I left work to meet them at the Emergency Vet thinking maybe he had a blockage..... When I arrived, it was grim..... they had him in the back trying to stabilize him. Possibly at this point, they suspected fluid around his heart and they were going to remove it - which I learned is called "Tapping him".
I sent a text to our vet. Who soon after called the emergency vet doctor to get a status. She then stayed one step in front of us to be sure she could contact us and be able to hold our hand and answer any questions.
We've been to the emergency vet a number of times with Matey and both Tack and Clewie. This is the first time, I felt the staff talking to us in such a grim way..... as positive as I tried to stay, I kept thinking that this could really be serious - it was kinda like I was outside looking in.
Eventually, we were brought back to speak with the doctor. He had bleeding into his heart. They highly suspected a hemangiosarcoma on the wall of his heart. The prognosis was poor. They said the bleeding could be continuing, only time will tell. They wanted to keep him overnight to monitor him.
We visited him, then returned home to a restless evening trying unsuccessfully to not google and read everything online that we could. Fortunately, our vet was also available and texting us through the evening as well - answering questions as they came up.
Just before 7am the next morning, we received a call from the emergency room vet - Tack held stable through the night until just before her call - where he went into distress again, she suspected he needed to be tapped again. She had already made a call to a Cardiologist in San Leandro and they could get him in at 9am for an ultrasound and to confirm whether there was a growth (hemangiosarcoma) on his heart.
So, she tapped him, while I showered and dressed to pick him up and be on the road ASAP to get to San Leandro in the morning traffic for his rush appointment.
Greg, unfortunately, wasn't able to take the day off, so I went alone with Clewie. I was on autopilot.... like I was watching a show from the outside. I couldn't believe this was happening to our strong, well built, powerful, seemingly healthy boy. Greg and I were both completely stunned.
I should also mention, at the vet, I had called into my work to get the rest of the week off. Fortunately, my work was fabulous and no questions/problems, sent me off to take care of my family.
We were early for our appointment with the cardiologist. We spoke a little initially, and she took Tack in the back to examine him.
After about 20 minutes, I was called back into the room with Tack, then got Greg on speaker phone so we could hear her diagnosis. She did see a tumor and was pretty certain it was a hemangiosarcoma. Prognosis for surgery (which is highly risky) was 6 additional months if by chance it was successful. Greg and I did not want to go that route. She advised, we bring him home, hope the bleeding has stopped and enjoy him. She said, the tumor could burst suddenly right when we leave the office..... or it could be a week or hours...
Stunned, I drove home.....
We shared the news with his team of walkers who are very close to him. And some other friends of his who have known him well..... and basically watched him...... and hugged him.
The Cardiologist said if he seems dramatically better by the next morning, then we would know the bleeding has stopped. So we waited for that. Initially, we just wanted him to make it 24 hours.
Through the day, he seemed to be stable - and by the next morning, he was eating and drinking on his own. We were thrilled. But even seeing this improvement didn't change that he still had a mature aggressive tumor growing in his heart just waiting to burst again.
We didn't leave him alone.
And continued..... watching..... giving him ice cream..... enjoying..... making him steak...... snuggling..... even brought him out to a food truck to get him a rib sandwich.
He had many visitors by the end of the week and weekend. And the time went by, we had come to a belief that leashed walks were okay, he would be miserable in bedrest - he wanted to DO LIFE.
As the weekend drew on, grateful that he was stable, we started to plan to be able to leave him for a few hours. How we would manage leaving him alone, to go to work..... Fortunately, Clewie was still going out in group when we both had to work, so we figured, I could go in late, and the walkers could check in on him before and after Clewie's walk and then I could return early so he wouldn't be alone that long.
Monday, Greg was off. But I went to work. I did leave early to be with Tack. We decided to all walk together in the marina.
We got a distance of about 4 blocks, shortly before a motorcycle went by which got his excited (those who know him, understand his reaction is intense)..... this could have been his tipping point.
He started to look a little off, then Tack laid down, breathing heavy...... oh no, we knew he was in distress again... Greg ran to get the car, I hugged him.
Greg and I had already decided this calm, then bleeding, then tapping cycle while him not getting to run, only wait - was not what we wanted for him. We had already researched and spoke to specialists - all with poor outlooks... they all pointed tot he same thing, his tumor was still aggressively growing and now regularly bleeding.
It was time to say goodbye.
He brought so much to our lives in just the three short years he was with us. Clewie enjoyed him every moment - and we loved the bond they developed. He gave her the love of chasing balls - which she has now taken on as a true ball dog. He was my dream teddy bear - the best snuggler.
Now, 2 months later, I still stop in disbelief that he's not here. I know because I lost dogs before that this feeling will eventually fade.... but I hope I always remember the comfort he brought to our lives with his stable loving presence.