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.
So sorry for your pain. I believe you did the right thing. She was family! It is so so difficult to say “Good Bye”. You have so many wonderful memories, which is a blessing. She has no pain now. God Bless! ❤️
Thanks Linda Matson….. she was our kid. Went through so much. She was my bestest friend
I really have no words that I can say to you Sherry or Doug. You have list your girl for no apparent reason and I know you are both hurting. All I can say is I hope Chicago copes well the liss and I know somewhere down the line you and Doug will forgive but never forget what happened to your big girl Santana
Love you loads xxx
Oh Sherry, this blog entry just kills me to read, and yet I have come back and re-read it many times, before I could leave a comment. I read it to Ron and we both got emotional. We feel your pain so much, and still it is probably paled in comparison, to your, Doug, and Chicago’s pain. I remember when we first became friends and Santana lived through the trauma of the house fire. It seems like I’ve known her forever, and yet I haven’t. I will say, I am so honored to have met her in person. And now Chicago too. We are very happy we met up in person again and want you to know, we are thinking about you and sending prayers for safe travels to you all! Please know, if you ever are near, you are WELCOME here, any time!!
Take care my friends!
Kathleen Manthey, I can not express how much Doug and I have appreciated your wonderful friendship. You and Ron have come to mean a great deal to us. When we met on our first trip with the Alfa Coach, I knew there was something extra specail about you. However, the way you loved on Santana when we had a visit in the unit before you took us off to grab some local photography and then diner…. it was then I knew you had the heart of an angel. We had such a wonderful time with you this go around… I am so sorry Santana was not with us. I still cry, Doug is not taking it well, and little Chicago a great deal of the time is lost and sad. Santana as I have told others was a gift. A gift for us to love, look after and an incredible blessing. Your little babe is a gift as well. Some people are caregivers… but with a special heart of all creatures. In that manner your tender little babe is ours as well… just like Santana belonged in heart to so many others who followed her trials over the 6 beautiful years we had her. And her trials were many. We thank you for your kind words, thoughts and support. One day when we are settled in a great place that you might like to come and join us for a bit of a break… the unit door is always open to you. Ya even get the bed next to the fireplace, although I suspect you would prefer A/C where we will be. 🙂 We shall be seeing a lot of you over the next few years, and we will love every minute of our precious time together. Be well, healthy and safe. Love ya to the moon and back. Thanks for being a very dear friend…. I thank FB and GOT for meeting you!
Crying all over again, looking at the pictures of your beautiful Santana… Yes, we have all been through this horrible pain of losing our fur babies, And l really think we all loved Santana, as her struggles began when she had her leg done.. and we followed her progress…. and her so called heart problems…and her final journey… She is at peace now running and playing with all our little ones we have lost.. And she will take control and be a big sister to all… Love and Hugs.. and Prayers..
Linda Steffen, we believe Santana was a gift. A precious soul to care for. She was not ours. She was the good Lords. We who have hearts for all creatures great and small are gifted with the compassion to be caretakers. Santana belonged to all of us, just as everything we are to keep care of. She gave us all so much. I had no idea how many lives she touched… and many… MANY of your beloved babes have been a part of my heart as well. Love you so much!!!!!!!!!! HUGS!!!!!
You put me in the soon with you. I cried with you. Her heart was good and I did wonder how she made it this long after the heart diagnosis. It sounded like she was on deaths door. Wrong. I am so sorry you ( you, Doug & Chicago) had to go thru this.
Santana will anyways be with you in your heart.
Thanks Jo Shecter. hardest couple of posts I have ever had to make. Santana and a dear FB friend we were on our way to see “waled on” as well. Life is just hard sometimes huh> However…. with each day although we grieve deeply, something happens to remind us why we are doing what we are…. There is a plan stan. Good to have those nudges once in a while to remind us why we made such a drastic lifestyle change. Hope to see ya at some point, and thanks so much for following our blog.
Sherry and Doug;
Thank you for sharing such a private and painful moment with the passing of your sweet girl Santana. I can’ imagine the pain and heartache you must be feeling. I pray that God brings both of you peace and the ability to truly forgive the other vet. I’m sure the vet will be so heart broken when he sees the reports. Please don’t let the anger consume your every waking moment. Santana made it to the beach, she ran in the water, and she was at peace. Thanks again for sharing the wonderful story.
Forgiveness is something we knew we would have to come to terms with.. I wrote about that in a recent blog. Gee it’s hard, but the anger has started to fade now. We just got the xrays today. I will be sending them to three different vets and explaining what happened and that the thought is Santana was not correctly tested…. I WILL be gentle.. but they need to know. Thank you so much for following our blog. You rock Miss SONshine! 🙂
I cried reading about Santana’s last night. (I remenber my Coco’s last day. & the agony she went through.)
I understand Chicago’s trauma & probably terror wondering what had happened to a
Yes Ellen McCann Fletcher… Chicago is very very sad. She does not understand when we drive away why Santana has not come through the door. When we travel she is at a loss as she would lay beside her with her head on her hip….. It sure is empty with just one girl….. we have given much thought since we first learned we would loose her regarding the possibility that we would get another. There is so much emptiness in the coach….. Thanks again … your a great friend!