Sammy and Where I’ve Been

Why hello there. No less than a dozen people have asked where I’ve been. (thanks guys) I suppose an explanation is in order? I could tell you that I’ve been MIA because of a demanding work and school schedule, or even because I’ve been studying for my last round of licensure tests; but that wouldn’t be completely true. It’s a big part of it for sure, but there is much more to this story.

We lost Sam.

Warning:  things are about to get serious.

I talk about the dogs a lot here and I certainly didn’t want to write this, so I just avoided the blog for the last few months. But here goes:

It started soon after the Super Bowl. Sam, our golden, begin getting sick after meals. At first, we thought this was nothing new. God-forbid we ever changed his diet; we’d pay for it for a week or more. Slowly, the sickness started happening more frequently and when we had to start throwing away household items (rugs), we knew this was more than an upset stomach. Then, miraculously, he got better. For a few weeks Sam was completely fine. He was his crazy, off the wall, bull-in-a-china-closet self. Things were good and we thought that there was nothing to worry about.

Of course, those weeks couldn’t last. He became listless one Saturday and we agreed that he had to see the vet first thing Monday morning. That day, things seemed ok, if only slower than usual. He had no appetite, but as the day wore on, his energy grew and we thought maybe it was just a fluke? Sunday morning changed our minds. That morning he made it downstairs, and onto the couch. He didn’t move for the remainder of the day.

Sunday night was terrible. I have never seen an animal go from well, to sick, to despondent in such a short period. He tried to come upstairs to bed with us, like he and Dakota did every night, but he couldn’t make the first step and decided to lay at the bottom of the stairs. Initially, I got up a few times to check on him, but at some point I decided to stay with him. He was shuddering and his breath was labored. I was so afraid that he wouldn’t last the night that I sat on the stairs until 5am so that Corey wouldn’t find him in the morning.

He made it through the night.

Monday morning, we lifted his 90 lb frame to the car and Corey brought him to see Dr. Rosenblatt. I stayed home and around 10, Corey called with the news: kidney failure. I was shocked. We were shocked.  I prepared myself for the fact that Sam wouldn’t be coming home that night, but he did.

Dr. Rosenblatt gave us a very small chance of survival. I think it was 5%, but I honestly don’t remember. Sam was Corey’s dog, so I agreed to do whatever Corey needed to do to feel he had done everything right by Sam. We chose to try dialysis and Sam made it through another night, and another. I won’t tell you about those nights, but know that they were brutal. You may think we’re crazy, but unless you’ve had a real family pet, please reserve your judgment.

Finally, we finished dialysis. It was a Wednesday and Sam rallied that morning. Much lighter than 90 lbs now, he got up and went outside on his own, he even half heartedly barked at some morning runners. The bark that we hadn’t heard in over a week came out as a rasp. This convinced me it was the end. Corey brought him to the vet to re-test his levels. When he went to pick him up that night, the results were back. Sam had a day, maybe. Everything in his blood that was supposed to decrease rose ten times over. That night Sam could only lift his head. We said goodbye.

If you made it this far, good, I have a reason for sharing this with you. Sam’s kidney failure was brought on by Lyme’s disease.  We never knew he was infected. When we found out, we immediately had Dakota tested and she too is Lyme positive. Like many things, the disease has the potential to manifest differently depending on the breed. Golden Retrievers and Labs it seems, are more susceptible to side effects like kidney failure.  Huskies are typically a sturdier breed. Then and now, Dakota is showing no symptoms, but neither did Sam initially. With Dakota, we immediately started a regime of doxycycline, an antibiotic used to treat Lyme positive dogs. The pills are large and hard on a dog’s stomach, but were also our best chance. After we went through the 90 pills (3 pills once a day), we got Dakota vaccinated and will re-test her lyme’s levels in 6 months.

My point is this: we thought that because we lived in a city, the dogs were not at risk for Lyme’s. We were tragically wrong.  If you haven’t already, get your dog vaccinated. It may save his life. This year there are projections that the weather we’ve had will increase incidences of tick borne illnesses in the North East and beyond. Why not err on the side of caution?

** During this time, the folks at Kindness Animal Hospital and Skipton Kennel were fantastic. I want to thank Dr. Rosenblatt, Karen, David and the rest of the daycare crew. Even when we didn’t live in the Waltham area, we brought our pets to them for care and will continue to do so as long as possible. They treated our pets as if they were their own and treated us like family. Thank you!**

13 thoughts on “Sammy and Where I’ve Been

  1. Pingback: A Big Thank You | A Cook's Nook

    • Thank you- by the way I love your blog name. Even though writing this was difficult, your post made me smile. Off to check out your site 🙂

  2. I came across your post on Facebook and had to drop in to tell you how sorry I am to hear about the loss of your beautiful golden retriever Sam… words cannot describe the love we have in our hearts for our pets – it’s beyond anything I had ever imagined… I am thinking of you and sending love and warmth your way. Thank you for this beautiful post and reminder of the precious things in life. Hugs from Canada – xo.

  3. Jill, I’m so sorry for your loss. One of our dogs, although a very small yorkie/maltese, has had lyme’s disease twice. The last time we thought that he would not make it because he wouldn’t drink or eat and we couldn’t get any medication into him without him trying to bite us. We eventually got it in and he began to get better. We were so distraught with how sick he was that were going to have to make the decision to have him put down, when he miraculously got better. It is so hard to watch a dog suffer through a sickness like this. I do believe although I could be wrong that when you get your other dog tested again, that he will be positive to Lyme’s as once they get it, the test will always be positive.

    • Thanks Aunt Anne- I’m sorry to hear about your dog, but very glad that he’s doing well now. Anytime I think of you and your pets, I always think of Maxwell, the horses and all of Emily’s critters, even though that was 20 years ago!

      Dakota will be positive again, but we’re just hoping her levels drop. Right now they’re over 200.

      Hope all is well with you!

  4. I am glad your blog is back, Jill. As I told you the other day, I missed it! I am and was so sorry to hear about Sam. He was a sweet dog who had a wonderful life. I know how hard it is to lose a family pet, as you know. You and all the work gals were so great to me last year- just know I am here if you want to talk or if you need a road trip to the exciting city of Tully!

    • Thank you Dayna. I think it was your prompt that finally pushed me to start writing again. You know, I thought of you and Sassy while writting this and when we decided to try dialysis. You made it much easier for us. I HOPE we see you in Tully this summer 🙂

  5. My heart goes out to you and Corey, I know what it is like to lose a beloved family pet, a member of your family – it was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to go through.

    Thank you for sharing this, I had no idea the symptoms of lyme disease in pups – we have a lab husky mix that spends alot of time in the woods and hiking with us, your post made my decision for vaccination even easier.

    • Thank you Heather. They really do become members of your family and it is so difficult to see them suffer. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been through it too, but I’m very glad that you’re going to vaccinate the pup. Enjoy your hikes this season!

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