Our Galahad, now known as ‘The Tripawd Dog’ was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on April 19, 2013, after a visit to the vet to check out why he was limping. After weighing our options, we decided to amputate his left front leg, as his bone had significantly degenerated and was causing him pain. We were met with resistance from family and friends who shared our concerns about how an 8 year old dog of his size (a barrel chested, top heavy 124 lbs) would fare with a missing front leg. We made the decision after honest and insightful discussions with our vets, considering treatment options and median survival times. We ultimately decided that eliminating his pain and eliminating the risk of fracturing that leg were our most immediate priorities.
Dr. Charney was fantastic. She was very compassionate and honest when discussing our options with us, taking time to make sure we had all the information we needed to make an informed decision. She is incredibly knowledgeable and was forthcoming about the potential challenges that lay ahead. We could tell from her interactions with Galahad that she genuinely cared about his well being. The decision to amputate was tough, but after consulting with Dr. Charney and considering the pros and cons, we felt very comfortable that we were doing what was in Galahad’s best interest.
Galahad’s leg was amputated on May 2, 2013 by Dr. Lyndell Levitt at Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital. After spending a vocal, whiny night at Boundary Bay, he was happy to come home the next day. The delirium from his pain medication turned out to be a greater obstacle for him to overcome than his missing leg. He showed no signs of discomfort at the site of the amputation, and would even sleep on that side. After a weekend of peaceful convalescence, Galahad remained very subdued over the next couple of weeks, resting soundly and only eating if hand-fed. Being a hiking, ball-chasing dog, he seemed a bit depressed that his only real exercise was hobbling across the street to go to the bathroom. His demeanor changed, however, once his stitches came out on May 16, 2013.
On his first non-hospital related outing since his surgery (to Spanish Banks), we were delighted to see Galahad run enthusiastically towards the water, whining in protest at us because we didn’t bring his beloved orange ball for him to chase. The next day we took him to Buntzen Lake, where he ran and swam and chased balls alongside his quadruped counterparts, only 17 days post-op. Our Galahad was back, and he’s been inspiring us daily with his positiveness ever since. He greets us every day when we come home from work with his ball in his mouth just like he always did, and we are amazed at how quickly he still tears after that ball in our backyard. He climbs up and down the stairs no problem and jumps in and out of our SUV with relative ease (though understandably, jumping out takes a bit more effort and calculation on his part). He still takes the occasional tumble (face-planting in the lake when shaking off, not quite making it in the back of the car on his first try jumping up, stumbling when he insists on still lifting his leg when peeing), but his resilience and infectious joy for life puts a smile on my face every day.
We all want the best for our animal companions, and making the decision to amputate a limb will certainly bring up questions about a tripod dog’s quality of life. From our experience with our handsome mister, dogs are incredibly resilient, and the support of the “Tripawd” community is wonderful. I feel grateful every time I look at Galahad (and his manly scar) that he got a second lease at life, and he is certainly making the most of it.
Surrey, British Columbia