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Three-Legged Dog Days of Summer

July 18, 2016 by lpiotrowski

Yikes….dont judge me….I cant believe it has been so long since I have been able to post! I have the typical excuses of most working people so I wont bore you with those.

The good news is the past month has brought lots of good stuff to the Hank/Piotrowski/Oklesh household. I am a list person (couldn’t you tell?) and my life revolves around lists, how long they are, the elation I feel when I scribble something off one of them, etc.,  so I figured what would be a better way to quickly get everyone up to speed. So here goes….

1.Hank’s 4-week post-chemo met check was CLEAR! He is currently cancer free- the best news of all! I of course took his chest x-rays at my own clinic (well, to be honest, my nurses physically took them while I hovered and stressed about what I was going to see) and then pined over the films for hours on my computer screen trying to convince myself that there was one tiny little dot that was a met and it was all going to be over. So I drank a bottle of wine (by myself) and submitted them to a radiologist for review. Thankfully when the report came back a day later I was a little more stable and accepted that maybe it wouldn’t be worst case scenario as I had imagined. And it wasnt. Yay Hank 🙂 The only sad part about this is that my excuse for every time he did something stupid/ I decided to feed him 4 pieces of bacon/a handful of expensive sausage/half of my lunch because he looked cute or I decided to let him sit on me/the couch/lick my face/drag me on the leash/get dirty in the creek, etc. was to say “Its ok…he has cancer.”  Guess I cant use that excuse anymore….. 🙂


Hank's favorite morning activity- sunbathing on the patio

Hank’s favorite morning activity- sunbathing on the patio


2. Adam and I bought a house….which has produced several pros and cons in terms of our fur family. First and foremost, no more landlords (and therefore no more written restrictions on how many animals I can have), which means I don’t have anyone to tell me “NO” (Adam knows better) the next time a one-eyed, hairless, stinky cat or dog shows up at the clinic and needs a home. But, it has just as may levels as our current house and we all know how much fun I had with that after Hank had his amp. And there are hardwood floors in the main living area. Not great for Hank. Balls. But….I figure its nothing a bunch of area rugs and those goofy little toe nail covers cant fix.

3. Hank has been swimming (and even “real” swimming) at the dog beach at least once a week since May and has yet to drown himself! This is HUGE news! Of course, not without the help of the life vest I now make him wear after we had a few very scary moments when I almost had to go running into the gross dog pond water after he went completely under water a few times. Whats funny is at the time, I don’t think I actually ever thought about what I would do if he were drowning and I went in after him. Do I really think my 100 pound self would be able to swim his 70 pound self back to shore without drowning us both? Ummmm…no. So here is the new and improved Hank swimming away, better with three legs than he ever was swimming with four….who would have ever thought….


4. Adam asked me to marry him and I said yes 🙂  Now he is really stuck with the animal hoard. Poor guy.  Whats funny is now that I am thinking about weddings and things, I always thought it was really kinda cheesy when people dressed up their dogs in tuxes and dresses and made them part of their wedding party. And with Hank now only having three legs, wouldn’t it be weird to have him hopping around in a tux, crotch and ass-punching everyone he can while they are in their best-looking attire? Yes, yes it would. Am I kinda excited to do this now? You betcha.

5. We took the dogs on a much needed camping trip in June deep into the Colorado mountains to climb our first 14’er of the year (Castle Peak,  14,278 ft). It was going to be Hank’s first camping trip (although I was always too much of a wuss to bring him on the actual climb with me- too worried something would happen and I would be stuck carrying him 4000 feet down a mountain) since his amp and I was worried about how this was going to go. Would he be ok standing on three legs for the 4-hour car ride because he is too damn stubborn to lay down? Would he be able to get around at camp and would he be just as excited as he used to be to chase things, eat bugs and cuddle by the fire? Would he be able to keep up with Scout (Adam’s Aussie and our other pup) for a game of fetch? As usual, it was all my own fear and to him, it was as it always had been. He spent the weekend as he usually did on all of our previous trips- sunbathing in the biggest dirt pile he could find, chasing any little squirrel/chipmunk/weasel that crossed our site, barking/growling at anyone that dare walk or drive by, being ready to “go to bed” in the camper the second the temperature went below 60 degrees- it was perfect. But because I am an ass and was clearly preoccupied, I only took one picture of him at camp and it was only because he just happened to be laying by the camper when I was trying to take a picture of our campsite. Oops.


The one camping photo I took- Adam and the pups

The one camping photo I took- Adam and the pups


It really has been a great summer thus far and I cant wait to see what the next few months will bring. As usual, I always feel compelled to write about something new I have learned in this process of being a vet with a three-legged dog who is being treated for a cancer that I diagnose and deal with daily in my patients, and I think it is as simple as this…..

Sadly, for a veterinarian, there is one thing I encounter frequently at work that I really, really don’t like. I was never a fan of really slobbery dogs with big tongues that hung down to their feet and dripped spit on my scrubs while I was trying to examine them (think “Beethoven”- that St.Bernard from that movie in 1992 that drooled half of his body weight in fluid every day) and god forbid they would actually lick me. Ugh. I thought I could never own a dog like that. But…..there is something I have noticed recently about Hank when we go for our daily walks by Boulder Creek now that it is warmer out. Just like any other dog, the longer we walk and the warmer he gets, the more he pants and therefore the further it seems his tongue hangs out of his mouth. Well, add the hopping gait of a tripawd to this equation and by the last 10-15 minutes of our walks, as he hops around, it creates such an exaggerated up and down force that his long tongue stars flapping in the wind so much that it slaps him in the face with every stride.  This in turn makes him drool……. and it is the most glorious sight I have ever seen. There is something about the look on his face when he comes hopping toward me, in a full sprint, with a slobbery tongue whacking him along the entire length of his face with every hop that just makes me smile. Slobber and drool and gross long tongue and all. And he, nor I, could care less.



  1. otisandtess says:

    Congratulations on your engagement! And it sounds like Hank is doing great! Tux idea works for me, slobber and all.

  2. dobemom says:

    As always, love reading your stories. And it’s nice to know that even a vet can be neurotic and paranoid as the rest of us in this journey. It sounds like Hank has nothing but blue skies ahead, and you and Adam too. Congrats!

    Paula and Nitro

  3. deborah says:

    What a great story! God I miss my boy Zeus but its nice to know there are good stories out there…
    Deb Belle and Angel Zeus

  4. Alicia says:

    Honey – I really think you need to reconsider the whole tux-on-a-dog thing at your upcoming nuptials. I know you are an unabashed animal lover but I find it a bit creepy and funny at the same time. Save the costumes for Halloween. You are an amazing daughter, incredible vet, and terrific writer. Congratulations on your engagement. Adam is one lucky guy! I love you. The Mom who is never shy about expressing her opinion:)

  5. jerry says:

    OMGOMGOMG!!! BIG huge congrats to you and Adam, we are thrilled for the whole pack!

    That is GREAT that Hank is rockin life and you’re all having such an amazing summer. Camping? Swimming? Hiking? Holy moly you make me dizzy with all that fun! If you ever have the time or get the urge to visit Lake City this summer, there are FIVE fourtneeners around the area, and we’ll be here until Labor Day so don’t be shy OK?

    Kudos to all of you for following the #1 rule of the Tripawd journey: to Be More Dog.


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