Mark, I know you feel about Sprite, and all of your pups the same way we feel about our dogs. The anticipatory grief, the disbelief, the horrible angst, the ultimate decision and the lasting void left in your life when they are gone. We adopted Olie, a pure bred Golden Retriever, when he was 19 months old from a family in our neighborhood who couldn’t keep him and give him the attention he deserved. Olie, rhymes with Goalie as in Olie the Goalie, was exactly what we were looking for in a first family dog. He was a dream come true. He was a mamma’s boy but shared his affections freely with everyone in the family. We knew the relative life exectancy of Goldens, and as you know a dog has a way of looking at you that tells your heart, “I won’t be here long, so love me like crazy.” And we did.

As Olie approached his sixth birthday in May of 2006 we feared he had already lived half of his life expectancy. Those first five years that we had him went too fast and we feared the next six years going just as fast. Little did we know the worst was just around the corner. Around Christmas 2006 Olie developed a cough, we thought he had gotten into the kitty litter for “treats” again. The cough worsened after the first of the year. We took Olie to our vet that we had used for years for our various cats, and since we had owned Olie. Our worst fears had come true. Olie had lymphoma. Without going into the gory details, we tried the chemo route through our vet while also seeking a second opinion with SouthPaws to make sure we were doing the right thing for our dog.

The visit with SouthPaws was just days after Olie’s first chemo treatment. It was apparent that something had gone terribly wrong with the chemo treatmet. SouthPaws determined that Olie had been overdosed. Thankfully I had carried with me a notebook to every appointment Olie had from January 12th, through Feb. 3rd and recorded everything so that I would not forget some important part of his treatment, I wrote everything down. The contents of that notebook later served as the content of the complaint we filed with the VA Board of Veterinary Medicine against our vet. The vet at SouthPaws recommended we file a complaint because this was a case of overdose – our vet did not weigh Olie the night of his first and only chemo treatment. They based the dosage on a weight that was three weeks old. Three weeks from Olie’s diagnosis, on Feb. 3rd, we had a most compassionate traveling vet come to our house and put Olie down. I was told by a co-worker and friend of mine who raises and shows fox hounds, and recently had to put a 13 year old pet dog down, “This s something we do for our pets, not to them.”

That thought comforted me as my family and I grieved around Olie during his final moments. Olie looked at me that morning, after we didn’t expect him to make it through that last night, and I knew what he was telling me. He had had enough and wanted to go. Three weeks was not enough time to say we were sorry or to say good-bye to our dog, our Olie. We had Olie creamated, and we have a picture album of him. When Olie was 4.5 years old, we rescued a pup from the same co-worker I spoke of who found him on her mom’s property. The pup was barely 5 weeks old. We took him because Olie needed a playmate during the day. Olie was an amazing mentor to Buddy, our hound mix. Buddy missed Olie terribly.

Then our daughter was coming home to go to grad school and before she moved back home, she got a Golden Retriever puppy because she said, “I can’t imagine life without a Golden Retriever in it. He won’t replace Olie, but he’ll be a reminder and someone for Buddy to teach like Olie taught him”. That is exactly what’s happened. Buddy has stepped into Olie’s “paws” as mentor to 9 month old Golden Retriever pup Bubba – who’s missing one tooth that never grew in. The investigation continues with the Board of Vet. Medicine, and they keep me aprised of the status of the investigation. It should come to a decision soon. Olie suffered and that was our very first request of our vet, that Olie NOT suffer. We initially wanted to take comfort measures only, and were “talked into” the chemo by the vet. We are sorry we listened. We have a different vet now that we love. Rescuing pets doesn’t stop after you adopt them, it continues all of their lives. Thank you Mark, for the awareness you are bringing to dog lovers everywhere. I can’t wait for your book!