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npittard
41 years old
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Athens, GA
Born Sep-20-1978
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npittard

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19 Aug 2004
It has been a week today that my wonderful Australian Shepherd, Satchel, died. He would have been three years old next month. Satchel was by far the best dog I've ever had. He was a wonderful puppy and an even better adult. I loved him like he was my child and my heart is broken that he is gone.

About a month ago, Satchel suffered a heat stroke. It was an unusual event in that it was not unusually hot and he had certainly played in hotter weather for a much longer time. The signs of the heat stroke appeared rapidly but we were able to cool him down before taking him to the emergency vet. We actually cooked him too much and his temperature fell dangerously low. He spent about a week in the hospital but he did survive the stroke, which puts him in the low percentage of dogs that survive a heat stroke anyway.

As a result, his immune system was damaged and our regular vet put him on prednisone and a host of other medications. He was improving although he seemed depressed because he wasn't getting his normal amount of "play" time. His blood work continued to improve and last Wednesday we went for his weekly checkup and his blood work looked almost normal. I was so relived. For the first time I felt like he was going to be alright. The vet even said we could go back to agility class, but no running, just individual obstacles.

We went to class Wednesday evening and after the weave poles and a couple of times over the teeter, Satch started to look like he felt bad. My husband went outside with him and he almost immediately threw up. He threw up a couple more times before we decided to take him home. On the way home, he seemed like he felt better so we thought maybe it was just the excitement of being out of the house.

That night, Satch never came upstairs to bed with us and my husband got up early Thursday morning to check on him. He had thrown up three more times throughout the night and did not look good. I quickly got dressed and we took him to the vet. They decided that his symptoms seemed unrelated to his previous heat stroke and decided to do X-rays. The first set didn't show anything, so they gave him some barium and did another. While they were waiting on the X-rays, Satchel was deteriorating fast. His temperature was rising and he became more listless.

The second set of X-rays showed a swollen area in his small intestine where the barium was reduced to a trickle. The vet decided that he needed emergency surgery to remove whatever was obstructing his intestines. It turned out to be what they thought looked like sidewalk chalk. I still don't know where in the world he got into sidewalk chalk and it really wasn't like him to eat things anyway. Our vet performed the surgery and was surprised to find that he hadn't suffered any necrosis of his small intestine. He was so sick she thought for sure they would get in there and find a lot of dead tissue, but they didn't.

Our vet stayed with him for a while at her practice and then personally transferred him to the emergency vet for overnight hospitalization. We met her there at about 8 PM last Thursday evening. My poor baby looked so pitiful. He was coming out of the anesthesia but he still didn't have control of his body. He was responding to stimulus and when I touched him he started to make some noise but I didn't want to upset him. The doctor was not pleased with his color but he was stable.

We left the EV at around 8:15-8:20 and Satch went into pulmonary arrest at about 8:25 PM. They called our regular vet and she gave them instructions. They revived him and intibated him but he never took another breathe on his own. He died at 8:45 PM. We were at a friend's house that lived near by and we both had mistakenly left our cell phones in the car. After staying much too long, (my husband and I both are certainly talkers) we both had missed calls from the EV. I knew when I saw that number that it couldn't be good news. My husband called and they told him what had happened.

He was immediately hysterical and was really not capable of driving the car. I on the other hand was calm and quiet, did not shed a tear. I was obviously in shock. They asked if we wanted to come back and see his body and I said no. Now I wish more than anything that we had gone back. My last memories of him are coming out of anesthesia with his tongue hanging out of his mouth and that morning when we left him at the vet, he planted his feet and did not want to leave us. Both of these are just heartbreaking. I should have gone back to see him so I could have at least hugged him one more time.

The staff at the emergency vet made a plaster paw print and cut some of his fur for us. They really couldn't have picked a better place to cut the fur from. He had this really wispy fur right behind his ears, it was all he retained of his puppy fur and it would get all crimped when it was wet, we called it his 80s fur. Anyway, my husband has gotten better and I've just gotten worse. I had to convince my husband to get Satchel 3 years ago and you would have thought I was expecting a child. His crate and bed were all ready with a collar and tag before we ever even picked him out.

Now he's gone and I still can't even believe it. He was so young and I really thought we had another decade or more together. Some of my closest friends I wouldn't even know without him. I made him and doing things with him so much a part of my life and I am pretty lost without him. I made a shadow box full of his things, including the plaster paw and fur, but I don't know what to do with all the pictures and little momentos. I put his food and water dishes up but not his bed. I have all these pictures of him at work and I haven't taken any of them down. I don't want to just remove them like I'm trying to forget him, but at the same time it is hard to see him everywhere I look.

I bought a book on loosing a pet, because that is what I do when I don't understand something, I buy a book. It has helped some but it really just says the same stuff over and over again and none of it seems to help all that much. This has been the longest week of my life. I miss my puppy and there is nothing to be done about it.

He was such a wonderful dog, so handsome and such a defined personality. He wasn't the most lovey dog by any means and typically looked at me when I was loving on him as if he was tolerating me more than anything, but he always needed to be near me and my husband. He had to take care of the herd, even when the herd kept moving around the house making him get up and follow. I am not a religious person but one of my friends is and she is convinced that it was meant to be, and I am now inclined to agree with her. Not that it makes it any easier to deal with or any more fair but I have to believe that Satchel needed to be somewhere else now. I still miss him terribly and cry often but I really don't know what else to do.

Thanks for listening to my rambling. I've been reading your board for a few days now and finally felt like I was ready to post about my baby.

Nicole
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20 Sep 2008 - 6:21

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