Osteoarthritis Help for Your Amputee Dog

Jerry was our first dog, and even after his leg amputation in 2006, we knew zilch about canine rehabilitation (known as “physical therapy” in the human world). It’s only recently that we’ve become aware of this life-changing therapy, and we want to start sharing what we are learning with all of you.

Connecticut-based “Wizard of Paws,” Dr. Debbie Gross Saunders was brought to our attention by our friend, renowned dog behaviorist and trainer Sarah Wilson.

Dr. Saunders is a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner who is well regarded in the performance sports dog world. She is one of the founders of the first and only university based program in canine rehabilitation – University of Tennessee’s Canine Physical Rehabilitation Program. Along with her therapy services, she teaches  and has a variety of DVDs to help dog parents practice safe and effective therapy at home.

Dr. Saunders was kind enough to send us a copy of her newest video, “Osteoarthritis and Your Dog” for review.

Osteoarthritis and Your Dog: What it is, and How to Help

Osteoarthritis is a painful, degenerative condition that affects dogs of all ages. When one of these arthritic dogs is told that a spare leg  has to be amputated, pawrents agonize over the amputation decision more than others. They wonder:

Can a three legged, arthritic dog have a good life?

After watching Debbie’s video, we think that for most dogs, consistent therapy exercises like the one in Dr. Saunder’s video will go a long way in providing a great quality of life as a Tripawd.

The first half of the video will hit you with a lot of information. Be sure to have a notepad ready to take notes. Although we wished it had informational graphics to study, Dr. Saunders does a fantastic job conveying what we need to know about osteoarthritis if your dog receives an osteoarthritis diagnosis.

The rest of the video is an awesome instructional guide to performing canine massage and range-of-motion exercises at home. Dr. Saunders discusses why these exercises are important, and how to tell if you’re working your dog too hard.

She also gives tips to great therapy products that we like, such as Bella’s Pain Pack. Lastly, she kindly provides cost-saving ideas for making your own therapy exercise tools at home.

Catch a glimpse of “Osteoarthrits and Your Dog,” here on the Wizard of Paws You Tube Channel.

Tracy Snow-Cormier, pawrent to Tripawd Maggie, and Tripawds Supporter, is a fan of Dr. Saunders, and loves this DVD. Tracy says that  “I had an interest in Debbie’s new DVD because I have one of my dogs with start of arthritis in her wrists. I wanted to have a safe way to exercise and strengthen her, and know that I wasn’t going to do further damage to her wrists.”

About the DVD, Tracy says that

“The low cost to do most of her exercises for the dogs is great. From doing basic obedience flatwork to doing theraball work, to low cavaletti work. It is easy for someone to do the exercises with your arthritic dog with very little cost…with the exception of the treadmills!”

We think you’ll find “Osteoarthritis and Your Dog” just as informative and useful. If you order it on Debbie’s website, let us know what you think!

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 Importance of Chiropractic Care

The following guest blogger post was submitted by tripawd pawrent Kelli Nichols. It is the first in a two-part series about chiropractic care for Tripawds. Stay tuned for the second guest-blog post, coming soon!

Three Legged Dog MollyWhile owning a tripawd is an extremely rewarding experience, there are extra considerations when it comes to health care compared to four-legged dogs. One thing I have found to be tremendously beneficial with my tripawd is regular chiropractic care.

Tripawds often compensate structurally for only having three legs and this can create stress on joints and recurring subluxations in their spine. Having regular once-monthly or more appointments with a vet trained in chiropractic care can increase mobility and help keep your dog pain free and active.

My dog Molly once was having a hard time walking after a short rigorous hike and a visit to her chiropractor immediately returned her to her normal, jolly self. I am learning that it takes some fine tuning to find the balance between keeping her in shape and not overdoing it. This can be hard sometimes when your dog loves to play! I have also found that proper nutrition and additional high-quality supplements such as mercury free fish oiland glucosamine are helpful in keeping joints limber.

To find a dog chiropractor in your area please visit the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association website.

Good luck and may your tripawd live a long and healthy life!

Tripawds Take Over Colorado Dog Park

First Tripawds Pawty Longmont, CO Group PhotoToday is a day that will go down in the history books as the largest Tripawd gathering ever!

What an amazing day it was at our first ever Tripawds gathering in Longmont, Colorado. When we planned this party, we figured we’d be really fortunate if a dozen Tripawds showed up. What an incredible sight it was to see Tripawd after Tripawd coming through the dog park gates!

Wyatt and Jim Meet the Press at Longmont Tripawd PartyWe believe we had 30 Tripawds attend, but my silly pawrents forgot to bring a guest book so we’ll never know for sure. There were so many incredible pawrents and Tripawds of all sizes stopping by all day, we wish that we had more time to get to know each and every one better.20090816w_lily-clayjodi05

We should have some great local newspaper coverage out of this, thanks to Tripawd Lily and her pawrents Clay and Jody, who handled public relations for the event. And our hero Tika gets the award for traveling the farthest for the pawty, all the way from eastern Kansas, an eight hour drive!

Tika and Her Pack at Longmont Tripawds PartyWe can’t thank everyone enough for taking time out to gather with us today. We hope that more of you can come out for our next one sometime in the future.

Better yet, how about planning a Tripawd Pawty in your town?

BiTripawds Big and Small Athena and PivotMore pictures are posted on our Tripawds Facebook Page.

How My Pawrents Started Living Again, Part 2

Jerry with his pack workamping at Vickers ranch Ten months have passed since I left this earth. Every human has different ideas about what they consider “enough” time to grieve before bringing a new companion into their lives. For my own pawrents, they didn’t have any ideas about how long that would be for them.

As time went on, I tried to tell my pawrents that it was OK for them to want to share their life with another dog. And that dog didn’t even have to be a Tripawd, I just wanted them to be happy, to once again feel the joy at sharing life’s great wonders as a pack.

Throughout our travels together, we sought far and wide for land where I could live out my final days. Though I didn’t make it there with them, they did finally find my perfect resting place. Having made a vow to wait until they found our new mountain home, they now wondered if they were perhaps ready to open their hearts and welcome a new member to the pack.

Martha Ralph Codie Rae Smokey and Wyatt RayIn July, my friend Codie Rae’s pawrents, Martha and Ralph, posted this announcement about a young pup named Wyatt, who had just been rescued by some very kind people. Being just a little partial towards Shepherds, Wyatt’s big ears, deep eyes and handsome mugshot caught the attention of my pawrents.

“Did you see that Rescue Forums post that Codie Rae put up on the site?” my Dad said to Mom.

“He’s gorgeous!” Mom said.

Mom and Martha were soon on the phone talking about Wyatt. Mom wanted to learn more. Why was he a Tripawd? What was he like? Did he have any issues?

Seems that Wyatt is a well-bred Shepherd puppy who spent the first few months of his life tethered to a rope, in a backyard in Oakland, California. He was underfed and neglected by stupid humans that likely paid a lot of money for him, probably because they just wanted a guard dog. One day his cruel owners went outside and saw that Wyatt’s leg was tangled up in the rope for who knows how long. They took him to the vet to fix his leg, but it was beyond help. When the vet recommended amputation, the owners said forget it; euthanize him. They didn’t want a three legged Shepherd.

A kind vet tech at the clinic named Lucie said “No way!” She knew that Wyatt was destined for greater things, so she took him home, and called the good people at German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California for help. The group paid for Wyatt’s leg amputation, his post-op care, and all of the things necessary to help him get ready to find a loving home.

This group is the same one which helped save my friend Codie Rae from the exact same situation last year. In fact, Codie Rae was 8 months old at the time they found her, and she’s even from the same neighborhood! Her pawrents Martha and Ralph are active volunteers for the group, and that’s how they found out about Wyatt.

Jim meets Wyatt Ray DawgFinding out about Wyatt was such perfect timing; it seemed like the universe was conspiring to put him and my pawrents together.

See, last November when Mom and Dad met Codie Rae for the first time, it was only about a month after my passing. Mom and Dad were so heavy in mourning, that they just couldn’t imagine being able to bring another dog into their lives. Today, ten months later, it seemed only fitting that Codie Rae and her pawrents introduce them to the next great love of their lives; my legacy, Wyatt Ray Dawg.

Leg-a-cy. Get it?! 🙂

Last week, Mom and Dad went out to Northern California to get their stuff out of storage. Along the way, they made a stop in Oakland, to meet this very special Tripawd! Yes, it was puppy love at first sight. Wyatt made the three day journey back to Jerry’s Acres, and appears to be loving his new life.

Wyatt Ray Dawg at home in the Rocky MountainsAnd as my pawrents begin their new chapter in Colorado, Wyatt will be there alongside them to share all the joys that life has to offer. And, he’ll continue showing the world that “It’s better to hop on three legs than limp on four!” I’ll be watching over the pack as their travels continue.

Stay tuned for more details about our new Tripawds spokesdog, and read more about Wyatt on his Tripawds blog, Way to Go, Wyatt!

Did you know you can now sign up for your own free Tripawds blog? More big announcements about that coming up soon!

Help Find Scrap: Seven Lucky Tripawd Contenders

Forgive us for being a few days late with this announcement, but we just wanted to let you know that movie producer Geoff Talbott has announced who the lucky contenders are for his upcoming movie, Lucky and Rich:

Congratulations to the following dogs who secured 1000 votes and made it directly though to the next round of casting… Bean, Rocky, Smudge, Maty, Chopper, Red and Bradley.

We are looking at selecting 5 more dogs for the remaining places in the next round of casting… 3 legged Dog Idol. To be honest it is almost impossible to choose. We currently have narrowed it down to 29 dogs for five more places… so difficult because each of the dogs are unique and have something special to offer.

The final 12 (plus two reserves) will be announced at 12pm West Coast Time on Monday the 10th of August. The announcement will be made live on my blog at this time.

To see the contenders, visit Geoff’s blog.

Amputation and Bone Cancer: Send in Your Survey Questions

07. Jerry's number one fan at the Fort Pierce Farmers Market Hey guys,  tomorrow my pawrents are heading to California to get their stuff and bring it back to my land in Colorado. They send their apologies if they aren’t around as much for the next week. But when they return, hang onto your hats, they’ve got some big news for you.

In the meantime, here’s something to consider: Recently, our friend Tazzie posted this in the Forums:

If I were more motivated, I might distribute a little survey each of us could complete to summarize how and what we did post-amp and post-chemo. We must have a larger sample of tripawds, however biased our group might be. . . than most vets will ever see.

When we read this, we thought “YES! What a great idea!” Every day Tripawd pawrents talk here about their different approaches to battling cancer.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could gather everyone’s experiences, treatments and then some, and compile it all into a survey / study?

If this works, we’ll run the survey questions periodically to catch newcomers. We need your help though. Send us the  questions you think need to be asked for a survey like this. Questions like:

  • What is your dog’s diagnosis?
  • Did s/he have a difficult time after surgery?
  • How long did it take until you were confident s/he was feeling good again?
  • What supplements are you using and when?
  • How was your dog the day he or she arrived home from surgery?
  • How was your dog the rest of the first week? (a) animal ?  (b) vegetable?   (c) sedementary rock?

Once we have a good amount of questions, we’ll put them into survey format that everyone can fill out. When the data is collected, we will analyze and post the results.

So put your thinking caps on, and start listing your amputation and canine bone cancer questions today!

Tripawds Pawty in Longmont, Colorado, on 8/16

Three Legged Agility Dog SerenaOn Sunday, August 16, our inspirational Tripawds and their humans are gathering at Longmont’s Dog Park #2 to show the world that “It’s Better to Hop on Three Legs Than Limp on Four.”

This is our first official Tripawds get-together, and we hope to make it an annual thing. Friends and family are invited, including those of the four legged variety. Festivities start at 11 am. Nothing formal, just a group of dogs getting together to have a great time at the park. Beverages will be provided and if you can make it, be sure to bring a snack to share.

To chat with others about it and stay current on updates, please visit our Tripawds Pawty Forum Thread.

Longmont Dog Park #2:

Located at Airport Road and St.Vrain Roads. Parking is provided at the site (behind the Public Works facility at 375 Airport Road). This fenced-in park includes a water spigot and shade shelters. Dog bags are provided

When a Tripawd Needs Another Leg Surgery

It’s a tripawd pawrent’s worst nightmare; being told that your tripawd needs another major leg surgery. What do you do? Can your Tripawd handle another confinement and recuperation? Will he ever be the same?

Chuy is one pup from Arizona who says: “Yes, indeed! Just look at me!

Chuy is a Tripawd friend who was diagnosed with Legg-Calve Perthes Disease, which is a fracture in the ball of the femur. In May 2009, he underwent Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO) surgery on his rear leg, the same side in which he’s already missing a leg.

Three legged dog Chuy before FHO surgeryThis “simple” surgery involves the head of the femur or the attachment to the hip. A new joint is formed by just the muscles of the hind legs, similar to how the shoulder blade is normally attached to the dogs body, by muscle alone.

If you have a Tripawd that needs to undergo another major leg surgery,  try not to worry. Check out Chuy’s Mom’s diary she sent to us, to help comfort other pawrents in this situation:

“Research is the key. Research the type of surgery your dog is going to have, the medications your dog will be on, the side effects and withdrawals symptoms. Research the actions you may need to take for your dogs recovery i.e. physical therapy, nursing, home preparation. Make sure you trust your vet, but remember, your vet doesn’t know everything, you need to talk to others that have been through similar experiences.”

Here are more details that Chuy’s Mom shared with us about his recovery:

Continue reading When a Tripawd Needs Another Leg Surgery

Help Find Scrap; Casting Call Update

We just received this email from our friend Geoff Talbot, creator of the soon-to-be-produced movie “Lucky & Rich.” (Talbot currently has a worldwide casting call in search of a three legged dog for his movie):

Hi everybody,

Here is a 2 minute promotional video featuring many of your wonderful tripods! I’m sorry if your “incredible” dog didn’t make the video. We just used the most suitable photos and videos.

What if we could get over one million people to view this video and see your incredible dogs? I would be honored if you could help me. Here are some ideas… Basically it’s just simple word of mouth but you are doing it online?

  • Email the link to your friends and ask them pass it on.
  • Tweet the link to all friends on twitter.
  • Send the link to your friends on face-book, linked in or MySpace.
  • If you have a website or a blog… feel free to post the video on your site.
  • Send the link to any friends you have in the Animal or Film Media.

If you have any questions or complaints then please contact me. Also if there is any way in which I can help you then please let me know.

Much thanks

Geoff Talbot