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My Newfy Rufus

Rufus’s Journey

Posted by jillyd on March 3, 2017

Well, Rufus had his surgery yesterday so I thought I’d start a blog to document how things go.

About 6 weeks ago, we noticed him limping.  Initially we thought it was his left front leg because we found a small nodule between his pads.  That turned out to be nothing and it took a few more days for us to realize it was actually his right leg that was causing him pain.  I checked his leg and sure enough, his knee was terribly swollen.  With him being as hairy as he is, we hadn’t noticed before.  Off to the vets we went and he had an x-ray.  The potential cause was a huge shock to us.  The vet had a radiologist look at Rufus’s x-rays and he said he was 90 to 95% sure it was osteosarcoma although our vet was skeptical because there were no signs of lysis (deterioration of the bone from the inside).  He recommended a biopsy which we had done and those results came back negative for any cancer cells.  We decided to wait it out and hope for the best and we’d be back in a month for a second x-ray.

Two weeks later and he started limping on his back leg!  Of course that freaked us out so back to the vets we went for another x-ray, this time on his back leg.  That ended up being a sprain or pulled muscle (lots of snow here in northern Idaho and he probably post-holed when it was icy) but we had them x-ray his right front leg again while he was up on the table.  Those vet technicians somehow managed to hoist 190 lbs onto that table so we thought we should take advantage!  The mass on his bone had grown a bit but still no signs of lysis.

We kept our original appointment so 2 weeks later, back we went again for his 3rd x-ray.  He’d been going back and forth between hardly limping at all and then limping really badly and that last week was the worst we’d seen him.  This appointment was on Tuesday, 3 days ago.  The results showed the same thing, the mass was still growing but still no signs of lysis.  The vet asked if we would consider amputation and he reassured us, after I asked if it was practical for a dog his size, that giant breeds can do fine with 3 legs.  There could be the chance that results from the bony mass might show something other than cancer, but either way it was obviously causing Rufus a lot of pain and it wasn’t something that was going to reverse itself.  We basically had two options; amputation or try to manage his pain for as long as we could.  We’d been keeping Rufus in the house hoping him resting his leg would help, but the vet told us we should let him get out and walk (or run) so we took him for a short walk after his appointment.

We went home and tried not to think about it but the next day, presumably due to the short walk he got, Rufus was in even more pain.  He was whining and could hardly put any weight on his leg so we decided the best thing we could do for him was to take the pain away via amputation.  We booked him in for a Tuesday surgery but the vet called back to say he could get him in the next day (Thursday; yesterday).  That really brought home the reality of the situation for both me and my husband.  Rufus got a lot of attention that night.

Yesterday we took him in and asked that they x-ray his left front leg, just to make sure it seemed healthy enough to do the job of two legs.  That x-ray came back fine, as did his chest x-ray, so the surgery went ahead.  It’s a horrible time for pet parents waiting to hear that all went well.  As with any surgery there’s a chance of things going wrong, so it was a huge relief when the vet called and told us it took a little longer than usual (“that’s the biggest leg I’ve ever removed!”) but it went well.  We gave Rufus a few hours to wake up then went to visit him.  The size of the incision was a shock and the colour of his skin was a shock (it took me a while to realize it was his actual skin and not a white bandage!) but Rufus was awake and sitting up now and then.  He kept trying to stand up which we did not like one bit, but the vet technicians didn’t seem to be phased by it.  They said he was on his second bag of IV fluids so he probably needed to pee.

The plan is for him to stay there another night and we will pick him up tomorrow.  Today, after visiting him of course, I’ll be thrift store shopping for rubber-backed rugs.  We are also looking at other vehicles that are more practical for loading up the dogs; right now I have a Dodge RAM truck and Rufus does not like to use the ramp our other dog uses.  Any suggestions on that would be appreciated, taking into account the fact that we have 2 giant breeds.

That’s it for today.  I’ll update as and when things progress.  Think good thoughts for Rufus, his brother Chewy, and his parents Jill and Adam.  Here he is with Chewy.

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Giant Breed Amputation

Posted by jillyd on March 1, 2017

My 190 lb Newfoundland had suspected osteosarcoma in his front right leg and the vet is recommending amputation.  Are there others out there with giant breeds who have had a front leg removed? We are worried about him getting around due to his size, our house having lots of stairs, and getting him in and out of a truck.

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