When I go out on walks, I do not see many three legged dogs around. Today, we are a lot more careful about dog breeding, and have made big advances in dog health-care.
As a result, three legged dogs are not very common, and they generally stand out.
Many people will feel sorry for a tripod dog, and want to console or hug her. Be ready to repeat your amputation story many many times.
Others will assume you are a bad dog owner, or think it is cruel to have a dog with three legs. People have difficulty dealing with disability, and sometimes, interacting with such people can be stressful and depressing.
In fact, interactions with people may be one of the more challenging aspects of living with a three legged dog.
There are generally four groups of people that I meet -
1. The Judge.
Judges automatically assume that the amputation is a horrible thing to do, and is somehow the fault of the current owner. These people will often give me dirty looks as I walk by, and whisper “irresponsible owner … from a car accident”.
I used to be bothered by this, but now I just ignore them.
Judges are only interested in seeing their own view of the world.
They assume the worst of others, so that they will feel better about themselves.
2. The Over-Sympathizers.
Over-sympathizers feel extreme pity for three legged dogs.
They generally think that amputation is not the right thing to do, because they feel three legged dogs have a sad, sad, life.
- “Oh you poor thing.”,
- “Can she function properly?”,
- “Should you walk your three legged dog?“,
- “Is she happy?”,
… are all common responses.
I personally do not mind over-sympathizers because they are willing to strike up a conversation, as well as give Shania some scratching and tummy rubs.
3. The Supporter
These are commonly people who have friends with three legged dogs, or who have had first hand experience with dog disability.
They know that tripod dogs have just as much fun as the next dog, and they usually offer support and useful advice on how to care for a tripod.
4. The Interested
Finally there are people who do not know much about three legged dogs, but are curious about them, and interested in hearing more about my experiences with Shania.
When I was considering amputation for Shania, I was also very confused, and did not know what quality of life she will have. However, my wonderful Siberian Husky has shown me that tripod dogs can get along very well, and lead a happy, active, rich life.
Some special care has to be taken in some areas, especially in foot care, and management of the environment (e.g. slippery surfaces). Overall, however, Shania is much easier to care for than my Shiba Inu, because she has such a happy and relaxed temperament.
No matter whom you meet, always remember that you made the right choice.
A three legged dog is just like any other dog – fun, loving, and full of surprises.