Recently, my wife Lori and I we were informed that our 12-year old Golden Retriever Winslow had a cancerous tumor in his left shoulder. This news was heartbreaking since we love this dog like a son and we want only the best for him.
We had to sit down together and figure out what to do. The situation seemed bleak: our dog had cancer and the veterinarian told us the only option was amputation. Our first reaction was no way, we can’t amputate his leg; he’s a dog that loves to run and jump and play. We felt that we would be forced to put him down rather than subject him to such a difficult, different life. In fact, up to then, Winslow had had a great life compared to most dogs in the world—he was treated like the family member he is. He has given us as much as we’ve given him, so we feel very blessed that we’ve had him in our lives. But our vet told us this shouldn’t be such a cut-and-dry decision. He was incredibly helpful at fully explaining what the options entailed and did a great job of calming our fears. Turns out that amputation is more common than we thought and that dogs typically don’t have as many emotional side effects as we feared. Nevertheless, we were pretty skeptical since this would be a hard pill for just about anyone (animal or human) to swallow.
Lori and I then did some more intense research and discovered that the vet might be right. We found a website dedicated to three-legged dogs and engrossed ourselves in all of the information it provides. Talk about inspiration! This page gave us access to special gear and equipment for these dogs, books to guide us through the process, nutritional information including supplements to boost his immunity, and links to a community of other tripawd dog owners.
After much thought and discussion, we made the tough decision to amputate. Luckily the surgery went well and he healed quickly. Since then, we have been amazed by Winslow’s progress and ability to adapt. Of course the best thing is that his life wasn’t cut short, but as he recovers and moves forward, we are also realizing that Winslow’s drive and determination are an example of some valuable lessons. He has reminded us that life is fragile and we all need to embrace each and every day with a positive attitude—and most of all never give up.
This story has a happy ending—especially since I’ve taken these lessons to heart and have been using them in my work at Markon. I’ve always been a tenacious guy, but now I am full of renewed hope and motivation for the challenges that come my way.