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Sorry my story is so long and depressing, so I'll understand if you don't read it all. I'm really not looking for a flood of sympathy but maybe others would like to post on this thread about the recent loss of a pet. You may want to scroll down to the end where you might find help if you've ever lost a pet and felt alone in your grief. That's really the point my post.

Some of you may have noticed that along with the accessories in my sig, I previously had "2 Bernese Mountain Dogs". Sadly, we lost both Holly and Skyla in just a few months. You can see pics of them (in my Pilot) by clicking on my gallery button below.


Holly

In January, we discovered a cutaneous growth on Holly's right site. Our vet performed surgery and removed the growth cleanly, however we found out later that proper precautions were not taken. The surgery was done only 3 days after she had all her annual vaccinations (which temporarily reduces immunities) and when cancer is suspected, the dog should be pre-medicated for a few days with antihistamine (Benadryl) and an acid-blocker (e.g., Tagament). When we got her home after the surgery she was not doing well but we attributed it to the effects of the anesthesia. However, my wife woke me in the middle of the night because she was bleeding from the site. We took her to the Veterinary Medical Center which is only 10 minutes away and open 24 hours.

In brief, she spent the night, the bleeding was stopped, and we picked her up in the morning and brought her directly to our vet. By the time we got to our vet, she could not walk and was releasing black stool (diarrhea). Our vet ran a battery of tests but did not have a clue. We brought her right back to the VMC, where there are specialists. What the oncologist suspected, and the biopsy later determined, was that she had had a very aggressive mast cell tumor. These tumors tend to "degranulate", even after removal, releasing large amounts of histamine and other toxins that literally poison the body's major organs and systems, eventually, shutting them down.

After more than 24 hours of round the clock intensive care (and an astonishing amount of money), we had to go there in the middle of a blizzard and say goodbye to Holly. She was five years old.

We were completely unprepared for what would ensue from, what we thought, was a simple surgical procedure. We were caught up in a vortex of ignorance, indecision, guesswork, shock and grief. I was determined that that would not happen again.


Skyla

Our other Bernese, Skyla, was 9 years old and had multiple lipomas (fatty lumps) which are common in large heavy dogs. Additionally, a Berner's average life span is about 7-9 years, so Sky had already had a full life and was beginning to show her age. But, she was apparently healthy and very happy.

We decided to bring Sky to the VMC where the veterinary specialists are quite knowledgeable and their diagnostic tools unsurpassed. Our goal was to have peace of mind and, if we could not, at least be prepared for whatever would be. We had all her lipomas needle-aspirated. They were all immediately determined to be just fat except for one on her front-left leg. It was sent for cytology and determined to be mast cell, but the grade or stage could not be determined without a biopsy, which meant attempting complete excision of the lump.

We agonized over the decision for several days. If I only had a limited time with Sky, I wanted her to be as happy and comfortable as possible for as long as possible at home. And when the time came, I wanted to be somewhat prepared emotionally to say goodbye. I wanted no part of accelerating the inevitable, or putting her through any discomfort because of my own selfishness. But there were signs of encouragement too. As far as we knew, the tumor was contained, she was exhibiting no systemic symptoms, and appeared otherwise healthy. The decision was a guess and we decided to give her a chance at a few more years, even though it was less than even odds.

We brought her in for the surgery yesterday but in the pre surgical exam, the surgeon saw something on her spleen. He had told us of the pre-exam and that if he found anything unusual, he would not do the surgery. He could not tell what the nodule was but he felt it was unrelated to the mast cell tumor on her leg. At this point, I was just thinking all bets are off and I just wanted to bring her home. I almost felt relieved that the decision was basically made for me and I would be getting her back in a few hours. But he recommended that we do a needle-aspirate of the nodule on her spleen. That would only require mild sedation, not general anesthesia. It made sense and we wanted to know all we could, so we had it done.

When we went to pick her up about 8:00 last night, she had not come out of the anesthesia completely. The "mild sedation" was a morphine compound along with a local for where they insert the needle. I was incredulous that she had not recovered further after almost 4 hours, but the vet on staff told us it was not unusual. They asked us to come back in about two hours and she should be up and around. We spent a few minutes with her, she was awake but still out of it so we went home.

Just as we were getting ready to return to pick her up, the phone rang. It was about 11:00 PM and, in my house, if the phone rings that late, usually somebody's either in the emergency room, or worse. It was the attending night shift vet and he quickly told me Skyla was in cardiac arrest and he had to get back to tend to her.

We got there within five minutes but she was already gone.

So, our very best attempts to avoid exactly this type of scenario had been overcome by events. I know there's no way to make the loss of a pet easy, but just once I'd like to be able to contribute more to their comfort than to their end.


Start reading here if you avoided the long-wind.

My wife is devastated almost to the point of depression. We have no children, so our dogs are like our children. (Of course, the grief of losing a child is beyond comprehension.) But since we lost Holly, my wife has found tremendous support and comfort here:

http://www.petloss.com/

If you feel alone, that you need to suppress your grief socially, that no one understands, the people who frequent petloss are just like you and they understand. I personally don't frequent the site but it has helped my wife tremendously. She finds that helping others deal with their recent loss is as therapeutic as anything.

Many people ... perhaps most ... think we're crazy for grieving, to any great degree, the loss of a pet. But I wouldn't trade it for a moment of sanity. I'll look forward to the day when I can introduce a new name (or two) to my sig. Until then, a short period of heartache is the price for years of profound joy and gratification.
 

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Been there, done that, it ain't no walk in the park. 5 years later I'm still not over it.

Your wife needs to find the method in which she grieves best (like that website). At some point a lot of people find that getting another pet helps, as it helps fill the void.

Were both dogs treated at the same emergency vet?

I'm sorry this has happened to you :(
 

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Woody

I'm truly sorry for your loss.

About 2 months ago I had to put down my 14 1/2 yo Yorkie. He was arthritic in his hind legs and was showing signs of starting down the path of renal failure. He never had a big appetite and at his heaviest he only weighed 5.5 lbs. So when he stopped eating I knew the end was coming as he really didn't have any extra weight to lose.

It was a tough decision but I know it was the right one. That still didn't make it any easier. He was loyal companion and told me in his own way that it was time. I was able to be him when the vet gave him the needle.

I'm thankful it was quick. I'm even more thankful that my time with him wasn't.
 

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It's not an easy thing to loose a pet you have had for many years. We had to put our Sheltie/German Shepherd mix to sleep last spring. It wasn't easy, she could still get around, loved to play still. She was 9, and had arthritis and loss of bladder control. My wife had to go back out to the car, I went in the room with her, they gave her the injection, and I sat on the floor with her head in my lap as she went to sleep. That was probably the hardest thing I've had to do. So I can understand what your feeling. Our other dog was depressed for the longest time. Even with kids, our dogs are a part of the family. Perhaps a pup would help take your minds off your loss, no dog can ever replace another though, each dog has it's own unique personality. May sound kinda hoakie, but, time heals all wounds....
 

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Discussion Starter #5
shellebelle said:
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Were both dogs treated at the same emergency vet?
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Yes. Even though they couldn't save Holly, we were so impressed with them, we went back with Skyla to have a chance to "do it right this time". Our current shock and anger makes us place blame, but in all fairness, there are some things beyond anyone's control.

Being perennial dog lovers, we're actually lucky to live so close to someplace like that. AFAIK, there are only one or two other places like it in the NY metro area.
 

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I started keeping parakeets and finches as a diversion after a relationship went sour the year I turned 29.

Parakeets and finches usually live about 5 years, but I had one cantankerous green parakeet that I called Bird who lived 11 years. Despite my efforts to keep him going, he succumbed to a respiratory illness the same weekend I turned 40.:( I have had other parakeets since, but none were like Bird, and I eventually found other hobbies, like doing searches on h-p.org.:p
 

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krygny said:

Yes. Even though they couldn't save Holly, we were so impressed with them, we went back with Skyla to have a chance to "do it right this time". Our current shock and anger makes us place blame, but in all fairness, there are some things beyond anyone's control.

Being perennial dog lovers, we're actually lucky to live so close to someplace like that. AFAIK, there are only one or two other places like it in the NY metro area.
Very true.

Last Christmas my dog came down with bloat which is fatal if not treated immediately. My other dog died from it. Having a good emergency clinic a short hop down the freeway likely saved her life (she's fine now).
 

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Krygny, so sorry to hear of your loss.
My wife grew up with cats, and I grew up with dogs.
Before the kids came along we had a Golden Retriever and a Dobberman (that thought she was a retriever). The Dobberman I had to put down after 5 years from a spinal problem, she couldn't walk without so many drugs and you can see she was in pain. When the retriever was 12 years old, and the kids were 2 and 6 at the time, and we were so sad, when I took her to the vet, and the vet said that she is very ill and her systems are shutting down. I stayed with her during the dreaded injection, and it pains me to this day to talk about it.

We went for 2 years with no ticking of paws on the floors. I kept going to the dog pound to get a kid friendly dog, and that is how my wife bought the 1 lab for my birthday. The 2nd lab (in my avatar) is a different story.

I know the big emptiness that you must feel now, and wish you both well.

Sunday Rider
 

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I lost my "Mud" dog last year. Totally unexpected. Heat stroke. Died in my arms. We had the body cremated but the family has never decided what to do. I want to take the ashes somewhere in the mountains in field where he would have loved to run and chase squirrels. I hope he is more free now; he had to be kept in a 12 x 20 foot cage when I lived in a parsonage. Will never live in parsonage again if I go back to ministry.

I miss him. Have two beagles now but I still tell them about Mud and how he would have done things like grab my cap and run to have me chase him. He was a great dog.

Better go now before the keyboard gets wet.
 

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Long-time members know Ziploc by the disappearing cat. Both identifiers are an affectionate recognition of my (and Mr. Ziploc's) long-time pet cat (and companion), Zipper.

We don't have kids, but even if we did, I can't help but think Zipper would still be a joy in our lives. He (really a "she"; his decidedly undainty antics and feisty "persona" just never lent themselves to feminine pronouns) was born on the 4th of July. He remains something of a firecracker--albeit an unusually affectionate one--at the age of 15.

krygny, your moving story about Holly and Skyla and the painful loss of both, and the thoughts expressed by other pet lovers here, remind me that the day when Zipper leaves our lives cannot be too distant, given his age. Each of us should treasure every day we have with our beloved pets.

Once this thread has run its course, I'm going to print out a copy and keep it on file. When that unhappy but inevitable day comes and Mr. Ziploc and I must face Zipper's loss, we will re-read these accounts and consult www.petloss.com for solace and understanding.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ziploc said:
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Once this thread has run its course, I'm going to print out a copy and keep it on file. When that unhappy but inevitable day comes and Mr. Ziploc and I must face Zipper's loss, we will re-read these accounts and consult www.petloss.com for solace and understanding.
Zip, they're also very understanding of pet owners lamenting a "final decision" or just the anxiety of a medical procedure or test. So, don't think you have to wait 'til after a friend is gone.
 

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krygny said:

Zip, they're also very understanding of pet owners lamenting a "final decision" or just the anxiety of a medical procedure or test. So, don't think you have to wait 'til after a friend is gone.
Thanks, krygny. It's good to know a site like that is out there for support. :29:
 
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