Siberian Husky Shania – I love her more than words can say.
One of the first things that people notice about Shania is that she is a three legged dog.
Shania was born with a condition called radial head luxation. The bones on her left front leg did not connect properly, and as a result, she would experience pain when putting weight on it.
She was first diagnosed at around 9 weeks old. We were devastated.
The surgeon told us that the leg would only get worse as she grew, and ultimately, we would have to amputate.
He presented us with three choices –
- Try to straighten the leg. This would be very expensive and may include multiple surgeries over a period of one year.
- Amputate the leg. He suggested that we amputate earlier rather than later. The leg was not weight bearing and it would become more of a painful hindrance to Shania.
- Return Shania and get another puppy.
I seriously considered returning Shania.
Dog amputation is a big decision that I have never had to make before.
I didn’t know what taking care of a three legged dog entailed,
- I didn’t know if I would like a three legged dog,
- I didn’t know if a three legged dog could have a good life, and on and on it went.
Most people advised me to just return Shania and get a ‘whole dog‘.
Even though I had only known Shania for a very short time, she had already captured my heart. That is the way Shania is. She is the sweetest, most beautiful girl I have ever met.
The next week we went into surgery to try and straighten her leg.
Radial head luxation is a fairly uncommon condition in dogs, and most of the time it goes untreated.
Still, the surgeon was pretty optimistic and he was going to drill small holes into the bone, and insert a metal rod into it. Then we would slowly realign the bones a few millimeters at a time.
Once we do this, the soft-tissue will hopefully heal around the joint and hold it in place. The surgeon told us that Shania will always walk with a slight limp but if the procedure was successful, the leg will be weight bearing.
This surgery will enhance the rest of her life, so I felt that it was worth it to try.
The surgeon gave it an 80% probability of success and in the worst case, we would need to amputate – which is what we would have to do anyway without the procedure.
Things looked very promising after the first surgery.
On the first week, we were able to slowly realign the bones and everything looked good. 10 days after the surgery, we took off the leg device that was holding together the bones. Now we would see whether the bones could stay in place on their own …
The bones slipped again, and went back to their disconnected position.
We were not going to give up yet. The surgeon wanted to open up the leg and set the bones back into position manually.
On the morning of the surgery we were all waiting anxiously by the phone.
The surgeon called suddenly – earlier than anticipated.
He told us that there was too much cartilage damage around the joint, and the probability of Shania being able to use the leg was extremely low. Even if we were able to miraculously straighten the bones, there would always be a lot of joint pain.
The surgeon suggested amputation. We agreed, and that was that.
When we brought Shania home after the amputation, she had a big bandage around her body. She was groggy from the surgery and was out of it for the rest of the day.
The next day, Shania was back to her bouncy, happy self.
She wanted to go everywhere and she wanted to play with our other dog!
However, we had to keep activity low until the stitches came out in 2 weeks time. This was probably the most difficult time because both dogs were raring to go, and we had to be the kill-joys saying No, No, No.
Most of the time Shania stayed inside an enclosure that we set up in the living room. We took turns sleeping with her during the night.
We also bought Shania a sweater because it was raining a lot at the time and we wanted to protect her stitches from getting wet or dirty.
After two weeks, the stitches came out, and Shania was ready to go go go!
The hospital staff had also fallen in love with her so they took lots of pictures and even wrote an article about her in their newsletter. They were inspired by Shania because she was very upbeat the entire time, even when she had to go through the leg straightening and subsequent amputation process.
Despite all her difficulties, Shania was always happy and willing to give everyone many licks.
When she stayed over at the hospital, the staff gave her this fun toy that would play James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good‘ song, whenever she pushed down on it. They told us that she would go around to visit each of the hospital staff and play the song for them.
Now Shania is over 2 years old and she is still happy, bouncy, and willing to give everyone lots of licks!
Siberian Husky Shania – I love her more than words can say.
She has a beautiful body and an even more beautiful soul. I would not trade her for any other dog.
Shania is more ‘whole’ than most people and most dogs.
Other articles on Three Legged Dogs
- Caring for a Three Legged Dog.
- Three legs and a spare – When does amputation make sense for a dog?
by Christie Keith from SFGate.
- Three Legged Dog Stories
Inspirational stories from other three legged dog owners.
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Siberian Husky Shania turns 3 today. Happy Birthday Shania! We had a wonderful dog birthday with many interesting activities, dog birthday cake, and great dog presents.