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Day 2 Bringing Atticus home- First Night at Home

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Dr. Perry called us in the late morning, after Atticus was bused back to VCSS. He was clearly very unhappy to be at the clinic. He was not walking, but Dr. Perry thought that might because he was so anxious, and he might not walk until he was home with us. No poop or pee yet either. I was really dismayed at the thought. I had seen videos of other tripawds walking out of their clinics the day after. Why not Atticus? Dr. Perry wanted Atticus to stay for most of the day, so he could get some more IV pain meds. We planned to get there at 4 to pick him up.

Before we went to pick up Atticus, we dropped Spaghetti off with a kind friend. Spaghetti is too large, clumsy, and playful. I couldn’t let him step on Atticus or knock him over right after surgery. So he got to spent the week with his girlfriend, a really rude pitbull named Willa.

We headed over across Portland to pick up Atticus, full of worry. I knew it would be tough to see him and keep it together. When we got to the clinic, his tech, Jordan, sat us down in their outdoor bench area, to talk about aftercare and give us his prescriptions. She told us he still wasn’t really walking, and he was howling a lot. There was a puppy in the kennels near him, and he barked at him all day. Which is pretty classic Atticus- he’s vocal when he’s cranky. They thought he would calm down a lot, and feel comfortable enough to walk when he was home. Part of the struggle to walk was also because he had an epidural that would last another day, and perhaps all the pain meds.

Then came the moment of truth. Out he came, with Dr. Perry. I wasn’t prepared to see him struggle to walk. His front end was moving, but with every step his hind end collapsed.

I was really nervous to look at the incision. Before surgery, to prepare myself I had looked at pictures of fresh amputation incisions, and they seemed so huge and awful. I struggle with gore. Dr. Perry made us look, so we would know what it looked like, what was normal, and what to watch out for. It was smaller that I thought it would be, and it was all internal, dissolvable stitches.

Atticus’ incision, the day after surgery.

They lifted him into the car (cone off, because he couldn’t walk with it on), and away we went. About a block out from the clinic he went to lick his incision, so I crawled in the back of our car (we have a small SUV where we fold up the back seat to give our dogs room), and rode back there with him.

I got really carsick riding backwards in the car here.

When we got home, Kevin lifted him out of the car, and then I grabbed his harness and helped him walk in. Helping him walk meant carrying his entire weight when he went to move his hind leg. On the way he I steered him to a bush (he loves to pee on bushes), and was relieved when he peed for a long time. We slowly walked in, and walked him to his dog bed in our living room. He pretty much collapsed in his bed, and went to sleep.

At about 9 he woke up, and ate a little kibble mixed with wet dog food that I hand fed him. He also drank a little bit of water. As much as I didn’t want to make him get up, at 11 I figured we should probably get him out to potty. I had to completely pull him up, and force him off the bed. We slowly made it to our back door, where I went down first and had my husband support him down the two steps to our backyard, where I was waiting. I helped him to his normal pee spot, and back inside we went. He was still moving his front legs, but baring no weight on the remaining hind leg.

Kevin and I settled into an air mattress in our living room, and put his cone on. He was not having it- I could tell it was bothering him. He was whining and struggling to settle, and we weren’t anywhere close to time for more pain meds. He really wasn’t trying to lick or chew at the incision, so I wound up pulling the cone off, and staying up to watch him.

Kevin had to get up at 5am and drive an hour to work, so I stayed up with Atticus all night. There was a lot of crying and moving around, so I wound up pretty much laying on his bed with him, petting him and talking to him the whole night.


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3 thoughts on “Day 2 Bringing Atticus home- First Night at Home”

  1. How is Atticus doing? We went through a very similar scenario with our Lab, Hobbes back in 2002. He was only 2 years old when osteosarcoma was found in his back leg. We had that leg removed and he went through 4 rounds of chemo therapy. It was a really emotional time and there was no way we were going to lose him without a fight! His courage regularly amazed us and gave us a new perspective on so many things.

    I’m happy to report that he lived to be 16 year old with no return of osteosarcoma. He was able to do everything he did before the surgery and lived his best life. He was our miracle boy and we miss him every day!

    I hope Hobbes’ story gives you hope for the future. If you ever have any questions, I’m happy to help as best I can. : )

    Best of luck to you and Atticus!

    Warm Regards,

    Michele

    1. Hi Michelle, what a wonderful story about Hobbes! How lovely that amputation and chemo gave you so much time. Atticus is completely recovered from surgery and living his best life now. Sadly, after 3 rounds of chemo we’ve found that his cancer has spread extensively through his abdomen. We’ve transitioned to palliative care now, and our vet thinks we don’t have a lot of time left. He’s still showing no symptoms, and he gets to do all the fun things he loves, like going to our local pet store and picking out all the bones he wants.

  2. We are rooting for you! Charlie became tripawed by losing a front leg to septic arthritis. He came home 2 days after surgery so I feel for you. He is now 7 months post-op and doing great. Wishing Attacus a great recovery x

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