This morning at about 1:30 am my sweet 6 year old yellow lab, Sam, made his way across the rainbow bridge. I'm hoping that sharing his story and speaking with you all will help to bring at least some support and relief. Saturday morning (April 7) Sam was totally normal and there was nothing out of the ordinary when he woke up and I took him outside to use the restroom. About an hour later, things drastically changed. He was not accepting food, was quite lethargic and just wasn't acting like his normal self. We took him to the vet immediately where they did x-rays and blood work and told us besides a little bit elevated liver enzyme he was healthy. They thought maybe he just had an upset stomach and gave us some meds to give him and told us to watch him. But Sunday he got much worse. All he wanted to do was lay on his side, he would take a few steps and then lay down. He was also breathing more heavily than normal and still was repulsed by food. My husband and I rushed him to the ER vet. The vets decided that because of his current condition, he should be hospitalized for 24 hours. We agreed this would be best and on our way home, the vet called us and told us she ran some more blood work and electrolyte panels and said she believed that Sam had Addison's disease. She said with oral medication and steroid injections, Sam would be back to his normal happy healthy self. We were relieved at the diagnosis and that he would have a long life ahead of him. When I called the following morning to check on him, the vet tech told me Sam had not made any improvement even with the steroids. This is not like him. Sam was one of those dogs who always bounced back really quickly any time he was sick or hurt. This is when the fear hit again. The vets decided to do an abdominal ultrasound and found that his pancreas was extremely inflamed and diagnosed him with a severe bout of pancreatitis and that with some aggressive meds he would make a full recovery. I continued to call and check on him throughout the day and when I called before bed, the vet tech said all his vitals and levels were returning to the normal range and he didn't have the "pancreatitis smell" anymore so they thought that he was doing well and recovering but they wanted to keep him additional 48 hours to continue treatment. The vet tech told me not to worry too much and to get some sleep. The next morning we were awoken by a phone call from the vet. They told my husband and I that within the last few hours Sam had really declined and they were worried he wasn't going to make it. They had done another ultrasound and found that there was fluid not just built up in abdomen but now around his lung and heart. They said they were going to drain the fluid especially around the heart and then do an Echo of the heart to see what was causing the fluid buildup. From the fluid extraction they doing that there was a lot of blood in it and this was worrisome to them. They finally did the echo (hours later even though they said Sam was priority) and when they gave us a call back, we were completely shocked and devasted by their findings. They said that Sam had a tumor at the bottom of his heart that had ruptured and was the cause of the fluid build up. They said he was so young that checking for cancer was one of the last things they thought about doing. The vet told us that Sam was already doing so much better and was so much more chipper after the fluid extraction and said that to be realistic, surgery to remove the tumor was not possible. He suggested we come see him and see the positive change in his behavior to see if we were comfortable in taking him home. He said even with an aggressive chemo treatment it was still a poor prognosis and that at maximum he would extend his life a few months. From the way the vet was talking, it sounded as if Sam was doing much better and so on the drive over, I really thought we would have a few more weeks or even a month with him. When we got to the vet and saw Sam, that hope was quickly crushed. He could barely walk, you could see the build up of fluid in his chest and throat and was very lethargic and weak. We offered him food and he still refused. The vet suggested we take him for a mini walk outside and I could instantly tell he was struggling. He was breathing really heavily and with each step, he almost stumbled. He couldn't even lift his leg to urinate. When we brought him back in we told the vet and they did another ultrasound. They discovered that more fluid had built up in his chest. They drained about a liter and a half and told us to take him home spoil and cuddle him (which was a daily occurrence as is in our household) and then call a mobile vet that takes house calls to put him to sleep. When we got home he was so happy to be in the house, even though he was still lethargic his tail wagged like crazy. He was so happy to see his 2 fur baby sisters and they were so careful with him. Sam slept in bed with me from the day I brought him home so it was only appropriate he sleep in bed with us this night. We helped him up on the bed and he was eager to get up and we gave him his pillow and let him pick whatever spot he wanted. We didn't care where he slept, we were going to curl up next to him wherever. We got under the covers with him and snuggled up on either side. We talked to him and I admittedly cried a lot even though I was trying to be strong for him. I sang to him and we talked about all the amazing memories we had with him. My husband asked him what he needed from us and it instantly broke my heart thinking that tomorrow night he would not be lying there next to me. I tried so hard to stay awake but Sam was my comfort zone and if he was cuddling with me, it would never fail I would fall asleep. I woke up at about 12:30 to use the restroom. He had been sleeping pretty hard since we got to the house but when I got back to bed, Sam woke up in a state of panic. He was breathing so heavily it was terrifying and I could tell his chest had filled with fluid again. My husband immediately called the vet asking what we should do and she said if there were any changes in his breathing we should bring him in right away. We knew it was his time. When I looked in his eyes I could still see my Samuel Jude but there was also fear and a look like "mom, dad, I am so sick." I sat with him in the back seat with him cuddled in my lap the whole way to the vet. I could not stop sobbing and telling him how much I love him. When we got there they got a catheter in him and took us all back to a room with a couch, chair and lamp. They said it was to make it feel a little more like home. They put a blanket down on the floor and my husband and I lay on either side just kissing and hugging and loving on him. We prayed over him and one last time, as we always did, I placed his face in my hands looked in his eyes to tell him how much I loved him and gave him a kiss on his snout. The doctor came in and explained the process, as soon as she injected the sedation, his head slowly went to the ground. Unfortunately this image has been playing over and over again in my head. She then gave him the rest of the injections and after a few minutes and checking his heart rate, she told us he had gone to heaven. A few moments later he let out a gust of air from his mouth which the vet explained was the body shutting down. We took another few minutes to say our last goodbyes and headed to the car with his collar and leash in hand. That was the hardest longest walk of my life. The drive home was even worse. My husband and I sobbed the entire way home trying to speak but hardly any audible words came out. Then came the horrible numb feeling. As I crawled into bed, I almost expected my Sam to follow. I wanted so badly to sleep to just avoid the pain for a bit but every time I closed my eyes I would have flashbacks to him getting put to sleep. I fell asleep for maybe 20 mintues and when I woke up I thought I heard Sam breathing and thought that maybe this was all just a nightmare and that he would be snuggled up to me. Then reality hit again, no Sam. I immediately began to cry hysterically. My husband woke up and we held each other and cried together. Today has been an absolute roller coaster. I have felt the denial. I keep thinking I will open the door to the backyard and he'll come sprinting in. I have felt sadness and heartbreak that I have never felt before. And mind you, I had a miscarriage back in September. I told my husband I know it sounds terrible but this hurts worse. I never really had felt pregnant and it wasn't real to me that I was pregnant when the ultrasound determined no heartbeat. I also have felt extreme anger. He was only 6. He was too young and he was taken from us so quickly I didn't even have a chance to prepare or process. It was all so sudden. It wasn't fair. He should still have another good 8 years or so with us. I weep at pretty much everything in our house and in the car because being a lab, he shed quite a bit and so his hair could be found everywhere including my clothes. It may seem insane but every time I would find a Sam hair, I would pick it up and bawl my eyes out. I am having even a hard time looking at my husband and my 2 other fur babies because Sam was the glue that held us all together and I can't look at them without thinking of him. I have felt guilty as well. Like there must have been something I could have done to prevent this or fix all of this, even though deep down I know it's not true and know we did truly everything to save him. I am currently 10 weeks pregnant again and Saturday morning, right before he got sick, I found a onesie that had a lab and said "Protected by my big brother." I told my husband when I saw it that I wanted to get it. Now I am devastated at the thought that my children will never know Sam. It kills me because everyone should know Sam. I had pictured coming home from the hospital and Sam sniffing and kissing this new little baby, not quite sure what it was. I imagined my baby having tummy time and Sam laying next to the baby and being their "protector." Don't get me wrong I truly love my other two pups so incredibly much but my Sam and I had such an incredible connection. I have struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life and no one could calm me like Sam could. It was like he knew every ounce of my soul. Like he could read my mind and feel my heart. When I would become severely depressed and feel like I couldn't make it another day, Sam kept me going. Not my husband, not my family, not my friends, but SAM. He loved me more than anyone has ever loved me and I know I will never feel that same love again. He was my best friend and my everything. He was the one who I went to when I was going through difficult times and he got me through and now I don't know who or what is supposed to get me through. I know he wouldn't want me so upset like this. He felt his job was to make me happy and he did. He made me happier than I ever thought I could be but now I feel more pain and heartbreak and devastation than I could have ever imagined. I just keep sobbing and telling my husband I need Sam back. I know we made the right decision to end his suffering. I knew that's what he wanted but I am still having such a difficult time wrapping my mind around the fact that this is my new devastating reality. I don't want this to be real. I know I need to continue on for my husband and fur babies and this baby inside me but I just can't imagine doing life without my Sam. He was like a child to me and I am grieving more than I ever had before. If anyone could give some advice as to how to cope, I would really appreciate it. Because right now, it feels like this pain is never going to end.
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Oh samsmamma,
You tried your very best for your beautiful boy! My heart breaks for you and everyone here knows exactly how you feel.
Let yourself cry, it's very early days but you will start to feel better. The lead up with all the stress, having your hopes raised then shattered it's no wonder you are struggling.

Maybe you could create a memorial for Sam? Do you have space in a garden where you could plant a tree or bush in his memory? Sometimes a small ritual can help you bring closure.

At the end of the day you did everything you could. Your life was better because Sam was part of it. Take those beautiful memories and keep them close.

All the best and much love and healing x

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I am so very sorry for your loss of Sam and the pain you are in.  Two weeks ago, I lost my 8 month old Great Dane puppy to a heart attack.  He laid down for a nap on the couch and was gone minutes later.  I heard him moan/howl and ran to him but he was gone.  I tried compressions while screaming and felt that last breath leave and knew he was gone.  Right there, in my arms on my couch.  

The loss of time that we feel "owed" is painful.  The life we expected with them, gone.  Just doesn't make sense.  

The pain is deep.  The "what ifs" ramble constantly.  I call them my thoughts of the day - each day is a different thought.  WHY didn't I try more CPR?  WHY didn't the vet tell me to try CPR correctly instead of telling me to drive there 20 minutes away?  WHY didn't I just go to the nearest vet - 5 minutes away?  What if.... What if.... 

I was in a Facebook Group with all the puppy siblings and had to leave it for now - watching everyone else get to watch their pups grow up is just too much.  I cared too much - babied him, worried too much, and still this comes out of left field to cripple me.  

Every single time we lose a dog, we lose a piece of our hearts.  Every single time we choose to love a dog again, we fill in that lost piece with a piece of their heart and we are happy again.  I hope that someday, my heart will be as kind as all of my dogs' hearts were.  <3

Peace, hugs and love.  


*  Duncan the Dane - taken WAY too soon (7/27/17 - 3/28/18)
*  Missing Dudley the Newf (3/13/08 - 6/12/17)
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I am so very sorry. I am here with you crying tears. It hurts so much to lose them before their time. It is so unfair. And all of this is so incredibly heartbreaking.
—Loving Riley, Rosy & Axl always 🐾

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What a terrible and so sudden and unexpected loss of your sweet and beloved Sam. Noone could have expected this to be how it was and you have certainly done all you could have done including your vets. I am deeply sorry and my heart goes out to you. Unfortunately there is no advice but to allow your feelings to come out. We are all grieving terrible loss and it is good that you came here. We all understand and are here for you to listen and to try and comfort you. I had a yellow lab,too my beloved Max - lost him this January. So I can promise you that things will get easier if you will allow yourself some time to cry and to grieve over such a tremendeous loss. I hope you can find comfort with your beloved husband, the other two fur babies and the life growing inside of you. Sam will certainly watch on you and his spirit will be around you forever. He is not lost - he is just physically not here anymore.

Silvia (with Max forever in my heart)


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Dear Samsmama,

I read your entire story and found myself in tears all over again.  I know how it feels to have bursts of hope brought on by news from the vet, only to have it dashed and taken away yet again.  I understand your connection to Sam.  I think many of us on this forum have felt that connection; that bond that is like nothing we have experienced with a person.  I wish there was something I could say that would make you feel better about your loss, but unfortunately there is nothing.  Take things minute by minute and take care of yourself.  Let yourself grieve because this pain is very real, very raw, and it won't feel better for a good while.  Maybe you could write some letters to Sam and tell him how you feel.  I wrote letters to my kitty Mitookie many times in the first month after he was gone.  I slept with his box of ashes on the pillow next to me.  I desperately needed to feel him near me and that is as good as it was going to get.  Believe me when I say that nothing you are thinking or feeling is abnormal, or unheard of.  I lost my appetite, my wits, my sanity, my ability to be around anyone, and even felt that I didn't want to go on without my Mitookie.  Deep down I knew that all of this was normal and temporary.  I have many lovely friends, a great family, a great boyfriend, another sweet fur baby, and yet none of it mattered in the first few weeks without Mitookie. It's a devastating loss.  Come to the forum to "talk" as often as you need to.  You will find the support and uplifting you need so badly right now.  Everyone understands exactly how you feel. I have connected with the most wonderful people who truly care.  That is invaluable in this world we live in.  I will be praying that you find peace and comfort. 

Hugs to you,

Marina ~ Mitookie's Mom
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My heart aches for your pain.  The tragic sudden departure of our animals fills us with a horror.  We keep replaying the scenes in our mind, asking ourselves lots of "what ifs" as we miss them and cry out for the love they gave us that's not there to feel and hold any more.   I am so sorry for your pain.  But to know a love that special in your life is really extraordinary.  To be able to form that kind of a bond is incredibly special.  I hope that you will be able to come to the understanding that Sam's still connected to you from Heaven.  You can't see him.  You can't touch him, but when your heart has healed enough you'll be able to feel him when he sends you signs that he's still there.

My Radar died on Thanksgiving day last year, in a similar, totally unexpected, horrible way.  The vet was not able to determine what had happened to him.  She just new it was something awful that she couldn't fix.  She did not want to put him in the hospital, because she said she could keep him 3 days or so and not find out what ws going and he might die anyway, so we crossed him to the Bridge.  The way I handled that day will haunt me forever, and I will always regret how I did things.  I daily beg him to forgive me for not doing better, but I miss his love continually.

I would urge you to plan some kind of memorial for him that you know he would like and your other babies can attend too.  I would hope it might start to provide you a tiny bit of comfort. 

Love your other babies in Sam's honor.  I'll put you all on my prayer list as you begin the painful process of grieving.

Connie C
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I ann so sorry for your loss of Sam. The suddenness of it all hurts so much. It is so brave of you to write about his final moments. My little Nelly's last moments keep replaying over and over in my head. I wake up with knots in my stomach. I just can't believe how quickly it all happened for Nelly either. I'm grateful she wasn't sick for long but I'm so heartbroken that I didn't have more time to say goodbye.
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Samsmama - I am SO sorry for your loss.  I feel your anguish, I feel your pain.  Having just lost 2 chihuahuas to a pit bull attack last Saturday, I am raw with grief myself.  It all seems so surreal when they are taken so quickly.  As I read your post all I could think was that we are experiencing the same questions, the same pain even though the circumstances are completely different.  I feel myself telling you, "Don't blame yourself" "It wasn't your fault" "How could you have known".  And then I try to apply this reasoning to myself but I can't.  Why is life so harsh?  Why can't I turn back the hands of time?

Hang in there. We will get through this grief.  We have to concentrate on the good lives our pets had and the fact that they knew they were loved.  They are out of pain, in a good space and waiting patiently for us to join them down the line. I honestly believe we will see them again.
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This made me cry. I lost both of my dogs while I was pregnant, one suddenly to a heart arrhythmia, and one to degenerative myelopathy. We had to make the decision to let her go, and I know how hard it is, how much you question yourself. Just know that Sam is always with you, I don't believe our loved ones ever really leave us. I feel my doggies here sometimes.I am also so, so sad that my dogs, who were my entire life from age 25 to 38, will just be "the dogs my mom had before I was born." to my son. I really wish he could have known them. We will get him a dog of his own, because although no dog will ever be like Paris and Dobie, he will get to have his own special relationship with his dog. I have found that talking about my dogs helps me to cope with their losses. It has been 9 and 6 months, and I can think of them and smile more than I cry now. They don't want us to be sad. I always tried to hide any sadness I felt from them, they hated seeing me upset, and I don't hide it now, but instead I really try to feel happy for them. It's hard, but it becomes more normal over time.
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