Towards the end of 2019 it became clear that Rufus was having problems with one of his back legs. He would occasionally hold it up when walking and he also had some problems getting into the car. Believing it was probably arthritis we approached a massage therapist who advised we first spoke to our vet. The vet strongly advised some investigations before anything else, so we booked him in for x-rays to all four legs.
The x-rays showed no sign of arthritis but there was a bony lump on Rufus’s foot which we had biopsied. Two weeks later, on the 20th January we got the awful news that it was cancer – a quite aggressive tumour. The prognosis was 2-3 months if no action was taken.
We were a little surprised, and a bit troubled, that we hadn’t even noticed the lump… Although in our defence Rufus’ feet are normally covered in fur!
On that basis and given the fact there were no signs of any other problems, including no arthritis or spread of cancer to the lungs, we decided to opt for amputation of the leg. This was also based on Rufus’s general can do attitude to all that life had thrown at him recently and his optimism!
We told the vet of our decision and Rufus was operated on with alarming swiftness on 23rd January.
He came home mid-morning on 24th January. We found the whole experience quite stressful although we had amazing support from the vet and our friends.
We were a little concerned by the lack of wee or poo on the second day… although we have now learned that this is quite normal for a few days post major surgery.
We were also worried about his ability to balance while pooing, but he was able to cope with that right from his first post-op attempt!
The wound was healing nicely until 8 days post-op when Rufus began dripping blood. The vet said this was to be expected in the first couple of days but not normally after a week, which was a bit alarming.
It turned out that it was just a combination of old blood and serum that had found a way out of a small hole in the wound, and just a bit later than normal.
Drops of blood splattered all the sheets and towels covering the carpets wherever Rufus chose to go. Slippery floors had to be matted so that Rufus didn’t fall and hurt himself.
We had to harden our hearts and use the cone of shame as otherwise it was impossible to ever leave him unsupervised including overnight.
It was imperative that he did not damage the amputation site at all as this could have been unresolvable.
After much thought, we decided not to opt for chemotherapy as for Rufus the benefits of prolonging his life for a few extra months did not outweigh the challenge and probable stress for him of weekly trips to the vet for treatment. So, we are focusing on the now, and enjoying Rufus’s newfound zest for life.
Walking has been the next step and we were advised that Rufus was better doing short walks more often.
We are now building the walks up and doing special exercises to improve core strength to help Rufus balance and give him more stamina.
More blogs to follow on Rufus’ exercises and new fitness regime!
Six weeks on, we are all feeling happier and more confident because we have almost got the old Rufus back.
This started as a few bullet points to give to the vet but has now become a little blog. We’ll keep you updated on Rufus’ progress in the future so you can follow along.
If you know of any dogs or pawrents going through something similar, this could be great to share with them. There is really very little information out there.