My Dog Has Three Legs
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- Cassie's Three-Legged Dog Club
There are plenty of other tripods out there! Jump to page 21 to see Yodi.
Our dog's leg was amputated after he was attacked by a pit bull.
In 2003, our 9-month old rat terrier puppy, Yodi, (like Odie from Garfield, not Yoda from Star Wars) was attacked by my parents' neighbor's pit bull. The pit bull was not restrained in any way - no leash, no fence, no pen - and was just roaming around on the loose that night.
My husband and I were visiting my parents for the weekend in the rural north Florida town they lived in at the time. We arrived at around 10 p.m. and had just gotten out of the car (Yodi was with me on his leash) and shut the doors, when we heard snarling and growling and saw a reddish-brown blur whoosh by and leap on our little 12-pound dog. Yodi's leash was yanked from my hand as the pit bull rolled around with him, biting him, pinning him to the ground, and shaking him around like a stuffed toy.
My husband and I were screaming like crazy, terrified at what was happening to our puppy. I was afraid that I was going to watch him get torn into bloody pieces right in front of me while there was nothing we could do. We ran about 100 yards into my parents house, yelling and screaming at the top of our lungs that Yodi was being attacked and to call for help, to call the police, to get a gun, to do SOMETHING!
Before my parents could do anything, though, my husband and I had run back out by the car where the pit bull was still tearing at Yodi. As I think about it now (and I really don't like to) I remember that Yodi never made a sound and that we thought he was probably already dead when we returned to him. My husband and I were screaming and yelling and finally I tried smacking at the pit bull's hind end. It never occurred to me that the dog might turn on me; I just wanted him to let go of Yodi so badly that I figured we had to do something . But slapping him did nothing. I ended up grabbing his collar and standing over him, like I was going to get on him like a horse - he was a very big dog so I could barely stand over him. I pulled back on his collar to try to move him and see if I could pull him away from where Yodi was lying on the ground. He wouldn't budge. I ended up pulling tightly on his collar and twisting it - not intentionally trying to choke him, but just trying to get him to let go. I must have pulled hard enough because the pit bull coughed and gagged and basically spit Yodi out onto the ground.
My husband, unaware that I had been holding the pit bull back, (and surprised at the strength I'd had to exert to do so) hollered for me to get Yodi, but I couldn't. So he scooped him up and ran for my parents' house. I pushed the pit bull as hard and as far away from me as I could and took off running behind them. My mom had already called the emergency vet and told them we'd be on our way.
The first emergency vet that we went to couldn't do anything for Yodi. On the outside, his wounds seemed minimal, but his stomach and chest were filling with air from puncture wounds deep within his tissue. We were referred to another emergency animal hospital. Sitting with me in the backseat of the car, Yodi wouldn't move, he could barely lift his head, and he didn't look well at all. I was afraid that he would die just sitting next to me.
At the emergency animal hospital, they assessed him quickly and told us that they'd have to do surgery to repair muscle and tissue tears inside the muscle, as well as close some tears in his skin on the outside. When we picked him up a few days later and returned to our home, we took Yodi right to our vet. They kept him there for days and days of pain monitoring, blood transfusions, and observation. After several days, they noticed that his left front leg was swollen, bruised, and cold. Most of Yodi's trauma and surgery had been near his left chest/shoulder and the vet was concerned that the blood flow to the leg had been cut off long enough after the attack to possibly have paralyzed it. The vet put warm compresses on the leg and even tried to massage it, but warned us that things didn't look good.
Yodi's other wounds, all stitched and stapled together, were healing okay, but some of the damaged skin/tissue was necrotic and had to be removed. Yodi was very weak and seemed to respond well temporarily to blood transfusions, but after a few more days, our vet referred us to a veteranary surgeon nearby and told us that amputation might be recommended, or else Yodi would have to be put down.
My husband and I knew without having to discuss it that putting Yodi down was not an option. We hadn't even had him for a year yet, and he was still a puppy. We wanted to do everything we could to have our dog back. Our friends and parents questioned whether or not we would be able to "handle" having a dog that was paralyzed, or handicapped, or... "different." We told everyone, quite firmly, that we would rather have a dog with three legs, than no dog at all.
It only took minutes for the surgeon to determine that Yodi would have to have his leg amputated. I remember signing off on the forms, and being told that there was a slight chance of complications and death during the surgery, but was also told that most dogs did remarkably well after the amputation of a limb. The surgeon told us that most often, the surgery was harder on the owner than the pet itself.
The day of Yodi's surgery, we waited around anxiously by the phone for the results. Unable to wait any longer, my husband finally called for an update. The nurse that he spoke to told us that he had been out of surgery, had woken up for surgery, and had already gone outside to go to the bathroom. We were astounded - our dog that could barely lift his head the day before had gone outside to go to the bathroom? She told us that he had walked outside on a leash, all by himself.
We had to see it for ourselves. We went to visit him the next day and expected the nurse to bring us into a room to visit with Yodi as our vet had done. Instead, she led him out on a leash, all wrapped up in a bright pink bandage, and he came hopping right over to us. He seemed happy, his tail was wagging, and it was like the life had returned to him overnight! It was obvious right away that he was missing his front leg, but seeing him alive and well was so much more amazing that it wasn't as if anything was wrong with him at all!
In addition to the amputation the surgeon performed a skin graft surgery. Because he removed the entire shoulder joint and left Yodi's side smooth, he had to do something with the extra skin, as well as the necrotic tissue that had to be removed. So Yodi was once again stitched and stapled together. Some of his spots got rearranged, and he has one small quarter-sized scar patch that doesn't have hair on it, but besides his missing leg, that's the only leftover sign of his attack.
There are times when I feel bad for Yodi. Not because he's missing a leg, but because of what he went through. I'm sure his doggie memory is probably wiped clean, or maybe he's blocked it out. I know there wasn't anything that we could do, but I just hate the fact that this all had to happen because of an irresponsible pet owner's carelessness. (I'm not a big fan of pit bulls now, and I'm definitely not a fan of stupid pet owners.)
So how's he doing now?
It's been 7 years since Yodi's accident and amputation.
He's lived more of his life on three legs than he has on four.
And he's probably faster than your dog.
Seriously, Yodi does great. He runs, he jumps on and off the couches, chairs, and beds. With help from us (and a life jacket) he goes in the pool. (Go ahead, you can make jokes about him swimming in circles.) He does all the tricks I taught him when he was a puppy. He can sit, lay down, shake, roll over, and play dead. I just recently taught him how to "high five."
Treat your Tripod!
Right now, as I write this, he's sitting on my lap, leaning his no-leg side against my chest, staring out the open window. His ears perk up every time a crinkly leaf blows down the street. Sometimes he rests his chin on my arm while I'm trying to type. Every once in a while, he turns around to try to give me a kiss.
He might only have three legs, but he is one happy, healthy, and very well-loved little dog.
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