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.

Help Rescued Colorado Musher Dogs

Once again, our friend Calpurnia has her paw on the pulse of canine news. . .

These pretty pups aren’t Tripawds, but we wanted to help spread the word about them. Last week they were saved from a terrible dog hoarding situation in rural Park County, Colorado.

Calpurnia and her Mom are working hard to help find donations and homes for these dogs. Here’s what they had to say:

“We are dealing with a horrific case of a musher ‘hoarding’ dogs, resulting in 100 dogs (6 mos to 14 yrs) that are now in desperate need of homes. Here is a local news story about the discovery.

Luckily, another musher who lives in the area discovered the situation before it got any worse and contacted the authorities. Amazingly, the dogs seem friendly and well socialized.

All the dogs are “somewhere” safe for now.

I asked what the critical need is right now, and it is money.

Park County is not a big county, and very low on funds. It is costing them to bond these dogs, plus medical care for the critical ones, plus checkups, shots, spay/neuters for the rest.

If people want to donate, they can send it to the Park County Animal Control, flagged for the Sled Dog Rescue efforts.

They can also donate to one of the shelters (listed below in order of need):

If someone wants to adopt a dog (someone with an active lifestyle, with a 6′ or greater fence and lots of patience and time to help these dogs adjust to being pets), they can contact the shelters directly.

The more doggy people I can get brainstorming on this, the better we can get these dogs homed and the love and care they each deserve.”

Please contact:

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!

Four Paws Forever: Long Live Heidi

Meeting new online friends in pawson has been one of the joys of our lives since we started Tripawds.

But not all of the pups we meet because of Tripawds are three-legged; some actually have four! Hedi, a quadruped who became my YouTube friend in early 2007, was one of them.

When we met up with her in August of that year, we went on a play date. Romping through the pretty green fields where she explored behind her house was one of the highlights of our journey.

Our hearts were broken when we learned that Heidi passed away recently. She was one of the most gentle, sweet souls we have ever known. Her Shepherd spirit will always live on in our hearts.

And now, we’d like to pay tribute to Heidi, by sharing these fun YouTube videos we made together.

Here’s Heidi playing it cool the day we met:

And here’s a  video mashup that Heidi’s brother, Creekracer, and mine put together:

Run free Heidi, we love you.

Family (a Thanksgiving Poem)

When it comes to dogs and the people who love them,words cannot describe how thankful we are for having our furry companions and their humans in our lives. Thank. You. So. Much.

Our friend Eve just sent her incredible Thanksgiving poem to us. Nothing more beautifully expresses the love we all share for the canine species. We hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

“north above tree line

between snow slow thaw

glacier scoured ground

mating season

nips, lips grazing muzzles

bed

far from looking eyes

limbs entwined genitals so

closely clasped the pair

unmoves until swelling ceases

breath quiets in earthen cavity

of home

squirming young a pound more or

less of defenseless flesh

blind, deaf able only to breathe

suck from teats

patient eyed splayed on one side

mother a sweet shelf of warmth and

food her teeth cut cord and sac

noses them to nurse

food spit to hungry mouths

offspring learn

play, fight hunt elders

know skills are sure

young depart walking ley lines

encoded in time”

Author: Eve F.W. Linn


Does Good News Make You Feel Guilty?

At Tripawds, many of us are three legged dogs because we are battling cancer. Sometimes it seems like we go through periods of time in the Tripawds Discussion Forums, when all we hear is sad news about our friends’ cancer battles.

We all know that life has its ups and downs. We would not exist without both good and bad. Life and death are the yin and yang of the Universe. We dogs try not to focus too much on this though, and strive for that perfect balance of living in the moment.

But humans, on the other hand, don’t often see life like we do. Many struggle with the conflict at Nature’s core. Occasionally we hear from Tripawd pawrents who feel guilty about sharing the good news they have, when there’s a glut of “bad news” in the Forums. When the current mood of discussions is somewhat somber, these kind pawrents feel as if they shouldn’t shine a light on their own tripawds who are doing well.

Silly humans, don’t you know we need your pawsitive energy and happy thoughts here all the time? And when tears are being shed and it seems like life can’t get any darker, that’s when we need your pawsitivity most!

Tripawds Blogs members and guests alike want to read about your tripawd’s triumphs and stories about overcoming obstacles, getting strong, and finding joy in life. These are the happy things that keep us all going when life gets ruff, and help newcomers see the pawsibilities of life on three legs.

Try to be more Dog and remember, life is too short to walk around with angst and feelings of guilt. Share all your experiences and thoughts, whether you view them as good and bad, happy or sad. Please spread the love as much as pawsible, there will always be someone looking for uplifting inspiration.

Canine Prosthetics: Pardon My Faux Paw

The following guest blog post was generously contributed by Meg Sligar, dog mom to Three Legged Max. If you would like to help out by contributing a post, please contact us today.

Three legged MaxWhen most people find out I have a three legged dog, their first question is “Have you made a leg for him yet?” That’s because I’m a prosthetist—I make artificial arms and legs for people. It’s a rewarding profession with new challenges each day. So, when I was looking for my new best friend, it was only natural that I had my eye out for a three legged dog.

Searching PetFinder.com I found a terribly distorted picture of a small brown and black tripawd named Max listed as “special needs.” Oh, he has special needs alright, but it’s not because he’s missing a leg—he just LOVES attention! He even blogs! For the past two years, Max has been my main man and the reason I can’t wait to come home after work.

Have I made a prosthetic leg for him? No, and I doubt I ever will. Max lost his leg when he was hit by a car, and while he does have a short residual limb, or stump, there really isn’t enough left to control a prosthesis. The majority of dogs who lose a leg have it amputated at the shoulder or hip level. Prosthetically, there isn’t much that can be done for them. Besides the fact that it would be very difficult to design a socket that would suspend well on such a short stump (if any stump remains at all), a prosthesis would have to include 2-3 joints—ankle/wrist, knee/elbow, and possible hip/shoulder.

Prosthetic limbsThat’s a whole heck of a lot of artificial joints and a dog would have a hard time trying to control them. Even for humans using a prosthesis, that’s a very difficult level of amputation to fit effectively. For dogs, it’s just not practical. In fact, a prosthesis would most likely slow them down and possibly cause injury.

Dogs typically adjust very well to life on three legs, and that’s why I haven’t pursued trying to design something for Max. From my experience, the smaller the dog, the better he’ll do on three legs. Fortunately for Max, his half German Shepard Dog self is also half Shiba Inu, so he’s on the small side.

I do think about a prosthesis sometimes, though, because I wonder in the long term how he’ll be. He’s 9 years old now and gets around just fine, but the stress on his front leg is high. I’ve read that dogs carry 60% of their weight on their front legs, so that’s 60% on one leg and 20% on each of the others. He’s got the typical front-leg tripawd stance where he puts his one front paw on the ground directly below the center of his chest, instead of to the side (human amputees do the same thing, bringing their good leg in to midline for balance).

Now, there are some tripawds out there who are only missing a paw. If the dog has his amputation below the “elbow” or “knee”, then a prosthesis may be a good idea. Either a plastic or carbon socket would be easily suspended on such a long stump. Also, a prosthesis at this level can be functional and easy to use. From my interactions with these low level amputee dogs who don’t have prostheses, I’ve noticed that they tend to stumble more, not knowing exactly what to do with the short leg.

Three legged Max If you’re considering a prosthesis for your tripawd, I suggest getting him fitted as soon as possible (after healing) after surgery. Just like with people, the longer he waits for a prosthesis, the less likely he is to use it. And unlike people, you can’t just tell him how to use it and expect him to follow directions. You can’t say “go ahead, put weight on it, you can trust it.” Well, you can, but chances are he’s not going to listen. It’ll take some practice, but he can adapt to a prosthesis the same way he can adapt to life on three legs. . . at his own pace.

The most important thing when fitting a dog with a prosthesis is to pay close attention to his skin. Skin breakdown can be a problem for human and canine amputees. You have to pay close attention because your tripawd can’t just say “it hurts” like a person can. Vigilance is absolutely necessary.

And you have to consider whether you will be able to leave the prosthesis on your dog when he’s out of your sight. Will he eat it? We have several people each year come in to get new leg braces because their dog ate them—plastic must smell mighty good! Do you want your dog to have a “sometimes foot?” Remember his safety is the priority.

If you’re willing to take the prosthetic journey with your best friend, a good place to start is to contact a local prosthetist. Many prosthetists would be willing to take on a canine patient, and several already have. Just call and see if they’re interested.

If you can’t find anything locally, there are a few companies out there that specialize in pet prostheses, and you may be able to get it done by mail. OrthoPets is a Denver based company that does just that. They also make orthoses (braces) for dogs with various limb injuries. You can check out one of their patients, Andre, in the September 21 issue of People Magazine. Poor Andre got caught in an illegal trap and chewed two of his paws off to save his life. He now has two prosthetic feet! I haven’t worked with them, but from what I’ve heard, they do good work.

I’ve been asked about carts, as well. In my opinion, if your dog’s only health issue is the one missing leg, there’s no need for a cart. It would only make him dependent on the cart, when he could have adjusted fine without it. But if the tripawd has injury or pain in any of his other legs, especially the one opposite the amputated leg, then a cart would be something to consider. If Max starts to have problems from overuse syndrome as he gets older, I just may have to rig something up for him.

Just think about what would make your dog happiest—maybe hopping around on three legs is the way to go, maybe a cart, maybe a prosthesis. If I ever come up with a shoulder/elbow/wrist prosthesis for Max, I’ll be sure to let you know.

The Argus Institute at Colorado State

This is part three in a series about our tour of Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Care Center. Don’t miss part one and part two.

Tripawd pawrents are all too familiar with the reactions they get when they tell family and friends that their pup has cancer, and they’re ready to do what they can to fight it. If the word “amputation” comes into the conversation, reactions can be downright hurtful.

  • “You’re being selfish! Why would you do that to a dog?”
  • “Dogs aren’t meant to live like that!”
  • “You should put him out of his misery right now.”

Most Tripawd pawrents have heard these kind of reactions from well-intentioned humans. Their opinions hurt, leaving us feeling abandoned in an overwhelming new world of canine cancer.

But we are definitely not alone. On the Internet, pawrents can turn to the Tripawds Discussion Forums, and the Bone Cancer Dogs list, among other places. And in the greater world, we can find help at Colorado State University’s Argus Institute. During our recent visit to CSU’s Animal Cancer Care Center, we learned about this incredible organization.

As part of the CSU James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the Argus Institute is staffed with professional clinical counselors who can give information and emotional support to pawrents facing hard decisions surrounding their animal’s health care.

Each year, over 1000 people talk to counselors on the phone and visit in person, all of them seeking ways in which to cope with their animal companion’s illness, from understanding the diagnosis, to making end-of-life decisions.

Whether you are in the first days of learning about your Tripawd’s diagnosis, or are grieving over his loss, you don’t even have to be a client at CSU’s vet hospital to participate. Anyone can receive counseling services just by contacting the Argus Institute them or calling 970-297-1242.

Although the telephone consultation service is free, donations to this non-profit organization are greatly appreciated.

If you’re not quite ready to talk to a human on the phone, the Argus Institutes’s website has a wealth of information about Coping with Sick Animals, Pet Loss Resources, Children and Pets, and more.

The Pet Hospice Program

If you are lucky enough to live within 30 minutes of the Argus Institute, you can also get help through the Argus Institute  student-run “Pet Hospice Program.” As the first of its kind in the nation, the program supports families who are coping with their pet’s terminal illness.

CSU’s veterinary school student volunteers act as case managers for clients. They work with local veterinarians to provide clients and companion animals with in-home palliative care at no additional cost. Families can receive visits weekly, or sometimes even daily if necessary.

Case managers provide in-home nursing care, assess the animal’s comfort, and give support and educational resources to help the family in assessing quality of life, and ultimately, making end of life decisions as well. After each visit, the veterinarian is given a full report from case managers.

In addition to the hands-on assistant for pawrents, the Argus Institute helps in other ways too, by helping our vets to become better communicators. To learn more about this program please visit the Argus Institute website.

Teaching Vets How to Talk to their Clients

Research has proven that when vets and clients share in the decision-making process together, improved medical outcomes tend to follow. Yet, most vets enter the profession with little or no formal training in client communication skills.

The Argus Institute seeks to bridge this gap, by teaching veterinary professionals how to make the emotional support of their human clients as much a priority as the medical care of their animal patients. At CSU, communication training has been a part of the core curriculum of all veterinary students since 2006.

Through seminars, studies and hands-on workshops, the Argus Institute teaches vets and vet students to how to be better listeners and communicators, be more empathetic, ask open-ended questions of their clients, and have a better understanding of their client’s perspectives.

As companion animals play an even bigger role in our lives, the non-profit Argus Institute will be there to help us and our vets become better communicators with each another. No matter where you live, we hope you will keep this exceptional organization in mind when you are seeking information and support for your Tripawd’s medical situation.

Thee Legged Dane Dog Gets the Royal Reiki Treatment

Three Legged Great Dane Cancer Dog AthenaEvery day new Tripawd pawrents join us to gather information and consolation from other three legged dog families.

Earlier this year, one new member, Athena, came to us to share her story. Coincidentally, she also happened to live in the same area that we do, Fort Collins Colorado.

Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center, one of the best canine cancer care clinics and research facilities in the world.

Earlier this year, Athena was given the devastating diagnosis of osteosarcoma. Luckily though, she lives just a few blocks from the Animal Cancer Center.

We recently caught up with Athena and her Mom, Esther, and learned about the allopathic and holistic treatments she is receiving, including Reiki therapy.

Athena’s primary care vet is one of the leading animal pain management specialists, Dr. Robin Downing, in Windsor, Colorado. This lucky Dane is also fortunate enough to participate in CSU’s Gene Therapy Clinical Trial (gene therapy uses specific genes that are carried into cells to fight cancer).

As you will see in the video, neither amputation nor cancer will stop this giant breed three legged girldog from enjoying life. Athena is larger than life, and absolute proof that even big dogs can make great Tripawds!

Remembering Our Jerry, One Year Later

Snow Day for JerryOutside, snow is falling on your land, Jerry’s Acres. As we watch the mountain peaks turn white and delicate snowflakes swirl all around us, we get the sensation of being tiny ceramic figurines in a snow globe scene. One year ago, this was the last thing we could have imagined.

In the same week that we celebrated your 10th birthday, two days later on October 3rd, our hearts shattered into pieces when we accepted that your time on earth was about to come to an end.

We shared over a decade’s worth of adventures; how could our lives go on without you, sweet Jerry?

During the two years that you valiantly fought cancer, we mourned over the inevitable. But you, in all your wisdom, always understood that life was finite, even before you got sick. Whether we die from premature disease or old age, you tried to show us that death is nothing to fear.

On October 3rd, 2008, under endless Montana skies, behind a waterfall of tears we watched you take your last breath. As we lay over your body to inhale the sweet scent of your pretty fur one last time, we looked skyward, and saw our amazing story ascend into the heavens. Like Dorothy in the tornado, it felt as if our hearts were being sucked into a vortex, right along with it.

Jerry Poses at Devil's TowerNever in a million years did we think we could ever heal after losing you. And honestly, we haven’t completely and likely never will. But we do our best to go on with life, because it’s the right thing to do. We remember all of the lessons you taught us about living in the moment, and know that’s how you want us to be.

But sometimes, when we least expect it, we find our souls aching for the days when our pack roamed the countryside. When we had a soulmate who guided us on our spiritual and physical journeys. A dog who could speak our language without understanding a single word.

Then, reality hits us, and we understand that mourning the past is wrong. Quickly, we pull ourselves back into the present.

Jerry, we’ve taken your lessons to heart, and practice them each day. Sometimes we fail, but we keep trying to get it right. With your memories guiding us, we don’t linger in self-pity for very long, and we do our best to be present and in the moment.

After you went to the Bridge, we searched far and wide to find a piece of land befitting an adventurous dog like you. It had to be a place on earth where we could envision you doing your favorite outdoor things; hiking, swimming, and kicking up dirt. We have finally found Jerry’s Acres, and we know you would love it.

Now, one year after you went to the Bridge, winter is arriving here in Northern Colorado.

Wyatt on walk in the Crystal Lakes woodsSoon, we will hit the road and roam south for the winter. And Wyatt Ray, in all of his silly puppiness, will come along for the ride. How blessed we are to have found a place for him in our life at just the right time.

We know he is not you, and we try not to compare. But watching him discover the joys to be had in attacking snow, jumping into lakes, and chewing up tree branches–just like you did–puts a big smile on our faces. It’s so clear that your adventurous spirit is with him, gently guiding him out of his bullheaded goofiness and into a wise old dog like you were.

Thank you Jerry, for all that you showed us, and for all those things that you conspired to make happen.

You brought together this community of incredible pawrents and Tripawds, and you give them comfort and hope during their darkest hours.

You showed us that animals know how to be fearless in the face of adversity, yet understand when to say when.

And you taught us that the most important things in life are the simple ones, so get out and enjoy them before it’s too late.

As we continue on our journey into the unknown, your wisdom will always guide us through the joys and challenges of this thing called life.

Thank you, Jerry.Jerry in the Badlands

Jerry G. Dawg
Tripawds Founder & CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
October 1, 1998 – October 3, 2008