Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: Slip'n'slide-itis

Alrighty, I promise to continue with my adventures in a ridiculous life tomorrow, as scheduled.  In the meantime, let me introduce you to my new Thursday topic:  Hops in the Right Direction. 

Having a tripod is nothing but a pleasure, but all dogs come with issues, and tripods face some unique ones.  There isn't a lot of information out there for owners with three-legged dogs (though this is a great resource).

Today, I wanted to talk about something all tripods face:  slip'n'slide-itis.  Most dogs don't lose a limb when they are puppies, but rather when they are physically mature.*  Therefore, the sense of balance they have had their entire life is disrupted.  As an tri-owner, there are some steps we can take to help rebuild their confidence.

Slippery floors:  Imagine you've just had your leg cut off at the knee, and you leave the hospital to discover that ice has covered everything and the only way to get to your car is to ice skate.  That's what slippery floors are like for tripods.  Not cool. 

If you have carpet in your house, no worries.  If not, I strongly recommend investing in some area rugs, runners, the works--make sure they don't slip across the floor easily.  I also picked up a small rug with rubber backing and added an elastic loop, so I can roll it up and take it with me when I might be going to a floor-unfriendly place with Prada, like the vet's.  (Kitchen or bathroom rugs work well for this and don't weigh a ton.)

You can try to help your dog get over this fear of slippery floors by edging treats ever farther away from the edge of the rug--go very, very slowly.  Don't feel too bad if you have no, or limited, success with this.  Some tripods just don't ever like ice skating.

Bathtime can be miserable for both of you if you're not prepared.  Line the tub with a strip of textured shelf liner, and keep the water very shallow, and you're good to go.

The single most important thing you can give your dog is patience.  Having a limb amputated is not nearly the disability for dogs that it would be to humans, and they will adapt.  Take it slow, don't be afraid to see the humor, and that adaptation will be good for both of you.

*Bone cancer is the most common reason for amputation, which mostly affects adult dogs.

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