i walked the dogs at the humane society today. toward the end of my shift, i walked a small three-legged mutt named munchie, who was cute as could be. he was very energetic, friendly, and was not at all hindered by the loss of his leg. this is not the first time i’ve walked a three-legger; i’ve come across them several times at the shelter and i love them. i have often said that the three-legged ones are some of the fastest runners, and some of the most enthusiastic and happy dogs i’ve walked.
at one point during the walk, we encountered a mom and her two young children (a girl: about 6, and a boy: about 5 years old). the little girl was immediately interested in munchie, and said, "awwwww! did he have his leg amputated?" i was really impressed at how articulate and compassionate she was for such a little girl… most kiddos would probably be more of the "yikes!" variety. 😉 neither of the kids seemed put off by munchie’s missing leg, and munchie walked right up to them for some petting; even jumped up on them with his sole front leg. i told the little girl, "yep!" and she said, "and he can still walk?" with a hint of "wow…" in her voice. i said, "oh yes, he gets around just fine!"
the kids petted munchie for a little bit, when suddenly the little girl said, "we didn’t want to see our great dane without a leg." i got a little confused and looked up at the mom, who seemed a bit shaken at that disclosure from her daughter. the mom said to me, "oh yeah, they wanted us to amputate our great dane’s leg, and i thought, yeah right, that’s a bit too big of a dog to do that to!" she said this as if it were the most natural conclusion in the world: that you couldn’t amputate a dog’s leg and have it be okay, especially not if it was a big dog.
i kind of opened my mouth before i finished thinking it all the way through, and said, "oh, they get around just fine! animals are so resilient, you’d be amazed," and the mom said, "yeah, well, we didn’t really want to go through all of that…" and then it was fully dawning on me that i was standing here with living proof that this family probably didn’t need to ("shouldn’t have") put their dog to sleep. i decided i needed to wrap it up and continue on my way with munchie.
it makes me sad that perhaps some vet out there didn’t bother to educate this family about three-legged doggies. it makes me even sadder to think that maybe it was more like the mom didn’t want a three-legged dog, or didn’t want to pay for the surgery. i know that kind of thing happens all the time, but i don’t often get confronted with it like i did today. poor dog.