Ryno was adopted in 2005 from Chicago Animal Care and Control when he was 18 months old. He lived a relatively normal life until he was injured in a grooming accident in 2010. After two unsuccessful surgeries to repair his left rear leg, he developed a massive infection and a large ulcer and it was determined that they leg had to be amputated. After two weeks, Ryno slowly adjusted to life as a tripod. He was able to figure out how to squat, run and walk up a flight of stairs without assistance. His resilience enabled him to persevere and never look back.
“Ewan came into our lives as a foster dog when he was about two years old. He had a history of running loose and his owners eventually turned him over to a central Illinois animal control facility. His easy going, non-confrontational personality allowed him to fit right into our pack. His antics make me smile – pointing butterflies, hunting toads and humping the dog bed every time I run the vacuum. He is always ready to go, always ready to play, but never passes up an opportunity to snuggle under the covers. A kind-hearted soul with a little bit of an endearing daredevil side. He won me over. There was no way I could part with him. We adopted him, making him a permanent member of the family.
In May 2016, Ewan began to limp on his right hind leg. I noticed a considerable swelling between his pads. At first I thought perhaps he had a foreign body in his foot, but radiographs showed that it was a mass. A biopsy determined it to be a very aggressive spindle cell sarcoma. Cancer. Unfortunately, removing only the mass was not an option,
as it was in the center of his foot. It was ugly, angry, and painful. I had no choice but to consider amputation.
The usual and recommended procedure is to amputate the entire leg. In Ewan’s case, I felt this was extreme. The problem was with his foot. The rest of his leg was perfectly fine. Knowing that prosthetics are available for dogs, I consulted with Dr. Rosemary LoGiudice and Dr. Arlene Rodriguez at Integrative Pet Care Hanover Park (IPCHP) to see if that would be an option for Ewan. They both gave a rousing endorsement for pursuing a limb-sparing amputation (removing only the foot) and getting fit for a prosthesis. Having use of four legs will help reduce future strain on his back, hips, and knees as he ages. Dr. Lisa Starr, also with Integrative Pet Care Hanover Park, became my liaison between Orthopets, the manufacturer of animal assistive devices, and our surgeon Dr. Abel at VCA Aurora. It was important that the surgery be performed in such a way that would give the prosthesis a successful fit. Dr. Starr and Dr. Abel were very dedicated to Ewan’s case and did an incredible job collaborating prior to and during the surgery.
Three weeks after the surgery, Ewan met with Dr. Starr and Katie at IPCHP for measurements, photographs, video, and a casting of Ewan’s leg. All of this information was sent to Orthopets. Two weeks later, our custom prosthetic device arrived. We met with Dr. Starr again to assure we had a good fit. Ewan took to it right away! He was putting it down and wanting to take a few steps on it within minutes. Days later, he was back to going for walks. Ewan gets regular massages to keep him flexible and comfortable. He also does a variety of exercises that assist in teaching him how to properly use his new leg.
I’ve been thrilled with my decision to preserve Ewan’s leg. The prosthesis has given Ewan the freedom to enjoy life as he always has. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to make this decision if it weren’t for crew at Integrative Pet Care Hanover Park. I am very grateful for their constant support and encouragement throughout this process.”
– Allison Brudney
“Ewan and Allison are an inspiring team to work with! Ewan has adjusted to walking in his prosthetic very quickly, despite some initial medical setbacks. Allison has been extremely diligent with his home exercises, helping him to learn how to use the prosthetic and improve his gait with it. She keeps a close eye on his skin to ensure that no sores are developing from wearing his device. Through both of their hard work, Ewan’s mobility and quality of life have benefited. Having more normal biomechanics walking with the prosthetic, instead of walking on three legs, lessens stress to the rest of Ewan’s body and in turn is helping to keep him more active and comfortable for the long term. They are great example of the results that can be achieved with having a motivated dog and a dedicated and involved owner! We are so honored to have the opportunity to provide Ewan with his prosthetic and to be a part of their team! Keep up the good work guys!”
– Lisa Starr, DVM, CVA, CCRA, CVSMT
“Ewan has a great spirt and drive and has been easy going through this entire process. He has been a joy to work with and I am thrilled with his progress.”
– Arlene Rodriguez DVM, CCRT
“He is such a strong willed pup and not letting health problems keep him from trotting around. He looks great in his new prosthetic! And is getting around wonderfully. I’m so glad he is doing well with his new magic shoe and is not letting anything hold him back. Love working with him. ”
– Katie Sulzmann CVMRT, ATC
Make a difference!
Each month we ask the POTM to choose an organization that they would like promoted during their month. Ewan has chosen the Bialy’s Wellness Foundation. BWF helps provide necessary supplies and medical care for pets with chronic mobility related conditions. Check out their website for more info on what they are about and how you can help! www.bialyswellnessfoundation.org
Lola first came into Ashley’s life in 2000, when she spotted her ‘on sale’ at a local pet shop since she was not up to breeding or show dog standards. All that mattered to Ashley is that she was so stinking cute! Lola led the only child life until 2010 when Wednesday entered the picture. Ashley had just started looking for another dog when she came across Wednesday’s picture online and knew she had to have her. What made this adoption so special? Wednesday was diagnosed with cancer and her prognosis was unsure. None of that phased Ashley; she just wanted her to live the rest of her days comfortably in a home. Well 3 surgeries and 2 rounds of chemo later and we are happy to report that Wednesday has been cancer free for 4 years!
Wednesday first came to IPC 5 years ago when her mom Ashley sought alternative treatment for back pain she had been experiencing. Wednesday was started on a weekly program that included underwater treadmill, therapeutic exercise, laser therapy, acupuncture & chiropractic sessions. Wednesday soon became stable enough to graduate to a maintenance plan! She still comes every other week for exercise & underwater treadmill and sees Dr. Zenoni every 2 months for an acupuncture & chiropractic session.
“IPC has helped Wednesday stay pain free and able to be her crazy happy go lucky self. She has had 1 flare up of her back. I got her right into you all and she was on her way back to normal after just 1 visit.” –Ashley, Wednesday & Lola’s mom
Lola always came for emotional support to Wednesday sessions, but as she got older and after seeing how Wednesday improved with rehabilitative therapy, Ashley brought Lola in for an evaluation with Dr. Zenoni. Lola melts during her massage/laser sessions and gobbles up peanut butter during her acupuncture & chiropractic treatments.
“I love seeing Wednesday & Lola in the clinic. Their can-do spirit is inspiring.” -Doris
Lola can often be found wandering around the exercise room, scrounging for treats while Wednesday works out! She can also be heard in the hydro room barking for treats while Wednesday walks in the treadmill. We love Lola’s antics and diva personality!
Lola slowly started losing her eyesight, and is now blind at 16 years old. Her blindness has brought many new challenges to the table, but that doesn’t stop this trio. They still go to the beach and take walks, but Ashley just has to keep a close eye on Lola so she doesn’t run into or fall off anything. Lola has also developed anxiety, but medication and being by Wednesday’s side has helped. Wednesday still takes care of Lola by licking her face, but has recently started challenging Lola for the queen position in the house- something that Lola is not ready to give up yet!
“Lola & Wednesday may have been through a lot, but Ashley’s diligence has really helped their quality of life” -Dr. Deanne Zenoni
Make a Difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign.” Wednesday & Lola have asked us to tell you about Guardian Angel Basset Rescue.
“The basics of Guardian Angel Basset Rescue are simple – GABR rescues Basset Hounds from Illinois, Eastern Missouri and Indiana that find themselves in bad situations. We are a 501c3 charitable organization.”
At Integrative Pet Care we see pets with a diversity of conditions and all of our patients inspire us with their resilience, but our three-legged “tripods” consistently amaze us with their tenacity and joy for life! With some basic lifestyle modifications and a customized rehabilitation plan, tripods can live happy, comfortable lives.
Some three-legged pets are born with congenital abnormalities such as complete or partial lack of a limb. There are also several disorders that can necessitate amputation of a limb, such as traumatic injury or cancer. At IPC we see pets who are missing either front or back limbs and we even see a patient who is missing one of each!
Aala balances herself on the theraball with ease (and the help of a treat)
Tripods face unique challenges in mobility due to alterations in balance and increased load to their remaining limbs. At IPC we focus on therapies that improve balance, strengthen core muscles, maintain healthy joints and soft tissues and stay fit to avoid injury. Home care and proper assistive devices can also help tripods with their mobility. Non-slip floor coverings and harnesses can make a big difference in these pets’ lives (see links below for resources).
After her front limb amputation, Aala adjusted almost immediately, taking on stairs only 12 to 24 hours after surgery. Her parents on the other hand had a more difficult time adapting both to Aala’s new challenges as well as their own uncertainty.
“She had an odd stride in her back legs after the amputation and after ruling out anything medical, it was suggested we try rehabilitation. However, while she has become so much stronger and her stride is now seamless and strong, a lot of the rehab process seemed to help us the most. The whole amputation process was a complete unknown for us. We had no idea what was normal adaption, what changes we should expect or what was okay to do or not do, both for her physically and for us as her caregivers. We learned how to better care for her (at IPC) and also it helped us see all that she could do, despite the surgery. When you go through such a big surgery, seeing all these abilities keeps spirits high.”
-Stewart, Aala’s dad
Henry rests during his session in the resistance pool
Henry, a 13 year old pit mix, is a survivor. This guy has been through a lot, including a cruciate ligament tear and several cancer diagnoses. In 2012, Henry’s left hind limb was amputated due to bone cancer and 11 weeks later he came to IPC. His mom had already made a few modifications for Henry, adding recycled tire tread to the stairs in their home and a harness to assist him. We started working on strengthening Henry’s core and remaining 3 legs with targeted Therapeutic Exercises and walks in the Underwater Treadmill. Henry eventually transitioned to swims in the Resistance Pool and continues to receive Massage and Acupuncture treatments to keep him moving comfortably.
“He’s an incredibly strong dog to start with, so I knew once we began targeting his core muscles and working on his balance he’d respond well. I feel like he’s more confident on the stairs, which is huge since we live on the third floor of a walk-up! IPC gave me the great idea of covering my hardwood floors with yoga mats, and now he can zoom around the house without worrying about slipping.”
–Christine, Henry’s mom
IPC regular and dog-trainer, Emily Stoddard, recently added a new member to her pack- Belgian malinois, Falcor. At 6 months old Falcor had a partial front limb amputation due to trauma of an existing congenital abnormality. Falcor has adapted well to being 3-legged and his swims in the pool keep him strong. To manage the tension he gets from compensating for his amputation, Falcor has Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (VSMT or “Chiropractic”) as well.
Fal sleeps off his hydro session
“Don’t know what to say other than my tri is awesome! Everyone that meets him feels bad for him, but what they don’t know is that he is the smartest problem solver of my crew with a personality to match.
He doesn’t miss his leg one bit! Falcor is busting stereotypes training to do agility, nose work, and protection sports, so you can see it also doesn’t prohibit him from doing the things he loves. Three legs and he still out runs most every dog he comes across! Out smarts them too! People gave up on Fal, thinking he wouldn’t amount to much due to his birth defect. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to prove them wrong!”
-Emily, Falcor’s mom
Bopper, a young English lab, sustained a traumatic injury while in his original household that required a left front limb amputation. A month after surgery, he found his forever home and his owners brought him to IPC for an evaluation and to learn what maintenance therapies he would need to stay strong. Some modifications to Bopper’s lifestyle helped him to increase his mobility, including a weight loss plan. Maintaining a slim physique is extremely important for all pets, but particularly for three-legged ones. A good harness, booties for traction, a ramp for getting on and off the bed and a therapy plan including Therapeutic Exercise, VSMT and Hydrotherapy were recommended. Bopper has since lost weight, goes for longer walks and has a smoother gait!
Rocky is awesome in the gym for his therapeutic exercises
In September of 2014, Rocky had his left hind leg amputated after a soft tissue injury. About 2 months later, he was evaluated at IPC. Rocky was a happy 1 year old poodle mix who loved to run and chase squirrels. However, he occasionally had trouble getting up, especially on slick surfaces.
“I knew that because he had his surgery at a young age he still had a lot of muscle mass to be developed and I wanted to make sure I could help him support his weight comfortably. Even though he gets around just fine, I wanted to take it to the professionals who could help him strengthen the right areas to prevent any other injury. Working on his core strength helps stabilize him and build muscles that he otherwise wouldn’t be training. I know he is a lot less wobbly because of the therapy he’s had. Not only have I learned so much about his physical needs, but he loves it! He won’t get off the obstacle courses!”
-Mia, Rocky’s mom
Therapists at IPC started Rocky on a program of focused Therapeutic Exercises to improve his strength, endurance and coordination. Currently Rocky continues maintenance therapy at IPC, working out in the gym as well as receiving much-deserved Therapeutic Massage.
“He was around 7 months old, and was extremely active and he wasn’t going to let anything slow him down. Not even major surgery. I have a distinct memory of the moment I took off his surgery cone, and he looked down at his incision and was kind of surprised, like “wait a minute…,” and then that was it. I realized animals don’t have an emotional attachment to their limbs like humans do. He knows he is a little unbalanced but he doesn’t mind. “
Dr. Ridley’s little guy, Lorenzo, had his left hind leg amputated due to a congenital abnormality. Needless to say, he has no problem getting around and into trouble.
Tips and Resources
Because balance is off, having slick floors presents a challenge to tripods. Getting around and getting up and down from a sit or lay can be very difficult without good footing. Yoga mats, carpet squares and area rugs with a good grip on the underside can be used strategically to help your pet navigate your floors and stairs. Also make sure their bed rests on a surface with good traction so that they can get on and off safely.
Yoga mats- if you have long hallways or large areas to cover consider purchasing a yoga mat roll. It is easily cut to size (or shape) and comes in a variety of colors- yogadirect.com carries a good variety.
Carpet tiles- these are also easily customizable and easy to replace. Flor and Home Depot reliably stock these in a variety of colors and textures.
A little help getting up and down stairs, in and out of the car or even at the end of a long walk goes a long way! A strong harness with a well placed handle helps your pet and your back.
(please check with your veterinarian before selecting a harness to make sure it is the proper fit)
Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips
It’s pretty easy to cover slippery floors at home, but daily life may mean encountering surfaces that impede your pet’s confidence. Your pet may be a good candidate for toe grips, learn more at www.toegrips.com.
Support and Success Stories
For more support, resources and stories of happy tripods, visit tripawds.org!