After a glorious day at HowlOWeenie on Saturday, we had a grim reminder of why we do what we do.  Our sweet foster boy Sammy, who had been with us for almost a year, died Saturday night.

Sammy came to DREAM with the name Sambo and with his brother, Rambo.  They were sweet little black and tan seniors who had lived their entire lives with their mom and dad, who were moving into assisted living.  Luckily the timing was good, and DREAM did not have our usual waiting list of dogs in danger of euthanization at local animal control.  We were able to take them in.

Although Rambo and Sambo were very sweet, they had never been socialized and had a tendency to snap at strangers and especially at kids.  Jabula Dog Academy agreed to foster them for a while and help to socialize them.  They did an amazing job, and after that Rambo and Sambo were bouncy, cheerful, and eager for adventures.  During that time, we learned that Sambo was a potential candidate for Cushing’s disease.

They went to foster in Savannah, where they got better at housetraining and learned to use a doggie door.  The signs of Cushing’s also subsided, and the vet there said that Sambo did not have it after all.  Both boys continued to be loving and sweet.  Rambo started being his foster mom Michelle’s shadow.  They were supposed to stay in Savannah until their foster mom’s kitchen renovation started, right before HowlOWeenie.

A few days before that, Sammy (his new name) started acting a bit depressed.  Then he began panting (a common symptom of pain).  Michelle took him to the vet, and X-rays showed that he had ingested a large amount of sand, which had caused a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract and significant pain.  We wanted to avoid surgery if we could, so the vet prescribed huge doses of laxative and pain medications.  Things started to look better, the pain seemed to subside, and the boys came to Atlanta when Michelle came up for the festival.  (She was the emcee and the chair of the costume contest.)

In Atlanta, he had a terrifically huge poop, and we thought he had passed all the sand.  But strangely, his pain symptoms got worse, and when he skipped a meal, we took him to our wonderful vet here on Friday.  (Sammy NEVER misses a meal.) They said that Sammy had a heart condition and a lot of fluid in his lungs.  We don’t know whether the heart condition was caused by the sand, or if the sand caused the heart condition.  It is likely that he was uncomfortable from the heart condition, and that caused him to eat the sand.

We tried several therapies over the weekend, including multiple antibiotics, lasix, nebulizing, and an oxygen chamber.  At one point he seemed to get better and ate a good dinner.  But then he went back downhill again, very quickly.  The pneumonia was too pronounced, and we had to let Sammy go to relieve his suffering.  Michelle and I cried.  We held him, we talked to him, and we told him it would be okay.  We told him we were going to get him out of that body so he could feel good again.  We told him to find us on the other side.  When the doctor gave him the injection, he relaxed.  We were stroking his ears, and I could feel the relief in the room, like a presence.

I brought Sammy’s body home so that Rammy could see his brother.  I didn’t want him to wonder where Sammy was.  He sniffed him all over, and then went outside.  He has been fine with it.  I hope he will find his own forever home soon.  He is ready.

I am glad that DREAM was able to give Sammy this final gift of love.  Even though it is one of the hardest things we ever do, letting go.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 03:26:30

    Kristin and Michelle,

    I am so sorry to hear about Sammy. My prayers are with you and the DREAM family.



  2. michelemazzei
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 14:21:02

    Sammy was a very special dog. Sharing time with Sammy has made me a better person and enriched my life immeasurably. Thank you Sammy for all you have given me. May peace be with you.

    “Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.”
    — John Muir


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