Category: Cancer

3 Out of 4 Ain’t Bad (or 3-Legged Pets)

3 Out of 4 Ain’t Bad (or 3-Legged Pets)
Image from Cassie's Three Legged Dog Club

Image from Cassie’s Three Legged Dog Club

Animals are amazing, most of us know that I think.  Whether it be the unconditional love they give, the ability to brighten up any day, or making awesome videos to entertain us on the internet, the world is a better place with animals but especially our pets.  You know what else is incredible about them?  Their ability to adapt to life’s changes (unfortunately not 100% of the time); specifically I want to talk about amputees – or more affectionately known as tripods.

Severe distal humerus fracture

Severe distal humerus fracture

Pets may only have 3 legs (or even 2!) for just a few reasons; some are even born that way.  Whether it be cancer, irreparable injury, or congenital (from birth) as the cause, they have a remarkable capacity to adapt to their new lives.  Sadly, many animals are euthanized rather than undergo a limb-sparing surgery.  For many people, the thought of a pet losing a leg or being “disabled” is more than they can bear.  Certainly, not every patient is a candidate to undergo such a procedure but for those that are, the emotional aspect should not dismiss the idea.  Let’s look at both sides of the coin.

To finish on a good note, we’ll look at the cons first.  The immediate post-op period does take some adjustment and there is a difference between front legs and back legs in terms of recovery and ultimate mobility.  In my opinion, losing a front leg may be easier especially in terms of using the bathroom (much harder to balance without a second back leg!) but in time, most animals will learn how to move around wonderfully.  Additionally, missing a leg will put added stress on the opposite side which can potentially lead to some joint problems or make arthritis seem worse – hence, it is important to keep these patients at a healthy weight.  Your pet may also experience a phenomenon known as phantom pain, which will make them feel as though the limb is still part of the body.  Lastly, things may seem cosmetically unattractive to you….let me assure you, Rover won’t care what his surgery site looks like.  He’ll just be happy for treats, belly rubs, your assistance in learning to walk again, and being alive.broken leg puppy

So why should you adopt a tripod or consider having an amputation surgery done on your pet if one is recommended?  One main reason: the procedure is done as a way to eliminate pain (after the recovery period) from conditions such as nerve damage, non-reparable fractures, or bone tumors.  A pain free life is a good life!  That’s really THE reason to elect for that surgery.  Sometimes cost for a fracture repair may be too much or the prognosis for recovery will be poor and amputation will be brought up.  Aside from relieving pain, this may be done to preserve the bond you have with your pet; rather than euthanizing them, you can still let them live out their natural lives by your side.  There’s so many intangible benefits as well!!  They won’t hold a grudge against you for making this decision because you’re removing the pain.  If they are 3-legged and awaiting adoption in a shelter, they will love you just as much as any pet with four legs.  And if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can help them set up their own social media accounts to share their story & to help advocate for other tripods!

my own tripod Louie

my own tripod Louie

Three legged pets often have an interesting story and are natural survivors.  Losing a leg is not a death sentence; it’s a second chance at a renewed life.  I’ve seen this with my own cat.  Louie is a laid back, happy, fluffy speed demon who outruns our other cats and adores my wife who actually performed the amputation.  He’s also an excellent mouser.  So if your veterinarian brings up amputation as an option in treating your pet, don’t rush to a decision without considering all angles.  For more information, including a broad support network, visit tripawds.com

Disclaimer:  Blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and do not reflect those of my current or any former employers.  I was not compensated by Tripawds.com for this post but I do enjoy their community!

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“Wag the Tail”

“Wag the Tail”

Hey, it’s Charlie.   I’ve taken over dad’s blog again to tell you something important.   Actually, grand-dad told Ryan Charlie st patrick daysomething about “wagging the tail” and between the two of us, we think we’ve figured it out.   But since I’m so personable and a great story teller, dad is letting me share it with you.   Oh wait, dad says he’s going to help me tell it to make sure we all understand if I get confused or distracted.

 

The 4th and last chemo treatment

The 4th and last chemo treatment

It all started a few weeks ago.   After my second chemo treatment, strange things began happening including seizures and I was having some collapse type episodes.   One night, I remember dad telling me it was okay to “go” so I knew my illness was wearing on him.   I also didn’t want to eat which is so unlike me.   It was some pretty scary stuff.   A few weeks later after the fourth chemo treatment, I couldn’t walk.   I never had my next scheduled chemo treatment but I heard mom and dad talking about the big sleep.   It was just before a weekend so they wanted to spend some time with me and spoil me rotten.   I wagged my tail and in return got lots of hugs and lots of food I shouldn’t normally eat.

 

"Chemo was exhausting!"

“Chemo was exhausting!”

As that weekend went on, I started getting stronger and getting back to being able to walk.   I felt like that guy in the movie “Rocky” as he’s running on the steps and everyone is cheering for him.   Dad was so happy he told me there was no more chemo!   This was good because I hated the weekly needle pokes and feeling sick.   On the other hand, I got some to take some steroids – I didn’t get the rage and I sure didn’t pack on a lot of muscle but they did make me feel better.   I wagged my tail.

 

Resting with my buddy Taylor

Resting with my buddy Taylor

I had an accident in the house…I blame it on the drugs!   And so did dad.   He didn’t get mad.   He actually hugged me and took me outside.   If only I had known this trick earlier in life…I could have gotten away with a lot more!   The gentleness I’ve experienced only makes me want to do better and to keep on trucking.   I’m not quite ready to stop watching over my family.   Yep, my tail is still wagging.

 

It’s been a few weeks now.   Steroids made me happy and with every thing I did, dad seemed happier too, so much that if he had a tail, he’d probably be wagging it.   Instead, I figured smiles, hugs, and belly rubs are the same expression.   We pets are very perceptive and emotional; can’t you see it in our eyes and feel it in our slobbery kisses?   When our families are happy, we feel good.   When our families are stressed, we also feel anxious.   We feed off of emotions (and cookies!)…

Charlie lost in the bag of Charlee Bear treats

Charlie lost in the bag of Charlee Bear treats

Charlie….hey bud, we’re not done yet.   Oh there he goes…Charlie has lost himself in the bag of Charlee Bear treats again.   It’s Dr. Llera now so I’ll wrap this up for the both of us.   What Charlie & I have learned through this is that when times are tough, you should try to see the silver lining that is there and try to keep a positive mental attitude.   In any alarming situation with your pets, there is always hope.   It may be the hope that everything will turn out alright.   Or it may be the hope that you try your best and that they don’t suffer.   The important thing to remember is to stay strong, give your pet all the love you can, and know that in the end everything will work out.   So what are you waiting for?   Go “wag that tail.”

best friends

 

Disclaimer: Blog posts may be opinions which are my own and do not reflect those of my current or any former employers. 

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A Week With Cancer

A Week With Cancer

Hi, it’s Charlie here.  Dad (Dr. Llera) agreed to take some dictation for me so I could share some of my story.  It’s been a Charlie st patrick dayfull week since I was diagnosed with cancer again, this time with lymphoma.  I thought this was a good time to reflect on my experience and share how we see things as dogs.

Late at night some days before, I was just minding my own business….you know peeing on one of dad’s flower plants outside the house.  It was still pretty cold for dad and he was anxiously waiting for me to finish and get back in the warm house.  When I mean anxious, he was begging me to hurry up…but then his voice got silent.

Back inside the house, he called for mom and the next minute later I was being groped around my manly dog parts.  I heard them talk about it being swollen and our neighbor joking that dad should call the vet since it might have been swollen for longer than 4 hours.  Sometimes it’s hard being dog & best friend of a veterinarian because when something is wrong, you know you’re getting looked over to the extreme but at least there’s usually cookies afterwards.

The next day we got up and got dressed for the car ride to the Kingston Veterinary Clinic but I didn’t get breakfast!! Charlie at VEC April 2015 Dad was talking to the other vet people about probing me and taking blood to find out more.  Being a previous blood donor that wasn’t the scary part….but probing didn’t sound so good.  And I was right!!  I had 5 or 6 other people touch me inappropriately and putting syringes where they don’t belong trying to flush things out.  Then I got poked by another needle in a lump they found next to my parts.  It was not very fun and I bruised afterwards but I got so many cookies & a bowl full of food!  (Can you tell cookies & food are an important part of my day?)

Blood tests came back and dad asked me what was wrong with my kidneys.  How am I supposed to know?  I just gave blood at vet school, I didn’t learn anything there.  Since I was still feeling good, we started some antibiotics while waiting for test results.  Ick!  I made sure dad knew I didn’t like them as I vomited in the living room…but then I felt guilty so I ate it again quickly while he stood there looking at me like I was a purple unicorn.  He didn’t get mad at me for messing up the floor but gave me a hug instead.  I think he was just glad he didn’t have to pick it all up and just had to get out the machine for the rug instead.

charlie cone April 2015A couple days later they sucked more blood out of me but this time I knew it was bad.  Within minutes, I was put in a cage and plugged into a fluid machine.  At least they gave me a comfy blanket but I missed curling up with my buddy Taylor.  The rest of the weekend was strange as I had to still sit in a cage even in my own house; oh the indignity!  I couldn’t even go outside for some privacy and dad kept me on a short leash and made me wear a funny boot.  He also made me wear the cone of shame…grandma said I looked like a flower.

I still kept my spirits up because I knew how upset dad had been.  He cried a few times that weekend worrying about what was happening to me.  He returned the favor by taking the tubing out of my leg and I got to run around the yard again!  My plan had worked and I was happy!  But it was short lived.  Dad told me we were going on a long car trip to the big city after taking some pictures of me on another machine where everyone got to wear space age looking suits except me.  The lump came back with the cancer called lymphoma.  I knew this wasn’t good because dad hugged me for what seemed like an eternity.

cyst in the kidney

cyst in my kidney

Friday, we got in the car for our trip to a place called the Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Toronto.  He forgot to feed me again!  When we got there, I met some nice doctors named Dr. Mason & Dr. Cullander who also prodded me and looked me over.  I wonder, how many more people will touch me?  I just want cookies & hugs; why can’t they understand?  Next thing I knew, I was laying on my back and they shaved my belly.  In the summer this might not be so bad, but I realized just how cold it was when I laid on the floor later.  A cold jelly was put on my belly and I got massaged by a wand which I later found out was not magical nor could it remove the cancer.  It did tell the doctors that my kidneys had cysts but that the cancer didn’t look like it was anywhere else.

hugging charlie at VECShortly after, the doctors talked to dad about some major drugs that would help to kill the cancer.  After a chat with mom, dad told them to start the chemotherapy and I was taken to the treatment room where I met many nice people until they poked me and I was waiting for the cookies.  I wondered where dad had gone but he came back for me, true to his word saying he would never leave.  We got back in the car to go home and surprise – there was food and dad even shared his chips!  The drugs made my appetite weird and another pill makes me pee a lot but at least it’s warmer outside now.

It’s been a few days since our trip and mom & dad decided to get me the treatment to help me feel better even though vincristine to fight cancerI’ve been feeling pretty good.  Dad said he owed it to me for all the great things I’ve done for others in my life.  Yesterday was my first chemo treatment from dad and the technicians at KVC.  It was a little strange when dad came over to me looking that that guy from Breaking Bad, except the suit was green this time, but afterwards I knew it was going to be okay when I got cookies.

I’m doing alright and am getting used to new foods but I’ve got a long road ahead.  The next 6 months will have it’s ups and downs.  But through it all, I’m gonna keep fighting cancer.  I’m going to get all the love and support I need from my family and return that love even more.  There may come a time when it’s time to let go and if it comes to that at least I’ll be able to watch over my family.  Now wish me luck!  It’s time to go for another car ride!

1st chemo to fight cancer