Adjusting to life as a Tripawd

Royal’s 26 staples and 4 sutures all came out Thursday! He has been slowly but surely adjusting to life on three legs. Right after his staples came out we took him shopping at Petco in his shiny new vest. He happily trotted up and down the aisles sniffing at everything and everyone in sight! He’s definitely a head turner; five people asked about his story and stopped to give him some scratches! He found a nice big bone and we got him his first kong as well. He got tired fairly quickly but not until we were ready to leave anyway. He’s had an exciting week! He is officially done with his vet appointments for the break and now it’s just routine care THANK GOD! For those pet parents that feel like this whole thing is a nightmare take a deep breath. You WILL get through this. Royal is two weeks post op and back to his old self. He is happy playful curious and has his spunky attitude back too. He’s right back to “yelling” at us when he doesn’t get his way (when we aren’t getting ready to go outside fast enough, he gets jealous, he wants up on the bed, or we quit petting him he does this). Thank you to all the support from this wonderful community over the past weeks! We will continue blogging as we continue our journey on three legs together. We couldn’t have gotten Royal this far without the Tripawds community!

Finally there’s an end in sight!


So for those of you who don’t personally know me you probably haven’t been following our story since Royal’s break in November. It has been a long road. We came about an inch away from losing Royal when this mess all started because of funding we almost surrendered him. My mom actually opened up a care credit in her name (neither one of us had the credit at the time due to circumstances in our past, mine being identity theft. My fiancée was a foster child adopted by a sweet elderly couple that both passed away within the last four years so he’s been completely on his own since) and saved our sweet boy. The alternative was surrendering him. I’m sure it’s an issue pet parents have faced without such a happy ending. My heart goes out to those pet parents who did the right thing for their fur babies if they weren’t able to afford treatment themselves. Life happens. People get laid off. Businesses close. People get sick, sometimes even chronically ill. It doesn’t make them bad people for not being able to afford a $5000 vet bill suddenly when their fur baby breaks a limb, tests positive for cancer, ends up with any other array of health problems none of us are prepared to handle mentally or emotionally usually when it happens. But we adjust. We do what we have to for them because we love them and want what’s best for them. The day his leg broke, our vet put a rod and two pins in his leg to try and save it. We were optimistic about the results. It was a hard first few weeks. Royal came home in a stiff cast he couldn’t get wet. The first few days he couldn’t even walk outside to use the bathroom. We had to express his bladder a few times he was so weak after the first surgery. I cried, more than I’ve ever cried. He had five different medications he had to take. He couldn’t stand not being able to sleep on our bed so we made a bed next to him on the floor and took 12 hour shifts making sure he had round the clock supervision. We made him hamburger, chicken, anything we could to spoil him and make sure he ate. He had a lot of accidents the first couple weeks. We had to carry him everywhere. I questioned my decision more than once, asking myself if we had done the right thing putting him through all of this. A few times early on he would whine and try to lick at his cast (we are literally sitting next to him 24/7 so he only wears his cone when we are out of the room or sleeping) because he didn’t understand what was going on. As time passed he adjusted, slowly. He got an infection in his paw. We were at the vet every single day they were open for awhile. Some of the tissue had died but we managed to fund a surgery to remove the dead tissue and put a few sutures in to promote healing of the tissue still good (this is the paw on the leg with the break. The break was above the elbow pretty close to the joint). This was probably about a month in. At one point, he was starting to get around ok, he slipped on the ice out front of our place and the rod poked through his chest. I freaked it and rushed him back to the vet. They did another x Ray immediately and it looked ok initially. But about a month later an x Ray from a different angle they hadn’t done before showed how poorly it was truly healing. January 3rd we found out royals leg was going to have to be amputated. When my fiancée and I went into the vets office that day we thought we were just picking him up from a routine appointment and that everything had been going well. I immediately blamed myself. The truth is we don’t know exactly why it didn’t heal right. But it’s no ones fault. If there are any complications the most important thing is to not blame yourself. It doesn’t do anyone any good and there’s a lot of evidence out there suggesting dogs can sense when we are stressed and it stresses them out as well. If you do feel guilty concentrate on what you CAN do to help your fur baby, not what you can’t. We were in the vets office so much in December I baked the office staff Christmas cookies for taking such care of Royal. He’s become a bit of a local celebrity of sorts with everything that’s happened. Today he had one of hopefully his last appointments. Royals leg was amputated January 5th, 2017. It was a hell of a way to start the new year. Today royal’s drain came out though!!! And his 26 staples and 4 sutures come out next Thursday. I had to write a post about how far we have come. I hope it helps another pet parent out there dealing with the same anxiety and guilt my fiancée and I have both grappled with since November. All of the tears, the late nights, the endless vet visits and bills, making them take medication, the exercise restrictions, will all be worth it in the end when you see their personaliy start to shine back through. Royal has always had a bad habit of jumping up on people with his front legs to greet them. For the first time since his break, he did it today when he greeted a new neighbor to say hi. I almost cried right there because I never thought he would do that again. So many things I didn’t think he could do he already has although we have to prevent him from running excessively or doing anything outside minus pottying, I know when the time comes he’s gonna be back to our same sweet boy we brought home in November. I attached some photos pre op of the day we brought him home. The bottom one is of him today hanging out with his feline friends Josie and Loki. Remember pet parents, optimism is the ONLY way we have gotten this far. Try to stay positive and take small steps to reach that milestone. It won’t happen overnight but your Tripawd will surprise you more than you know. Ours sure did. Thanks for reading.

Monday’s quick update

  1. So we brought Royal in for his drain removal. The area is still quite sore obviously but it’s still leaking a fair amount of fluid so the drain will stay in for two more days unfortunately. Everything else is looking good though, he is eating drinking and pottying without any issues which is huge. He hasn’t had any really major pain issues for the most part. He slipped on a patch of ice and whimpered for about 30 seconds yesterday but recovered quickly. It wasn’t a bad fall at all more him learning to get used to being a tripawd. The incision site looks clean and there are thank god no signs of infection or complications. So our fingers are crossed the drain will be out Wednesday!

Edited to include an adorable photo of that time we brought Royal home and he thought the top of the cat scratcher was for him. Pre op. Because it helps to remember all the cute things.


Day 3

The first couple of days have been rough. Having a living being you are incredibly emotionally attached to in such a condition is tough to watch. The drain in his shoulder has definitely helped reduce a lot of the swelling that was there initially. The rod that irritated him and caused him so much discomfort is gone. It’s hard for my fiancée and I to see him draining a mixture of fluid and blood. We tenderly assist to him round the clock. I am so grateful I have the time to devote to his recovery 24/7 even though my fiancée returns to work Sunday. It has been a week full of support and that is what has gotten us this far. From family to friends reaching out to total strangers moving me to tears by sharing their experiences support and encouragement, this whole experience has taught me it takes a village. But the drain comes out Monday! A small amount of bruising is noticeable today and his breathing is heavier. We have spaced out his pain medication more to make sure he always has something in his system. His vest is in the mail from Amazon, I searched three legged dog harnesses and found a sturdy vest with a handle with great reviews. When he has healed enough to go for walks he will have a safety net so to speak so we can help him learn. Before his break he loved to jump into things. He loved to race around as fast as he could with other dogs. Even when he had a cast on you would be surprised how fast he could run. A more memorable day of his recovery that encouraged all parties was a day when I took him to one of his daily bandage changes before his leg was amputated. I got him out of the car and he saw another dog playing in the snow (it was a safe area and because of the rod in his shoulder he couldn’t wear a collar because it shifted his skin in a weird way and put too much pressure against the rod and skin) and immediately had to RUN over scaring his dog mom (i was afraid he would slip on the ice) to say hi and to try to play. Even given everything he still happily trots down the hall to the door to go outside wagging his tail happily. He has given us encouraging kisses along the way as if to say “it’s ok”. His two feline companions, Josie and Loki, both sunbathe with him regularly. It’s hovering around zero degrees farenheight where we live so our trips outside would be brief even if he was 100% which provides just a tiny little sliver of comfort. In trying times you really need to stop and enjoy every small moment together, every time their ears perk up, every lazy day in the sun, every single time they happily paw at you. Cherish it. Photograph it. One day you’ll be so thankful you did. All the photos I use on this blog are ones I have taken post op unless noted. One hard thing to cope with is knowing even with everything Royal may miss out on some of the long hikes we would go on off the trails in the woods. We took him on a camping trip this summer up by the Great Lakes where we pitched a tent by the river. Royal loved being able to run with us. Now we will be sticking to paved paths for his sake. Our more memorable hike was a 10 mile adventure along a river by our campground where royal outpaced us (he is a VERY high energy dog normally that needs and gets LOTS of exercise with daily adventures to an outdoor fenced area where he can run freely, sometimes with other dogs). My fiancée and I were winded from all the hills and Royal was always ready for more. The first two pictures show Royal on our vacation pre op. We have always used a harness with a long lead (a light chain was used when hiking so it wouldn’t catch and break so he could have a longer leash). He loved to sit in the Canoe with us and patiently watch the passing wildlife. My fiancée proposed to me on a separate trip to the area in the same place Royal is sitting in the second photo (with Royals help of course). Some people in our lives think we’re crazy for going through all this. We’re over 5 grand in at this point and some people ask why. He’s like our kid. When we adopted him from the humane society (we joke that although his adoption fee was a few hundred bucks he still lives up to his name-you have to stay positive in all things to get through something like this) we agreed to take care of him NO MATTER WHAT. We’re his furever home and I wouldn’t change a thing. We have done everything we can for him every step of the way and he will still lead a long and happy life. He will make a fantastic Tripawd. He is already learning to get around just fine. We are incredibly proud of our resilient pup. The “crash” so to speak from the anesthesia does make both my fiancée and I nervous but I am confident we can get him through the rest of today and tomorrow without incident.

Day one updates for Royal

Royals first night went well. Yesterday he officially became a tripawd. For those of you just finding this blog, thank you for the support and kind words. He broke his leg and unfortunately the rod and pins did not help the healing process enough so amputation was the only option for him to have a good quality of life. So we went through with it. We rescued him from the Humane society in march, the day before St. Patrick’s day. He IS one lucky dog! Today he took his first steps to his water bowl and surprised both his mom and dad by trying to jump up on the bed. He was able to walk all the way outside. He’s still getting used to missing a leg but he has already come leaps and bounds past what we had hoped him to be at for the first day. The picture shows the drain they inserted into his shoulder to make sure the fluid buildup doesn’t become a problem. We have been struggling to heal Royal since November when this happened so for us to finally have a means to an end in terms of complications (the rod poked through his skin at one point and nearly gave me a heart attack) and pain management. This site helped us cope with the decision to amputate his leg and has given us so much hope for his future. He is such a playful dog who always outran the other pooches at the park. He loves everyone and always wants to cuddle. I will be updating this blog with his progress over the coming days, weeks, and months. Here’s to our new tripawd Royal and a healthy happy recovery!