Q. I have been longing for a dog for a long time, so we went to our local rescue centre and found a gorgeous puppy! We couldn't wait to get her home, but then the centre rang and said there was something wrong with one of her legs and that it would have to be amputated. I don't know if I can cope with a three-legged dog…
Mary, via e-mail
A. You hit the nail on the head when you said "you" couldn't cope with a three-legged dog. As humans, we tend to over-dramatise things, panic and worry too much! The beauty of dogs is that they don't do that. That's what makes them so wonderful. You will have to make a few adjustments, but only to make her comfortable. My grandmother had a three-legged dog and she was as normal as any of the other dogs in the house. "Tripods", as they are called, can live a very long and happy life.
If you still want to commit, I would ask the centre if you could let her recover in her new home, when she is discharged from hospital. It would be more comfortable for her to be in a home environment. When she first comes home, she'll have to take it easy and, of course, you will have to watch closely for any signs of redness, swelling or infections. Wooden floors can be a hazard. Non-slip rugs and mats will solve this problem, if that's the case. Something that will also help your pup would be to invest in a raised water and feeding bowl. You can get these, along with a raised bed, from online pet stores.
She may need help getting to her feet, but once she gets going you won't stop her running around! As for exercise, start off slowly and on the lead until she builds the muscles on her other legs. Make sure the walks are gentle, as there could be a possibility of stressing the joints which can lead to arthritis. Watch for other dogs knocking her over. You can find out lots more from handicappedpets.com.
Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort an early visit to the vet is always recommended