Too fast, but he answered my prayer, again.

When we learned that chemo wasn’t working, that was only one week ago from today.   So much has happened, our heads and hearts are still whirling.  But Samdog answered my prayer and did the one thing I had left to ask of him.

Please, please, Sam…  if we are going this way, please, just make it obvious.  I don’t want you to leave with any questions in my heart.  Make it obvious so I will know when it is time.

Sam had done so well during the week of Thanksgiving, his diagnosis of mets earlier in the week was staggering for us, but we were still hopeful that he would fight through as he always had.  We couldn’t understand his rapid decline only two days after chest x-rays.

Saturday, we met with the hospice doc, started him on tramadol and got the prednisone from the pharmacy.   That night, he wouldn’t eat potroast or eggs.  We tried cheese.  He spit it out.  We gave him a greenie, his favorite treat that used to inspire a little happy greenie dance every time he got one.  He put it down and looked at Dad.  “I’m sorry” was in his eyes.  This was bad.

As the evening crawled on, Sam was gasping for breath.  “Pleural effusion” was what the hospice doc said.  The lung mets were causing inflammation, which was causing fluid to pool in the space around his left lung.  He couldn’t use it efficiently.  If we needed to, there is a procedure to drain off the fluid but we had to go to the office to have that done.

I looked in his eyes, trying to calm him down so he could draw a full breath and I saw fear.  I saw it.  I knew it.  We had to do something.

It was too late to call the hospice doc back to the house and we needed one more day, for the pred to kick in and reduce the inflammation and the fluid.  He would feel better soon, if we could just relieve the pressure on his lungs.  So we did what we hadn’t been planning to do, we loaded him in the truck and we went to the Emergency vet.

“Help him breathe, we don’t care what you have to do, we need one more day for the pred to work.”  They did.  Two liters of fluid from just the left side.  Except, it wasn’t fluid.  One of his lung mets had ruptured.  What was flowing into his chest and restricting his breath was blood.   He was bleeding internally and they didn’t know if they could stop it.  We couldn’t bring him home.  It would be awful.  He had to stay.  They kept him comfortable and tried to stop the bleed.  In the morning, he was still bleeding.  They couldn’t stop it.  Instead they drained the lung again, so he could come home with us.

We spent Sunday snuggling on the bed and talking to each other on the grass.  It was a good day.  He was happy, tired, but breathing and happy. As the afternoon wore on, we could hear him breathing harder.  It was time, we knew what was coming and we didn’t want to wait for that pain to return.   Hospice doc came back to the house and we said goodbye to my heart, in the shade, on the grass, at home, surrounded by love.   That was the right way to go.

I looked him in the eyes the whole way and breathed in his last breaths. I wanted to feel it.  I wanted to know that exact moment when he left.  I wanted to breathe him into me. But I couldn’t.   He went past me on his way to somewhere I couldn’t go.  He didn’t look back, he went through.  It was okay.

Though I am sad and still stunned at how fast he went, he answered my prayer and made the decision obvious to us.  I have no questions in my heart that we did the right thing, the right way, for our Sam.  I have no regret about any of the decisions we made.  We threw everything we could at the “C”, but in the end it was too strong.

Most of the comfort words we use when we try to console pet parents, who have just said good bye to their hearts, are about crossing the rainbow bridge where dog friends are waiting.  I love the idea and I hope there is truth in it.   I figure, the first thing he did when he crossed was find his leg and head to the nearest lake.  Maybe Lucy or Allie would be there with him, plunging into the water.  Peaches would be on the beach, howling her hello and Sam would have zoomed past her, skid to a halt, said hello and then run after Allie, who was always just a little faster, into the water.  Athena and Gracie would be on the beach, basking in the sun as they liked to do. Kelso and Emma would each have a ball and would be in the water too.  Sam wouldn’t need a ball…  He would just swim out to the middle of the lake and swim in circles until he was tired.  Because it is dog heaven, he wouldn’t ever be tired.   Maybe a tennis ball or his wooba would be floating there, needing to be rescued.  Maybe he would see Zeus, Jerry, Maxi, Maggie and the pugapalooza on the beach too.  I would like for him to meet the amazing spirit tripawds who helped navigate our family through unfamiliar waters on his way to this beach.

But my dog was never happiest in the company of dogs.  He was a people dog, not a dog’s dog.

I figure something different is in store for him.  He was an old and wise soul when found me, even as a puppy.   I hope our time together added to his wisdom and understanding of how to be there when someone needed him most.  He wouldn’t be happy until he was with someone who needed him.  I figure, after swimming for a while and resting for a bit with his dog friends, he will be back.  There are plans for him to help someone else in their time of need, in the same way he helped me when I needed him most.  I don’t know if he will be a red dog when he comes back.  But I will watch for him and hope to find him again.  I promised him that I would.

me and my heart at the top of the world.

In order for there to be an end, there has to be a beginning.  In these last days, we have found solace in archiving the memory of Sam.  I have started writing his story, from the beginning this time instead of the end that we hoped wouldn’t come while chronicling his adventures here.  There is so much more of us to share.  If you will indulge me a little, I’d like to use this blog to capture some of that so I don’t lose it.  By sharing our story with you, it will be out in the greater universe and won’t be lost to time.   Not today…   but soon.

I do believe that having this space has saved me.  I believe that your support has steadied me in the storm. It made sure I was there for Sam, and there was nothing as important as that.  Thank you, from the last piece of my heart.

Author: samdog

Sam was a 10 yr old Golden. We found a mass on his right arm bone on August 17, 2012. Confirmed Sarcoma on August 22, amputation on August 23, post amp biopsy confirmed osteosarcoma. We found lung mets on November 27 and Spirit Sam earned his wings on December 2, 2012. As a retired SAR dog, we were always up for an adventure... We didn't know where we were headed, and we don't regret a single step along our path. My heart left us too soon, but left a legacy of love that we will always cherish.

5 thoughts on “Too fast, but he answered my prayer, again.”

  1. There are no words to describe my sadness for your family. Sam was one of a kind and we’re all lucky to have known him. I look forward to reading your happy memories! Lots of love from Florida.

  2. You are so amazing Andy. You have a beautiful gift of being able to write what you are feeling in your heart. As my heart aches it also is relieved for Sam. You really are so remarkable, the more I know about you the more I admire. God Bless you and Matt, you are two wonderful people and friends. Thank you for sharing with us your feelings and memories.
    We love you

  3. Wow. I know how hard this must have been to write at this point in time, and my heart goes out to you.

    I had this funny thought of Samdog finding his leg at the Bridge, it made me smile thinking of him going and putting it back on! But yes, I do believe he will be back. The kind of love you shared never dies, it just changes form and comes back to make the world a better place for more people.

    It touches us deeply knowing that you were able to find comfort with the Tripawds community. And by sharing Sam’s story here and in the Forums, you are providing that kind of pillar of support for others, for a very long time to come. Thank you for that.

    And yes, we would love to hear more about his life before cancer! That picture of you two at the top of the world is amazing. I’ll bet you had some awesome adventures together.

  4. I am crying like a baby over your lovely, sweet, beautiful words about your pal Samdog. He sounds like an absolute gem. A gift to this world and certainly to you. He had a great life and a dignified end. We look forward to hearing more about his lively life pre-“C”. It’s an awful disease, one that we’re beginning to fight ourselves. Thank you for your story. This community is soothing and supportive. Thank you and thank you, Samdog.

  5. I saw a post to Samdog and came back to re-read his blog. This is a really heartbreaking, yet touching account of Sam’s last days. It brought back my own memories. Like Sam, the end came so fast for Magnum. Even though we knew it was coming it still took us by surprise.

    I hope your heart is healing. It’s a tough road, this grief stuff, one I will probably be on until the day my time comes. I have found it very therapeutic to tell Magnum’s story although you have now inspired me to write more (if only for myself) about her life before cancer. If you are up to it we would love to hear more of Sam’s life.

    Many hugs to you.

    Karen and Spirit Magnum

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