When we first got Chestie, she was only four weeks old and so small she could fit in our hands. However, she grew to be an elegant and beautiful 50-pound Dalmation with two solid black ears and markings so striking that total strangers would comment on her beauty wherever we went. Her loss is devastating to all of us, especially her Daddy Mike, her "Sissy" Snappy Dog, and myself. Our mantel is filled with her memorabilia, such as her box of ashes, |
collars, pictures and sympathy cards from her passing. She will always be with us. She left us for Rainbows Bridge on March 6, 2007 at the age of 5 1/2 and I am just now able to write this story.
Chestie was such a playful dog, and she especially loved her squeaky toys. She used to chase her "Sissy" around the house with them, and loved to jump on us as we laid on the floor and squeak her toys all over our heads. She loved long walks in our neighborhood, going to the baseball field to play Frisbee with her Daddy Mike and "Sissy" Snappy Dog, romping in the snow on snowy winter days, playing in the surf on the beach on Hatteras Island, NC, going for long rides in the car, but mostly she just loved being with her family.
We didn't even realize she was sick until February 2007 when we noticed she was losing some weight and was not eating her food. We took her to the vet on February 19 and he checked her over and couldn't find anything wrong with her, so we went home and thought she had just become tired of her dry dog food. We bought some canned dog food and mixed it in with the dry food and she seemed to start eating again, but after a few days, she stopped eating that also. I started to cook ground beef and rice for her with vegetables and at first she seemed to love it, but then she would throw it up. We took her to the vet again on March 2nd. At this time he said he noticed some jaundice in her eyes, and did some blood work. The news was not good. He felt that she may have liver cancer and a very short time to live, but to know exactly what was wrong would take some very expensive tests and procedures. He wanted to know if we wanted to have her put to sleep. This was on a Friday, and we spent a long and agonizing weekend trying to make a decision. We decided we had to know for sure before we could do anything, so early Monday morning we called a specialist about 50 miles away and were able to get an appointment that morning. We all went with her, and the vet wanted to do a sonogram on her liver. He thought it was possible that it was leptospirosis because we did take her to wooded areas and she was so young. If it was lepto at least there was a chance of treatment. The results showed extensive damage to her liver, but to know to what extent he would need to do a biopsy, and that meant a night's stay at the hospital. We were so reluctant to leave her there, but we felt that we had no choice in the matter. She didn't want to stay!! But, we left her after kissing and hugging her and saying our goodbyes, and that evening we called to make sure she was okay. The next morning they did the biopsy, and the vet called with the bad news. She had Acute Chronic Active Hepatitis, and her liver was so diseased that he said she didn't have very long to live and we would have to make a decision where to go from there. He felt she must of had this disease for a long, long time, and may have even been born with it. He stated that by the time the symptoms show up, the disease has already progressed to a terminal state. Even though we thought we were ready for the diagnosis, we were devastated. He wanted to keep her overnight so she could recover from the surgery, and we were to pick her up early the next morning. However, 7:30pm that evening he called with the news that she had just passed away within the hour. All we could think of was that she died alone and without us, and to this day I feel so guilty for leaving her there.
We will never get over her loss, there will never be another Chestie, but she will always be in our hearts. We say good morning and good night to her every day where she lies on the mantel, and I know that someday we will be together again on Rainbows Bridge.