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Missing My Sylvie


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Four days ago (11-28-11) I said good bye to my sweet Sylvie, my beloved dog of 13 years. She had been with me since she was a 6 week old puppy, my constant, my anchor, my world. She had seen me through divorce, a cross country move, new job, new houses, other animal friend deaths and on and on. She survived cancer that was diagnosed when she was 9, a pitbull attack and in her later years had been having some changes to her body: early stages of chronic renal failure, an enlarged adrenal gland, changes to the liver, osteoarthritis and potentially other things I am unaware of. She had a bad gastrointestinal bout for a few weeks in early summer which prompted me to do all kinds of tests including ultrasounds and liver and spleen aspirates to check for the cancer returning, but it was still gone and nothing else was really definitive. I was able to eventually get her back to eating well and keeping a stable weight. I continued to be very diligent in monitoring what I could and adjusting things in the home and her life as needed. She was still having a good life and was a happy dog. I was prepared for life in her aging years. But, that didn't happen.

The Friday night before we had a big gathering at a friend's house for Thanksgiving. The house was full of all our dog friends, including my other dog Sailor and lots of people who loved dogs. We all had a very nice dinner and all seemed well. The next morning Sylvie ate breakfast and then threw it right up. She vomited all day until I finally took her to the emergency vet. They ran all tests and did radiographs and didn't find anything. They recommended fluid therapy for mild dehydration so I opted to do them at home and take her home. I wanted her in her own house if she was feeling sick and I watched her like a hawk for the next few hours. She never settled down going in and out of the house to try to vomit, but it was only dry heaves. She finally laid down and then quite quickly she seemed to be feeling pain and then crashed and I then rushed her back to the vet. Her blood pressure and blood sugar had dropped dangerously low, but they were able to stabilize her. When the ultrasound specialist could come later that morning, he found a foreign object in her that looked like cloth. The vet said that often this surgery goes very well so I said yes, get it out. Surgery did go well and the object turned out to be a plastic bag that you cook the turkey in. She must have gotten it out of the trash and gulped it down without anyone seeing it. The bag had just started to enter the small intestine and the vet easily fed it out through the stomach without having to cut the intestines. The intestines were not damaged, as often happens. She did see that her liver was enlarged with some nodules so she took a biopsy which later turned out to be benign and I am still waiting for a test for copper storage disease. Also her pancreas was inflamed. I visited her and she was peacefully sleeping. A few hours later the vet told me she was worried about Sylvie as her WBC was very low indicating a septic infection. That was Monday morning. A few hours later the vet wanted to give her an epidural for pain and then I visited her again. They were pumping fluids in her and antibiotics and pain meds and she had a feeding tube to get nutrients in to her, but she kept dropping her WBC, then her RBC. By Monday evening I visited her for a long time, but she was still very out of it. We were able to wake her up briefly and she made a loud noise like coming out of drugs and then went back to sleep. The vet told me she still hadn't given up on her, but we were on the last try with another antibiotic to try to fight her infections. I spent a long time with her and told her it was okay for her to leave if it was her time. I said I didn't want her to go, but I never will want her to. I told her I wanted what was right for Sylvie. I went home and set my alarm for 2 hours so I could go back and see her. The vet called me in an hour and told me her body was filling with fluid so now her kidneys were shutting down. She said that Sylvie was now making things very clear that it was time. I said I would like them to wait for me, but I didn't want her to suffer. They said they have made her comfortable and it was ok to wait.

I loaded up my other dog and got to the vet quickly. I left him in the car and we euthanized my sweet girl. As soon as the injections were given I visualized her beautiful spirit flying into my mother's out stretched arms and being greeted by her and all the other animal friends I've known and loved. I especially saw her greet her dog friend Charlotte that passed away much earlier in life. I did not feel doubt in any way about that decision, only huge pain for finally having to see her go. I brought my other dog in so he could see that his friend had passed. He didn't go to her body. The vet said he already knew, and I agreed. I then put him back in the car and spent time in a private room with my girl just stroking her over and over again and telling her how much I love her. I took a little bit of her fur home with me just in case I ever wanted to touch it again.

I have been in agonizing pain over the loss of my Sylvie and haven't stopped crying. All the vets, including my Aunt who is a vet in another state say that the plastic bag really was just the tipping point for already underlying aging issues she was dealing with. She was doing well because her body was compensating for the changes, but it was really only a matter of time before the scales tipped. It could have been anything at any time that could have caused this to happen...grabbing something to eat on a walk, a chew bone, etc. I wrestled with myself over and over again why I didn't see her do it, why no one saw her do it, why didn't I have her by my side all night, etc. I have spent 13 years protecting her and being so diligent about her health and it felt so sudden over something that seems like it could have been prevented. Because, even though the bag was the tipping point and it could have happened with anything, she would still be here today if she hadn't eaten that bag because her tipping point would not have come yet. I have fixated on this, but my Aunt and friends said that no matter how cautious you are and how careful, you can never predict everything that will happen and prevent it all. We have to allow our dogs to live, not put them in a plastic bubble and fret and worry over them because that isn't living. Things just happen, and even though we don't want it or understand it, they happen for a reason.

So...I have spent several days in extreme pain and have talked and talked with good friends and family. I even called a pet grief councilor from the ASPCA. I have also read stories on this forum feeling everyone's pain and sadness so similar to my own. Slowly, some of the really great things that people have told me are starting to sink in and my own spiritual beliefs are starting to shine through the fog of pain. I have to remember that my beautiful, amazing, sensitive, humorous, silly and oh so loving friend died happy. She died when her life was still good and she was having adventures. She did have arthritic pain and sometimes her rear legs would give out on her and she walked very slowly, but she smiled everyday and she still loved to eat. She was spared a long drawn out and possibly painful ending. I would have done all the supportive care and changed the house around and my work schedule and organized people to check on her and not gone on any trips and made sure her every need was met. I would have done all of that without a second thought. But, my spiritual side of me says that we all choose our time to go. Perhaps for Sylvie, she wanted to leave when things were good, on a happy note. It was going to happen sometime, perhaps even soon so why not spare herself and me having to see it go so slowly. My brother gave me a beautiful thought. He said that Sylvie spent time on this earth with the person she loved more than anyone and her spirit became so full that it was bursting out of her body. Her body was aging and deteriorating because she had done what she came here to do and she was ready to go. It makes me feel special to think that her and I have helped each other fill our spirits. I must not be full yet because I am still here on this earth, but I know that loving Sylvie and receiving her love in return is a huge step towards that eventual goal.

Others have told me how incredible it is that I was so lucky to spend 13 1/2 years with such an amazing and beautiful spirit. I think her and I were so lucky to have found each other and to experience such intense love.

Sylvie also gave me the requests I asked for over the years when her time came. I asked her to please make the decision very clear, and she did that. I also asked that she please make it happen when I am here and available, not out of town, not at work, not sleeping or out. This also came true too. I also did not want her to ever experience pain and suffering as I knew she was already feeling some arthritis pain despite my efforts to help with it. This came true too as she left before it got severe.

I haven't gone to work all week and am fortunate to have a very understanding job as I work with animals too. I've been a mess, lots and lots of sobbing, reliving the trauma of the events leading to her passing and feeling so completely lost on how I can possibly go on living without her. The last two days I have forced myself to take my other dog to a leash free field so he can run and play. I watch him and he gives me a small reminder of what it's like to be alive. I've had to sit down and cry many times. I imagine my Sylvie by my side and I talk to her like always, "Come on Sweetheart, let's go see what Sailor is doing". I imagine her soft fur under my hands and the sweet place by her ears that I would kiss and tell her how much I love her. I would imagine her intensely looking at me as she did so often communicating her shared love. It does actually help a little with the pain to imagine this even though when I'm done I cry again.

I've said this to so many friends that have experienced losses so I am going to say it here for myself and others. We never know how long we will have on this earth with our loved ones, but the quality of that time is truly what matters. I can honestly say that I feel with all my heart that the time I was so fortunate to spend with my special Sylvie has ended on this physical earth, but the connection that our spirits share and the great love we feel is eternal. May I find the strength to eventually let all of these beautiful thoughts and grateful feelings override the pain I am currently feeling. My Sylvie has not died, just moved on to another adventure. When it is my time to leave this earth, I too will leave my body with a full spirit and enter my mother's out stretched arms. I will be reunited with all the people and animals I have been so lucky to love. What a lovely thing to look forward to.


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What a beutiful dog! I remember my shock when I learned that my theraoy dog Junebig,was diagnosted with a fast acting cancer. Its her picture here and she has a movie on youtube.com.cjanderson of going from being a problem dog faster at Best Friends to a Therapy dog in in 30 days. I did that the show what could be done with rescue dogs that are seen as a problem but just need a job to do. I was so mad and hurt because I had planned great things...amazing, I had two angel donpr come forward and she was anle to live with chemo * more months. I have began to wonder if they dont chose the manner of how they die based on us...

My Dad's dog was so lost without him, she was old croppled, sick and kept looking for him, sleeping in hi9s c;oset becaruse that was where his clothes were. 30 days after he died, I KNEW she had to be put down the next morning, I slept on the floor with her/ I railed at Dad and the Angels to come GET her and dont make me do this after nursing Dad thru the end, I just could not bear what needed to be done. Finially I feel asleep exhausted. The sun came up and she was gone. I had aniother, Foxie that shoud have diied from Cancer is two weeks. She lived 4 quality of life years, tricked me into taking her to the Vet on a sunday, then her heart stopped (I KNEW it was her way of leaving. Junebug died just as we were pulling into the vet. Thunder fought the euthanasia to the end as I knew this dog that I helped with birthing did not want to leave me or me him, from the terrible cancer that had him....

With the other dogs that died to the ones I help die, I just have come to believe that they serve us with lessons out if their love, not the least of which is do we celebrate their lives (I just woke Steve up with my quiet crying for all those dogs after all this time) vs focusing on those last moments of life.

I am soooo heppy that Sylvie got to be with you! What adventures you two had together. Have you made a memproal page or you tube video of her yet? You know my favorite is http://www.onetruemedia.com it is so intuititve!


CJ Anderson

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Thank you CJ for your kind words and stories about your beloved dogs and their passing. I woke up this morning and the terrible gut wrenching pain all came flooding back to me. I miss her so much, it just feels so unbearable. Sylvie's holistic vet gave me some Ignatia, which is an herbal prozac to use and I was surprised that it actually helps some. Yesterday I brought all of Sylvie's supplements and medicines to this vet to donate for other dogs that may need them and to get them out of my house. I don't want to be reminded of her aging issues, just her vibrant and happy spirit. It is also so hard to look at them because my animal care routine is so simple right now which is very hard to get used to. When I get this painful feeling I feel so desperate and don't know what to do. I've called so many friends and family during the worst of it and I don't want to keep using them like that. I know I have to try hard to get through these feelings and to come to terms with her passing. She is not suffering, she feels no pain and she had a wonderful life. These are great blessings. I just was not ready for it, it happened so fast!

Mary at the vet office gave me a huge hug and said that she completely understands my pain losing Sylvie. She said that Sylvie is my "One". I knew what she meant by that because the connection I feel with her is sooooooo intense. She said she cried every day for a year after losing her "One". I hope I don't feel this intense pain for so long, I don't think I could handle that.

I do plan to make a photo book about Sylvie sometime when I can handle going through all the pictures and such. Right now I feel too much raw pain and cry so much. When I do have it, I think it will be good because I can look at it and in time hopefully I will shed happy tears instead of such painful ones. I'm attaching my favorite picture of her where she is sporting her big, beautiful smile. She even won 2nd place in the Humane Society of the United States with this picture. This photo captures that intense look of love that she gave me all the time.

Thanks so much for reading, it does help some to write out my feelings. I know things will get better. I've been through this before and have recovered to the point that I could remember my animal friendpost-15341-132293158501_thumb.jpg with happiness and gratitude for such a beautiful shared relationship.


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Thank you for sharing your story with us. If ever I come back as a dog (not that I believe in reincarnation, but still...) I hope I belong to you. You are an amazing owner and everything you say is so right on...I, too, believe we will reunited with our pets and loved ones. And I'm glad she got to go before she suffered unduly. It is so hard to lose our pets, the kinship we have with them is just so incredible, but it's us we cry for, for they are happily awaiting our reunion. My condolences, I know it's going to be hard, I'm glad you have Sailor to keep you company, even though I know it's not the same.

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