Cleo the Three Legged Bull Terrier is a one in a million dog – both in her nature and her history.
She’s a big, happy and boisterous bull terrier who has forgotten her rather significant age and is still pretending to be a puppy. She doesn’t seem to worry that she’s missing a leg – and that’s quite a story.
Cleo bounded into the clinic as normal one morning back in February with a slightly worrying lump on her carpus (or wrist) on her front leg. Using a needle, the vet who saw her that morning took a quick sample from the lump and sent it off to the laboratory for examination by pathologists. The results from this test came back as inconclusive, however following a biopsy under anaesthetic; we discovered that this lump was unfortunately quite a virulent cancer.
We then had to weigh up our options. Unfortunately the lumps location, and the size that it was, made it impossible to remove with any decent surgical margins around the cancer tissue – which is extremely important for long term survival. The two viable options for John and Heather – Cleo’s owners, were amputation of the leg with a good chance of a decent survival time of months to years, or palliative treatment which would most likely mean survival of only weeks or months.
This left them in a very difficult position. To decide to amputate a leg from your dog is always a difficult decision to make. When your pet is a 10 year old 30kg Bull Terrier it’s an entirely different story once again! Understandably, John and Heather had concerns whether Cleo’s remaining three legs would hold up under her weight. They had to weigh this up with watching their dog dying slowly from an otherwise un-treatable cancer – they decided to amputate.
The day of the surgery and the period immediately after that was a worrying time for Cleo’s family, and also for all of us in the clinic. Her recovery from her anaesthetic was watched with anxiety and intrigue until finally she came around and took her first tentative steps without her front left leg. We were delighted, and even more delighted when she quite quickly re-cooperated and regained her previous bubbly nature. She plays with her friends Polly and Abe as never before and almost looks like she gets around easier without the extra weight of her fourth leg.
It has been quite a journey for Cleo, the Three Legged Bull Terrier, John and Heather – one that has been fraught with worry and tough decisions. Ultimately however, it seems like it’s a successful one.