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Cleopatra the perfect tripawd


Cleo is a beautiful 6 month old Malamute.  She is happy, sweet, playful, and loving.  She has also been stuck in a kennel for almost a month and a half now.


The Accident:

July 21st, my daughters birthday, we came home after taking her out for dinner.  Dinner had ran a little late and we missed our 7pm movie, so we decided to stop home for a bit before making the 9pm showing.  I decided to take Cleo on the porch with a bag of snacks and continue her “Stay on the porch”  training.  We have done this with all of our furry children and it has always worked.  She was doing so well until she noticed the cat at the end of the driveway, and took off after it. My husband made it to the road to yell to the driver to stop but it was too late.  The woman tried, but Cleo ran right into her tire.  I can still hear my poor baby’s screams. Her left paw had already doubled in size by the time I got to her, and I could see the puncture wound at the top of her chest.  We struggled to get her in the car as she bit us, and cried.  The woman that hit her helped bandage my husbands arm, as another woman who came up on the accident helped me set arrangements with a vet we have never used because they were the only ones local with emergency hours.

The First Vet Visit:

We arrived at the vets office and Vet X was waiting outside for us, and helped get our little girl on a gurney.  They sedated her and took x-rays first.   She had broken her humorous at the top, the bone broke completely and exited through her shoulder.  Now, the 2 ends of the bone were overlapping.  Vet X gave us the first option, we can try to pin the bone.  Unfortunately we have no local vets that can do this.  The closest vet with this capability was hours away, across the border to Canada.  That far of travel with a severe break and open wound was questionable.  The cost was going to be in the thousands.  He then gave us a second option:  Amputation.  At first we were horrified.  The Image in my head of this sad 3 legged girl with no life, would it be better just to put her down?  My guilt was so overwhelming. Vet X assured us that this was not a death sentence;  that she would be up and running around in a month like it never happened, that she is young and would adapt so well.  He said he could do the surgery immediately and she could come home the next day.  So, we made the decision to amputate.



The next morning, at 7:59 we were waiting for the last minute to tick over so we we could call to get an update.  They said the surgery went well and we could come in at 11 am to pick her up. When we arrived, they brought us into a secluded room, and the vet tech came in to speak with us.  She said they would bring Cleo out first, so we could see her, and then we need to bring her out to the car so the vet (Vet Y) could have our full attention.  She explained the surgery a bit, that they did a mid-humorous amputation so she would have a bit of a stump. She warned that Cleo was in a good mood, and adapting well already, but she was still on heavy pain medication and her wound was going to look like Frankenstein.

As I paced in the room waiting, I was nervous, excited, scared, sad.  I just wanted to hold my girl.  It seemed like forever before they brought her in.  The wound wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, the incision looked….clean compared to the images my husband and I searched online.  She was the same happy dog even with the medication and one less leg.  After a few minutes of tears and cuddles, My daughter took Cleo outside with the Vet techs assistance, so the Doctor could come in.  She again assured us that Cleo was doing great, and went over after care.  1 week vet check, 10 – 14 day suture removal, rest of her life happy on 3 legs. They sent her home with Deramaxx and amoxicillin, but to call if the pain was too much.

First Few Days:

Day one was horrible.  The pain pills wore off and she was in pain. She would not settle down.  She cried and paced in the kennel.  So, we called the vet.  Unfortunately this was a Saturday evening, so the on call vet (Vet Y) had to call us back.  She called in a prescription of Tramadol, right to our local pharmacy.  These helped with the pain, but not her energy level.  She was still jumping around, and yelling to get out of the kennel.  On Sunday, we had to call the Vet again, because her incision had opened a bit and was bleeding.  We didn’t know what to expect or if this was normal, so I called.  Vet Y called back. I apologized for bothering her so much, and she actually said “Now I am wondering if I should have even sent her home yesterday”, I asked her to clarify and she explained because of how much we had called. 2 times!!  She also said a little bleeding is normal.

Next Few Weeks:

Her first visit went well, everything looked to be healing fine, and they scheduled her staple check for the following week.

On Wednesday, one of her staples popped open.  It was extremely raw and painful looking.  Of course this was after hours again, so off to call the after hours.  Vet Y was on call, and said it was fine.  I did not think it was fine and asked if she would look at a picture if I texted it to her.  I sent her the picture, and she still said it was fine and and didn’t need to be seen, that it could wait till her appointment on Friday.

The picture sent to vet


Second Surgery:

It was supposed to be a routine staple removal, and turned into another nightmare.  The vet did not see us, we were brought back to a room, and waited there while the vet tech took Cleo in the back so the doctor could look at her.  She came back and explained that the bottom half of the staples were ready to come out, but the top half needed new stitches.  They would have to put her under again, so they could do this.  We signed an anesthesia consent and payment paper that specified that this was going to cost another $200-$300.  They said to give them about an hour and they would call when we could come get her.  About an hour an half later, the vet called.  We came back to receive the horrible news.  Vet Y said the bone was actually pushing through the incision, which is why the staples had popped.  They had to completely open her back up, shave down the bone, and stitch her back up again.  We were also told that if we couldn’t keep her calm, she would have to have a 3rd surgery to have the entire shoulder removed.  They prescribed her 1-2 tabs of trazodone every 8 hours, 2 new antibiotics, and she still needed to be kenneled.  They would see her in another week.

The First Few days, round 2:

Pills at first were fine, I hid them in a piece of hot dog and she was just happy to be getting a treat.  When we started the trazodone, that all changed.  They must be extremely bitter, because it turned in an all out brawl just to get her to take her pills 3 times a day – 7 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, 6 at night.  She started to shred any food we gave her, checking for pills. We tried dropping them down the back of her throat, and she would manage to spit them out or chew them up.  If she chewed we were in trouble, because then she would throw them back up, and we had a few instances of having to go through vomit, to figure out which pills stayed down.  Pills were strictly a 2 person job; one to hold still and the other to pry open jaw and drop down the way back of her throat.  Oh and even better, the new pills also gave her diarrhea in her kennel, multiple times a day.

All house breaking that was done before the accident was now gone.  She started peeing in the kennel too.  We try to take her outside on a leash, but every time she got out of the kennel, she is just so excited that she won’t go.  She has gained 10 Lbs since the accident and has grown at least a couple inches.  Even with 3 legs, she is starting to get hard to control on a leash.  She would chase bugs, and jump on us, she nearly took me off my feet a few times.  She wasn’t being bad or mean, just happy to be out.  She is only a baby.  I called the vet and told them the trazodone was wearing off too quickly, about 2 hours before the next dose was due. It seamed like she was jamming 8 hours of energy into that 2 hours.  She would start thrashing at the sides of the kennel, jumping and Barking.  They told me to play with the dosage.  This, of course, didn’t help.

Second Surgery, First Vet Visit:

This time they didn’t even put us in a room.  My husband and I were left in the waiting room, while a vet tech took Cleo back to see the vet.  She came back and said the stitches were not ready to be removed and tried to send us on our way.  We asked her so many questions in the waiting room, that they finally sent a vet out (Vet Z) after making the vet tech walk back and forth like 3 times.  This was a new vet we have never seen at the office.  We wanted to know where we stood on the third surgery.  We needed refills on prescriptions, at this point her antibiotics were almost gone.  She finally gave us refills, and 2 new stomach medicines, because Cleo threw up – for the first time – in the waiting room.  This is simply because she was so excited pulling on her leash and jumping. They said finish the antibiotics but didn’t need more at this point.  They scheduled her appointment for another week.  Did they seriously think we wouldn’t need to see a vet to have these questions answered???

Second Surgery, Second Visit:

We at least got a room this time, but still no sign of a vet.  Just a vet tech taking Cleo in the back so the vet can look at her.  They finally pulled her stitches.  We could hear her crying from the back room, but we took this as a good sign.  It looked like it was finally starting to heal, except the very top where the puncture wound was. This area was still draining a bit.  When the vet tech brought her back, she said she was all set. We were ecstatic, thinking we could finally put this ordeal behind us. She even said we could start taking her out of the kennel a bit as a long as she stayed calm.  As we were leaving, I almost forgot to ask when her follow up appointment was, and the vet tech dropped another bomb.  No follow up unless it doesn’t heal over the next 2 weeks, and then we would have to schedule the 3rd surgery. I thought we were out of the woods. My heart sank, again.

Second Opinion:

Over the next week the top puncture healed nicely, it stopped oozing and all was looking good.  But just one fall, and the incision was opening again.  Just a little and not bleeding but it was there.

At this point my mind is going crazy.  I am so angry at the vet, I feel like they must have done something wrong.  All the articles, stories, youtube videos, even the vets them selves were saying she should be healed and happy by now. I am not sure how much more I can take.

I wanted a second opinion.

So we called our actual vet, and they got us in yesterday.  He came in and sat on the floor with me while we scratched Cleo’s belly so he could get a good look at the incision.  We spent 45 minutes, sitting on that floor with my husband and I shooting question after question at him.  He answered every question. He never made us feel like we were wasting too much of his time.  I truly felt like we could have kept him there another hour, and he would have taken that time for us.  The short of it – there is a small chance it may heal, but he doesn’t think so.  At this point the bone has fused to the skin (the skin didn’t move freely like your elbow would).  There is no pad of muscle or scar tissue forming.  Even if it heals this time, she is at risk of this for the rest of her life.  We will never be out of the woods.  She should have had the scapula removal in the first place.  The mid- humorous amputation is a longer, harder surgery with more complications.

Next Step:

At this point I think we are leaning towards just having the surgery done to get it over with.  Our Vet said a 2 week recovery time, with no chance of complications like we are having because there is no stump to open back up. There are no major side effects to taking the whole shoulder vs. leaving it.

My baby has lost her entire first summer – we live in upstate NY.  No taking her swimming for the first time, no hiking, no long walks.  We can’t even take her in the backyard to play with her best friend, our 2 year old GSD pup.  My poor baby just sits locked in kennel.










September 1st, 2017 at 8:16 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (9) | Permalink