TRIPAWDS: Home to 12111 Members and 1401 Blogs.

Tripawds Supporter sites have no ads!

Dakota's Transformation

Just another Tripawds site

Dakota's Transformation

Loosing my “blog virginity”

September 22nd, 2017 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!


My name is Kristin and I discovered this site doing research for my dog Dakota. Dakota is an 8 year old Australian Shepherd/Plott Hound mix who came into my life during my senior year of college. She is the first dog I have ever owned and I am convinced that she is the BEST dog I will ever own (shhhhh don’t tell Moose, my other pup.)

I got Dakota (against my parents advice and wishes) because I was really struggling emotionally towards the end of my college experience. I was unsure what I wanted to do after graduation, plagued with anxiety about my relationship, and terrified that my parents were going to make me move home. Sometimes, it was all I could do to get up and eat breakfast before going back to bed. I hoped that having a dog would FORCE me to live my life! Happily, it did!!!!

I met Dakota at a shelter in Boulder valley Colorado. She was laying in her kennel just staring at me with ears the size of satellite dishes, one up and one down. I knew I had to have her. She is smart, headstrong and independent (just like me,) LOVES running on the beach, hassling smaller dogs (I’m still working on that one) chasing toys and wrestling. Most of all, she loves to snuggle and have her belly rubbed. She is a little headstrong, she challenges me, and makes me so happy! Essentially, she is a pretty normal dog.

Two years ago, my then boyfriend now fiance noticed a lump growing on her left front leg. We took her to one vet who told us how hard his life was, how little money he made and how lucky we were to be going into human medicine (????) before saying nonchalantly “that’s a lipoma, don’t worry about it.” We were cautiously relieved. I took her to another vet for a second opinion, and this time, they did a fine needle aspirate. Cancer. I was terrified. The vet told us that we could excise the tumor easily and that it would be a minor surgery that would likely cure her. Her tumor was a soft tissue sarcoma with a low metastatic potential and he was confident that removal would be the end of her cancer story. On new year’s eve of 2015, we dropped her off for her surgery. When I went to pick her up, my heart broke for her. She had the silly cone on and a 6 inch laceration on her foreleg, and as soon as she saw me she started crying and howling. It probably looked a lot worse than it was, but I felt so badly for her!!!!! The wound healed slowly, but after about 2 months she was back to her normal self and we thought we had dodged a bullet.

This July we noticed that another lump had popped up in almost the exact same spot as the last tumor. We were filled with a sense of dread and frustration knowing that most likely, her cancer had returned. We took her back to her vet to confirm and scheduled another mass excision. On the day of the surgery, the vet called me about 30 minutes after I had dropped her off to inform me that he could not proceed. He told me that the tumor was larger than he thought with tendrils extending nearly down into her foot. I knew what that meant almost immediately (as a second year medical student, I have a little bit of insight….but just a little) and asked “are you going to take the whole leg?”

After much deliberation over our options (chemo/radiation, attempt a mass excision, amputation) we decided to go with the amputation. Her surgery is scheduled for November 14th, 3 days after my wedding. This blog will serve as my place to vent, release some of my anxiety and pose questions to the larger community. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone is even going to read this, but here goes nothing.

Any recommendations for beds? Car ramps? Harnesses? Leashes? I’m really scared and I want to do the best I can to help this be an easy transition for her.

Thanks in advance.
K and D


To remove ads from your site and others, upgrade to a Tripawds Supporter blog!


11 Comments so far ↓

  • Megs&Mylo

    Hi Kristin and Dakota!

    I’m so sorry to hear that the cancer returned. I can’t imagine how tough that has been for you all- but I really think that this website will be an excellent resource moving forward!

    Our puppy, Mylo, had his amputation just over two months ago and he has taken it like a champ! It’s definitely true that we take it harder than they do and I’m sure Dakota will recover super well- especially since she has such amazing owners.

    Some of the things that we did to prepare for Mylo’s surgery were buying a raised dog bowl set (I think we got one on that has worked out super well), bought some interactive toys to keep him sane during the healing process (the bob-a-lot has been a good investment), and got a ruffwear harness (the webmaster is highly recommended on this website). Two other things that have been indispensable are extra rugs for slippy floors and baby gates. It was nice to be able to keep Mylo in designated areas without having him leashed to something.

    I know that this probably feels like a super daunting journey ahead. You have a lot on your plate with being in med school (I’m in Grad school too!) and getting married- but you can definitely do it! Rely on your support systems and the people on this website- we’re all here for you!

    Megs & Mylo

    • koller

      Thank you so much for the note!!!

      It is an overwhelming time to be sure and I am so thankful for this site!

      I will definitely get the raised dog bowls, I hadn’t even thought of that. I am deciding between the webmaster and the EzDog harness. I am just worried about them slipping with the front leg amp.

      How did you manage their post-op pain?

      Thank you so much!

  • krun15

    Hello and welcome. I’m sorry cancer has brought you here but Tripawds is the best place to be when facing amputation and cancer.
    We have tons of recommendations and equipment reviews in our Gear Blog:
    One of the first things to take care of is any slippery floor surfaces in the house. Tripawds, especially new ones, need good traction to get around. Throw rugs and yoga mats are two quick fixes for slick floors.
    The first couple weeks after surgery are full of ups and downs, so don’t get discouraged when Dakota isn’t herself. She will be dealing with pain meds and a new body. Stay positive, look for small progress every day, and soon she will be back to herself!
    I highly recommend posting in the forums for more input from members. Lots of us have been where you are now and can help!
    Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

    • koller

      Thank you!

      I am trying hard to stay positive, but every time I think about the things she loves doing, I wonder if she will be able to do them after her surgery! πŸ™

  • admin

    Welcome and best wishes for Dakota! We look forward to following her progress.

    Any recommendations for beds? Car ramps? Harnesses?

    Be sure to check out the Tripawds Gear Shop for the best harness recommendations. See the Beds page for bed recommendations, and Start Here if you ever need help navigating the many Helpful Tripawds Resources!

  • Super Stu!

    Dakota, you are such a handsome fella! Welcome to the Tripawds community! I’m very sorry that you are here in this journey with your beautiful boy, but you have definitely chosen the right place for words of advice and experience.
    Our boy Stewie is 2 1/2 months post amp. He is a Bernese/Rottweiler mix and he was an excellent patient, but we still had a few issues, but nothing out of ‘the norm’.
    Stewie developed fluid build up underneath his scar (a Seroma) and had to have it drained a few times. I needed to hand feed him for a good portion of time in order to have him eat. So you need to have a lot of patience and remain strong for your big boy.
    Quite a few of us sleep with our fur babies for the first few nights in order to offer them support if they are uncomfortable or assist them if they need to go out for pee breaks. Stewie didn’t poo for a few days and that became a concern, (poor lad had to have an enema!) And then we figured out that I was too close for his comfort, so we switched his harness to a regular collar and I was always close by to assist. They are like super heros and will surprise you with their ability to pounce back from all the trauma! They just require our close support for a couple of weeks, cause that is about the amount of time that you need to give Dakota to get his Tripawd legs beneath him.
    It’s important to stay in touch with your vet regarding pain meds or any concerns you may have.
    I’m sure there will be lots more people who will offer their advice, but as Admin offered, going onto the forums will offer you a quicker response, plus more ongoing support and input.
    Kerren offered some great advice for gear and beds. Even if you can’t get them on line, at least it will give you an idea as to what to look for.
    And like Megs said… Mylo rocked it like a champ. Most of our dogs do! Dakota is going to surprise you I think!
    Hope I didn’t go on too much?
    All the best Dakota, we’ll be keeping our paws crossed for you and sending pawsitive thoughts and energy your way!
    Sloppy kisses from StewieπŸ‘…πŸΎ
    & all the very best from his adoring pack,
    Petra, Paul, & his feline siblings, Mr. Spike, Chester Molester & Miss Lily 🐾🐾🐾❀️.

    • koller

      Thank you so much for leaving a note! I really appreciate it. It’s so nice to know that there are other people who have been through the same thing just a keystroke away. I am sure that I will rely on this community heavily in the coming months.

  • benny55

    Certainly sorry you find yourself here. As you can see though, there is no better place to be for support, information and u understanding!!! And boy do we u understand!!

    Getting to this point has certainly been a roller coaster ride for you, that’s for sure!!
    You now have a plan and can .ove forward so Dakota can get rid of that bum leg!!

    Recovery is no picnic for a week or two, more sometimes. Most dogs are up and .ovile within 24’hrs. SOME do tske longer to get their sea legs and that’s normal!

    After the recovery period Dakota WILL do all the things he loves!! We can get j to that later. You do want to monitor so he doesn’t overdo, but he can swim, run, get in his couch, etc!

    STAY CONNECTED!! We are by your side the whole way!!


    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

    PS. Is this an Orthopedic Surgeon doing g the surgery? Is it a 24/7 clinic where he can stay a night or two? Was there any discussion about doing the surgery sooner?

    • koller

      Thanks for the note! It has been a roller coaster, but I am hopeful that we can get through this hurdle and continue enjoying life. We are having a surgeon do it, and yes, she could stay overnight if needed but they said that generally they go home the same day. They wanted to do it sooner, but with my crazy school schedule and upcoming wedding, I can’t devote 100% attention to her until November. I will have 2 full weeks off so I can stay home with her 24/7 πŸ™‚

  • Michelle

    i am sorry you found yourself here for the cancer. With that being said you have found a wonder community. Lots of support and knowledge. I found myself writing in a journal as well. My blog served as a way to journal here what we were going through but my journal here at home was what meds, when she pooped, how i thought she was doing and very very personal feelings. The day I lost my girl was the day that journal stopped and I wrote feelings I never shared anywhere else.

    You have received some great advice πŸ™‚ Keep us informed and make sure to post any questions you might have in the forums so we can all help with advice.

    Michelle &Angel Sassy

  • Lauren Peterson

    When your adorable pup heals you are going to he shocked at how well she does. We rearranged our house for Royal after his surgery bought a harness got steps for our bed…and had a good laugh when he jumped right over the ramps and stairs we placed around the house. Royal is about 4. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this so close to your wedding. But trust me when I say it will be worth it. Royal had a series of surgeries because of a broken leg that led to a sudden amputation three days after new years. I couldn’t stop crying at first. He had a drain put in so he was constantly “bleeding” from what it looked like. It wasn’t blood it was a buildup of fluid in his shoulder but it was pretty scary. Royal is eight months post amputation and some people seriously don’t even notice he’s missing a leg right away. He still runs around with other dogs constantly and is still lightning fast. Give it time and remember dogs don’t have a sense of past or future. They don’t have a sense of regret. You’re gonna be more freaked out about it than she will trust me. Best of luck to you and yours. We postponed our wedding to fund royals surgery.

Leave a Comment