Cancer in 3 y/o rescue - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-14-2011, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Cancer in 3 y/o rescue

We adopted our female GSD, Sasha, about 2 years ago from a family that could no longer care for her. She has made huge strides in the 2 years that we've had her but about 6 months ago we noticed that she had a problem with her rear leg that just wasn't healing on her own. Long story short, I took her the vet and discovered that she had fibrosarcoma in the tissues surrounding her knee. We had the tumor removed, the limp disappeared for a while but the tumor came back within months. It is now eating away the bone in her right rear leg and we're working with Colorado State University oncology department for pain management etc. Prognosis is a "wait and see" one at this point.

I guess my question for you guys is how would I go about finding her breeder and informing them about whats going on. I would imagine that they would want to know that one of their dogs has cancer at 3 years old. She's tattooed inside her ear and am hoping I could track them down this way but I don't really know where to start.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-14-2011, 12:47 PM
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Where did she come from?
We have a rescue and it's my experience that no good breeder (who would care if their dogs had cancer) would allow their dogs to wind up in rescue, so even when we have breeder's info (for instance, off AKC papers) we rarely notify them. We have in the past and the papers often led to a puppy mill.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-14-2011, 01:01 PM
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It sounds like you adopted your dog directly from another family - not a rescue? Did that family purchase her from a breeder? If so, it may have been in their contract to return the dog to the breeder, rather than rehome her. If a return clause was not in the contract, the breeder probably doesn't care about the cancer. Can you contact the family to see if they have any breeder information? Otherwise, I think it would be best to concentrate on getting Sasha well.

Is amputating the leg an option? I wish you all the best with her and pray that she recovers.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-14-2011, 01:25 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, we did adopt her directly from another family and I have tried to email her previous family but they have not returned communication. We didn't get any papers with her mainly because the adoption was quick and painful. Her previous owner told us she had them but we never followed up on it. (kicking ourselves over that now...) We were told that she came from a quality breeder with working parents and honestly, given her good looks and solid drive I wouldn't be surprised. But if the common opinion is to just focus on Sasha, I can accept that. I just wanted to make sure we were being responsible with our situation.

And yes, amputation is an option but it's a hard one to swallow, especially for my boyfriend. I'm a little more matter-of-fact about our options but he just can't seem to stomach the idea of taking her leg off. I'm working on easing him into though. I think it's by far our best option.

Cancer in 3 y/o rescue-sasha.jpg
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-14-2011, 01:33 PM
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I am very sorry to hear that your dog has cancer. No advice about the breeder question but I wanted to put in a plug for amputation. There are several tripod dogs on this forum, one of whom is an older dog (and his leg was amputated because of a cancer diagnosis) and they do really, really well.

That is an aggressive and painful form of cancer. If amputating the leg gives your dog the best chance at beating the cancer then I would absolutely do it, especially before it spreads elsewhere.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-14-2011, 01:39 PM
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So sorry to hear about Sasha. I had to have one of my gsd's leg amputated a number of years ago. At first suggestion I too was shocked and was hesitate about doing it but after reassurance from the vet (told me dogs only need 3 legs and the 4th is a spare) I went through with it and was so happy I did.

My boy had his front leg removed which I've heard is harder on them than the back but he did beautifully! He naturally moved the front leg he had left to the middle to form a tripod and was as fast as he was on 4 legs, still loved to catch his frisbee and ball. He was the same dog in every aspect, he just had 3 legs.

If it's a viable option for Sasha I would encourage you to move forward with it. Her quality of life will not suffer from it. It's a much better alternative than losing her.

I wish you well.

Garth would be the one on the right missing a leg.

Last edited by GSDAlphaMom; 10-14-2011 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Added photo
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-14-2011, 08:53 PM
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Sorry Sashadog, I wanted to check back to see if you had gotten any additional advice and had trouble finding the thread. I'm glad I asked about the amputation and agree that if it is an option, I would go for it. Many, many dogs do extremely well on three legs. Heck, some are even born with just three legs. And - if this is the way for Sasha to beat the cancer, all the better.

I really do not know anything about tracking down the breeder, but I'm sure it could be done using the tattoo in her ear. I wouldn't think a BYB would bother with a tattoo. I'm not sure the best place to post for that information, but hopefully this will bump you up and someone who knows will see it.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your input and I especially appreciate the encouragement to move towards amputation as a real option. Hopefully my boyfriend will read through this thread and realize that it's worth saving her life even though it feels like an extreme step. GSDAlphamom, thank you so much for sharing that picture!! I think that may be the push he needs It's always helpful to hear a success story!

And as far as the breeder goes, I think we're going to try and find out what kennels she came from. If we can't, oh well, at least we tried. If we do find her breeder however, is it possible that they would reclaim her if her previous owners broke their contract by not returning her to them when they could no longer care for her? We're a wonderful home so I can't imagine they would take her from us anyways but that was a thought that crossed my mind.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 10:49 AM
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You're very welcome. Please keep us posted on her progress/outcome. Your BF is having a natural human emotion to amuptating. Sasha will not have the same emotional worry, she won't care what the other dogs think. She will walk out (on 3 legs) the day you take her home! She's a very pretty girl btw!
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 12:11 PM
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During my years working in the foster program of a large, regional animal shelter I saw a lot of dogs come in as strays after being hit by a car, then needing foster placement after having a leg amputated because of the injury.

They all did fantastically well. As others have mentioned, they don't spend time mourning the four legs they use to have, or what others might think of them, or what they can't do anymore. They just don't look at the world or their lives in those terms. If anything, having a constant source of pain gone appears to make them very frisky and happy. They heal so quickly, it is really amazing.

They adjust physically very, very well. The one leg left on whichever end seems to naturally accommodate, and adjusts balance needs by taking what looks like a more centered position underneath the body. This tripod stance is very steady and balanced and they can do everything a four-legged dog can do (run up and down stairs, jump on and off furniture, etc.), not to mention giving them the name that most vets use to describe them after the amputation (they really are called "tripods").

I hope your BF comes around and realizes that the amputation will not be a big deal at all for your dog. I wish you all good luck!
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