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... the three-legged wonder dog

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We’re dog people.

Ella, our golden retriever, travels with us, is our mascot and is frequently featured in our photo shoots.

Her cousin, by family quirk, is a Flat-Coated Retriever, Zeus.

Here’s the quick snapshot of how Zeus ended up with us. He is a purebred Flat-Coat, born in Portugal, (which means English is his second language—which also explains a lot), raised in Gibraltar (yes, that big rock that is also a country marking the entrance to the Mediterranean), has an international passport and is a damn good dog that my son has multi-country raised.

Do you remember the Winnie-the-Pooh character, Tigger? …the bouncy, always happy, full of energy, tiger. That’s our Zeus. Sometimes, with just a little too much gusto.

Now at 7 years old, he remains a puppy at heart.


We got the horrible news that an aggressive form of cancer had set in his front right elbow joint. The first sign however wasn’t the cancer, it was a freak accident where Zeus rolled his ankle on gravel at a dog park. He started limping and we had him checked out.

One Vet said arthritis, however a specialist diagnosed Histiocytic Sarcoma. These are very aggressive tumors that can become very invasive (destroy normal surrounding tissues) as well as have a high rate of metastasis (spreading to other areas of the body).

A lot of tough decisions…

Why is it that pets become so dang close and become integral to our lives? I guess it’s that unconditional love, plus they rarely bring problems…just always happy to see you. 

The Vets did an ultrasound to assess whether it had spread…fingers crossed. For the moment it was isolated in his leg.

My son made the decision to amputate the leg and give him a shot at a longer life. The Vet did a great job, and put Zeus on a form of chemotherapy…but here comes the tough part.

You really can’t explain to a dog that he’s going to wake up from surgery without a leg.

It took a few days, but Zeus was trying to walk with 3 legs. A little pitiful, he kept falling…but always managed to get back up and keep trying.

And was always happy to have the support of my son and greet anyone with a big wet dog kiss. After about 2 weeks he became more comfortable and got a little “pep” in his step.

But he sure was a “sad sack” that first month. Wouldn’t play with toys, lots of challenges and just clearly frustrated, but got lots of good care and TLC.

I thought, maybe a good life lesson for us humans:

Make the best of it, keep the attitude positive…even when you keep falling down, there is a “Tigger” in each of us.

- Get back up, get stronger and don’t quit.

- Greet everyone with warmth. (although not necessarily that wet dog kiss thing).

We’re not sure how much longer the wonder dog will be with us.

But that big pooch is back to bouncing, like Tigger, but on one front leg with as much enthusiasm as ever…maybe not the same intensity or energy…but the raw “joy of life” is ever present.

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