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Posts: 2
I hope you don't mind a log post. I never thought I'd be going through this again, having to deal with the loss of a pet way too soon.

I have not been here much in the past few years; I was active long ago when we lost our cat at a young age. This past Sunday was just as terrible. I am handling it better because of the support I received here those years ago, but I just wanted to say something about our little Louie who died last Sunday.

Louie was adopted on a whim of some sort. We already had two dogs, but my wife saw him on a Facebook page and had to have him. He was a mix of what we think is Chihuahua, Dachshund, maybe Beagle. He had the cutest face. I think others avoided him because he had apparently been hit by a car and had hip problems. He could walk normally, but he ran on three legs.

He was about two years old, we think. he was the sweetest, mellowest, loving dog I ever saw. He loved to sit next to everyone, lay on everyone. I have a photo of him where he took it upon himself to climb right next to my and laid down tightly against my face while I was sleeping. He would climb in bed and sleep right next to me ... not moving all night. He would cuddle up with anyone who came to visit.

He also liked the other dogs. He very much wanted to be part of the pack. Once he got used to walking, he LOVED to go on walks. Even on the night before his surgery, when he heard me getting ready to go out, he tried to go with me.

We only had him seven months, but he was a joy to have around. Someone told my wife he had beautiful energy and he did. While he was normally mellow, occasionally after walks he'd be so happy and excited that he would tear around the house like a madman. He loved running around the yard investigating things or barking at the neighbor's dogs. 

Just a month ago I was thinking how well he was doing. He was looking better, walking better, and while he was never doing it much he even was housetrained better ... he hadn't peed in the house at all in a long time (he did a few times at first). And he was running better, usually still on three legs but faster than ever.

On the night of January 5th, he had his best walk ever. I had trained him to walk leashless as I had my GSD, and he had learned to stay right next to me. On this walk he had so much energy he wanted to run ... so we ran. I couldn't keep up but he and my GSD Shadow would slow for me to catch up. He spent much of that Sunday earlier and the Monday after playing in the yard. Monday night's walk was great as well ...not as fast, but longer. he just wanted to go out and have fun.

Tuesday morning Jan 7, he got up and seemed OK, eating his breakfast as usual. Soon after he seemed a little down. He usually loved to get a little treat at about 10 or 11 AM; this day he didn't take it after running over for it. By the afternoon he was looking uncomfortable. So we got into the vet -- I thought maybe he had eaten something that disagreed with him. The doctor ran x-rays to look for a blockage and found that he had a diaphragmatic hernia -- almost all his organs were in his chest cavity.

We were told that the surgery was risky, but that if we did nothing, he would be in great pain. We agreed to have surgery done the next morning. I felt good about it because the prognosis for the procedure is known to be good, and he was able to poop -- twice -- when he came home ... his intestines must be working! No sign of diarrhea and no vomiting.

The next day the doctor said the surgery went very well, but that it was the worst hernia she had ever seen. One lung was collapsed, the liver was on both sides of the chest cavity, and the pancreas was "angry." But his spirits seemed good and he looked great, though subdued from the meds he was on. They kept him on oxygen through the day and overnight at the emergency hospital. The next day his lung was no longer collapsed but they wanted to monitor one more day and night. He did well, but his breathing was still heavy and fast ... since he had always had off breathing, I chalked it up to that and his meds. At the vet tech's house Thursday night he even growled a little at the other dogs in the house.

Friday night Jan 10 we got to take him home. He was not to eat a lot and not to drink a lot at any one time because he had vomited earlier that day, but he never did so for me so I was pleased. He did seem more subdued, and his breathing was still faster than I thought but he did well ... same lover as always. We even took him out of his crate and he first laid down on his "brother" shadow. I put him on the bed and he slept next to me the entire night. Morning he ate a little baby food and drank some water, so we took him to the vet to have his catheter removed. Before going, I put him on the lawn to pee ... he did eventually, but it took a while. He just wanted to sit. Hmm.

The doctors explained that he is not out of the woods but that him not vomiting was indeed a good sign. So we took him home and I spent the day with him. He would generally sleep next to me but would occasionally walk around. He stoped taking the baby food, but I figured he just didn't like it much. He did like the chicken broth I offered, which I continued to give throughout the day ... in limited amounts as was the water. He definitely wanted more as I pulled it away.

By late afternoon he seemed to be in pain so I gave him more of his pain meds. But it didn't seem to affect him -- his breathing was still too fast to me, and it seemed deeper than it should have been. Also seemed a bit congested. The on-call doctor and I spoke and we thought it was a bit odd, but that he did just have major surgery and he was on some real pain meds. He took his water and broth through the night, but right before bed he took only a few licks and backed off. Hmm.

Saturday night he slept in bed. He woke my wife up to give her a kiss/lick at about 4 am, then got right back next to me. I woke up at about 8 and his breathing seemed even more labored. I wanted to let him sleep, but he seemed to be in more pain. I was afraid if I waited longer to give his pain meds, he would be in awful pain (It had been over 8 hours and the meds were called for every 6-8 hours).

I got his pills ready ... he needed one for pain, one for acid reflux, one for something I an't remember, and two liquids that he always seemed to have the ability to spit out no matter what I did. I left him on the bed and started to give him his pills - first the pain pill. He fought like a tiger but I got it in. Then the LITTLE acid reflux pill -- seemed to go in. Then the one I can't remember -- probably an antibiotic. It was the one I hated most because it was so big even cut in half. I tried to open his mouth and he just wouldn't let me ... he was getting really good at not taking pills!  I tried to cradle his body and hold his head still with the help of my wife, when suddenly I felt something wrong. He was still breathing but he was limp. I could feel his heart racing so fast ... he died in my arms. I tried CPR including breaths, but I knew it was hopeless. Our sweet little bundle of joy was gone.

I cannot even begin to describe the horror of thinking I killed my own dog. The vet (and my friend who is a retired vet) said that is impossible -- dogs apparently don't die of stress-related heart attacks; more likely, they said, a blood clot happened to break off right then. Had it not happened then, it would have happened later, when he was walking, Or resting. Or whatever. Still, I am devastated losing him -- a dog that less than a week before had the greatest weekend ever. I still have trouble accepting that ... how can a dog so seemingly healthy die in a few days?

The doctor who did the surgery opened him up again to see what happened. She said the surgery itself looked good --  the herniated area held find, and the lungs and organs looked good. Except for the pancreas. She said the pancreas looked "ugly" -- I think she said it looked like it was dying, and that the organs near it were being affected as well.

I still get teary thinking about this lover of a dog. His sweetness, his spirit, his spunk. I like to think we gave him the seven best months of his short life, and I am fairly sure we did. My wife said he was like an angel -- and maybe he was an angel, sent to help us through the deaths of my Mom in October and my wife's Mom in December. Maybe God needed him to go help another family. But that dog was the best dog I have ever owned. I am in the stage of denial still somewhat ... when I walk I keep looking behind to see him running up behind me, biting at air, smiling, leaping ... with that beautiful energy he possessed. 

Louie -- you were a wonderful dog, and I will always remember your spirit. Thank you for being a part of our lives, even if it was far too short a time. We all love you, Louie.


Posts: 14
I'm so sorry to hear about Louie. My dog had CHF so I know how hard it is to watch them breathe rapidly and feeling horrible it's so out of your control. I also thought my dog was doing better when a flip switched and he wasnt.

You didn't kill Louie, somethings are out of our control. Louie sounds like he enjoyed his last few months on this earth with you instead of waiting for a forever home. You helped Louie and you prolonged his life by caring and giving him that final amazing weekend. Which is what is important to remember.

We can't change the outcomes, we try our best and pay whatever it cost at the vet. I believe my max persevered his last few months so we had one more season of holidays with him.

I hope with time we forget those horrific last moments and we only remember those powerful happy memories they blessed us with.

Posts: 2
Thank you so much for the kind message. Writing everything out and reading your reply absolutely makes it easier to cope. I really appreciate it.
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