Hi everyone! I’ve been meaning to update you all on my first few months and first year as a Tripawd, but it seems I’ve been too busy enjoying life!
Why, it feels like just yesterday that I ditched my bad leg, but Mommy and Daddy say that I’ve been cancer free for TWO whole years! Can you believe it?!
In all this time, my snoot has turned grey and my hops have slowed, but I am still loving life on three!
Since my last update, I’ve stolen this endurance tunnel from my stinky little brother Phineas.
I’ve gone on too many rides and road trips to count!
I’ve hiked and adventured in all my favorite places.
And best of all, I’ve napped as much as I please!
Being a Tripawd isn’t always easy, but I’d say that life is pretty sweet. With the help of some Gabapentin, carpet runners, and my cozy Big Barker bed, I am feeling great. After all this time, it’s still better to hop on three than limp on four!
I celebrated my one-month ampuversary on August 10th. I just know that Mommy and Daddy couldn’t be prouder of me! Weeks two to four brought dramatic changes for this Tripawd, and I am excited to share!
My hair is growing back.
Those itchy sutures and staples are gone.
Car rides don’t require a sling.
I’m not in pain! Now only taking Gabapentin 300mg and Carprofen 62.5mg with my breakfast and dinner. My little brother is getting pushy again. He must know I feel better!
I roam the whole yard, and sometimes ask to go outside just so I can lounge in the sun!
I’ve started standing up for rides! My balance is better than ever!
I went for my first real walk in the park, and yes, I can run!
Becoming a tripawd has really given me a second chance to feel young again! All that hard work and struggling my family went through has been worth it. I can’t wait to see what my future will bring!
I started to feel like myself again. Mommy had slept in my bed with me, so I woke her up bright and early for a potty outing. After that, she took off my dressing, cleaned my incision, and put me in this spiffy compression shirt! It’s made just for forelimb tripawds like me, and helped keep swelling down while stopping me from sneaking any licks!
Oh! Did you spy stinky Phineas lurking in his crate? He was none too pleased that I woke him up at 5am. 😈
Anyway, later on I ventured outside to relax on my new lawn! Daddy’s working on a better one, but this did just fine for me! It was nice to enjoy the sun again.
Later in the day, I started feeling really sore, panting and yelping more and more because I just could NOT get comfy. Also, the more I moved around, I started having vomit kind of slosh out of my mouth. I wasn’t feeling sick, and didn’t throw up, but I felt like every time I hopped around, the liquid would hop with me! With a quick call to the vet, we learned that the buprenorphine I got on day 1 sometimes relaxes the muscle that keeps my stomach closed off, causing something similar to “acid reflux”. For that, I started taking Prevacid. For my pain, I was allowed to have my gabapentin (300mg) every 8 hours, plus a little extra carprofen (62.5mg every 12 hours) and Tylenol 325mg every 12 hours. This suited me quite well! I ended the night with a sloppy bowl of chicken, rice, and bone broth, and a blob of pumpkin for dessert. Now that’s the life!
Post-op Day 3
Day 3 was much better in the pain and reflux department. My incision was looking great, with just some mild bruising.
Yep, things were feeling much better! I got myself up on the couch and spent all day lounging.
I felt like a real life Tripawd warrior!
Post-op Day 4
I was feeling pretty good, but Mommy and Daddy were totally freaked out by this big red area!
I knew I was fine, but I didn’t tell them because it was a good excuse to go for a ride!
When I got to the vet’s, I took a HUGE poop and then ran all the way down the hall to the exam room by myself! The staff were so proud of me, and rightfully so! The vet figured out that the big blotchy spot was just a bruise, with blood pooling there because of how I like to lay down.
With a clean bill of health, we headed home! There I tried on my Ruffwear booties for the first time since surgery, and I spent some time wandering around with Phineas.
Post-op Day 5
I got the sweetest card in the mail from Spirit Jerry and fam! They sent me this sweet bandanna, too! Being a Tripawd has its perks. 😃
Post-op Day 6
I went all the way up the hill just to poop and pee in Mommy’s garden! Spiky plants beware: this Tripawd is armed!
Post-op Day 7
My belly bruising went away! And my hair started to grow back!
I was feeling devious, so I stole my old bed back from Phineas when nobody was looking. Just ’cause I got a new one doesn’t mean he should get this one!
His window view is pretty nice, anyway! Here I was watching Daddy coming down the driveway.
I was even feeling up to surveillance duty! When the construction guys came around, I kept my eye on them! Really, I was hoping they’d come visit and bring me treats. They did not.
Overall, my first week went better than expected! I graduated from my Prilosec and antibiotic by day 7. I was still sore and tired, but who can blame a guy? Mommy was able to go back to work, and with Daddy as support I was able to start eating out in the kitchen, move around the house freely, and go potties on my normal routine (and that’s the best!)
Here’s what happened during my first 24+ hours as a Tripawd! Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of it!
I was SNOWED! Mommy and Daddy say I stayed overnight with the vet, but that they visited me for snuggles and to leave one of Daddy’s shirts so I’d feel more at home. Psh, I couldn’t even keep my tongue in my mouth, let alone care what was happening!
Post-op Day 1:
I stood up on my own when I heard it was time to go home, but these awesome vet techs escorted me in style since it would be a long walk! Clearly, I was still feeling a little loopy…
I left the hospital with a vet-wrapped bandage to keep everything secure. Mommy held me in place for the car ride with my nifty sling! Boy, was I happy to snuggle again! Daddy even stopped at Starbucks so I could have a cup of icy water. Mmm!
I had a nice pee when I got home! Daddy tried to help me walk, but I was feeling confident…
Just needed some water along the way!
I refused to stay off the couch, despite numerous warnings that I might get stuck. Admittedly, I did get stuck, but we all worked it out. A little ice helped me feel better!
Daddy brought me a special dinner in my bed! I ate two whole cans of wet food! My new bowl hadn’t arrived yet so he fed me from Roxbury’s extra dish… I think she got confused, because as soon as I took a break she stole the rest!
After dinner, Mommy changed my dressing. She used sterile saline and gauze to pat it clean, and then put a diaper on me all funny. She said it would catch any extra drainage, but I wasn’t a fan. (Mommy reports that the yellow on the bandage is furazone.)
By nighttime, I was feeling really tired but just couldn’t get comfortable. I tried cuddling with Daddy in bed, and in my bed, and couldn’t make it happen. I’d peed a ton, pooped once, and yelped a few times. I was panting a lot, wide-eyed, and felt kind of lost and confused. Mommy and Daddy took shifts with me (mostly Daddy!) because I didn’t sleep all night.
In total on my first day and night home, I had gabapentin 300mg q12h, carprofen 50mg q12h, an antibiotic in the evening, and two doses of subcutaneous buprenorphine. In hindsight, I think the buprenorphine made me a bit crazy, because by the time it started to wear off the next day, I felt like a new dog…
When we decided to rid the world of my bad leg, we realized that we had very little time to get emotionally prepared and stock up on important essentials. All the pups and kitties in the Tripawds community have been sharing their tips and tricks for years, so I want to share the pre-op prep that we followed and now recommend. The first ones are more hefty, but I included all the basics, too.
#1: BE MORE DOG
The first thing humans think about when faced with debilitating or life-threatening diseases is the desire to undo the damage or the chance to wish it never happened. Something to do with “mortality salience”, where they apparently obsess about their fears of death. Let’s be honest with each other, though. Humans don’t have time machines or guaranteed preventative, painless, free, fast treatments for most fatal conditions. As dogs, the Tripawd community and I have a better solution: be more like us!
In January, I learned that I had cancer, and in July learned that I’d be an amputee. Yeah, that sucked, but I couldn’t be distracted by that nonsense when my schedule was already jam packed with puppy breakfast time, potties, ponies, cuddles with Mommy and Daddy, going for rides, keeping squeaky toys from Phineas, puppy dinner time, and bedtime kisses. Besides, the bad leg put a total damper on my outdoor adventures!
And sure, you may be thinking, “but Loki, your post-op prognosis is excellent! My dog won’t even be cured after this!” To that, I say… look at your dog’s itinerary. Did they establish retirement and estate plans? Or is every day just so booked with fun and love that they don’t have time to worry about the future? I bet it’s the latter. So while we need you to be the responsible adults through this undeniably serious process, we also ask you to take things as they come, embrace your time with us, and be more dog.
#2: FIND A VET YOU TRUST AND ASK THEM EVERYTHING (EXCEPT WHAT THEY WOULD DO IN YOUR SHOES)
When we’re struggling after surgery, we’ll need your confidence that this was the right decision. Every situation is different, and only you know what’s best for us and our family. Through education about options, risks, benefits, and expected outcomes, you’ll be able to figure that out.
#3. JOIN THE TRIPAWDS COMMUNITY.
Not only does the site well adorable clothes, but it offers a community full of resources. There’s a 24/7 phone hotline. There are grants for financial assistance. There are ebooks, videos, forums, and blogs loaded with the collective guidance and experience from professionals and families who have been there. Mommy and Daddy say they’d have been super overwhelmed without Tripawds. Plus, you can help your dog (or cat, really) start a blog of their own!
#4. GET PREPARED FOR POST-OP PAIN
Whether or not your pup is in pain before surgery, I can say firsthand that he’s gonna need some help afterward! This surgery is worth it, but man does it hurt! Prepare yourself for whining, panting, and sometimes yelping at all hours of the day. Some of this can be mitigated by trying to keep your pup as comfy as possible, but if you get into a prepared and positive mindset, you’ll be able to cope (and help us cope) with a bad moment here and there.
I highly recommend a reusable cold pack like my TheraPearls, which Mommy and Daddy can mold to my figure. For meds, I suggest gabapentin beforehand and post-op to minimize the risk of phantom limb syndrome and to help with general surgical pain. I also take carprofen, an NSAID, which my vet wanted me to stop taking for 48 hours before surgery. Mommy and Daddy worked with the vet to figure out what I’d need and how often, which is often unique to each dog (see #2 above). We picked up some plain Tylenol and Prilosec at the vet’s recommendation, too. With time and treatment, it will all get better!
#5: GET A GRIP… LITERALLY
We really don’t need the spare leg, but we’ve all become complacent by walking around on all four. The Tripawd transformation is a bit of a shock, and your pup will need to learn how to walk again. Firm surfaces with traction make this a whole lot easier! Mommy and Daddy got me the most affordable industrial carpet runners from Home Depot, and other Tripawds have used yoga mats to line their most traveled walkways. If you already have carpets, all the better!
I already had Ruffwear’s GripTrex booties, but I know other pups have bought them just for Tripawd life. We all walk funny with them for a minute at first, but they make a huge difference in helping us keep steady outside (or where carpets aren’t an option).
#6. KEEP US COMFY AND SAFE
I suggest getting a really firm but supportive bed for your pup. Partly because we deserve it, and partly because we have a hard time moving around on really plush bedding after surgery. Many Tripawds suggest Big Barker beds, and I concur! They are a bit of an investment, but they are guaranteed to keep their 7inch foamy thickness for at least 10 years, and are cozy yet firm enough to appease fluffy bed nesters like myself. They’re even comfortable enough for you to share with your pup! Mommy and Daddy put one of my favorite thin blankets on top so I’d feel right at home (and yes, it is an NSYNC blanket, so what?), and they added a Big Barker waterproof liner in case of accidents or ooziness.
You’ll also want some sort of sling to help us move around post-op. Not all dogs totally need it, but some of us are too nervous, uncomfortable, or confused to stand up, walk, or get positioned for potties after surgery. For the long-term, a solid harness (see Ruffwear) is a good idea, but a basic sling is better while sutures or staples are still in. Many Tripawds DIY this part by cutting a canvas grocery bag to fit (http://tripawds.com/2017/01/25/diy-tripawd-dog-sling/), but if you’re handy like Daddy and want something fashionable, you can make an ultra cute sling like mine!
#7. KNOW THE INS AND OUTS (OF YOUR PUP’S GI TRACT)
A lot of us new Tripawds end up having issues eating, drinking, and going potties after surgery. Between the meds (opiates are very constipating), the pain, and just feeling off, we usually don’t jump right back into our normal routines. Mommy and Daddy got me special food, like canned versions of my kibble and broth (with no poisonous spices) to help me stay hydrated. They got canned plain pumpkin to keep me pooping, and peanut butter to make my pills taste better. They even got plain chicken and rice to help minimize the acid reflux symptoms that I get from buprenorphine.
Elevated food and water bowls help us keep our balance, too.
Inevitably, all that mushy, wet food is going to come back out! Supposedly a lot of pups have accidents after surgery, and you should be prepared for that with cleaning products, spare towels, and old blankets. I personally like going outside so much that I demanded a special area that would be easy to reach and inviting… we have foxtails, hills, and rocky ground in our yard that I didn’t want to learn how to hop on! Daddy’s working on a permanent outdoor area for me, but in the meantine this outdoor fake grass is just fine!
The other output you should prepare for is incisional drainage. I personally didn’t have much, but we prepped for the worst. Ask your vet (#2… ahem) what they expect in terms of dressing changes, if, and how, you should clean the incison. Some forelimb amputees like using adult pull-ups sop up drainage and protect the site (head and remaining leg in the leg holes, chest in the waist hole), since they’re easier to put on than new dressings. We got these ones:
I personally didn’t like them, but I didn’t like the proper dressing either. I figure maybe igt will work better for other, less picky pooches.
#8: GIVE IN TO CANINE CHIC
In the times before cancer, Daddy used to think I looked silly in clothes. Fortunately for Mommy, we learned that dog shirts can help keep dressings in place, prevent us from licking, absorb some drainage, and improve morale by letting us show off our sassy sides! Here’s a sample from my collection!
Truth be told, the shirt I’ve worn most often is my SurgiSox by DogLeggs. It’s basically a giant compression sleeve designed for forelimb amputees! You have to wait until the bad leg is gone, but I think everyone should have one on hand so that the remaining leg’s opening can be cut, and the shirt can be worn right away. These things do everything a normal shirt does, plus they’re breathable and help minimize swelling! Mommy and Daddy say that the SurgiSox have helped keep the cone of shame away! Plus, they make me look like a sleek young marathoner or something!
TL;DR? Overwhelmed? Surgery’s today and you couldn’t prepare? Remember, Mommy and Daddy got all this stuff together in less than a week! And if you really don’t have any prep time at all… follow #1, #2, and #3. A little perspective shift and education about Tripawdisation will take you so far!
Here I am on my last pre-op ride, looking ahead to a brighter future!