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Posts: 2

I ran across this forum tonight as I was once again googling pet loss stories, trying to find words that described or related to the pain I continue to feel. Reading some of the stories here and was startled by my desire to share my own story, with this group. I thank anyone who reads, and my heart is with everyone here who has lost their beloved friend.

If you want to skip the backstory, skip down to where it says SKIPPING BACKSTORY <3 if you want to skip to the story of her death, look for HER PASSING. I just need to get all of this out but I know not everyone has time to read it all.

I am an emergency/critical care veterinary student halfway through vet school. My family has always had dogs, but I couldn’t wait to be able to connect with a dog of my own. Since I was little, I have always wanted a bully breed mix, and loved Pitbull or staffordshire mixes for their challenge, personality, and the misunderstanding of many of them.

I began looking a few years ago and on petfinder this one dog stuck out... and after months of pondering and waiting for the “right” dog, I HAD to apply for her. I was at school and she was in a foster home 5 hours away, and I still had a month of school so it was a long shot. I couldn’t ask them to hold her, of course.

Her name was Bessie. She was a cow spotted, big eared pitbull/staffordshire mix who had been transferred from a high kill shelter in Texas up to Washington. She was supposedly good with dogs, respectful of cats (I have a cat too).

Long story short- she was adopted before I could come home to meet her, but returned less than a day later. I met her, and was beyond in love. I was able to adopt her, and brought her home.

I was not prepared for the challenges that would have to be faced. She was fearful of men and would bark, growl, and run from any interaction. I lived with my family, so my dad and brother were terrifying to her. She would also try to attack cats when close to them, with subtle warning. Both of these challenges were unknown when I adopted her.

But I was more than willing to face these challenges with her (I ended up having to keep her and my cat separate and worked on that until the day she passed, please no judgement.) and she became a confident, brave dog with all people and new situations. We worked together. She was my focus.

She went from my focus to get her confidence up, to my support and my confidant, my protector, my shoulder to cry on, the one being on this earth who understood me. So funny that I thought I was so essential to her, but it turned out she was the one teaching me most of the time.

She was a one person kind of dog. From the moment I brought her home, she was attuned to me, she looked to me, she protected me. I didn’t realize how rare our connection truly was until a few months before her death.

A few months before Bess died, life was magical. She slept in bed with me, and when my alarm went off she would gently crawl under the covers and press her head into mine, and we would share a quiet moment cuddling together. I started taking her long lining in the fields by my house, where she made me laugh hysterically with her antics. She needed to be near me at all times, and knew when I was sad, or frustrated, and would somehow place a paw on my hand, or scoot under my legs, anyrhibf- to look me deep in the eyes. And then crawl on me to lay her 70lb self on my chest, of course.

She had so, so many more sweet moments that I wish I could describe. But words can’t do them justice.

the morning of her sudden death, we woke up cuddling. It was the sunny spring morning of March 16th. We eventually got up, and went outside in the backyard. She sat and squinted at the sun, turning her face to the breeze and smelling the smells. For once, I had a hard time getting her back inside, she was so enjoying the outside.
We went to a park to meet one of her few dog friends and they ran around for an hour (I had to have her on her longline because she was prone to wander and it wasn’t fenced, so I was watched her closely.)
On the way home, we stopped at our favorite coffee stand so she could get a treat and some whipped cream.
When we got home, we napped together on the couch.

Later that evening, I was catching up on classes online and she was napping behind me. I lost track of time and at 11 went to get my teeth brushed and ready for bed. I heard the sound of her vomiting seconds after leaving and was alarmed (there is no food or anything out she could get into) so I rushed out to find her upstairs (we sleep in a loft), on the ground, with one pile of vomit next to her.

I yelled her name to get her attention, since she was laying facing the opposite direction. She didn’t get up, only swung her head around randomly. I had to drag her backwards out of her kennel (where she had tried to go into) and once I saw her face... I remember sheer panic. Her pupils had blown and she couldn’t see me. She was swinging her head around trying to find me while I screamed.

I carried her limp, 70lb body down my stairs while I told her everything would be alright. I had to set her down at the bottom of the stairs so I could open my house and car doors and not drop her. I live alone at school, so I needed to get her there.

Once I got her in my car, and I was on the way to the hospital, I remember seeing her slumped in the backseat and sobbing. But I still thought if I could just get her there fast enough.

Upon arriving at the hospital, as a vet student, I can go back with her. I remember them asking if she coded, if they should do CPR. I almost scoffed with a “yes of course”, because in my mind how silly. She wouldn’t die. This was a freak, freak toxicity or poisoning or heart problem. That we could fix.

Over the next two hours I watched as every attempt to stabilize failed. As we all scrambled to come up with everything, anything we could do to correct whatever was happening.

Her heart wasn’t filling properly. She had arrhythmias that weren’t responding to medication. She was so cold and we couldn’t heat her up with anything we tried. Her bloodwork was normal, we couldn’t find a reason.

I was holding her oxygen mask, looking into her uneeing eyes, telling stories about her to try to lighten the mood, as tears streamed relentlessly. Then, her pupils became normal for a couple seconds. I swear, she looked into my eyes.

And then her heart stopped. I backed away as they needed room to intubate her and to begin CPR. That was my baby girl. My strong, healthy dog. My heart and soul. I don’t think I could even process what was happening.

Her heart started beating again. It was slow, and I knew at that point whatever had happened, she couldn’t stay here long. So I held her. And I cried. Tubes, needles, heating blankets, the staff, the papers, the empty syringes surrounding us. A statement to the fight that we knew we were losing.

I watched the monitor as her heart slowed, and then stopped. And I held her. She was cold, and she was gone. My brave, incredible girl, was not coming home with me. She was only three years old.

The vet working with her and me that night walked me to my car and I lied and said I could drive home. When I got in my car, an unearthly scream came from me. My whole body was twisted, and tortured, with the pain.

When I got home, I collapsed just feet inside. I only made it a few steps before encountering the ball we had played with earlier. She was everywhere, and I couldn’t believe how devastating the reminders were.

I felt like so many people noticed and understood my pain initially, but as time goes on I’m not sure. Our bond was so special to me, and filled a place in my soul that I can only thank her for. She was a teacher. To love life. To love moments. To laugh. She showed me how much love could be shared.

As a vet student, I felt like most pets could be saved if only the timing was right, and the damage not too devastating. I have learned oh, so much.

As these last few months have gone on, I would say I have “recovered” in some ways. But in many ways I have not.

I don’t have a good inspirational ending to this. I wish I could say “her loss taught me to be grateful” or whatever. But Bessie taught me to be grateful every day, and so much more. I didn’t have to lose her so early to know this.

There is a quote that says something along the lines of “I am haunted by the time I will live without you”.
I feel that way.

Thank you for letting me share.

Posts: 580
I am so sorry that you lost Bessie at such a young age. She sounds as if she was an angel here on earth. What a wonderful way to tell us the love you had for her even in the words of her passing. I feel the love. Thank you for loving her and her breed. You will make a wonderful vet, full of love and compassion, a lot of that is missing today. I know what you feel about those around you thinking you should move on and get over it but those of us who love with the conviction such as ours are the only ones who "get it". It's been almost 10 months since I let my sweet Termy go and I still grieve deeply and cry. What I wouldn't do to have one more day, one more hour or one more minuet but that is not meant to be.
I am glad you found this sight because we all share losses such as you and we are all here to help, share stories and offer love and understanding.
love and doggie hugs
Termy's mom

Posts: 69
I am sobbing reading your story. I am so very sorry for your sudden loss. Nothing ever could prepare a person for that. You were a part of her & she was a part of you, & that will live on forever. I lnow that sounds so cliche, but I tell myself that every day.

It sounds like she was your “ heart dog” & I recently bought a book called , “ Heart Dog surviving the loss of your Canine Soul Mate, by Roxane Hawn. I haven’t personally read it yet but I had to buy it for a reason that I would’ve never dreamed in 1 million years I would have to be buying it for so soon .

I am so glad that you shared your story on here like you did . Because not only does it help you but it helps other people like me , who are struggling with the sudden, unexpected devastating loss of their best friend. I loved the parts that you shared about how you thought she needed you, but it turned out she was there for you. How do you replace that?
That I don’t have the answer to. I love how she was silly & made you laugh & then tried to comfort you when you were down. You were meant for each other, & how deeply devastating it is to lose that so quickly.

My story is somewhat like yours, although I had a healthy,happy , athletic, female German Shepherd who would have turned 8 , June 7. She made me laugh daily, she was so smart, she knew how to put her toys away if I asked. She was always the best at whatever she did, not to brag, she just did everything excellently, from obedience, to protection work. She could track items, & she was always watching over all of us, my daughter, husband, & my 2 other GSD’s. She was like guardian over everything. She even barked the hawks away when one tried to sweep up our cat.

Im not a vet tech, nor do I know how to do doggy CPR, but May 23rd , even that great knowledge would not have helped me or her. One of her favorite things was playing in the water hose & that day I turned it on & it was game on as usual with Jada hogging the water stream. She was running around chomping on a soft frisbee & acting like a nut. My daughter poked her head out the patio to say she was going to work. Thats when I heard the loud thump next to where I was standing. I looked down & my baby girl wasn’t breathing, I was panicking & screaming & crying & making futile attempts at CPR, which I had no clue what I was doing. My daughter heard my screams, I was screaming Jada’s name trying to get her to wake up. Her eyes were open, I checked in her mouth to see if there was an obstruction- nothing. There was no blood, no foam coming from her mouth & nothing coming from the back end. I was starting to hyperventilate out of hysteria not knowing how to help my baby girl. She was going to die, not breathing- I could hear my daughter saying to call the vet, but I couldn’t talk , & couldn’t find my phone even though it was in my pocket. I tried to pick her up but she was 78lb dry & way too heavy soaking wet. My other 2 Shepherds were also soaking wet & I couldn’t leave them alone in the yard, because my neighbors had already threatened to kill them. In fact had unsuccessfully attempted once. So I never leave my dogs unattended outside.

A few minutes went by where I kept rubbing her body all over , even tried blowing in her nose, but all of the sudden her pupils got enormous & appeared to pop out of her head, that lasted only seconds, but she never breathed or took a last breath. I knew in my heart she was already gone . But my head was telling me that she was just sleeping and that I was going to get her to the vet and that they were going to somehow magically revive her . No way was I going to lose her like this. Her eyes were still open, but lifeless.
My daughter had thankfully called ER vet as it was after 5pm, And she told them we were having trouble trying to pick her up and my husband was not home and he was far away so the ER vet called a mobile vet to come to the house . It seemed like forever. We had managed to wrap towels around her to make a sling & carry her lifeless body inside. Even though I knew the inevitable, I waited for the vet to listen for a heart beat & pronounced her dead. I was inconsolable & not really getting it. My husband came home & we were all in shock, petting & kissing her lifeless body, saying goodbye . Even as I write this it seems surreal that she is gone. She was the heart of the family, she kept everything together. How could it be possible that she was running around one second and drop dead the next ? I am still struggling over the lack of closure. My regular vet told me it was either Hemangiosarcoma or a form of undetected cardiomyopathy. At first I thought the first, but now Im thinking it was her heart. Like an athlete who drops dead on the field of an undetected heart problem. It almost brings me comfort to hear the tragic end of your story because that’s the part that haunts me. If we got her to a vet hospital sooner coukd they have saved her? How long can a dog go without breathing? Would she have brain damage? But reading your story, even though you did everything possible to save your dog, & then some, sadly she also didn’t survive. I sobbed the most at that part for you, imagining that were me & my dog. I felt the weight of your anguish & pain. You made me realize, after reading this, that there was Nothing that could’ve been done to save Jada. She was gone the second she dropped. I relive that horrible day every day of my life, agonizing that I couldn’t save her. That the best German Shepherd female - well the only GSD Female I ever owned was gone forever & she gave me no warning. I totally empathize with you & your story & am so very sad for your loss. But just know that you helped this devastated dog mom, get a little bit of closure. Thank you & Im sorry to gain something from your tragedy. I wish that both of our stories had turned out different. But we are left to go on & I pray you will find peace & more happiness again, & doggie kisses & hugs to you.
Jada’s mom 😪

Posts: 2

First of all, I am so glad I found this site, and am so glad to have found people who understand. Although I wish with all my heart grief and loss such as this hadn’t have happened to any of us, I am finding great comfort in both of your responses. Thank you for your words <3 Here is a picture of Bess on her last day.



Cosesmom: thank you so much for your response. You are exactly right- only those that love with conviction and passion such as ours could ever “get it”. One of the statements I said most often after losing her was “I would’ve given anything to save her”. And I, too, will always wish for even a moment more. But, like you said, it cannot be. I thank you for sharing your continued grief, and giving me such comfort in how hard we can grieve. I thank you, with my whole heart, for reaching out and supporting me. Im so sorry for your loss of Termy, my heart is with you. I sometimes try and find songs that capture how I feel about moments like this, and if you feel like it, this is a song I think you could relate to. Its called “One moment more” by Mindy Smith. Here is a link (fair warning I find it beautiful but also very sad):


Doglife: I am sobbing reading your story as well… thank you so much for sharing your story. I believe the same somewhat cliché statement- I truly believe she will live in me forever, and I want to think I became a part of her. I believe we did, in a way, overlap with our souls. I feel as though you and your baby had that connection too.

When you descried the book you bought, so many, many days, months, years, too soon… it reminds me of a sign I found while Bess was alive. It states” “Today I will be thankful for the pawprints on my floor, the slobbery kisses on my face, and the hair on my clothes. There will come a day when there is far too much room in the bed, and these days will be profoundly missed”. I loved the statement but felt as though I had so much time before I had to feel that, but I bought it right after her passing. Neither of us could ever imagined to face, acknowledge, and come to grips with our tragic losses, so much sooner than could ever be imagined. I am looking into that book right after typing this <3

I am in tears with your recognition of how we were truly meant for each other, and the devastation of her loss. She filled gaps in my heart and in my life I didn’t know I needed filled, and I am so grateful for her, and her changing my life. I could’ve used a million more moments, as could’ve you. I wish tragic loss of life didn’t ever happen; but I am thankful you are sharing with me.

I am so sorry you lost Jada in the way you did. She sounds so incredibly amazing; and it sounds like she had the perfect home with your family to thrive and show off her intelligence, loyalty, and personality. I love your pride in her, and it just shows what a true guardian and companion she was when chasing away the hawk from the cat. The attentiveness to exactly what you needed her to be attentive to…. Is a true testimate to her love for you and your family.

So, so much of  how you told your story echos mine, although so different of stories. At the end of the day, we both were helpless as our heart dogs left this earth. We both did everything that could be done. I remember, too vividly, how it felt to realize Bessie was dying, alone, in my house, and how frantic, and horrifying it was. I too, scrambled with my phone, unable to grip it, unable to type, losing my mind from frustration because I was convinced every second my trembling fingers delayed the call was a second closer to her death. I too, was hysterical, and had no idea what to do. Even with my experience, I had nothing at my disposal to help her. I truthfully have no idea how I carried her- but I remember accidentally slipping a couple times, and thinking I may not be able to get her in a car. I am so sorry that you were in an impossible situation. Unable to leave, but unbearable to stay.

Also, Im not sure if this will be of comfort, but I commend you for your attempts at CPR and resuscitation. You did what was, truly, the only thing that even had a slight change of bringing her back. It likely felt futile because she was gone before you could even start, but I want you to know you did right by your girl, the best you could.

Although I was at a hospital with her, my circumstances still echo yours in a way that makes me cry. For both Jada and Bessie, I do not believe anything could have been done to save them. How sudden a healthy, happy dog can drop and die without reason or closure. I truly feel for you and your loss.

I want to share some thoughts after hearing your story, and working in Emergency vet med. Im not sure if they will help give you any closure (because I know for me, closure has been the biggest challenge as well) but I want to share my thoughts in case they may help:

              Jada sounds like, most likely, she suffered an acute cardiac event (from a possible undetected congenital issue, birth defect, or a number of other possible failures of the heart), in which she was likely gone before she hit the ground, like you stated. From my experience, I have never heard of a recovery from a severe cardiac event that may have happened to Jada.

              From the hemangiosarcomas I have seen, usually there is more warning, even if for a minute, that one has ruptured. Not to say it isn’t possible.

              Either way, we died quickly, and very likely irreversibly. I, too, was haunted by what could’ve gone differently, if only Bessie had more time. If only we could’ve stabilized her, if only, if only. Your haunting questions are so valid, and so painful, and I am so sorry you have so little closure.

              I am thankful that my story was able to comfort and be of gain for you, no need to apologize <3 I am glad, truthfully, that Bessie’s story was able to give an example of everything “going right” and doing everything and anything- but sometimes, like with our dear Bessie and Jada, they cannot stay with us any longer. As horribly, painfully tragic their losses were, I find comfort knowing neither of them died in pain. Both of them died after, or during, a day of doing what they loved. And we were there.

I wish our stories had turned out different as well. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story, and empathizing with my loss in a way I haven’t experienced. You will be in my thoughts, I hope for peace, as much closure as possible, many dog kisses as well, and also hugs.

Bessies mom


Posts: 69

Thank you so much for your respose. For you to take the time and write me back such a heartfelt message , I can see you are a very loving & caring person with a big heart, & that is so rare to find these days. You are definitely in the right profession because the animals that need help need human compassion and that’s exactly what you have much of. Your dog Bessie was so lucky to have found you. Also thank u for helping me with the diagnosis, because of it being after the fact , its hard for me & I keep searching for answers. The other problem I now am trying to overcome is that I had no idea how to send her body on ice for a narcopsy. The vets were all closed, except for the ER vet, & we were right up on Memorial Day weekend. I called the ER vet to see if they could do a narcopsy on her but they don’t do that the lady said , & then she informed me that the only place who did was 8 hours away in another state. And the whole time I was sobbing on the phone and not really able to communicate that well and here I am thinking that I had to drive my dog eight hours away to have what she told me would be very expensive narcopsy . That was impossible as it was my daughters high school graduation 2 days away. The lady also said that a narcopsy could still be inconclusive.
My regular vet was out of town at the time and when I saw her after memorial day is when she told me that I could’ve shipped her on ice . But at the time the thought of shipping my baby girl on ice far away to a place where I did not know felt so not right. It doesn’t really makes sense for me to feel that way as she was already gone but it was too soon and I wanted to be with her as long as possible. We had her wrapped in towels on the front room floor and every time that I looked at her I just thought she was sleeping , but Jada NEVER just went to sleep when we were up. She barely slept at night because she was a guard dog who barked at every little noise she heard.
It was getting harder to look at her that way & her body was already starting to give off a very foul odor. The emergency vet they came out had given me a card with the name of the crematory on it they did private crematories , & even though I had called them earlier they were also closed and I called the emergency number and waited for reply .
It was 10 PM at night when we put her in the back of the car and her body was already as stiff as a board and brought her to the crematory and said our final goodbyes . We left her wrapped in towels & as we pulled away , I just wept uncontrollably all the way home & all night , until I had clogged up my sinuses & couldn’t breathe. Coming home to a house without Jada , seeing the frisbee she was playing with right before she passed & seeing her favorite ball made it so much harder.
The next day I sat on the laptop & tried pulling all of her pictures & videos to make a movie, but the computer kept freezing up, & there were 35,000 pictures from the past 10 years on our hard drive to go through . Looking at the pictures and the videos of her having so much fun we’re helping me to bring her back to life that day . That project had to end for now, because we had to focus on my daughters graduation and then memorial day weekend we had plans . These major things helped me to not do well on the pain constantly but the sadness was still there . After everything was over I begin searching the Internet for reasons of sudden death in dogs. When my vet told me it was probably hemangiosarcoma , I joined several FB groups so that I could read through their stories. To this day, I still haven’t found one where the dog died instantly like Jada , they were either lethargic & didn’t want to eat , or collapsed, but didnt die. The way that she was running around and my other Shepherd was tugging on her frisbee in her mouth , & she was jumping in & out of the kiddie pool, was not a sign of a dog in distress .
But the same vet said it also could have been a cardiomyopathy undetected. This to me goes more along with her lack of symptoms. She did have one episode six months ago that scared the crap out of us . She was sleeping and she was gasping for breath and it was so loud and the sound was so horrible that it woke me up out of sleep. I immediately woke my husband up , and we rushed her to the 24 hour vet . of course by the time we got there she was no longer showing any symptoms of breathing distress so they kept her for three hours for observation they did bloodwork and they checked her oxygen levels and after three hours they brought her back into the room where we were sitting and she flew in between my legs , put her head down & while we were talking to the vet, she fell peacefully to sleep. They said they did not suggest doing x-rays at the time because she seemed fine and they couldn’t find anything wrong with her and they said to take her home and if it happened again to come back . Our mistake was writing that off as some fluke & never having further testing to find out what caused that . I actually had brought her to a regular vet visit earlier that day and since she is a holistic vet she gave her some holistic medicine for her ears to clear up . I seriously thought that it was something to do with Jada reacting to whatever holistic medicine the vet had given her that day.

Thank u for sharing that song , music is healing for me too. My brother sent me a link to this song , which you might also find healing. Its by RAM , Forever Love (Trance) & the name of the song is Ramelia ( Orchestra Mix) Ram & Susana. I purchased the entire album on itunes, because I also loved the 1st song - Guiding Star. The song fits perfectly with our situations. Another thing I intend on doing is making a movie of Jada & putting in clips of all the videos & pictures we have to these songs. I don’t really know how to do that nor do I have the extra time right now. But to me , to see her playing & doing all her silly stuff via videos would make me happy. There’s another song by Bryan Adams called, “ When you Love Someone”.
I hope this helps you like it did me - the music. Your Bessie was beautiful. My sisters boyfriend had a dog like that with almost identical markings. He passed this year at age 15. He’s taking it very hard.
I know it’s never easy when our furry family members pass, but I think its harder when they go way before their time without warning.
My heart goes out to you,
And may her memories heal your wounds.
No longer by our side, but Forever in our hearts.
mom- Michele

Posts: 106
I am so sorry for your loss. Our dog's passing was relatively quick (from healthy to eunthenasia in 48 hours) and while I am thankful any suffering is over, the suddenness is hard to cope with. I think part of it is the slap in the face that any of us can be fine on Wednesday and dead on Friday -- life is fragile.
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