Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Final Thoughts

So here I am one last time. I haven't been able to come on here since my last post. Simply because it was so hard to look at the pictures and read through what we had gone through. It was one year ago on Feb. 24. The day came and went as uneventful as any day. Of course the thought of our "pal" was on our minds but never really discussed. A month later we had to put our cat down. She was going to be 14 years old this August. I never would have guessed the events of this past year and a half. I do feel as though I must submit some kind of finale of Sam's life. All of our lives changed once we arrived in California. What he really enjoyed was of course swimming in the ocean. That dog just knew where we were and what was about to happen as we turned the van into the parking lot at the beach. The funny thing was, he wasn't excited about playing with the other dogs, he just loved to get wet and see the people! Fortunately we met a fantastic dog sitter after we moved here. She was his second mom. At times she would call and ask to have some "Sam time". We couldn't even say her name out loud, we had to spell it. I swear, Sam lost his mind every time she came to get him. Everyone who met Sam fell in love with him. How could you not. He was just a special dog but I wouldn't expect anything less from the labrador family. I have to say how surprised I was by seeing the comments on here. People sharing their stories of difficult choices and sad times is comforting to know we were not alone. Thank you to everyone who made me feel a part of a special community of dog lovers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Never second guess yourself

That is what I have learned with this whole process. This morning I was looking at my blog and still wondering how I could get it out there for others to see. So I tried to search for it and of course came up empty. One site that always comes up is Dog Cancer Blog that I have listed in my helpful links. I decided to leave a comment on there with my blog. As I looked further into the other comments all of sudden I was feeling comforted. Not by the fact that other people are suffering with the same decision we had to make. The idea that we were not alone in it was what was comforting. All that time before Sam died I was searching and searching for someone else who didn't amputate and came up empty. I sincerely felt like we were the only ones not giving our dog a fighting chance. As I have said before, we are at peace with the decisions we made for Sam. We were blessed to have him in our lives for as long as possible. He had a great life.

There are so many comments on the Dog Cancer Blog of people asking how do you know? or what should I do? These questions are the reason I decided to this blog in the first place. I truly hope these people who are looking for answers will find me. I know our situation was only one of millions, but each one is just as heartbreaking as the next. No matter what you decide for your own dog I believe you have to be at peace with it. That's the only way you can go on.

The other thing I am doing this morning is eating waffles for breakfast. Waffles were Sam's favorite breakfast food. We always made sure we had enough to make one more for him in the end. Today I eat my waffles in honor of him. Here's to you pal!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Coming Home

One week and a day have passed. I got the call this morning that I have tried to put in the back of mind but knew was coming. Sam's ashes were ready to be picked up whenever I was ready to go get them. Are you ever really ready to do that? In my mind I went back and forth do I go now or wait another day. Finally after a few minutes, I decided Sam needed to come home. Today.

Off I went with the radio on to distract me from where I was going and what I was about to do. I was fine until I saw someone else had signed in their pet whose name happened to be Sam. The women behind the desk were very kind but a few avoided eye contact. Then the box came out. It was much heavier than I expected and bigger. I barely made it out the door and into the van before I lost it. I had to admit, it felt good just to release all those emotions.

For the past few days I have been in pretty good spirits. All of his stuff is either packed away or set aside for someone to come pick up. The last things to be moved were his dishes. Everyday you walk in the house and there they are. I liked having them there because it looked like he had just gotten done eating and was probably in laying on his bed. I hadn't even emptied out the water that had been in there since he last took a drink. I finally convinced myself yesterday that it was just water. My husband thinks we should do something with his bowls, like plant flowers or cactus in them. For now, they are in the garage. Out of sight, but never quite out of mind.

In my next post I will wrap up my three part series of Getting to Know Sam. I will post about his time in California.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sad Day

Yesterday I posted that Sam had a bad night the night before. He didn't improve through out the morning. I had left to go on a field trip with my daughters' class. When I returned Sam met me at the door, which I at first took as a good sign. He went outside to go to the bathroom but it was obvious he was having a very hard time. I slowly coaxed him back inside. It took so much effort on his part but he made it in but was panting so hard. He laid down on the rug in front of the door and that's where he stayed. I had finally gotten in touch with our wonderful vet. Neither she or her husband were on duty yesterday but she said they would meet us at 12:30pm. My husband came home to help me get Sam into the car. Once we got to the vet x-rays were taken. The Dr. said the cancer had spread to his right shoulder. That was why he was having such a hard time with that side. I couldn't believe it. Just the day before Sam and I went for such a nice walk and he never wavered. He kept on going like he knew that might have been our last walk. Only he knew how much pain he was in because he never showed it until yesterday. I can't even imagine what he had been going through up to that point.

Needless to say, the decision was quickly made that we could not let him suffer any longer. So he was brought into the room with us on his bed from home. The doctor gave us some time with him. We asked to have his splint removed so he could be "himself". You would have thought it was Christmas for that dog. He couldn't wait to get his tongue going on that leg. He licked, and licked and licked. He was so happy, he was wagging his tail the whole time. On very few occasions did I ask him for kisses. Of course, now I wish I had asked more. He gave me some nice licks on the chin and we gave the go ahead for the injections. I couldn't believe how quick it all happened. Literally he was licking his leg and then next second he was sleeping. I have never witnessed such a peaceful death as his. I am so thankful to the doctors who were with us and took care of Sam. Without them it would have been a much different experience. I knew he was well liked by all who met him but I never knew the impact was so deep until I saw the people who took care of him crying for our loss, like it was their own too.

I will never think back and wish we had changed our minds about this or that. In the end, the cancer just took over and it wouldn't have mattered what we had done. I am just thankful that his last two months were spent doing what he liked to do. The only regret I have is we couldn't take him to the beach because of the splint. However, like one person told me, our definition of what makes Sam happy was different from his. He was just happy being close to us. Everything else was just a bonus. In my eyes, he had a good life and we did what we could for him. We are having him cremated and his ashes returned to us. My husband said if we ever decided to spread his ashes it would be in ND. I couldn't agree more, but for now, he will stay with us. That's what I promised him, where we go he's right there with us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not a good night

About 4am this morning Sam came in to our bedroom whining off and on. I could tell that he was walking around from one side of our bed to the other. However, he was still whining. It's not abnormal for him to have to go outside early in the morning but that is a different whine. So about 5am I got up to see what was up. I kept asking him if he had to go out and get busy. He wouldn't get up but kept whining. I went to go get him some pain medication, tramadol with some ham. He took that no problem. Finally my husband convinced him to get up and go out to the bathroom. We quickly realized he wasn't putting any weight on his right front leg. His cast is on his back right leg. Which it didn't seem he was putting much weight on either. Sam walked very gingerly down the hallway. I went out with him to make sure he could get back in. He walked in just as cautiously as he had walked out. Finally I offerred him some breakfast and I was encouraged when he got up to come to the closet where I keep his food. However, when I put his food in his bowl he wouldn't eat. So that of course, has worried me. I have to say that this whole time when he sees me or my husband he wags his tail.

I have a field trip with my daughters this morning and my husband has meetings all morning. I am not sure what I am going to do. I know I should call the vet but I know they are going to just tell me to bring him in. Right now my husband is making his lunch and that always sparks Sam's interest. He just tried to get up and go over but quickly realized he couldn't make it. So he is now back by my side. I am hoping the pain meds kick in soon. Honestly, I am not optimistic about this at all. I know I can't bring him into the vet alone. Physically I can't lift him and also emotionally I won't be able to handle it and I am positive my husband would want to be there. I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get to know Sam Part 2

So January of 2001 we headed out of ND to MI. I was driving my car with the cat in the passenger seat. My husband was driving his truck with Sam by his side. My husband absolutely got the better end of that deal. It seemed to take forever to get to our new home but we made it. We had moved from a farm house out in the country to a 2 bedroom apartment in the city. Luckily the only saving grace as far as Sam was concerned was the soccer field next to us. Many days and evenings were spent out there playing ball and meeting new friends. Sam had a female chocolate lab named Mallie that he played with. There was also a basset hound name Sampson that loved to run in and around Sam's legs! They were so fun to watch together.

We stayed at the apartment for about a year and then finally found a house with a yard!! It was our beginner house. It was small but perfect for us. The lot was big enough so we could really throw the golf ball for Sam and he'd get some good exercise.

In February of 2003, our world was turned upside down by the arrival of our twin daughters. I have to share that during my short pregnancy I had gained quite a bit of weight so in turn Sam did too. At that time he was a whoppng 100 lbs!! As the girls stayed longer in the hospital we decided to start bringing some of their blankets and clothes home from the hospital for Sam to smell. We had heard that was one way of preparing your dog for the arrival of a new baby(ies) to the house. I truly believe that helped him adjust to the girls disrupting his world. All of sudden we didn't have time to throw the ball for him like we used to. He wasn't getting his walks like he was used to getting. With everything going on though, he was such a good dog. Our living room was very small. With the girls lying on the floor in the middle, it didn't leave much room for him. Sam was very good about "tip-toeing" around them though. Not once did that dog even come close to stepping on any part of the babies. Of course with a blanket on the floor he interpreted that as his bed. Needless to say, he knew his boundaries whenever the girls were on the floor. That still didn't stop him from getting a corner of the blanket they were on!

We were only in MI another year and a half when we decided to move to CA. Again I am not sure why or how is happened, but once again we moved in the winter time. So in January of 2005 we loaded up the van with one dog, one cat, two babies, and us with luggage on top. We drove through snow, ice, sleet, rain, and then finally clear skies. We stopped as often as we could for everyone to stretch their legs. Sam had his space in the back of the van. I think he had the best spot out of all of us!

To Be Continued....

Monday, February 15, 2010

A good day...

So today, like the past few days, my husband has taken Sam for his walk. We have cut down from 2 walks a day to one. I know Sam would love to go for that second walk but I almost feel like we are adding days to his life by keeping him steady at home at night. Yesterday Sam was pretty tired after only going around a couple of blocks. Today he did a lot better.

Earlier when I got home from shopping Sam was scratching at the front door and wagging his tail. I kept telling him, no, you go out back and get busy (code for going to the bathroom). He was relentless so I gave in and let him out. Of course, the second he steps out there is a big german shephard walking by. Sam took off after him and the guy with the shepard just stood there. I am sure he figured a dog in a cast is harmless. So the dogs did their thing, Sam was happy to have another dog to sniff. The shepard left, Sam peed and all was right in the world again. He went back inside and laid down for a nap.

My husband, the girls and I were playing cards after dinner and Sam got a few toys out of his basket. I love it when he does this because it tells me that no matter what is going on with him physically, mentally he is still a puppy. He gets his, what we call, the bear carcass, a stuffed bear that no longer has the stuffing. He also has a monkey carcass. Sam kept putting this wet, dirty toy on my lap so I played tug with him. Finally he laid down and pulled more stuffing out that I hadn't realized was there. I swear that dog was smiling.

Sam has no idea that we have company coming tomorrow. My mother in law will be here for a week. I know Sam will just love having someone new to sniff and follow around.