Three Legged Dog Club
Cassie's Club Members

In Memoriam:

Over the past 11 years, this is the first such case I have ever learned of, but I want to include Charlie's story so that readers can be made aware of the fact there are risks associated with surgery, and complications can arise after surgery.

Charlie's testimony can forever be remembered for helping educate all of us, reminding us that life is fragile, and that we must cherish every moment we are afforded the privilege of having our loved ones near.

Please ask your vet what degree of risk is involved post-op, with regard to blood clots. Perhaps they can be more attentive in maintaining vigilance over monitoring and/or massaging your pet more closely throughout the night, so that Charlie's untimely death can help promote better understanding to help prevent future deaths.

Tuesday February 14, 2006:

I recently adopted a shelter dog, a Black Lab, Charlie, and have a question. He has a left front leg, which is useless; a past broken shoulder that the previous owners did not fix. It is bent and the muscle is totally gone and he holds at up against his side. However it dangles down and crosses his good left leg when he runs and walks. It does not seem to be a problem for him at all. He plays and runs like the wind. I have never seen it get in the way of his play. I have a vet that said I might consider amputation because it is needless extra weight and he said it could help his balance. What has been the experience of others with this problem? Of course there will be pain with the amputation (the vet says 48 hours) but I want to do the right thing; money is not an object. He is between 3-4 years old. I don't know whether to try to improve this situation or leave well enough alone. He is in NO pain now, not life threatening and I'm afraid he could get phantom pain. What is the chance of making things worse just to get rid of some weight?

Thank you so much for responding. I guess it would be no question if he were in pain or cancerous or infected but difficult to put a dog through this if I don't have to. What are the risks of amputation? Percentage that get infected, etc? or Die?

I know you are correct. I am a nurse, and when people lose their use of an arm, we don't amputate, so this thought is a little foreign to me. However, I understand that this is a dog and they would not know to protect that "arm." My vet already suggested the amputation so you are with him and he is a great vet.

Sunday February 26, 2006:

Thank you. I am convinced I need to amputate Charlie's useless leg. It is scheduled for March 9th. I hope I have the courage to go through. I believe I will. Thanks for your input.

Thanks for the thoughts but I love going to my trusty vet I have had for the last 16 yrs who has taken care of all my animals - horses, dogs, goats, and cats. Charlie has been neutered. I will let you know how it all goes.

Friday March 10, 2006:

This is very difficult to share. We lost our dog, Charlie, who had the amputation yesterday. My husband and I went to see him at 4:30pm yesterday afternoon after an uneventful surgery yesterday morning. We did pre-op testing - blood work and EKG on Wednesday - all fine. When we saw him, he was resting comfortably on pain meds. Wagged his tail when we saw him. The vet checked on him after hours at 7pm and 9pm and even set his alarm at midnight and went and checked him. At that time Charlie sat up, wagged his tail, and they hung a new IV bag. This AM upon arriving at the clinic, found him dead. He was not in the same position that the vet had left him at midnight so he had rearranged himself at some point. The only thing that could have happened is he threw a clot. We are saddened greatly and it is almost worse than losing a long-term pet to old age. We have only had him since mid February and felt this was the best thing to do - for long life. Everyone we talked to was pro amputation - while he was young. Just to let you know, there are risks. If you think this vet isn't good, he was educated at Texas A& M, owns a clinic since 1980 and has 3 other vets on his staff. He owns a 3 legged dog who comes to work with him every day. We will bury Charlie in the back yard with full honors just as a long-term pet. Time will heal but this may take longer since it was my decision to operate.

Tuesday March 14, 2006:

Hi - Things are better but still get that achy feeling in my heart a few times a day. Pulmonary Embolism is a real risk with any surgery - especially orthopedic surgery. Clots form all along the incision line, of course to stop the bleeding. A clot can 'break loose" and start moving through the blood stream. With people, we try to reduce that risk - tight stockings, blow up appliances that constantly "massage" the legs. We don't have those for dogs and probably it is rare in young dogs such as Charlie (3 years). The clot reaches the right side of the heart and occludes the value or vein. Sudden death can occur if it is completely occluded. Charlie perhaps was feeling better, got up to rearrange himself and that was enough to cause a clot to come loose and travel. In people we watch for clots for weeks after surgery and is why patients take blood thinners for week after major surgery. The problem is you can't give blood thinners immediately after because they would bleed too much. It is a balancing act. All I know is I did the right thing and it had a bad outcome. He was in some constant pain but not enough to not be happy - he was very happy with us and thankful to have a loving home. I'm just glad he was loved and he knew it before he died. I'm so glad I went to see him that day and could see how good he was doing before he died. If I hadn't, I might be more inclined to blame the vet. Thank you for all your input and caring.

Thursday March 16, 2006:

Hi - here is a picture of Charlie - I didn't have many of them because I didn't expect to lose him. I think I am having a more difficult time with this loss than my long term dogs - I knew they had a wonderful life and I was planning to make Charlie's life wonderful - I didn't get that opportunity.

Thanks for your sweet words - I have a couple of more pictures of him - when he jumped into our jeep Wrangler(without opening the door! - top down). They are cute - I will send. You are right, three legs is no big deal for them!

Sally Blackie-Sengel


Hi, I'm a 3 legged dog named Lindsey. Nobody knows my exact heritage, but based on the vet's best guess, I'm a Chihuahua-Pug-Lab mix. Or a "Chipuglador," as my "dad" calls me.

I was born with a birth defect that caused my front leg to curl up underneath my body and shake involuntarily. Because of this I was dumped in the parking lot of Animal Control in the middle of the night when I was about 10 weeks old. The animal control officers found me the next morning and brought me inside for a meal and then put me up for adoption. Sadly, nobody wanted a "defective" dog, and I was scheduled to be euthanized after just 14 days there. A rescue group came along and took me out of the shelter before I was put to sleep. They raised money to take me to an orthopedic surgeon and he determined that I needed to have the leg amputated to avoid having it scrape the ground as I walked. While I was recovering from my surgery I was put into a foster home. For 6 weeks my foster mom and dad took care of me and "dad" talked to everyone he worked with about what a good dog I was. Finally someone agreed to adopt me and I thought I had my forever home.

More bad luck ......8 months after I was adopted my new mommy lost her job and had to move into an apartment. NO DOGS ALLOWED!

I didn't know what would happen to me but luckily my "Foster" parents agreed to take me back until I could get another forever home. I was so happy to see them and their 4 dogs again. I wagged my tail and ran excitedly from room to room. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to have other dogs to play with. Mom and dad were astounded by how well I got around. After all, I've not had use of all 4 legs my entire life, how could I possibly miss the one that was gone?

Well days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Mom and Dad and their kids grew more and more attached to me and I to them. Finally on their daughter's birthday they made it official..... I was not going to be adopted out.....I was staying here........FOREVER! The same people who nursed me back to health were now making me part of their family. That's my story.
Monday March 20, 2006

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