It has been quite a while since I have been able to make a post. 🙁
Today we left Florance, and started back down the 101. The dogs needed a run so we pulled over in Port Orford and found a place to park the coach by a fantastic park that had an arena for horses. It was empty, set in the redwood trees, and the perfect place to let the girls run off some steam. And run they did! We spent about an hour tossing balls, and then Doug brought out coffee and something to eat. We had a picnic. I can not remember the last time I did that.
Santana and Chicago were worn out and enjoyed their time laying in lush green grass while watching the birds and squirrels dodge back and forth. It was a peaceful stop. The rain had let up for a bit, and for a time, everything seemed right with the world. We sipped on hot coffee…. and sat quietly enjoying the sight of our girls resting so peacefully.
Further down the road, we made one last stop so I could photograph some fantastic landscape shots of the coast in Humberg National Park. The shores are littered with the most fantastic rock formations for as far as the eye could see.
From there we left Oregon, crossed into California, and made our way to the Redwood Casino and Hotel about 20 miles south of Crescent City. We had zero cell service, but the parking was good and we were exhausted.
After getting something to eat, we returned to the coach and laughed as usual while the girls wrestled and fought over squeaky balls and tug toys. Then out of no where….. Santana went completely sideways.
All of a sudden, she arched in horrible pain and started to try and vomit in the coach. We took her outside, and she just could not settle down. She was throwing up a a white glue like foam, and could not stand still. We had her on a 20 rope, and she kept trying to crawl under trucks where she would lay for a bit, and then howl terribly! We would coax her out and she would pace and pace and pace. All the time her back was arched as she tried desperately to empty her stomach. Nothing came out but wads of foam.
Doug and I were totally freaking out and scared out of our minds! Nothing we did brought her any comfort. Doug ran to the hotel and asked where the closest vet was in case we decided we had to make a run for it if she didn’t settle down. By the time Doug got back to the parking lot, I was in tears and we knew we had to get help immediately. Back to the hotel he went to use the phone where he contacted a vet clinic in Crescent City. The vet asked what she was doing, and he said he was positive she had twisted intestines and we had to get there immediately. We unhooked the jeep, and carefully loaded her and Chicago in the back, and Doug made a frantic dash back up the mountain to Dr. Wood. The whole time she was moaning and howling in pain, while Chicago tried frantically to cuddle and make her more comfortable.
We arrived at All Creatures Animal hospital, and the vet was waiting with the side door open for us. We gently helped her out of the jeep and took her inside. She was exhausted. Rather than being her perky or nervous self in a vet clinic, she opted to lay on her side on the floor with the saddest eyes. A look that will haunt me forever.
Dr Wood did a quick exam, and then said the most dreaded thing I have ever heard. “Her heart is perfect.. I do not believe she has Cardiomyopathy”. He felt she was not diagnosed correctly, and felt her issues had to do with her intestines. WHAT????!!!!
He had to take her for a quick exray of her tummy to confirm if his diagnosis was correct. He returned several moments, and Santana laid on her side while the vet showed us what he found. Our jaws dropped! Her tummy should have been the size of a golf ball, and it was the size of a watermelon. Her intestines were twisted and wrapped 5 or 6 times around her stomach wall. It was then we lost our minds and waited for him to explain our options.
She was so far gone, that there was nothing he could do for her. The one chance we had was to make a dash for Medford where they would have an emergency team of surgeons that might be able to unravel things, but he said her chances were very low. If she did manage to survive the surgery, she would be in ICU for some time, and the healing process would be exceptionally painful and long.
He went on to further say that after seeing the xray, Santana was the most stoic dog he had ever seen because she was in a whole lot more pain than she was letting is know about. Doug and I in a complete panic tried to weigh our options and thought about trying to get her to Medford, two hours away. I am waiting for a copy of the xray which I will post later and perhaps be able to share with you the symptoms we witnessed so it may save another special Angels life. Dr Wood was very gentle with us, and said that we had to consider that within 15-20 minutes her pain would be 100 times worse, and she would probably pass before we got half way there. We sat on the floor, cradling her head and trying not to say what we both knew had to be done. It didn’t make things easier hearing Chicago in the jeep outside screaming her little brains out wondering where her Santana had gone. Dogs just seem to know I guess. 🙁
We tried to get our heads around what the vet had said. Her Heart Was Perfect. She was misdiagnosed. For who knows how long, we were giving her medication for her heart, trying to follow all of the vets directions to a capital T, and here we were… being told there had been a mistake. HOW do you wrap your thoughts around that while your precious baby is laying on the floor painfully dying?!!!
Of course we did the right thing. We told the vet we knew we had to let her go. Given that she was so week, he said he would not sedate her but give her an injection that would quickly stop her heart and she would just go to sleep.
From previous experience with my last Doberman (Phoenix), and an old mare I had in my care… I frantically told Doug I just could not go through holding her as she died. I just couldn’t! Panic set in, terrible memories flooded back and I lost my head. It was decided that I would go outside. The vet went to get the injection, and Doug layed with her on the floor.
The moment I left I KNEW I had mad a mistake. I went to go back inside to hold her, but they had just gotten her to lay down again after I had walked out. I was scared if he was giving her the shot and I opened the door, Santana would bolt up and it would be a mess. So I just stood there and watched from the other side of the window and hysterically cried as my Santana Banana closed her eyes for the last time.
After a few minutes… Doug came out. His heart was shattered! We held onto each other and cried so hard. Then I bolted back in and held her head in my arms and whispered to her. “My gorgeous girl… my Santana Banana”…. 🙁
At 11:10 p.m. Santana walked on. She made Oregon.
A few minutes later we brought a very frantic Chicago in. She was beside herself. When she finally stopped and saw Santana…she gave her a nudge and a kiss. We took her back to the jeep.
The vet told us not to worry about paying as we asked to have her cremated. We sat in the parking lot long after he left, in the rain again! It felt so wrong to leave her there… everything was wrong. Why hadn’t a vet picked up on this condition when we had spent thousands in tests, medications, EEG’s, blood work… I mean Really????!!!!! I could of killed someone that night. I think I could have.
Eventually we made out way back to the coach, and sat there all night with Chicago. You can imagine the shape we were in. When the morning came, we hooked up the jeep and headed back to Crescent City to wait a few days to bring our precious, beautiful, amazing, perfect girl back to us.
I know so many of us have lost our beloved babes… my heart goes out to every single person who has to go through this. Santana had survived a house fire, the restructuring of her leg with a ruptured ACL and meniscus tendons…and then a year and a half of heart tests by specialists and massive amounts of medication that probably played a huge part in her death.Will we ever know the whole truth about what was wrong medically for the past year and a half… probably not. However, we know what we know 🙁
Our coach is now dark and empty. We feel like two old people and a dog that is not eating and suffering a great deal of grief. I am so angry!!!!!!!!! When I think of everything that happened Both Doug and I can not shake the would of, should have or could haves. Our world has fallen apart.