and howls and most of all big smiles.

Our group of assorted dogs had a hard time showing up the magnificent Great Pyrenees that proceeded us. They were all groomed perfectly with their fluffy snow white fur and really were a magnificent sight. But our group got our share of claps and acknowledgment, and every so often I could see someone pointing out the three legged Dane.

After a few blocks I could see that Moose was already getting tired walking the slow procession of the parade. I was realizing that he would have a tough time making it the whole way walking so slow. About when I was ready to give up, I realized that the group of Great Pyrenees had sped up and there was a half a block of space between them and our group. Moose looked back at me and in an instant I realized he was asking me to let him have his wings and run free. So I told the gay couple to “watch this” and clicked my tongue twice giving Moose the signal to run. He and I ran together into the gap in front of us and Moose was in his element.

I could see him smile with his ears waving in the breeze. As we caught up with the Great Pyrenees I curved around and made a circle around the space between the groups of dogs. At that point I heard a massive roar from the crowds on the sidewalk. I have never and probably will never experience anything like this. Literally everyone on the sidewalk was focused on us in a continuous standing ovation. At this point I could not hold back my tears of joy and appreciation. As we continued to run in big circles in the gap between the two groups of dogs I could see Moose beaming from ear to ear reveling in the roar of approval from the crowd.

Moose and I continued running in circles the entire remaining course of the parade. As we moved down State Street the crowd lining the sidewalk continued to roar with approval as we circled past them. I was unable to stop my tears and Moose was flying free sending out the most positive energy you could ever imagine. As we made the turn off State Street nearing the park where the parade was to end, it was I that was having difficulty keeping up with the Moo boy.

As we reached the grassy park bordering the beach we found wadding pools to get a drink and a party atmosphere with bands playing and crowds of people and dogs wagging their tails. I found an open spot of grass where Moose and I could sit down and rest a bit. Within a few seconds Moose and I were surrounded by a massive crowd of people wanting to meet the amazing three legged Dane. Everyone wanted to hear Moose’s story of why he was missing a leg and pet and kiss the Moo boy. Moose had more than enough sloppy Dane kisses for everyone. For the first time, peoples reaction was not one of pity but envious of the courageous fun loving attitude that was oozing out of Moose. We stayed surrounded by this massive crowd for a couple of hours until the crowd started to thin and more importantly I caught my breath from running in circles down State Street.

Kindred Souls Share Boundless Pawsibilities

As we were getting ready to make the walk back to the car I realized that the reaction from most of the people who wanted to meet Moose was quite different than normal. There was not the typical attitude of pity and negativity that I would normally see, instead it was an attitude of inspiration. It was an attitude of boundless possibility rather than pity for the poor “disabled” dog.

Moose and I started our run up State Street to our car. The scene was quite different now, with most of the dog paraders dispersed and heading home and the normal crush of tourists milling along the sidewalk. We ran each block, darting between and around the tourists, occasionally getting stopped at a street corner waiting for a stoplight to change.

At one stoplight a young man on a mountain bike approached as we waited for the light to change. He said hi and asked if he could talk to me about my dog. He asked all about why he was missing a leg, listening more intently than most who stopped us. We stood at the corner talking while two or three cycles of the streetlight changed. After I explained all about Moose’s story, the guy told me that he had seen Moose running with such enjoyment in the parade that he had to meet him and how much it meant to him to get that chance. Then the light turned green, he told me to have a nice day and sped off on his mountain bike, popping a wheeley as he departed. When he got about half way across the street, he looked back at us with the same smile that I saw on Moose’s face when he was running like the wind.

It was not until the guy was part way up the next block that I realized that one of his legs was a prosthesis. The emotions hit me like a ton of bricks. This time it was I who was oblivious of the missing leg. I wanted so much to be able to talk with the guy, but he was long gone. It hit me that he sped away on his bike, with the same ultimate enjoyment of the moment that I saw in Moose every time he got a chance to run like the wind.

We made it back to the car, again with me more out of breath than Moose. On our drive home I kept re-living the extraordinary day. The attention and continuous applause was something I have never experienced in my life, even with the attention really focused on Moose and not myself. It was invigorating to get so much approval from strangers. But it made me think about how much Moose had brought to Ross and and my life through his battle with bone cancer. Moose taught us to not avoid people or dogs with a “disability”, rather to be so appreciative that we have to opportunity to be in each others lives. Moose’s attitude about his “disability” was that it was not a “disability” it was just how it is. He took it from there and figured out ways to revel in every opportunity for fun. I think the outpouring of appreciation from the crowd was not because they had never seen such a big dog run with only three legs, but was appreciation that he did not let the missing leg keep him from having such a fun day. I will never meet the guy on the bike with only one leg again, but watching him speed away and pop a wheeley caused be to be so appreciative that he also did not let his “disability” get in the way of having a wonderful day. This is a lesson that all dogs seem to know innately, but I was only able to understand with the help of my best friend Moo boy.

Here is Moose’s Website with more pictures and information

Primary Chondrosarcoma of the Spine, Jake’s Story

When pawrents learn that their dog has bone cancer, they often second guess their decisions leading up to the diagnosis. They find themselves wondering “Why didn’t we see it? Maybe we should’ve done this…or that…” Many wonder; if we knew he had cancer sooner, would things be better?

Sarah was one of those pawrents. She and her 5 year old Portuguese water dog, Jake, recently came to us through Tazzie, a mutual friend in Canada. Sarah posted in the forums, looking for advice when Jake’s spinal bone cancer became dramatically worse.

She and Jake had walked a long road up to the bone cancer diagnosis. His behaviors exhibited possible diagnoses ranging from a ruptured disc  to arthritis. When cancer was finally discovered, Jake wasn’t an amputation candidate because the cancer (later inconclusively diagnosed as chondrosarcoma) was in his spine.

Sarah found little information online about bone cancer in the spine, and unfortunately we too made the same discovery. Sadly, in just eight weeks, Jake’s health rapidly declined and the intense pain was too much to bear. After a bone biopsy was taken, he could hardly walk and suffered from bouts of intense pain. Sarah released him from his pain on December 12th, just two days later.

Afterward, Sarah told us that she was completely unprepared for the way in which bone cancer in the spine presents itself in dogs. It was distressing not to find even an ounce of hope or ways to cope.

But Jake’s death will not be in vain. Sarah wrote the following summary of her experience, to help anyone else who might find themselves with a dog suspected of having spinal bone cancer. We are grateful for the time she took to help others in this way.

Please read on to learn about the symptoms, behaviors and progression of this devastating presentation of bone cancer.

Swim on, Jake, you will never be forgotten . . .

Primary Chondrosarcoma of the spine – Jake’s Story

by Sarah Crook

Written in the hope that reading it you will be more prepared to cope with this awful disease than I was. The progress of the disease from no symptoms to death took 8 weeks. The cancer was located in the C7 vertebra (lower neck).

Early signs (first two weeks):

  • A stiffness that developed after 15 to 20 minutes walking. Jake woke up in the morning seemingly fine – the stiffness was only obvious with exercise and occurred even with moderate exercise, like leash walking. Round the house Jake’s activity seemed normal and the stiffness was not apparent (this pattern seems unlike what I have read about arthritis where the dog wakes stiff, then it gradually wears off).
  • A reluctance to go up/downhill that I noticed when walking Jake off-leash. Jake still followed but lagged behind.
  • A cautious approach to going up/down stairs especially after a walk when he had stiffened up
  • Cautious approach to getting in and out of car – fairly subtle. Just a hesitation before jumping and a preference to climb in rather than jump..
  • A reluctance to stretch his head down to eat or drink. Backed off and barked at his food bowl until I raised it up.
  • Very subtle – I only thought of this in retrospect – sometimes a slight unsteadiness when he cocked his leg for a pee.

Middle period (middle four weeks):

  • After 2 weeks Jake was seen by a vet who physically examined him and found stiffness in his neck and a reaction (growl/snap) when upper back was pressed hard. Soft tissue injury was suspected and Jake put on Metacam and restricted exercise.
  • On Metacam he seemed livelier around the house and more playful – but the stiffness and stiff-legged gait still continued when exercised and as things progressed, would start after only 5mins. A video clip taken at this time shows his normal walk when setting out, then the stiff-legged ‘walking on eggshells’ gait that he would suddenly adopt; and his cautious approach to going down a step.
  • After 14 days of Metacam and no obvious improvement, Jake was put on Robaxin – a muscle relaxant. Robaxin made him much WORSE. He was clearly uncomfortable in the house – standing looking miserable, seemingly afraid of sitting or lying down (as if he thought it would hurt – which it probably did). His back legs became noticeably weak and he hard difficulty climbing upstairs (ataxia). I was especially aware of him being restless through the night (prior to this he slept well) – he would sleep for a few hours then wake apparently in discomfort and take 5 or 10 minutes to lever himself up and settle into a new position. Later, I found out from the oncologist that this was not unexpected – Jake’s muscles would have been protecting the painful part of his spine, and with the muscle relaxant they could no longer do this.
  • After 5 days took him off Robaxin and the vet put him back on Metacam. Ataxia lessened, slept well again, things seemed to improve – but in retrospect he did not recover to pre-Robaxin level. Jake started doing ‘girlie’ pees and if he tried to cock his leg consistently lost his balance. I later learned the weakness in his back legs and the uncoordinated gait (‘ataxia’) that developed were the result of the tumour and/or associated inflamed tissue compressing the spinal cord.

End Phase (last two weeks):

  • Increasing unsteadiness of back legs so took Jake once more back to his vet. Same stiffness in neck and sore place on upper back. Blood samples were taken to rule out the slight chance of a tick born disease and vet referred Jake to a surgical specialist and a neurologist.
  • Surgeon examined Jake and suspected ruptured disc – recommended MRI.
  • Neurologist examined Jake and suspected lesion in lower neck and upper back (either two separate ones or one big one) Recommended CAT scan.
  • Cat scan showed tumour in C7 vertebra about 2x2cm in size, and a biopsy was taken. I met with an oncologist and decided to have one radiation treatment to see if it would reduce the pain and inflammation. If not, I would have him put to sleep.

Last Two Days:

Jake came home on a Thursday afternoon after having the CAT scan and bone biopsy the previous night. He was on Perkocet but a couple of hours after getting home had a bout of severe pain – later I thought this episode must be similar to ‘breakthrough’ pain suffered by human cancer victims.

He had two more of these attacks on Friday night and then early Saturday morning, in spite of having started on stronger pain relief (morphine and Gabapentin – and more Metacam, although he deteriorated so fast I never got around to adding this to the cocktail) and they all followed the same pattern – 5 to 10 minutes of increasingly fast panting, signs of acute pain (groaning and struggling to his feet to stand hunched over, head hanging, tongue lolling) lasting 10 – 15 minutes; 20 – 40 minutes of gradually winding down (I could get him to sit on my lap and would rub him and try to calm him). On Saturday I decided enough was enough, it was too late to try radiation therapy, and I had him put to sleep that afternoon…

In retrospect

  • I am not sure if I wish I had asked for an X-ray early on and found the tumor sooner. Early diagnosis would have meant when he could still run around I would not have been limiting his exercise and keeping him on-leash all the time… and there would have been time to plan treatment such as radiation therapy. However, the bone biopsy would also have been done sooner and maybe even early on the consequences (huge increase in pain and decrease in mobility) would have been the same as below – see next point.
  • I would not have had the bone biopsy done without much more careful consideration – I blame this for the rapid deterioration in Jake’s condition at the end – hugely increasing the pain and causing increased inflammation that severely impacted his mobility and comfort level: he could hardly walk when he came home his back-end was so uncoordinated and weak.
  • I would have asked the oncologist for pain meds. to deal with the ‘breakthrough’ pain (if indeed that was what it was). If there aren’t any effective drugs to deal with it, I would have at least discussed what I could/should do if these attacks happened.
  • I would have had the consulting oncologist leave a prescription for stronger pain medication with an 24hr animal clinic in case Jake suddenly got worse in the night or at the weekend when she could not be contacted.
  • I would have got the contact details of a call-out vet who could come and put Jake to sleep when Jake’s own vet clinic was closed….

Jake’s own vet and the specialists he referred me to were consistently caring and conscientious. Both contacted me this week after I wrote to them raising some of the issues I mention above. They spent nearly an hour going through things with me, so I think they deserve credit for this, especially my vet, as he must have known the length of time in getting to a diagnosis would be a tricky subject to discuss.

Not a happy end to a bright and loving creature. If you are facing the same I know reading the above will be distressing – but I hope it will help you make the right choices for your pet.

Best wishes, Sarah

Tribute to a Three Legged Beach Boy

We said goodnight to a hero yesterday, strong magnificent Max who lived for nearly fourteen months past his bone cancer diagnosis. His stunning blue eyes, his enthusiasm and his stoic pawsonality put smiles on the faces of everyone he met. Max will never, ever be forgotten.

In the spirit of our courageous hero, we want to share these fun clips of him with you.

This movie was taken at our Tripawds get together in Santa Barbara last December. You can see here that not even lung mets could stop this boy from having a good time with the other pups.

Here’s a flashback video starring Max, taken when we met him in February 2008, not long after his amputation and diagnosis.

And here’s a few photos of Max will always put smiles on our faces.

Run free Max, go get ’em!

Surgery Drug Recall Warning for Ketamine, Possibly Butorphanol

Tripawd Codie Rae told us about a huge Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recall for the veterinary surgery drugs “ketamineand another rumored recall for the drug “butorphanol.”

Ketamine is used for everything from teeth cleaning, to amputation.

As many as five cats have died as a direct result of contaminated ketamine, but thus far, the ketamine recall has been completely botched by the FDA.

Much like the pet food recalls of previous years, this mishandling has resulted in mass confusion in the veterinary world over what specific dates, lots numbers, etc., are actually being recalled.

Thousands of vets might unknowingly have the contaminated versions in their practices.

The Veterinary Information Network, a resource for vets, wrote this article about the poor job the FDA has done with the recall.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the drug butorphanol is also rumored to be on the recall list, but the FDA hasn’t released anything about it.

For more details, you can read this article in the Pet Connections Blog. Also, this article in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses the recall, and specifics about the broken link of trust between veterinarians and the FDA. These reporters know more about it than we do, so be sure to read these articles.

Remember, anytime your animal companion is going to be anesthetized, always know what drugs will be used. When we read the book “Vet Confidential,” we learned some nasty things about ketamine:

“This drug, which is similar to PCP (also known as Angel Dust), causes allucinations, which I worry may be an alarming axperience to the animal.”

The author, Louise Murray DVM, says she limits the use of ketamine in all procedures, for this reason.

We encourage you to become informed by reading books like Vet Confidential, and getting the specifics about all aspects of your pet’s surgical treatments.

Loving Life with Tripawd Hero Caira Sue

Three legged cancer dog Caira Sue leaps for ball When a Tripawd dog gets diagnosed with bone cancer, pawrents immediately think the worst once they learn what to expect. That’s human nature for you.

We dogs, on the other hand, don’t care what bone cancer is, or what it may do to our health eventually. All we care about is having fun with our pack while we still feel good. Yes, there may be a time when the cancer is too much and we must part ways for a while. But right now, in this very moment, we are going to have fun, and you are going to have fun with us, darnit!

Nobody demonstrates that better than our pal, Caira Sue. One look at this girl, and you’d never know that her health is being compromised by lung mets.

Take a look at this interview with her pawrents. Caira Sue’s amazing attitude will help you remember that the time to live, is now.

Paws to Remember and Rejoice in 2010

Tripawds is a close knit family, sharing our stories of victory and sadness, triumph and grief, from all corners of the world. Throughout the year, we become close with our amputee dog heroes and their pawrents. The more we grow to know about their daily lives while they recuperate from amputation and battle cancer, the harder it is when we lose them.

When a Tripawd warrior leaves this earthly life, we are griefstricken. We all know that this is the price we must pay for loving another being, but it doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Our community has suffered heavy losses this year, and our deepest condolences go out to pawrents who are hurting.

Many pawrents say they have avoided coming to the Forums lately, because they are afraid of finding out if any more dogs have passed on. But in the spirit of all of the Tripawds who have bravely lived life to the fullest, let’s not forget that the Tripawds we grieve for, are also the dogs who amazed us as they took on the world with fearlessness and courage. And every day, new Tripawds members are bringing hoppiness into our community!

On this New Year’s Eve, let’s all keep the good times of our Spirit Tripawds in our hearts, by remembering some of the highlights from the year gone by:

Our apologies for not including all of our Spirit Tripawds in the links above, but that’s where you come in! Please feel free to post links to more happy memories of our Spirit Tripawd Warriors, in the Comments field below, or in this Discussion Forum topic.

Thank you for being a part of our family. We send you all many, many warm wishes for a joyous, peaceful and hoppy 2010!

Doggon Wheelchairs for Tripawds

Can anyone guess what the most common fear among Tripawd pawrents is?

Most pawrents fear that their Tripawd will lose the use of another limb.

What if a rear-leg amputee grows old, and hip displaysia takes it’s toll? Or a front-leg Tripawd takes a bad fall and severely injures the remaining leg?

What would you do if your Tripawd lost the use of another leg?

As much as it hurts to think about it, it never hurts to be prepared, just in case.

That’s why we talked to the good people at Doggon Wheels in Bozeman, Montana.

Since 1994, Doggon Wheels has been one of the world’s top creators of mobility aids like wheelchairs, for physically challenged animals.

We asked Doggon co-founder Lori, a few questions about how Tripawds can benefit from wheelchairs, and here’s what she had to say:

Can wheelchairs work with Tripawd dogs?

“Yes- we do make wheelchairs for amputees. They are most commonly used by older amputee’s who are starting to have difficulties compensating for the missing limb (front or rear), or for pets with birth defects. We also make wheelchairs for pets with double amputations.

Generally they do really well with using wheels and appreciate being able to go for longer walks or on more varied/difficult terrain.”

The biggest fear some Tripawd pawrents have is for their dog to lose function of their remaining rear or front leg. We know of one Tripawd who needs a hip replacement, yet he is also a rear-leg amputee. Would a wheelchair help?

“This is legitimate concern and why we recommend that you take into consideration putting the remaining rear leg up in the stirrup during periods of intense exercise. Generally the dogs using amputee wheelchairs are doing so because the other limb is overly stressed or arthritic. Putting the remaining limb into a suspended position allows it to rest during the most stressful periods of exercise.

Owners who do this find that their dogs are able to get around easier on their own the rest of the time, when not in wheels. A wheelchair for the pet above would be useful for both long term use to avoid stressing the remaining limb post surgery, or if the humans opt not have his hip replaced.”

How do you measure a Tripawd for a wheelchair?

The measurements are the same for all of our chairs, except for a Tripawd we need to know:

  • Is s/he a left or right amputee?
  • Does the dog have any part of her leg remaining? Is the amputation site partial or flush? Most amputations are flush, however if there is enough leg remaining that you can measure the circumference around it, a different support might be needed, other than our amputee support.

To see how mobile a dog really is when using a wheelchair, check out this beautiful movie of Popeye, a dog currently available for adoption through Walkin’ the Bark Rescue in Northern California:

Learn more about wheelchairs for your three legged Tripawd dog at the Doggon Wheels website.

The B Brothers Help You, Help Tripawds

Beezer and BoomerMy pawrents were devastated when the vet said I had lung mets. It was like reliving my cancer diagnosis all over again.

That’s when our friends Joel and Ross, Moose’s Dads, pointed us to “Overcoming Fear and Guilt When Canine Kids Get Sick.”

This powerful essay, written by Denver lawyer Doug Koktavy, helped Mom and Dad by finally convincing them that blame, fear, anger and guilt are a waste of precious time when living with cancer.

An Excerpt from “On Fear

© Doug Koktavy

“. . . I realized my fear of the disease was the fuel that was being used against me. Devilishly clever, my biggest enemy was not the disease, but me. I was the power source being used to generate the very negative energy destroying my own being and wasting a special day with my beloved dog.

This paradoxical contradiction was glaring. I had thought the growing presence of disease was causing my mounting fear. In fact, just the opposite was occurring. My daily increasing fear was causing the disease to grow and become more powerful. I decided it was high time to start working for me and the Beez, not against us.”

Doug’s story brought tears to my pawrents eyes, and his straightforward coping pointers gave them the motivation they needed to get on with life.

His essay is one of the most powerful tools around for coping with serious illness in our animal friends.

Now, Doug has turned his essay into a full-length book called “The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers.” The book details how his two special boys helped him make the most of their time together.

The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer” includes lessons about:

  • Listening to our pets
  • Gaining a new perspective on our pets’ end of life care
  • Dealing with anticipatory grief
  • Conquering guilt and fear: living in the present
  • Developing a Presence Plan
  • Finding humor in the worst situations
  • Understanding our place in the circle of life

help grieving support for loss of loved pet

We love this book. Our favorite holistic vet, Dr. Marty, agrees:

“Not only is it so well written that you become a bystander observing the story from within, but the compassion for the vital connection we share with this wonderful kingdom oozes out of and between the lines.”

–Martin Goldstein, DVM, author, The Nature of Animal Healing, and host, Ask Martha’s Vet, Martha Stewart Living Radio

Author Doug Koktavy

Proceeds Benefit the Tripawds Community

With this book, big-hearted Doug has set out to accomplish two impawtant things:

  1. Help you cope with your best friend’s terminal illness, and
  2. Help companion animal groups by donating forty percent of the proceeds for each book sold.

For every copy of “The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer,”  purchased here, Doug will donate $10 to Tripawds! We are so excited about his generous offer to help us maintain this community.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Doug about his book and this is what he had to say about The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer. Check out our video interview above, then be sure to head on over to BeezerAndBoomer.com, and get your copy today!

Book Review: The No Nonsense Guide to Cancer in Pets

There have been a number of pawesome dog health books reviewed here at Tripawds, like Vet Confidential, Speaking for Spot, and the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

Today, we are hoppy to announce our review of the very first book we’ve received that’s written by a board certified veterinary oncologist: The No Nonsense Guide to Cancer in Pets, by Dr. Michael D. Lucroy.

Recently featured in the Tripawds Downloads blog, The No Nonsense Guide is an easily understood, yet comprehensive look at everything a pawrent needs to know when they first learn their pet has cancer. This book will take you from Point A, where your vet suspects cancer, to Point B, by helping you determine how you want to treat it.

Take a minute to get grounded in the facts and download Dr. Lucroy’s 60-page e-book for $29.97. It’s a great starting point for talking with your veterinary professional, coping with what lies ahead, and learning the basics on any treatments that you choose to pursue.

Don’t Miss Live Chat With Dr. Michael D. Lucroy!

Come chat with Dr. Lucroy in the Tripawds Live Chat this Saturday, November 21 at 5:00 p.m. PST (8:00 Eastern). Members must be logged in to participate.

Dr. Lucroy provides basic cancer definitions for the layperson, outlines diagnosis procedures from least invasive to most, and gives an overview of all standard conventional treatment approaches. Dr. Lucroy doesn’t advocate for any one type of treatment or another, he just lays it on the line and explains the procedures, risks, side effects, and benefits.

In a neutral approach, he also educates readers on how to assess alternative and complimentary medical approaches, and discusses how you can find scientific evidence (if it exists) to back up alternative treatments that interest you. You’ll also learn how to effectively work with your conventional medical team, should you choose to pursue alternative and complimentary medicine for your Tripawd.

Dr. Michael Lucroy, DVM DSOne of our favorite chapters is “How? How Did My Dog or Cat Get Cancer?”, which discusses many of the risk factors that can cause cancer, which ones pawrents can do something about and which ones are out of our hands because of genetic predisposition, etc. The chapter can go a long way in alleviating the guilt that many of pawrents have felt, thinking we might have done something to cause the illness.

As a gift for purchasing the book, readers will receive a six-page bonus supplement of detailed questions about each kind of treatment, to ask your veterinary team.

A portion of the sales of each book will be donated to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation’s cancer research fund.

Dr. Lucroy is a practicing oncologist at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was formerly Chief of Clinical Oncology at Purdue University. He completed his oncology residency at the University of California at Davis, is a graduate of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, and is a distinguished author, speaker and editorial board member of the American Journal of Veterinary Research and the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. You can read his blog at http://oncodvm.blogspot.com

Three Paws, Two Years, No Problem!

Making the decision to amputate a senior dog’s leg is difficult. Most people doubt that old dogs can get along on three legs.

But Calpurnia, a three legged sled dog in Colorado, is proof that even older working dogs can lead great lives as Tripawds.

Calpurnia just celebrated her two year ampuversary. She and her Mom TC wrote this guest post to celebreate this milestone, and hopefully assist others who are faced with the decision to amputate on their own senior dog.

“It hardly seems like it has been 2 years since my humans made the decision to amputate my right front leg following a diagnosis of a grade 2 soft tissue sarcoma growing in my elbow joint. That was back when I was 12 years old, and still running as the main lead dog on my sled dog team.

My people were very worried about my future at the time, but figured we should at least try amputation to see how I would do. Boy did I surprise them! Mom thought it might be a good idea to update everyone on what I have been up to now that I am 2 years post-op.

I am now 14 years old (although I tell everyone I am still 13). I sometimes have some sore places on cold days, and mom thinks my hearing isn’t what it used to be. But my mind is still sharp, and I keep myself busy. I have had a fantastic few years running with my team, visiting school kids and teaching them that I can still do all the things I did before, training puppies, and enjoying my status as senior girl in the house. I have a soft bed near the wood stove where I keep my aging joints toasty and dream of my great racing days.

Like many athletes, my role with the team has sort of shifted from “star lead dog” to “coach” over the past few years. My humans joke that Dog really is their Co-Pilot now when we go on training runs. I still go, but I have a soft dog bed on the back of the ATV (or in the sled when the snow gets deep enough) where I ride. I can watch my team from my perch, and I give them pointers and howl encouragement at them the whole run. On the steeper or bumpy sections, I lean on my person so that I don’t bounce off the back.

Sometimes, if I am feeling frisky, mom hooks me in the line so I can show the new puppies a thing or two. I am a good coach, and after a run I make sure to sniff each team member to tell them how well they did.

I have had my share of medical issues, but they are mostly related to my getting older. One of the hardest things was a year ago when my humans learned that I could not breathe right due to something called laryngeal paralysis – or paralyzed vocal chords. I couldn’t move my vocal chords out of the way when I was breathing hard, and it made it very hard for me to breathe when running. I had throat surgery to fix that, and now I have to be very careful that I don’t choke on food or water, since I can no longer protect my airway the way I am supposed to.

I also have had some pain related to pinched nerves, so mom has to make sure I stay active and keeps my weight down to a trim 33 lbs. She tried doing massage and chiropractic work on me, but I really prefer not to be handled like that and will stretch myself when I want to.

I hope that those of you senior dogs out there keep me in mind when considering amputation. I was a healthy older girl going into this, and am doing really well still. None of us will live forever, but these last few years have been good for me, and I hope to continue living life to the fullest and not let my people worry about the “what ifs” that may be down the road.

Right now, life is good. My team had a good run today, I even ran a little bit with them, our water buckets are clean and full, we will get meat tonight for dinner, and the sun is shining making nice sunny places on the snowy ground for me to lie in.

My heart is filled with love, and my mind is content. I really could not ask for more.

Lots of love,

Calpurnia

Here’s a favorite movie of ours, when Calpurnia and Jerry met back in May, 2008: