Tugger Update

Did I mention that Tugger only has three legs now?  Actually, I know I haven’t, but I’ve been thinking about this post for a while.  Then I would remember that I don’t have any good pictures of her and I would put it off.  But today I got some nice pictures of her on a beautiful fall day.

About a year ago, Tugger started limping one weekend when Pat’s brother was visiting.  It was only for a weekend and we thought she got a little too excited and hurt herself.  Then her limp came back and her “knee” joint on her left front leg started to look swollen.  We visited with our veterinarian every two weeks for a while and finally took an x-ray.  He recommended we visit an orthopedic surgeon and gave us two to check out.

We went to one surgeon and decided he wasn’t the one for us.  The other surgeon was further away but we finally visited him.  He was pretty sure it was a localized cancer and that about the only solution would be to remove the leg.  I was pretty shocked by this…it hadn’t really crossed my mind that she was going to lose the leg.  I thought he would be able to just remove the tumor but it was eating into the bone and there was no way to take just the tumor.

So, we scheduled the surgery and Tugger officially became a tripod in March.  From the time of our initial visit to the vet until the surgery, Tugger’s ability to use the leg had become less and less.  She was basically hopping around without using it and it was obvious she was in pain if she had to use the leg.

Intently watching the neighbor take down Halloween decorations

The first week post surgery was a little more difficult than I expected.  We were trying to keep her quiet and keep her from licking the incision site and fluid was still seeping out of the site.  It seemed like it would take forever to heal.  Tugger didn’t really have any problems getting around but every time she moved she would start leaking fluid.  She spent most of the time in the crate and we spent a lot of time saying, “No licking, Tugger.”  Luckily she couldn’t reach all of the incision and would just lick around the edge of it a bit.  I tried getting her a cone but when she had it on, she was too active in trying to get it off and she wouldn’t settle down.  It was easier for her to just stay in her crate and she didn’t lick much while she was in there.

After two weeks, the incision was healed and Tugger was getting around fine! She had her energy back and was ready to get out for some walks.  It is amazing how well she got around with her three legs. Even after only two weeks, if you saw her from her good side, you wouldn’t even know she was missing a leg.

8 months after the surgery, Tugger and I now go for runs together, she has been swimming and she has most of her endurance back from before she started to get sick.  Sometimes people will stare at us and I will wonder what they are looking at until I remember that I have a dog with three legs.  Other times people will see Tugger and not even notice she’s missing a leg until some time has passed and then they’ll do a double-take.

I took the picture above not too long after her surgery.  I thought it was kind of strangely funny that it looked like she also lost her head.  But she didn’t…it’s just under the bed.

Tugger has only escaped the house without a leash one time since she got sick.  She ran around for a minute and then she actually came right back to me.  Phew!  Hopefully this means there will be no more chases around the neighborhood or calls to animal control.  Although it made for an entertaining story, I’d prefer not to do it again.  On the other hand, she has gotten so sneaky about trying to get food off the counter.  I have to make sure that I have things up on the high portion of the counter or shoved all the way into a corner where she can’t reach!  She gets right up on her back legs with her front paw on the counter to see what she can get.


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