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I'm writing this after losing my best friend less than 24 hrs ago. He was a Terrier/ Maltese cross softest dog I've ever known with a unique cheeky clever personality. His name was Toto and he was my new wife's dog from being a tiny pup. My gorgeous wife didn't know the word discipline and 'marded ' him silly on a constant basis which explains his ridiculously soft personality. When my wife and I met over 10 years ago I didn't agree with lack of discipline with animals and letting them sleep on the bed but in time he just worked his magic on me and although I was generally the disciplinarian / alpha in our little family he could get away with murder at times with a cheeky teeth filled grin and pant and soft brown sad eyes that could crack the hardest of nuts. I even let him off itching his bum on my nice cream carpet , he wasn't one for a dirty bum but that was taking the mic! My then girlfriend lived with her parents and a tiny Yorkshire toy girl ( Totos ruling wife mimi)In fact she still does but we married this year ( finally) and waiting to move in our new work in progress house. anyway over the years toto and I became best friends , all be it his main love ❤️ was and will for ever be my Wife as they developed a bond that can only be described as soul mates. Toto was attacked when he was young on an estate and since he could not tolerate other dogs , he almost went into a panic stricken frenzy every time he saw one which no amount of training or conditioning could solve, as a result we just tried to avoid everywhere with dogs and I picked him up and distracted him whilst they passed ..... something which this certain little boy cottoned on too right away! This year he was 11 but very fit , still pulling us both round the lakes as we have a caravan up there which he loved. He adored walking everywhere and showed no signs of tiring or weakness. What an unbelievable thirst for life and an endless supply of love he had for us! It was literally infectious his energy and teddy bear loving ways. He had an ongoing issue with his ear, constantly reforming fungus/ polyps which he often scratched/ infected / needed treatment. As a result he was under a vet who saw him regularly , a month ago he developed a cough , the vet explained when he looked at him this was just a collapsed trachea , common in such breeds and nothing to be concerned about. We were happy to learn this and despite the fact he didn't check him over with a stethoscope or do any tests we were convinced this must be the problem. We continued to see the vet regularly for his ear and this week he had a severe episode of breathlessness which worried us a lot , we were advised that we should keep him cool as it was very hot and humid , sure enough after an hour or so of rapid breathing he improved and slept the next morning seemed better. He happened to have an appt for his ear again later that day so when we took him we explained the main worry was this freak episode and my wife said she thought he was going to die at one point. He again shrugged this off to trachea and said that no further tests would be needed and that he even listed him for surgery and a removal of some polyps the following Tuesday. Again no real thorough assessment no investigations it was late as we were the last of his pts and he was running over 30 mins late. We even asked if bronchodilators may help or anything should such an awful episode like that happen again might ease his symptoms, he just suggested a cool vest. I have to mention that the vets is cheap compared as he does not charge for appointments only if treatment required. As a result he's incredibly busy and apts are quick. I actually think he's a good vet but he's so busy he just isn't thorough as may be he should. Im off work at present as helping do up our shell of a house but kept an eye on him and all seemed ok apart from his bark seemed diminished like his throat was tight seemed more of a hough. We returned from cinema late Friday night and as routine always follows he came upstairs. According to my wife he seemed slow and just sat on the top of the stairs out of behaviour. He then came in the room but panting fast like he had before. I lifted him on the bed as I always do and he seemed not himself, panting very fast. We thought as we did before this must be his trachea like before and put the fan on whilst stroking him and calming him. I searched online looking for remedies , cool him down .... maybe throat gold.....put him on a diet long term ......calm him down. As the hours past his symptoms didn't , I started measuring his respiratory rate 123bpm.....121......120.....122 and so on , surely too fast as online it states much slower and that respiratory distress is an emergency. I couldn't see him like this any longer so I rang an emergency line. I spoke to a pleasant lady and told her everything. She agreed it was right to ring and asked if we were trying to cool him down and is he deteriorating. I said not particularly but he isn't improving. I feel most guilty for then asking how much a consultation would be , she said 160 initial then any treatment is extra after that. She explained our vet has a clinic in the morning even though different clinic we could see him first thing. Now I know for my boy I would spend thousands on him to my last penny if he needed it but we agreed with the vet that we would take him in should he worsen, hoping a repeat of him improving like last time. I don't know why I didn't just take him, I knew he wasn't well and couldn't settle or even lie down. I hate myself for this , I was his protector and I just let him down this goes around my head all the time. That night/ early morning we stroked him , my wife held him up to offload his belly to try and ease his symptoms , she did this for over an hour to help. He seemed at one point to improve but his panting continued. About 6am I had slept for a few hours , again something I feel awful for, I woke to my wife saying he still wasn't right. I rang the vet again but it just rang off so I checked online and they were opening at 9am. We continued to cuddle him in the hope he'd improve. We went straight to the vets ( not original one as we'd lost trust with him now) and almost was seen within 15 mins. a new vet saw him and did a thorough assessment. To our horror he explained he could hear a murmur and also said all this did not seem like trachea at all but he had to rule out heart failure? Now Toto has been such a fit dog , no real sign of any fatigue or weakness before. It can't be this surely ??!!! We are both physios worked in respiratory and very aware of heart failure symptoms and onset. We suddenly thought maybe this explains the initial cough , maybe his lungs are flooding ???? Why have I let him go without immediate treatment if so? Have we just ignored these symptoms last night thinking it was trachea and all along he was in Acute heart failure.... surely not! Why have I just being presuming on such an important life ? the vet took him and explained he will put oxygen on him and sedate him to lie him down and X-ray him. I felt some relief that something was being done. We both thought maybe if it's heart failure he could have a drain in his lungs then be given iv antidiuretics and be on heart meds long term and we'd have our baby back ! He said he'd ring us but to go away for a while until then. We went into town as j had an appointment at spec savers , didn't feel like going but maybe it will take our mind of our worries. The call came in town from the vet , his first words were 'I'm sorry it's not good news'. He might as well have but a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. This wasn't happening. He explained that very shortly after we handed him over to be cared for he put oxygen on him and started to sedate him for the X-ray. He started vomiting blood so he further sedated him and then he had a cardiac arrest. He explained he got him back but didn't know whether he'd suffered brain damage. We rushed back to see him, the vet took us in and explained he'd just passed. That was it .......my boy ....my best pal .... my life , my wife's lifelong companion ! I couldn't understand why when he was so fit before, why had this not been picked up sooner. We could have managed his heart better ! we then were lead round to see him , the worst moment of my life , just laid on the bed all still. Our baby. I cant describe how we feel , it's like this bundle of joy and happiness in our life was left with a massive hole. Just too sad for words. Then anger at the vet. We feel like we've been cheated out of a few years more. This is where it only begins , we'd packed his bag for the caravan with meds / food/ poo bags/ a toy/ his lead and harness. im so angry I'm so upset I'm crying all the time I just don't know what to do all of the time. Don't want to go for a walk or go to the van or do anything. The only thing which seems to help is talking about him and how wonderful he was. Ive come to realise though that this isn't it. He's going to be part of my future too. When we get his body back from the crem we will have him back in the house so he can find his way back to us. Well show him the new house when it's done and tell him he's always invited. I lost my wedding ring on honeymoon and want to get a replacement with some of his hair inside if possible. We will take him upstairs to our room at night and back down to the hall in the morning until we move. Sounds a little weird but we feel this is right. the thought of returning to my house with all his stuff there strikes fear within me or going to the van without him. One day I truly believe I'll see him again and play with him and take him for walks , it's the only way. There m not sure anyone is crazy enough to read this but to be honest just writing about him feels right. I know it's not just me with Toto , I can't begin to feel how my wife is feeling or her parents who are at home with him all these years. Hes our first child really and always will be , if we have kids they will know all about him and all the funny stories we will tell them. I wish my pain would go but in a way my pain is linked to him because I loved him so and I want to turn that pain into joy and a feeling of his specialness inside me forever like I'm now carrying him with me throughout life forever. My wife is worried that he'll be on his own now in heaven or trying to find his way. I know this isn't so , he's such a special dog that he'll have his way of finding us , he'll be with us and when we get his body back he'll continue to see how much we love him and he'll remain with us forever. His journey with us goes on until the next chapter when we are all together again which will happen again in time. Thanks for listening dave