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Guest Jspahr

Re-Learning Stairs After An Amputation

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Guest Jspahr

Hi. This is the first time I've posted here, so here is a brief introduction to our Greyhound:

 

Dash is a 7 year old female greyhound. We adopted Dash in February of 2011; She was 4 years old at the time and had raced for about 2 years in West Virginia. We live on the second floor of a building in Brooklyn, NY.

 

Three weeks ago we got a diagnosis of Osteosercoma in her right rear leg after some xrays were taken. (She had been limping on and off since March, but that is another story). Two weeks ago we had the leg amputated. Chemotherapy began this week.

 

 

So, two weeks post surgery, besides not rooing for her meals, she is basically acting just like she was at the beginning of the year. Oh, and she is completely freaked out and frightened by the stairs she used to climb to and from our second floor apartment. I have been carrying her and down up the stairs for the last 5 or 6 weeks.


As soon as we scheduled the amputation, we ordered Dash a Ruffwear harness. This is been fantastic. It really helped us provide some balance support for her the first couple days after the surgery. Since then it helps get her in and out of the car and provides some sense of security (for her humans) on walks.

 

I was assuming the harness would allow us to aid Dash when she was using stairs. This hasn't gone well. When Dash initially learned how to go up stairs 3 years ago, her strategy was to tackle then as fast as possible in order to get them over with as soon as possible. This strategy worked very well for her until she lost a rear leg.

 

Any advice on how to get her comfortable with stairs again? I'm expecting she will be able to go up and down the stairs with support from a human and the harness. I'd be elated (but not surprised) if she was able to navigate the stairs by herself again.

 

In order for this to happen I assume she needs a different approach to the stairs than 'fast as possible'. I'm not sure how to go about having her unlearn that behavior.

 

Any advice? Help?

 

James (and Kelly)

 

(She has started to pick up a new behavior that is quite funny. She has always been a female that lifts her leg to pee and tends to spread her scent throughout the neighborhood. There is no problem when she tries to lift her fantom leg to pee, but when she lifts her other leg... She initially fell down, but today she has started to do a handstand on her front legs so she can still left her rear leg to pee.)

 

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My 12 year old greyhound was injured during a dental (no idea how), and had some hind end/back issues for the past few weeks. She also refused to do stairs, even with the harness (we have a Help Em up, same concept as the Ruffwear), even after feeling better from her injury. I started setting her down on the steps a few from the bottom/top and having her do just a few at a time, which built her confidence. We slowly built up the amount from there, and just today, she finally went down the entire flight without a fight. I still have her harness on her so I can grab her if we have a problem, but the slowly building up stairs worked really well. You have my sympathy, dragging my 70 lb girl up and down the stairs 4 times a day was really trying!


Effie (Nadine's Effie), Carmen (PHX Downtown), & Benny (the chihuahua)

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Actually, it's quite possible she will be able to do the stairs unassisted as a back leg amp. My Dude and many others have re-trained themselves to do stairs post amputation. However, it does take many weeks. Not only to re-learn the behavior, but to simply have the energy to do it - especially during the recovery and chemo phases of her treatment. She has to llearn a whole new set of coordination to do something that was really easy for her before.

 

I would do some sort of variation on what the lady above did. Still carry her (if you can) but set her down several steps from the top. Maybe even start with only one step at first. Use *SUPER* yummy treats as an incentive and reward - whatever she likes best of all. And know that this might change as she goes through her chemo - sometimes they just don't want to eat at all.

 

Once she has a few steps down, I bet she will figure it out on her own. She will still likely need to go fast just to keep her momentum up, so the harness and some coordination on your part will be necessary.

 

Hopefully, one of the others will stop by and post her videos of her girl going up and down stairs as a tripod. Good luck.


Chris - Mom to: Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Lilly, and Felicity ( DeLand )

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), and Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby),

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Actually, it's quite possible she will be able to do the stairs unassisted as a back leg amp. My Dude and many others have re-trained themselves to do stairs post amputation. However, it does take many weeks. Not only to re-learn the behavior, but to simply have the energy to do it - especially during the recovery and chemo phases of her treatment. She has to llearn a whole new set of coordination to do something that was really easy for her before.

 

I would do some sort of variation on what the lady above did. Still carry her (if you can) but set her down several steps from the top. Maybe even start with only one step at first. Use *SUPER* yummy treats as an incentive and reward - whatever she likes best of all. And know that this might change as she goes through her chemo - sometimes they just don't want to eat at all.

 

Once she has a few steps down, I bet she will figure it out on her own. She will still likely need to go fast just to keep her momentum up, so the harness and some coordination on your part will be necessary.

 

Hopefully, one of the others will stop by and post her videos of her girl going up and down stairs as a tripod. Good luck.

:nod

Agree with all of this! When Winnie had her amputation, we, probably foolishly, didn't think through just how she was going to go up and down our 21 outside steps. We too live on the second floor (of our 3 story house). Luckily, it was warm, and she was able to stay in the Florida room and porch of our tenant, where there are only 4 steps to go up. She did these pretty quickly. But those other steps were really intimidating. It was weeks and weeks. One day, my husband was calling the dogs for dinner. Winnie was always all about the food, and I guess that was sufficient incentive. :lol She dashed up the steps, while I stood in the yard and cried! She just wasn't "thinking". Now she didn't repeat that accomplishment again for a while, but eventually, she was going up and down pretty normally. She had a right rear leg amp, and she had to shuffle around a little at the bottom of the steps and start out on the same leg to get up the way she wanted to. She knew she had to do it, so she did.

 

So....I know it's frustrating, but I feel that Dash will be doing the steps too, in her own time frame. At 2 weeks, there is still so much to adjust to, as far as re-learning to navigate as a tripod. But they do, remarkably well.

 

It's great to hear that your sweet girl is doing so well otherwise. I hope that her recovery continues quickly!

 

And this is a good place to come with any questions, or for encouragement. Too many GT dogs have had to deal with osteo.


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Nancy, Mom to Evangelina, Kiva and Laila, and kitty Simon
Missing Lacey, Patsy, Buster, my heart dog Nick, Winnie, Pollyanna, Tess, my precious Lydia, Calvin Lee, and kitties Lily and Sam
My Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Catsburgandhoundtown

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It sounds like Dash's difficulty is that she never learned a nice even gait for taking stairs.

 

If Dash doesn't like being helped with the harness, is there a way you can work with her outside of the house on other stairs? Could you find sets of stairs in increasing sizes to work with? Like first 3 or 4 stairs, when she is good with that, move to 5-6 step flights, etc. I think the key is to teach her to take careful, controlled steps, rather than her all-out "dash" up/down the steps (haha, her name fits her in more ways than one!)

 

My girl Twiggy is a front-leg amp. I think that makes going up easier than down, and I think the opposite is likely true for hind-leg amps (up probably harder than down). As far as which is easier overall, most people whose hounds are hind-leg amps think front leg is harder, and those like me with a front-leg amp hound think hind-legs must be harder! I think that means that they tend to do really, really well regardless of which leg is missing!

 

Twiggy didn't need any re-training to do stairs, in fact, I had to block the stairs from her so that she wouldn't do them before she was supposed to (I failed - she still managed to nose the gates out of the way and follow me). I was more concerned about her going down stairs, because all of her weight was headed downward and she only had the one leg to catch herself - if she missed with that leg she would be head over heels all the way down which easily could be a fatal accident (b/c of course, even a broken leg would be fatal for an amputee). One day, I asked her to follow me up the 2nd flight of stairs, but she wanted to do something else, and she RAN down the first flight of stairs - I nearly had a heart attack, because I hadn't let her go downstairs by herself yet, but she was waiting for me all happy at the bottom - she wanted to go for a walk!

 

I've posted these videos of Twiggy going up/down stairs before, so they may be the ones Chris was referring to. These were about 3-4 weeks post-amp (sorry about the dark lighting and the slipcover piled up waiting for the washing machine!). I should take new ones in daylight so they show up better. (click the images to go to the videos - I can't figure out how to get them embedded properly)

 

Twiggy going up stairs:

th_P1010648.jpg

 

Twiggy going down stairs:

th_P1010647.jpg

 

Do come join us in the Osteo Thread if you'd like - there is a ton of great info and support there!

 

Your story of Dash trying to stand on her front legs to lift her remaining hind leg makes me smile - you definitely should try to get a video of that and post it for us!


Wendy with Twiggy, fosterless while Twiggy's fighting the good fight, and Donnie & Aiden the kitties

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Guest Jspahr

Thank you for all the advice!

 

I'm concerned about trying to put her down on the stairs mid way up or down. Our stairs are narrow and Dash's post-op weight was 68 pounds. She also tends to freak out if I try to put her down in an atypical place/fashion.

 

We do have a church nearby that has some nice wide outdoor steps and our neighbor offered to bring their hound for some moral support. (Treats don't seem to motivate her as much as praise does. If I could get a live squirrel to sit at the top of our stairs, that would totally motivate her...)

 

Video: https://vine.co/v/bVXPxXrYIUv

 

We are going try again on the stairs this afternoon...

 

Thanks again!

Edited by Jspahr

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It looks like she's doing really well on the steps in the video! Keep up the good work!


Wendy with Twiggy, fosterless while Twiggy's fighting the good fight, and Donnie & Aiden the kitties

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My 12 year old greyhound was injured during a dental (no idea how), and had some hind end/back issues for the past few weeks. She also refused to do stairs, even with the harness (we have a Help Em up, same concept as the Ruffwear), even after feeling better from her injury. I started setting her down on the steps a few from the bottom/top and having her do just a few at a time, which built her confidence. We slowly built up the amount from there, and just today, she finally went down the entire flight without a fight. I still have her harness on her so I can grab her if we have a problem, but the slowly building up stairs worked really well. You have my sympathy, dragging my 70 lb girl up and down the stairs 4 times a day was really trying!

I can tell you how she was injured during a dental- the same way they crippled and caused excruciating pain to my Minny probably-------they pick them up by the hindlegs and swing in order to move them while they are still under because it is easier than lifting and placing them properly. If it is a small female vet tech it saves her from asking for help to move the animal properly. I am aware of several greyhounds injured the same way. And BTW, they really don't care-it's not their dog. Just my experience but maybe it will save another hound if people realize they must demand that their babies be moved properly while under or non-ambulatory. I even go so far now as to point out to the vet--"now look there is nothing wrong with her hips or hindlegs-so don't lift and swing her by her hind legs while she's under". If God forbid they still injure the dog it will not be good for them because it will be very easy then to prove their negligence in court. If it injures the animal to move it a certain way merely out of convenience its not OK. How quick everybody forgets "FIRST DO NO HARM." They know. Yeah I'm angry about it. It broke my heart seeing him suffer like that and endure such pain and confusion as the result of some dumb lazy persons neglignce. :angryfire

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