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Posts: 16
Hi all,

I've been reading and posting on some others posts so far, and figured I'm finally ready to post about my own loss of my fur baby Sunny.  Sunny was my sweet chow-retriever mix and he was 14/15 yo.  I had him 12 years, and adopted him when he was either 2 or 3.  I adopted him from a local animal control where at the time (2006) he had been left there by his previous owners as they didn't want him back.  He was there 3 months before I came along.  I didn't initially set out to adopt him, I was trying to trap a pair of dogs that were around my work.  They were very scared and had been on the streets for several weeks.  I could only get one of them as the other one spooked and never came back.  I had found a spot at a sanctuary to take them - but having only one I figured I might as well go adopt another one from the pound and take him instead.  At the the shelter I asked to see the dogs that had been there the longest. They brought out Sunny and another black chow.  They were both excited to be out in the area - but Sunny kept coming back over to me checking in.  And, I picked Sunny.

From this point until around 2011 Sunny had a great life - save two fur brother deaths - he went to the mountains, played in snow, went to CA and played on the beach, went to CO and played in more snow, road trips, coffee runs, walks, runs, hikes. He had bone night with his pack and humans. 

Around 2010, Sunny was diagnosed with Hypo-T - this was managed well and he had a good few years until going into 2014 Sunny was having trouble sitting, and couldn't "pony up" to his people anymore.  In 2014, he was diagnosed with Cushings disease, and later in May of that same year, Laryngeal Paralysis.  He couldn't manage even short walks.  I had the tie-back surgery done on him and his breathing improved dramatically.  After his recovery he was walking again - although not as far as he had prior to diagnosis.  

In Jan 2015, Sunny had a Vestibular event after the vets changed his thyroid medication dose.  He required 72 hours of nursing care.  He recovered but still had a head tilt.  That went away after a few months. He was fine until a year later (approx 2016) when they once again changed his thyroid meds cuz he was running too high - and sure enough - he had another vestibular event (even falling into the pool at 4AM when i let him out to potty).  This time though, he retained the head tilt and he seemed to also have a residual dizziness for the rest of his life. 

Sunny was often seen circling (small tight circles, like 180 degree turn, then look around, turn again, look around, etc. but seemed to be managing ok.  His back legs were getting a little weaker - which is part and parcel with Laryngeal Paralysis apparently.  I took him back to the Neuro doc and she confirmed when she inverted him that he still had a bit of vestibular event/nystagmus going - and suggested an MRI.  So, in May 2017 we did an MRI to r/o brain tumor.  No tumor found.  I bought the Help Em Up harness for him - and that greatly helped him and me continue his walks (which were getting shorter and shorter).

This is the point where the sad part begins, along with my guilt.  I have pet ins on Sunny, so cost of care wasn't as big an issue if I didn't have it.  I haven't done much in the past 4 years, but I ended up on a trip for about a week, although my brother came to stay with my pets.  Then, in June, I had a week long work trip.  My Mom came to stay with my pets. Summer's are hotter than heck here in Phoenix, so walking Sunny with his breaking issues and long fur - didn't happen all the time - if they did it was really late at night.  I realized Sunny was having a hard time seeing well at night.  So, I tried walking him in mornings but with working that wasn't super easy to do.  So, of course looking back now I feel terrible I didn't walk him more. 

In Sept I took him back to the regular vet.  They did their usual thing, blood work, etc I asked whether they could tell me for sure whether or not he had arthritis.  Sunny had X-rays done in March 2017 which showed a small amount but nothing debilitating.  it seemed he would adjust his front feet - like his wrists were hurting him.  They just basically yep, considering his age, he probably has some.  Sunny also had dropped weight he was now down to 42 lbs (from 60 about 1.5 years before).  No plan was put into place to help me stop him from losing weight and no discussion around why he was dropping weight other than his weak hind legs.

Shortly after this, Sunny started sleeping a lot more.  From say 10 at night to often 1-2 the next day.  I didn't think anything of it.  I was glad he was getting sleep.  It was during this time that I spent about 1.5 months helping to trap colony cats at a colony I have helped support for about 5 years.  I love all animals - but I started to become the manager of the area - doing all the trapping, fostering, rehoming, community relations, etc.  Even buying the feeder the food.  I stumbled across this cat colony about 6 months after I moved to Phoenix.  The lady who had been feeding them previously had been doing it for 2-3 years before I showed up.  Some of the cats were fixed by another lady - who had since stopped helping.  So, since 2012, I stepped in and did it all - the feeder was very difficult to work with.  Long story short, I grew resentful of it taking up so much of my time - with helpers coming and going - yet I couldn't abandon them to the feeder.  So, I made a plan last summer that by Dec 2017, I would no longer be involved - and the only way I could see that happening is if I trapped all the remaining cats and found solutions for them.  Luckily, by this time, there were only 5 cats left.  Over these years I must have helped almost 50 cats/kittens. I already trapped one in March 2017 and he has been with me a year now (socializing him).  

It took me 1.5 months between Oct/Nov 2017 to trap all 4 remaining cats.  I have 5 of my own - so the fosters all went into my spare rooms, including my master bathroom.  I was overwhelmed and thought Sunny would live forever apparently.  My Mom did come over and walk Sunny while I was out every night - so that's some comfort - but still - he deserved all my attention, and he didn't get it.

Now that I had the cats in my house, I had to assess them, determine if any were friendly, get them to the vet and find rescues to take them in.  I found a rescue willing to take one with 2 weeks.  But, another one of the more friendly ones had FIV (making placing him that much harder).  The remaining three were at various levels of sociability.  Some rescues fell through.  For the remaining three - I had to spend around 2-3 hours a night in with them in order to get them to tame up.  All the while, poor Sunny was declining, and I didn't even see it.  I feel terrible that his last 6-9 months were less than he deserved.

I ended up taking Sunny to the vet again in early Feb.  Now I learned he had dropped even more weight and was now down to 35lbs.  I of course was stunned. I also knew that taking him on long trips anymore was out of the question (my vet is about 25 mins away).  I couldn't believe he was that thin - but now I really saw it.  I saw how frail he looked.  I immediately set forth to find rescues to take at least 2 of the remaining cats because I needed to focus on him. Sadly, that only happened the week before Sunny passed.  

I had about 5 days where I could focus pretty much only on Sunny, while still having my 5 cats and the 2 remaining fosters.  I had called a hospice vet a week or two before this and she had come over 1-2 times.  She said she would have euthanized Sunny even several weeks prior.  I couldn't believe I was now faced with my dog dying - when only a month before it hadn't crossed my mind it would be so soon.  Sunny was now getting stuck in places more often, he was completely incontinent having to wear male "wraps"  all the time. He was having frequent UTIs (since early Dec).  Now, I could barely leave him alone.  I upped his pain meds not even sure how much pain he was in (neuropathy typically isn't painful).  But, it became clear that Sunny was having cognitive difficulty.  He was no longer sleeping all night.  He was up and down from 11-5,6AM when I would give him another Gabepentin and he would finally rack out.  About two weeks before he passed I noticed his front legs becoming increasingly weaker - and he carried his lead low like it hurt to lift it up. I had no idea which one of his conditions was causing any of it.  

I was giving him sub-q's and his appetite was killer.  I was feeding him so much stuff now about 2 weeks before he passed that he gained 4 lbs.  But, then his stools went loose again.  he finally had a normal stool the day before he passed.  

What finally did it for me is when I would walk Sunny outside.  I had to walk him around in his full body harness.  But, when I would lay him down in the grass, he would just lay there. He lost all joy of being outside.  He might sniff a bush if I put him right in front of it - but he certainly didn't show any desire to walk himself to it.  My boy seemed to age several years in a span of weeks.  

I just want a do over - I want to go back 9 months and take him to canine rehab - ensure he wasn't sleeping through meals - try to some cognitive meds on him - anything - everything.  I just feel so guilty and ashamed that I spread myself way too thin helping all these other animals during the time of his greatest need.  

Mostly, I just miss my boy.  Sunny was the last of the dogs my ex and I had together.  We split in 2010.  That was the same year his dog passed - which at least I was there for.  After we split, I took Sunny and he took our other dog.  I didn't know until after Kenzo passed that he was no longer with us.  The pack is gone, like so many other things.

Thanks for listening.

Posts: 639
Your heart is broken...And that is so painful. 

You gave so much to Sunny. But still the pain is huge, I know.

I am so sorry you are suffering like this. You and Sunny had a very special not often seen.

You must be devastated.

I wish this hadn't happened.

Posts: 123
Heartfelt sympathy to You at the loss of dear Sunny. Lovely breed, chow-retriever and to have reached the twilight years of 15y. He had a good home with TLC. Your heart was certainly in the right place all these years by taking in Sunny from the shelter and to think he ''picked'' you with his attentions paid to you. That is heartwarming! If love alone could have kept Sunny here he would have lived forever.......Losing a beloved pet is so, so traumatic, a bond like none other................... I feel your burden of grief. Warm Wishes,                                   Sherry/Perryx

Posts: 16
Thank you  both - it will be an uphill adjustment - never the same.  

Posts: 12
I'm so sorry to hear about your boy Sunny. 

You were surely a great mom to Sunny and there was a deep, shared love between you.

I wouldn't blame yourself for anything.  You did so much for Sunny and even though you were helping other animals, I'm sure Sunny still felt your love.  Besides, it certainly doesn't sound like you forgot about him. 

The last days of a pets life are hard.  Watching them have issues over the course of years or months is hard.  We all know what will eventually happen, we just don't know if they know or how much they know.  I think they understand, at least something.  I also know that they feel our love.  My little Champ crawled on my chest and fell asleep, he nudged his head up under my chin and I know that in his own way he was loving me and I also know that he felt my love just as I'm sure Sunny felt yours.

Champ had some attitude at times but overall was very mellow.  I'm sure he and Sunny are now playing together and waiting for us to return to them.  This helps me deal with the loss.  I know the loss is temporary although my heart doesn't know it yet.

I will say a prayer for you and Sunny.

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