- Because Ruby was in the hospital and received lots of fluids, she had to potty A LOT right after we picked her up. Since they are supposed to rest and it's difficult to get them outside post-surgery, make sure they fully empty their bladders when outside.
- Ruby is unique in that she doesn't mind taking medicine; we were able to successfully give her all her meds with just a little peanut butter.
- We have hardwood floors at our house and Ruby had a difficult time with the slippery floors when she first came home. We took all the rugs in our house and arranged them so she always had a carpeted area to walk on. She did much better with the hardwood floors after a couple months.
- Ruby's surgeon told us to limit Ruby's activity for the first two weeks post-surgery. She was only supposed to get up for potty breaks and to get water. Because of this, we created what we called "Camp Grey" in our living room. We put down rugs and Ruby's favorite beds with lots of pillows and blankets and then blocked off the room so she could only move around in the living room. We also moved her water and food bowls in, although I would sit on her bed with her and feed her when it was lunch or dinner time. Someone was with Ruby at all times for the first two weeks of her recovery.
- Ruby experienced what we called "phantom limb pain." Sometimes she would start screaming out of nowhere (often in the middle of the night) and other times she would drink water or cough and start screaming. It was very sad to witness, but I think she was mostly surprised and just trying to get used to her new body. She would usually calm down after a quick cuddle or some pets. It's important to keep up with the pain medication regimen prescribed by the vet (Ruby took gabapentin for pain).
- The medication prescribed to keep Ruby calm (trazodone) knocked her out. She was so tired from the meds that we couldn't get her up to go outside. We only gave her these meds for a couple days before stopping because we were struggling to get her up and outside for potty breaks.
- Ruby enjoys a strict routine and wanted to stick to it even after coming home from the hospital. This meant she would only potty in certain areas - the very back of our large backyard or in the field across the street from our house. She refused to go potty anywhere else, so the potty routine was very difficult. We have some front steps leading up to our house and we had to pick her up to take her down the stairs. This took two people to accomplish - one to use the harness to hoist her and the other to actually pick her up. One of us would then walk with her using the harness as she found a place to potty. This would sometimes take 20-25 minutes and she was exhausted by the time we got back inside. Ruby is stubborn and we had to adhere to her routine because it was so difficult getting her in and out of the house; we weren't going to come back in unless she went potty, and that required us going to her favorite spots.
- Ruby was constantly trying to lick her surgical wound. The vet sent her home with a "reverse" cone (that went back toward her body rather than toward her head), but it was rubbing her incision and it was impossible for her to move around or lie down comfortably. I ended up going to Goodwill and buying a couple boy's small t-shirts for her to wear so that her wound was covered and protected and so she couldn't lick (I had to use a rubber band to hold up the back because the shirts were too big, and I had to make the necks smaller so they wouldn't slide down and expose her incision). Despite this, she did try to lick her incision through the shirt after about three weeks. We had to buy bitter spray to put on the shirt, but even that didn't always keep her from licking, so we had to keep a close eye on her.
- This might seem silly, but a friend at a greyhound organization reminded us over and over that Ruby was still the same Ruby and to treat her like nothing had changed. Another friend who is a physical therapist told us that the only way Ruby would get used to her new body was to try things for herself, fall, adjust, etc. We tried to let her experiment as much as we (safely) could so she could adapt to three-legged life as quickly as possible.
|Ruby wearing her University of Illinois bandana right after her last chemo treatment where we found out her cancer is in remission!|
|Ruby (impatiently) waiting to see the vet at her most recent checkup at the University of Illinois (wearing her new, better-fitting harness).|
- It took forever for Ruby's hair to grow back after she was shaved for surgery. We started wondering if it would ever come back, and it eventually did, but it took almost four full months to fill back in completely.
- Dogs really do adapt well to having only three legs. We were amazed by how quickly Ruby got back to her favorite activities. She digs huge holes (with only one front leg!), runs like a champ, and jumps and plays with her toys. She really doesn't have any trouble getting around, and she can still run very fast.
- That being said, Ruby doesn't go on walks like she used to. First, her gait has changed and she does much better with a faster pace (or a trot, as we call it). When walking her on the leash, we have to hustle a bit to keep up with the pace that is comfortable for her (we've talked about getting a longer leash, as well). She also becomes tired more quickly with only three legs, so our walks are much shorter. The harness we got for her when we first adopted her doesn't work anymore (with the leg missing, it's too big and slides down over her head when she leans over). This is the harness we ended up getting for Ruby post-surgery; it stays in place and has a handle so we can help her on the stairs or on slippery surfaces. We love it so far.
- As any greyhound owner knows, greyhounds need sweaters and coats for cold weather. We have a few lighter sweaters for Ruby and a winter coat, and none of them fit her very well anymore. With the shoulder and leg missing, she's much flatter on that side and all her sweaters and coats slide to the left and we are constantly adjusting them. If we order new ones, we will need to go down a size (I could also alter the sweaters we already have so they fit better, but I haven't tried that yet).
- Ruby's appetite didn't really go back to normal. After she started the clinical trial, we tried several new things to get her to eat so her weight would go back up. After she gained a bit of weight, we couldn't go back to just kibble (with a bit of water/broth) because she refused to eat it. In addition, we were warned about having too many carbs in her diet since, as the vet told us, "cancer feeds on carbs." As a result, we switched Ruby to a mostly whole food diet. She eats a meal around noon and then again at 5:00 p.m. and we mix a little bit of kibble with some wet food. We use this kibble from Fromm (although we rotate the protein, so we alternate between pork, fish, and chicken) and we mix in this wet food from Open Farm (and we also rotate the protein between beef and chicken, although she definitely prefers the beef). We also add Ultra Oil to her lunch and put a little pumpkin puree in her dinner. With this diet, she is back to eating like she did pre-cancer (and we feel good about what we're feeding her).