Monday, June 24, 2013

Good-Bye, Sweet Samul

I’m sad to announce that, last Tuesday evening (6/18/13), Justin and I had to say good-bye to our sweet Sam.  She had thrown up a few times over the previous week, but it was intermittent, and she still continued to eat, drink, and use the bathroom normally, so we decided to just keep an eye on her.  Then, last Monday evening, she threw up a very large amount of mucous, and she seemed a little weaker than usual, so I decided I would call the vet in the morning to make her an appointment.  That night, Sam pushed down the baby gate and came upstairs to sleep in our bedroom with us, which is typical of her, but she did not even try to get in our bed, which isn’t as typical.  She just slept in the floor. 

In the morning, I noticed that her breathing looked a little labored, and she didn’t come downstairs to go outside or eat breakfast with Luke and Margot.  However, it wasn’t unusual for Sam to stay in bed and skip the whole morning routine, so I tried not to let it upset me.  She was also still very responsive whenever I pet her, so I hoped that she was just being lazy that morning.  Still, as soon as I got to work, I called and made her a vet appointment for Friday at 9:45 AM because both Justin and I had Friday off that week.

Later that afternoon, Kristy texted to ask if Sam was at the vet already because Sam wasn’t downstairs when Kristy came over to get Frank during her lunch break.  This worried me because it was not like Sam to stay upstairs all day.  So, I began frantically texting Justin, knowing that he would be home soon for his lunch break, and asked for an update about Sam.  He finally texted back, but it wasn’t good news.  In fact, he told me to call the vet back immediately and try to bump up Sam’s appointment because something was definitely wrong.  He had managed to coax her downstairs when he got home for lunch, and she even went out into the yard to use the bathroom, but she was so weak that she could barely make it up the four steps of our deck, and she basically collapsed as soon as she made it back inside the house.  Justin brought her water, which she gladly drank, but then she threw it all up just a minute later.  She also turned her nose up at food, which is definitely not like Sam.

Upon hearing all of this, I knew in my heart that Sam would probably not be coming home from her vet appointment.  Regardless, I called the vet back, told the receptionist how Sam’s health had rapidly declined since that morning, and she said that we should bring her in at 4:30 pm that day.

In a nutshell, an X-ray showed that the large lump that has been visible on Sam’s left side for quite some time was actually a large tumor that was attached to the base of her heart.  It was growing inside her ribcage, whereas all of her other previously removed tumors had been just under the skin.  The tumor was pressing on Sam’s heart and lungs, causing her to have breathing problems, weakness, and even anemia (her gums were very pale).  I was afraid to ask, but I had to know if I could have prevented this outcome if I had brought Sam to the vet as soon as I noticed that large lump on her side.  The vet assured me that there was nothing I could have done.  Since the tumor was attached to Sam’s heart and was actually growing inside her chest, by the time it had grown large enough to be visible, it was already too late to have it removed.  This brought me some relief, as my biggest fear has been whether or not I made the right decision by choosing not to have Sam’s lumps checked out or removed. 

So, knowing that there was nothing that could be done at that point, and especially considering the fact that Sam was no longer able to walk, eat, or drink, Justin and I knew that Sam’s time had come.  The vet and the technicians were all extremely kind to us and allowed us ample time to say our good-byes.  When it was time to give her the first injection of anesthesia, I asked if Justin could cradle her in his arms because that was Sam’s favorite thing in the world.  I also wanted Justin to hold her so that I could look Sam directly in the eyes and be near her face, the same way I had done with Lexie and Jocie when they passed.

Even though Justin and I were both very tearful, I smiled at Sam the whole time as she gazed into my eyes.  Then, Sam gave me the most incredible gift.  As we looked into each other’s eyes, mine dripping with tears, she moved her paw so that it touched my arm.  She was trying to comfort me in the exact same way that she always had whenever I was upset. 

The best example of this is another moment that I’ll never forget.  After my husband (Sam’s father), Chris, had committed suicide in 2009, I had taken my three girls (Sam, Jocie, and Lexie) to live with me at my father’s house for a few weeks while I tried to decide whether or not I should continue living in that house or find another place to live.  Sam was so upset by the whole ordeal that her fur had fallen out in large clumps along her back.  She looked awful, and I knew that the best thing for her would be to take her back home because that’s where she is the most comfortable.  That was actually a big part of the reason why I ultimately decided to move back into the house.

The first night that we were back in our house, Sam was the most relaxed I had seen her since before Chris died.  She curled right up on the couch and immediately fell asleep.  I, on the other hand, was feeling rather uneasy about being back in that house again, especially alone.  So, I tried to distract myself by surfing the Internet on my laptop, but eventually I started crying.  As soon as I did, Sam got up from where she had been laying comfortably, walked down to my end of the couch, sat beside me, and simply put her paw on my shoulder.  I turned my head to look at her, and she just looked right back at me with those deeply soulful eyes without moving a muscle.  I knew at that moment that I had made the right decision by moving back into our house, and I knew that Sam would help me get through the difficult readjustment period, which she did.

Sam was always the biggest comfort to me during the most difficult times in my life, and she provided that same comfort to me last Tuesday evening at the vet’s office when she touched my arm with her paw.  It was as if she knew what was happening and wanted to help me get through it, just as she had helped me get through that first night back in the house.  It was a moment that I will never forget for as long as I live.  Sam was the most amazing, compassionate dog, and I already miss her so much.

Margot has also been missing her big sister, which has been difficult for me to watch.  The day after Sam passed, my brother told me about an article he’d read that said whenever a dog passes away in a multi-dog family, it’s actually good for the other dogs to smell the dog that has passed away.  This will supposedly help give the other dogs closure so that they won’t worry about where their brother or sister has gone.  Upon hearing this, I texted Justin and asked him to get our clothes that we had worn the previous day at the vet’s office, which were covered in Sam’s fur, and make a pile for Margot to smell.  He did, and about 30 minutes later he texted me a photo of Margot curled up in that pile of clothes, sound asleep.  It broke my heart.

For the most part, Margot has been behaving normally during the day.  She plays with Luke and Frank, gets excited to go for a walk or to the dog park, and she’s been eating and drinking just fine.  However, as soon as she starts to settle down and wants to fall asleep, Margot starts acting very sad.  Sometimes, she acts like she just can’t get comfortable.  She re-positions herself a lot, and sometimes she even gets up and starts whining.  Other times, she becomes super cuddly with me or Justin.  Typically, Margot just curls into a ball right up against us or lays her head in our laps whenever she wants to cuddle.  Ever since Sam died, though, Margot has wanted to actually lay across our chests with her head close to our faces.  It reminds me of how she used to lay on my chest when she was a tiny puppy.  It’s as though she just misses that feeling of being super close to another warm body while she sleeps.  It’s such a shame that Luke isn’t much of a dog cuddler, or else I doubt Margot would be as depressed as she has been this past week.

Well, I’m sure you can probably guess where this is going – Justin has already started campaigning for us to adopt a new cuddle buddy for Margot.  It’s not that I’m against owning three dogs (Lord knows that I’m used to that by now), I’m just hesitant about adopting another dog because there’s no guarantee that the dog we choose will want to cuddle with Margot, either.  With that said, I will admit that it does feel strange not having an older, calmer dog in the house anymore.  I miss Sam’s laid-back energy.  I also loved the fact that there was an older dog in the house to whom my puppies showed respect (Margot more so than Luke, but only because Margot was raised with Sam since she was 6 weeks-old).  Therefore, if we do adopt another dog, I will definitely be looking for one that is at least 2-4 years-old, but preferably no older than 5, one who has a lower energy level, and ideally one who is a known dog cuddler.   All I can say is we’ll see, but one thing is for sure, no dog will ever replace my sweet, sweet Samul.  :(

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. :( It makes me think about how hard it's going to be when Oscar, my 13 yr old dachshund goes. He's been the best.He still acts like a healthy younger dog so I'm sure he has a couple more years. I have had him since he was 6 yrs old and adopted him from the SPCA and he is the best dog I have ever had. :)