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Being 4-legged is so overrated…

Now that my blog is growing at an extremely fast rate (who knew I would like writing about my dog so much?), I have decided to give a summary of  how Chloe has been since her amputation. There are more detailed updates in my archives if you are so inclined to read them.

Chloe with a sleepy face on our lawn post amp.

The critical 2 week period of recovery started with the two main stories of “The pick up” and “the routine”:    After two nights of waiting to pick up my newly 3 legged dog, the vet finally called to tell me that we could take Chloe home.  When we got to the clinic, her vet came out first to explain what meds Chloe would need to take when and what additional precautions to take.  He also said that she would need to be sling walked until the staples came out 2 weeks from then, but that she would only need the sling to “spot” her once she started getting used to 3 legs. Before she was brought out, he cautioned that she was still a bit woozy from her IV drip and was still getting used to walking. However as soon as she came through that door and made eye contact with me, it was all the technician could do to prevent her from just bolting to my open arms. I guess she just wanted out of there and I didn’t blame her… After we got home, she proceeded to drink about 4 cups of water and an hour later, she made it clear that she really had to pee. As part of the doctor’s orders, she was to be in strict confinement unless she had to use the bathroom. So we mozied on out of the blockaded living room and headed outside. Considering she only had her amputation a couple days earlier, she certainly loved being outside again. It was extremely hard for me to limit her walking (more like hopping) as that was the happiest I had seen her since we brought her home.  The only problem with having a dog who thinks everything is normal and that they can go on long walks again was that we ended up getting stranded 2 houses away. It didn’t seem like much at the time, stopping to sniff at adjacent lawns, but I think she (and I) didn’t realize her limits at the time. Luckily our neighbors took pity on us (more like her for having new staples) and drove us that short distance home. I knew that I had to be the one to moderate her limits since she seemed to think she could go farther than she actually could, at least for the time being anyway.

So the first rest of the week went by without as much as a hitch.  We started to get into a routine: morning bathroom break, breakfast, rest, a few more bathroom breaks in between followed by more rests, then dinner with meds, and the final bathroom break. However, Chloe quickly grew annoyed at having to stay in the living room with me all day and in my room all night with a cone… She seemed to have figured out that after her exciting 5 minute pee breaks outside that we had to go back inside the quarantined living room. This meant that as soon as we got in the house, she would head in the opposite direction of the living room trying to avoid confinement.  Its not like she was ever by herself because I would sit with her in the living room all day and would give her plenty of belly rubs (yes for the whole 2 weeks).  Still, it was hard to give her tough love.  I kept reminding myself that it would have been worse to do too much too soon, have some staples come out and reopen the wound than have her bored in the living room. Plus, she got to eat lots of human food to stimulate her appetite! There were definitely advantages she overlooked in her boredom… Once in a while we would go sit outside on a blanket on the front lawn and watch the passerbys for a change of scenery. Little did I know that good news was coming…

Time for a nap in the sun

“More good news” and the “One week ampuversary”:      So a few days into our established routine we got a call from the vet. The results from the biopsy of the lymphnode he took from her knee post amputation were in. This was a procedure done in order to determine whether or not the cancer had spread beyond the site below her knee. It came back NEGATIVE!!!!! Chloe was cancer free. You have no idea how wonderful those words were to hear.  They also reconfirmed my initial decision that her leg had to go in order to allow her to live a cancer free life.  Now that the cancer was officially gone, it was just up to her to have a smooth recovery.

A few more days passed and her one week ampuversary was already here. One week had absolutely flown by. At this point, Chloe was certainly showing signs of a remarkable recovery since at that point she was pooping and eating regularly and had already started showing signs of walking proficiently. You really have no idea how important those are to a dog owner until you experience a pet trying to recover from a major surgery while on prescribed medication. From having our bathroom breaks grow a little bit longer each day to sitting and standing with ease, it had seemed that Chloe had the will to resume life as usual even with 3 legs. Many neighbors I didn’t know in the neighborhood struck up conversations with me and had so much praise to give Chloe especially after they learned she had surgery fairly recently. She certainly didn’t act like a dog with a disability, which made it that much more inspiring.

Chloe the stairmaster!

Leading up to the “two week ampuversary” Chloe had started to relearn how to run (to catch her squeaker toys), how to play with her sister Rocket, and how to go up stairs. Before her amputation, I had the narrow minded thinking that she would never be able to do those aformentioned things ever again; however, every day she surprised me with something new that she wanted to try and every day she surprised me by showing me she could do it.  Chloe’s recovery was limitless.  I truly do not believe she could have done a better job recovering from her amputation. In less than two weeks she was almost back to her 4 legged self! Part of what helped her recover was the fact that animals do not have an emotional attachment to their limbs like humans do. We seem to think of all the things we can’t do anymore, while Chloe seemed to think of new ways she could do those things again. It would take her time to relearn how to do things in a new way, but she was certainly eager to learn.  By the time her two week ampuversary came around, the vet was pleasantly surprised at how well she was recovering when he saw her after she got her staples removed.  He said he could not have hoped for anything better. Chloe had made it through the critical two week period with flying colors.  Needless to say, my family and I are extremely proud of her. I have no idea if this type of recovery is typical for all dogs since reasons for amputation and dog personalities may vary, but I feel so lucky to have had a dog with such a speedy and uneventful recovery.

Chloe and Rocket on the beach walk!

So a couple days after her two week celebration, I had to leave. I had to start grad school in a couple weeks 350 miles away and had to move into my new place. It was hard to say good bye, but I knew that she would be coming up 5 weeks later as a late birthday present.  I knew that it was better this way so that she could continue to recover in a familiar environment, get her much needed bad tooth removed + shots, and for me to get settled into my new life.  Since my sad farewell, I am happy to report that she has gotten fairly proficient at walking up the 15 wooden stairs to my parents’ room! This is certainly a promising sign as the place I just moved into has the same number of stairs leading up to the bedrooms… Chloe will be a pro by the time she comes up!