Chloe Golden Sunshine
July 16, 2002 - September 22, 2012
We said goodbye to our sweet Chloe this past Saturday. She has been part of our family since we were given the "pick of the litter" over 10 years ago, and she will be missed terribly.
Chloe became very ill on Wednesday evening, and after over two days of many tests that yielded no answers, we made the very tough decision to let her go. It was very sudden and unexpected, and I still cannot believe she is gone.
That is the short version of the saga that broke my heart this past weekend. I am going to go ahead and write out the long version because I need to do it for myself, and for my dear friends who were so supportive of us during this difficult time and didn't really know what was going on. I don't want to have to re-live this nightmare more than once…
Tuesday: For a few days I had noticed something off with Chloe's right eye. At times it looked sunken in, and her third eyelid was half covering it. I finally decided to take her to the vet. Of course when we got there, her eye looked fine, but the vet took a look at it anyway. It turned out that something was there, and after a consult with another vet, they did not know what it was. They said it was "weird" and something they had never seen before, but there was something floating behind her eye. They said it could be a small bleed or tear, but they weren't worried about it. We were told just to keep an eye on it and let them know if it got worse.
Wednesday: Chloe started vomiting right after we got home from work. She wasn't interested in food and we could tell she didn't feel well. My first thought was that it was related to her eye and I wondered if she was bleeding in her brain, which was making her nauseated. We debated back and forth about taking her to the emergency vet, and after the vomiting continued for several hours, I decided that I wasn't going to wait until the morning. She was obviously very sick, so I headed to the emergency vet around midnight.
I told the vet about her eye, but he didn't think it was related. After examining her, he did some blood work and an EKG. He also saw the "weirdness" in her eye, but he did not know what it was either. He diagnosed her with pancreatitis, but after seeing an arrhythmia on her EKG, he thought that the pancreatitis may have been caused by some type of cancer in her liver or spleen, especially since her brother most likely died from hemangiosarcoma. He recommended that I take her to her regular vet in the morning for ultrasounds, but in the meantime, he wanted to keep her through the night to give her fluids and medications to stop the vomiting.
Thursday: Brian picked Chloe up from the emergency vet, and I took her in to our regular vet when they opened. She was going to try to get the mobile vet out there to do the ultrasounds, but since he was booked until Monday, she got us an appointment with the internal medicine docs at another facility. I picked her up a little later and took her to the specialist.
The specialist immediately diagnosed her eye issue as Horner's Syndrome. But again, said it was unrelated to the big problem. We also found out that she had a tear in her ear drum, which was also unrelated. I left Chloe with them to have ultrasounds of her heart and abdomen, and to get more fluids and meds.
When I returned to the specialist, she said that they didn't find much of anything on the ultrasounds. She said that there was a small nodule in her spleen, and her liver looked slightly "mottled", so they took biopsies of both and sent it off to pathology. She gave her fluids under her skin, along with some meds for the nausea, and told me to take her home and feed her a bland diet and just watch her overnight while we waited for the pathology results.
We made Chloe a dinner of chicken and rice, which she actually gobbled down. She seemed to be feeling better. She slept a lot that night, but seemed to be in better spirits and was up and around some. I was hopeful.
Friday: When we got up Friday morning, Chloe didn't. She didn't want to go outside, and didn't want to eat. A short time later, she made her way out into the kitchen to lay down, and didn't get up again. I called the internal medicine doc and she told me to bring her back in. When we arrived, she said she wanted to do some x-rays of her chest and her abdomen, just to make sure they didn't miss anything on the ultrasounds.
Later that afternoon, the doc called and told me that while they didn't find anything alarming on the x-rays as far as a definitive reason as to why she was so ill, they did find fluid in her abdomen, which was infected, and she had a very high fever. She gave me many possibilities as to what could be going on: a blockage, a small tumor that had ruptured, inflammatory bowel disease, a perforation in her intestine, and the list went on. Our only options at this point were exploratory surgery to go in and see if they could find the cause of the infection, or to put her on antibiotics overnight. Either way, her prognosis was "guarded" and she wouldn't be coming home that night.
By this point, we had already spent $3,000, so when she told me that the surgery would cost another $3,000-$7,000, my heart just sank. Logically, I knew that we should not spend that kind of money. They didn't know what was wrong. They told me that they could go in and still find nothing. She was already septic and they may not be able to clear up the infection even if they did find out the cause. She was 10 years old with a family history of cancer. But my heart was telling me something else. Who was I to put a price on my dog's life? Because that is what I felt I was doing. I felt like such a piece of crap for not doing everything I could to save her. I almost told them to go ahead with the surgery, but I knew Brian wouldn't agree (and he didn't), so I told them to start the antibiotics and we all just hoped for the best.
Saturday: The vet called us with the update we didn't want to hear. Chloe's temperature had come down with the antibiotics and fluids, but was slowly creeping back up. They asked us to come visit with her and talk with them. In our hearts we knew this would be the last time we would see our sweet girl.
When they brought Chloe in the room, she was so happy to see us. She was wagging her tail as she walked over and laid down beside me. I talked to her while we both stroked her head and gave her belly rubs. I told her that I loved her and that I wanted so badly to help her, but I also didn't want her to suffer any more. I told her how sorry I was. I told her over and over again that she was a good girl.
The vet came in and said at this point, our options were exploratory surgery or euthanasia. I cried and cried as Brian signed the consent forms to end Chloe's suffering. We spent some more time with her and just gave her lots of love as she slept peacefully on the floor in front of me. When we were ready, the vet came in. We stayed at her side until the end.
The nightmare was over, but the guilt remained, and it still does. The "what ifs" constantly creep into my mind. What if it had been a blockage or a tear that could have been fixed? What if it had been a small tumor that could have been fixed? I hate that I had to make the decision to end her life, and I wonder if I will ever be able to forgive myself for not trying everything I could, regardless of the cost. I was talking to a friend the other night who said that we will always find a way to feel guilt in situations like this, and that we need to remember the good times. She's right. But it is hard.
I miss my sweet girl so very much. Chloe was the mouth of the house, who always let us know when she wanted something. While she was never the leader of the pack when her brother was with us, she tried to assert her dominance over any other dogs that came in our house. She just wanted to be the boss of someone, I guess. She lived for food and belly rubs, and was happy to get any attention she could get. I will miss her loud mouth at dinner time. I will miss her sitting at my feet and pawing at me until I petted her. I will miss that sweet face that greeted me every day when I got home.
This was especially hard, because we now no longer have any pets in the house. Chloe was the one who made it through the year of hell last year, and helped us get through it all. She was my sweet girl and I love her very much. She is now with Cosmo again, and they will both be in my heart forever.