On April 22, 2019 my life stopped. My 10 year old dog and soulmate Mickey died unexpectedly at home, alone. He would have these GI upset episodes on and off every couple weeks or months where he vomited a few times and/or had diarrhea. I always did a full work up at my job (I work at two animal clinics) and they always came back clean and we would end up doing an anti emetic and give him some fluids and he would bounce back the next day. I had done xrays and bloodwork countless times. Food trials. Probiotics. I sent off a GI panel to Texas state. Always normal. This particular morning I woke up to him vomiting. I took him to my job, where the doctor said "We can work him up if you like" but he had just had a dental cleaning the week before and prior to that I had done xrays and bloodwork, which were normal. So I said no, not this time. Let's give him the usual cocktail and I'll bring him home to rest.
I brought him home and he settled in. No more vomiting. He seemed to be resting comfortably so I felt confident leaving him home while I went out to do some errands on my day off. I was gone for 8 hours. I should not have left him home that long. Mickey NEVER stayed home. He came to work with me, the barn where I keep my horses, over friends houses, over my moms, out to run errands. On this particular day I thought it best if he stayed home to rest. I was stopping by my then boyfriends house and his dogs are very rowdy and as I said, I wanted him to rest.
Fast forward 8 hours and as I was leaving my boyfriends house and pulling out of the driveway I had a completely gut wrenching feeling of dread hit me. I called Craig and said "I know this sounds crazy, but I have a feeling I am going home to a dead Mickey and I just need you to stay on the phone with me until I get home." I pulled up outside and said I will call you after I get inside and see that all Is well.
All was not well. Mickey was dead. I smelled a change in the air as soon as I walked into the front door. He was still warm, lifeless on my bedroom floor and laying in his own feces. I called Craig, hysterical. I do believe that at the exact moment I felt Mickey was gone when leaving Craig's house, Mickeys spirit was leaving his body.
Mickey had been with me every single step of my life since I was 15 years old, now 26. From right after my dad died, through school, breakups, screw ups, moving from place to place every year. That dude was with me 100%. The BEST little pekingese. We went hiking, swimming, exploring, driving, horsing around (literally), he came to work with me 70 hours a week. He was my rock and guide through this ridiculous life.
And I left him. Alone. For 8 hours when he was unwell. Why would I do that? I was always SO paranoid about something happening to him. I made him ride in the backseat with a seatbelt on because I always said "If I got in an accident and something happened to him, I would never forgive myself" I took every precaution known to man. I took the best care of him and he had the best life a dog could have. And yet on his final day, his final hours, I COMPLETELY let him down. He died alone. Maybe in pain. Maybe scared. I will never know what happened to him in his last hours. I will never know why he died. If I could have done something. If I could have eased his suffering. If I had done diagnostics that morning, would we have found something treatable? I refused necropsy as I could not bear the thought of his body being cut open and explored.
So here I am. Reaching out. This completely agonizing pain is not manageable. It is not sustainable for life. I am at a complete and utter loss and can only hope that others with a similar story may be able to offer some comfort. Yes, I have started looking into professional help. Yes, I have even gotten another dog, Potato, AND even fostered and adopted out a dog named Happy since Mickeys passing in april. But the grief has only diminished minimally and I can not seem to get a grip on this. I can not understand it. He was fine one day, and ripped away from me the next. For no good reason. Mickey was my tether to this world making me more human and more relatable through him .
I could go on. I had a very vivid dream where he came to me, a lucid dream. He gave me some comfort in doing that for me. But the guilt is still entirely overwhelming. On April 22nd my life stopped and I cant see how to start it again without him.
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My deepest condolences on the loss of your Mickey. You loved Mickey very much. It can be so darn tiring when you have an ill pet. You may have just needed a break that day but from everything you’ve written you had no reason to suspect that he would die that day. It must have been terrible coming home and having his body still feel warm to know he had just passed. I believe that our pets will give us signs that they are alright.
You’ve said your dream was very vivid so I believe that Mickey came back to let you know he is okay. It sounds like he’s been sick for a while and maybe not enjoying life the way he used to. Now he is at peace and back to his happy and healthy self. Hold on to that dream. We all carry some guilt because unfortunately we aren’t perfect but we loved our pets and they felt it and knew it. That counts for sure! This is a good place to express your grief among people who will understand and support you. Thanks for sharing your story and your wonderful Mickey! I hope you post again. Be well.
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Dear Courtney,

Oh sweetie. I am so sorry and saddened for your loss of your beloved "Mickey." He certainly was a cutie and he looks very happy and content in the wonderful photos that you shared with us. Thank you for sharing some of his and your story together with us.

You were an incredible and caring Mom to Mickey. Just the fact that you did spend so much quality time with him over the years (taking him out on adventures etc.) speaks volumes. It is not fair to you, or to Mickey's memory, for you to blame yourself about what happened on his final day. He no doubt thought you were out doing what we mysterious human do while you were gone, and that you would be returning soon. You wanted him to rest that day and that was a logical, rational, mature and medically sound decision. He DID need to rest. With no distractions. Even good and fun distractions. He needed to sleep and heal. That is what you expected and provided for him. Again, a wise decision. As you said, you had already run many tests. You knew your boy. There was no reason to think that his last day was going to be any different from what you had experienced before.

When it comes to Mickey's age, especially with your background with animals, you must know that the average lifespan for a dog (a mid-size dog) in the wild, is about 10 years on average. Again, that estimated lifespan is for a dog with the fighting capability of let's say a wild Dingo. Mickey's natural biological design and engineering was not designed to last as long as he did and his body started to give out. We humans, by providing regular food and water, shelter (from natural predators and the weather / elements), trips to the Vet's for treatment and medication(s) and love and affection (which is important for overall well being) lengthen the natural lifespan of our pets. We quite often cheat nature. We beat nature. Then we wonder what happened? when nature has other plans.

The truth is Mickey lived a wonderful, full life. All dogs should be so blessed and fortunate. He would want you to be happy and healthy and only think of the good times you had with him. Of your grand adventures together. He would not want your memories of him to be sad ones each time you think of him! So please, give yourself a break, be gentle and forgiving of yourself and that will be honoring your Mickey's memory. 

Last thing, I have read hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts and comments on grief forums / message boards, as well as studies, essays, websites and blogs etc. and I do believe that our beloved pet's do visit us after they depart. I think that what we call "Heaven" is another dimension. And that those who have "crossed over" the "Rainbow Bridge" are limited in how they can communicate with us, due to their being in another dimension.

My cat Marmalade has visited me many times since he departed. I hear 1 distinct "meow", or "trill" and/or he walks across the comforter we used to sleep together with. This happens in the early morning hours from around 2 am to 5 am. His meows or trills have awoken me more than a few times. I have lost many family members over the decades and yet none of them has ever spoken a single word to me during the middle of the night, nor have I read of accounts of that happening in people's homes where departed loved ones used to live with them. Pet's yes, humans no. Why? Shouldn't we hear our name being called at least by a deceased human family member? If we hear a bark? Or a meow?

I believe being visited in dreams by our beloved's is real. Again, they are reaching across from another dimension and are limited in how they can communicate with us. From what I have researched it can be very, very subtle "signs." So your Mickey is no doubt trying to reach you, in order to communicate with you and most importantly to calm you. To cheer you up. To make you feel better. Know this. Own this sweetie. And again...most importantly, be gentle with yourself. 

Kind regards & my sincerest condolences,
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Thank you both for your kind words and support. Truthfully Mickey was not a "sick dog". He would vomit from time to time as any person or dog with a sensitive stomach would. But he was not sickly. He was the picture of health for a 10 year old peke and Peke's often live past 15 years old, so he should still be with me at least another 5 years. Not knowing what he died is both the worst and best thing. If I did a necropsy and found out that I could have prevented his death with certainty than I would be in a worse way. I thought I would have many more years with him and wanted so badly to watch him gracefully turn old and grey and get the chance to make that difficult decision for him one day where he could pass peacefuly in my arms, and I could give him a proper farewell. He deserved a better death from me. He deserved more time. We deserved more time.
You are right that they live on a different plane now. And I love that he came to visit me. This truly proves that these animals love us as we love them. My dad came to visit me a year or two after he died. It's a beautiful thing.
Very sorry for your losses as well. Thank you for your replies.
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I am very sorry for your loss of your adorable and sweet Mickey. Clearly you took very good care of him, loved him immensely and gave him a wonderful life. It's normal to feel guilty and have regrets and feel robbed of another 5 years together. I hope this forum, happy memories and, if needed, professional help can help you through this painful time.

My condolences,
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