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The Hoppy Adventures of Our Tripawd Brittany

The Not Knowing – Ultimate Torture or Ignorant Bliss

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Last Monday at 9:15am our world stopped turning. We had taken Rusty a/k/a Mister Rusty Bucket in to a local vet for a third visit concerning what had presented as a partial ACL tear. If only. Instead within moments of examining his swollen right rear knee the vet determined that this was in fact not an ACL issue but likely bone cancer. We had lost his sister, an Australian Kelpie, to hemangiosarcoma eight months ago and never imagined that we would be here again. Rusty is a small Brittany weighing only 20 pounds and is not a usual candidate for bone cancer, but his sister, Lucy, hadn’t fallen into the usual group to be diagnosed with hemangio so we are starting to put less faith into the typical cancer candidates. After x-rays and blood work up the vet recommended amputation – the next morning. Instead we decided to visit a specialist for additional x-rays, abdominal ultrasound and a blood aspirate/cytology. We made an appointment for Wednesday morning and learned that mercifully Rusty’s x-rays and ultrasound looked clear and aside from an elevated ALB and low white blood count his blood work looked good as well. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. I began searching online for information for osteosarcoma and amputations and found I found great relief in reading others stories about successful amputations and hearing that others were scared and worried and unsure of their decisions.

The specialist said he would call with the cytology results today and I spent the day glued to the phone willing it to ring and to be silent at the same time. I wanted to know what they had found but didn’t want it to be said aloud and become real. Every time my phone made a noise I felt compelled to check. Finally at 2pm I received the dreaded/awaited call. The cytology results showed that the findings are consistent with chondrosarcoma but that osteosarcoma cannot be ruled out. The treatment for both begins the same – amputation. I thought by spending hours over the last week on tripawds I had resigned myself to this treatment plan but it still seems shocking and drastic and scary and final. I thought I had no problem with the idea of a three-legged dog, if he won’t care why should I? But I do. It’s his leg and his little precious red spots and his little foot that smells like popcorn. Oh and I forgot to mention this is his “good” back leg. He had FHO surgery on his left hind leg when he was a wee little bugger (I adopted Rusty after he had been hit by a car and had his pelvis shattered – the vet techs nicknamed him Mister Rusty Bucket)

The current plan is to have Rusty’s right rear leg amputated on Friday. I want the cancer and the source of pain removed but the nitty gritty of the amputation makes me very nervous. I am worried about how Rusty will react and how I will react. He is the baby and the smallest of the family and my last living dog and it breaks my heart for anything to happen to him.

I am going to set about reading the positive stories on this site and take some video of my little guy twirling on four legs and snuggle him up close but right now I have to get him his dinner because he is really giving me a piece of his mind about this whole typing on the computer past dinner time thing….

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  1. Yolanda

    Hi, I know exactly what you are going through, our beautiful groodle (golden doodle) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last month and has his left front leg amputated 2 weeks ago. It has been the most emotional, gut wrenching time of our lives, ultimately we just wanted him to have no pain so went through with the amputation. He seems to be coping well, the first week he was very dopey, he had a fentanyl patch, was on anti inflammatories, more pain killers and antibiotics. His surgery took 5.5 hours, less than 24 hours later he was up and going to the toilet, so the vet called us to collect him. He has been happier at home but he still has slow days. I had read articles that said don’t mother too much as they do not thrive in their recovery and I do agree with that, but our vet also stated that he needs to be relatively quiet for up to a month as he has approximately 200 stitches internally and externally. Tomorrow he has his stitches out and starts his chemo. Every day he gets better and happier, it is just a slow process. Love and thoughts xx

    • misterrustybucket

      Thank you for sharing your story. It is encouraging to hear how well your groodle (love that) is doing so soon after surgery. 200 stitches? Wow. It does sound like he was on a lot of medication after surgery – that’s good to know as I’m sure it does change their behavior. I get crazy if I even take one Sudafed! Congratulations on getting the stitches removed! What type of chemo are you doing? What is your beautiful boy’s name? Thank you for your words of encouragement they are much needed. Cheers, Amy & Rusty

  2. tinsch

    Hey! What a cute little guy Rusty is!!
    I know all those sentiments that you’re going through right now. I still look at pictures of my -then- four-legged dog and feel that he was more complete with all four. I still wish that we were still able to go on the long hikes that we used to.
    However, I have also come to realize (and yes, that took me a while) that the only reason that my dog is still with me today is the amputation. And while I miss quite a few things, all of them pale in comparison to that single fact.
    Good luck with the surgery and to a hopefully speedy recovery! We’re all here for you if you have questions or need support
    All the best
    tina & Manni!

    • misterrustybucket

      Tina & Manni,
      Thanks so much for reaching out. I really like you attitude toward the amputation and I am going to do my best to adopt the same view. I know I don’t love Rusty for his legs and you’re right – this surgery will hopefully give us the gift of time together. I can’t wait to read Manni’s blog. It is so inspiring to hear success stories. Cheers, Amy & Rusty

  3. teammac

    Hi Amy and Rusty! It’s Mac and Jamie again. Just saw that you posted so I wanted to read more about Rusty’s story.

    It sounds painfully similar to what we went through just 2 years ago. They, too, thought it was Chondrasarcoma instead of Osteo – they even did a bone biopsy and it came back as Chondra! It wasn’t until after the surgery that they found it was actually osteo. I know it’s scary, but dogs are so dang resilient. Mac was 11 when he had the surgery and it was his front leg (which is a bit more difficult because they put most of their weight on their front legs). When we picked him up from the hospital and brought him home, the first thing he did was RUN to the couch and leap on! I nearly cried from happiness! It was definitely not an easy few weeks, but he showed us just how strong he was and was able to get used to his new life on 3 legs.

    I was so afraid he wouldn’t be able to ‘give me his paw’ anymore, but he found a way! He rocks back on his back legs and paws me with his other front leg every day. The only thing he can’t really do anymore is go on long walks, but he plays like a puppy, goes running around the backyard like a crazy animal, jumps on our bed every night, gets up on the couch multiple times a day, barks at everything and everyone walking by the house…

    Every day we have with him now is a blessing that we were not expecting and I try to think of that often. He is the king of the house and we do anything and everything we can to make sure he is happy and pain-free as possible.

    You guys got this! Just read up, which it seems like you’re doing, and prepare your house for Rusty’s recovery. We got Mac one of those inflatable cones (looks like an airline neck pillow) so he wouldn’t have to walk around with a plastic cone until the stitches healed. We have hardwood floors in every room so we covered the floors in carpet runners. You can try those little traction socks or booties, too.

    Good luck to you both! <3

    Jamie & Mac

    • misterrustybucket

      Jamie & Mac,
      I am just so glad to have found you both and your journey. Thank you for your kindness and for sharing such uplifting stories. I love that Mac still found a way to give you his paw – that’s just precious. I can’t believe Mac can jump around like he does, that’s incredible and like you said without a front leg.

      Rusty didn’t have a biopsy (just the blood aspirate) but they will send his leg to pathology so we can find out what we are dealing with here. I am so encouraged to hear how well Mac is doing and hope that Rusty will have a similar experience. I am reminding myself that this surgery will allow me more time with my little clown and that is definitely worth any fear I need to overcome. I ordered the inflatable collar for Rusty (thanks for that tip) and we do need to get some more carpet runners. My dog, Lucy, started having trouble sliding and pulled socks off so we had gotten Paw Friction for her. It worked well for her and she looked pretty cute with her bright blue feet. Rusty has always been very adaptable so he might not mind socks.

      You’re right, every day is a blessing and I am going to try to stay positive for my sake and for Rusty’s. I want to do my best not to spend any of the time we have together being sad. I got Mister Rusty when he was 6 mos. old after he had been hit by a car and was going to be put down without surgery. I adopted him did the surgery and never looked back so every day until now has been a blessing and each day that follows will be too. Thanks for reminding me of that today!

      Amy & Rusty

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