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.
rey parrocha says
for the past four hours or so that I’ve been browsing through your site, only now that I noticed that ur Sibe Shania was 3-legged. My,My,My. A very courageous and beautiful soul indeed. Great job you guys!
Thanks Rey. Shania is very awesome. Whenever I look at her, I feel happier and have to smile.
Let us know how it goes with your new Sibe.
Could you tell me the name of the surgeon for your Siberian Husky? I have a bulldog pup with the same condition. Did you surgeon say that a prosthetic might be an option?
The surgeon is Dr. Walls from the Veterinary Surgical Associates.
At the time, we were trying to save Shania’s leg by slowly realigning her bones. Even though it was still an experimental procedure, the surgeon was optimistic and gave it an 80% chance of success. My own research into similar procedures also showed promise. In the end, it did not work out. We ended up being in the 20% group. 🙁
They have probably made more advances now, so I would definitely consult your vet about it.
Given Shania’s age and activity level, we decided not to go with prosthetics.
There is some good discussion on prosthetics in the Tripawds site –
Shania’s such an amazing dog to get on with life so happily. Lots of owners would have just returned her, she’s lucky she’s got such a caring owner like you. xx
Shania is gorgeous. I know you feel blessed to be living with her. We have three Sibes and wouldn’t want to live without each one. Needed to see Shania’s story; one of our Sibes has cancer and the oncologist has given us 3 options, one of which is amputation. Looks like she does beautifully! I am encouraged for our Thor.
Glad the story was helpful. Amputation is always a very difficult decision but I think our dogs deal with it much better than we do. Many people that I meet feel sorry for Shania when they first see her, but after they meet her, they usually say “Such a happy dog and she gets along really well!” or “She doesn’t even notice that she has a missing leg”.
Truthfully, Shania knows she has a missing leg. As a result she is a lot more cautious when meeting other dogs. When playing, I have also noticed that other dogs can overwhelm her during play. I always supervise play sessions with her and make sure that everybody is playing nice.
Hugs to Thor. Let us know what you decide and share some pictures of your Sibes with us when you can.
The tripawds Forum is also a great place to go to get information and support.
This is a beautiful story and Shania must be so blessed to have such a loving and wonderful owner like you. So many people would have not wanted to pay for all of the medical expenses and would have given her back, but you knew in your heart that the best thing to do was to keep her and give her the life she deserved.
It was not easy at the time, but now I get lots of licks and chin nibbles. 🙂 Plus I am healthier, save a lot on doctor’s bills, and have a much happier life because I get to share it with Shania.
Thank you Barbara.
Shania is a very special girl. I am very glad I get to join her on her happy, bouncy, life journey. She makes my life happy, and bouncy as well – so I am very lucky.
Shania is very blessed to have a wonderful owner like yourself, you are an outstanding person and hand picked for Shania’s care, I am certain. Most people would have thrown her away but your heart being bigger than both your bodies, chose this heart wrenching ordeal to undergo with her.
God bless you for being the person that you are.
If I had a 3 legged dog I would call him tripod.
Thanks for your wonderful words Cynthia.
We are both lucky, I think, to have found each other. I am the much luckier one though 😀
It must have been a hartbreaking decision to make but she’s so lucky to have been given a second chance because she seems to enjoy it very much <3