When we first got the word that Bravo had cancer, time stood still. We feared he’d end up being a three-legged dog, but we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know how fast dogs recover from amputation. With such a big 125-pound athlete, how would he cope? If we had to do it, we wanted that over with.
It took forever to get the bone biopsy scheduled, and then the pathology report. One of those “hurry up and wait” events that drive Type-A folks crazy, since we (well me, anyway) want to be in control.
Finally, you simply must recognize–you have no control. Simply trust in the experts, and trust your heart, to do right by your special pet. So then time sped up again. We heard from the Plano, Texas surgeon Dr. Brent Wilkens on Wednesday, June 10 with the pathology report. He recommended a consult with the Dallas oncologist, and Dr. Zachary Wright examined Bravo on Monday, June 15. After his recommendations, we scheduled Bravo’s amputation two days later on Wednesday, June 17, with our primary care veterinarian, Dr. Clay Morris, here in Sherman at Brakebill Veterinary Hospital. We wanted Bravo to be with people he knew and liked, and close by.
Cancer Surgery & Leg Amputation
We were an absolute wreck while Bravo stayed at the hospital. The staff love him (the feeling’s mutual) but of course, we worried. I had meetings both Wednesday and Thursday night. My husband and I wanted to be together with him once he came home, and so we picked him up Friday morning.
The first sight of Bravo both shocked me and made me laugh out loud. Sutures criss-cross his poor shoulder, with massive swelling and bruising, with some drainage. Despite that, Bravo walked out of the clinic on his own, grinning and wagging welcome, and easily hopped up into the back seat of the car. Once home, he spent a LOT of time emptying his bladder and getting “creative” and I suspect he hadn’t wanted to “go” while confined to his hospital run.
His post-op instructions included restricting his activity for the next couple of weeks. We continue his pain meds twice daily (Gabapentin and Rimadyl) for this first week, then once a day for the second week. He’ll need to build new muscles to compensate for the limb loss and balance issues. Until then, he tires quickly. The swelling nearly disappeared after three days.
Pet Empathy & Sympathy
I’m writing this post five days after his amputation, and he’s getting around quite well. This morning, he wanted to head down the pond (sorry, buddy!). His appetite comes and goes. And he’s interested but reluctant to interact with the puppy since Shadow has no understanding anything should be different! Here’s more about how Shadow the comfort puppy showed up. Karma-Kat, though, acts with sympathy and wants to groom and be near Bravo.
He has a long haul ahead of him. Bravo’s stitches come out after two weeks. The next day on June 30, we travel to Dallas for the first of five chemo treatments, one every three weeks. He’ll spend the morning at the oncologist, and come home in the afternoon. I know from writing about chemo and pets that dogs and cats rarely suffer side effects commonly experienced by people. The oncologist says he’ll likely be tired on chemo days, but that’s it.
Maybe you found this blog, or the videos, after your special dog’s cancer diagnosis. I hope Bravo’s story helps offer some insight. Cancer sucks. Decisions are hard. But your pets trust you to make the best choices for them. So listen to the experts but also to your heart.
I shot most of the video, below, only a few days after his homecoming. In the days and weeks ahead, I plan to share more about Bravo’s cancer journey. We’re keeping our paws crossed that his story has a happy ending — with lots of tail wags, treetz, and purrs along the way.
His treatment continues with chemotherapy, and you can learn more in this post.
And learn more about “other abled pets” in this post.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!