The shock and grief continue today from the sudden death yesterday of our golden retriever, Sandy. She was only 7 years old, and hadn’t even started getting gray around her nose yet. Still a puppy to us – and judging from her always joyful spirit – in her heart as well.

She’d been a little off for the last couple of weeks – not eating much but still going through her normal routine on most days. Still greeting us at the door or coming out into the yard as we unloaded the car from our day. Still wagging her tail and smiling, still begging for people food and sleeping in our bed. Still occasionally grabbing a sock out of the dirty clothes and waiting, hoping to be chased. So we didn’t think about those abdominal tumors that goldens often get and that two of our goldens before Sandy ultimately died from. We didn’t consider it, because they were 11 or 12 when it happened. Sandy was only 7. Still a pup. And, her check up just 3 months ago turned up no problems or issues except needing her teeth cleaned.

But yesterday when she didn’t want to move from one spot on the floor and she seemed to have no strength to stand, we knew something was terribly wrong. We rushed her to the vet and xrays confirmed the worst. At least one tumor in the spleen, others maybe but surgery would be needed. Since it was Saturday we had to move her from the vet to an emergency animal clinic, where hopefully they could give her fluids and stabilize her until she could have surgery.

During that drive, her breathing became especially labored. She tried to sit up and engage with us – probably for reassurance. Steve reached over the seat and patted her and talked to her as he always does. When we opened the lift gate to move her inside the clinic, she was taking her last 3 or 4 breaths as we watched, helpless and horrified.

We agreed to an autopsy, just so we could try to come to terms with how this unraveled in a matter of 3 hours. And what we could have done differently. She did have the tumor in the spleen, and a much larger one – “gigantic,” the doctor said – engulfing her liver. We stood over her body before they took her away, all 4 of us sobbing and apologizing for not knowing she was sick. And thanking her for being our very best friend ever.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this soon. By my calculations Sandy was going to make it until 2011 or 2012. At least until Emma graduated from high school. Then with both kids out of the house most of the time, it would be easier on them when the time came. And yet we were so thankful to have both Max & Emma by our side, grieving, together. It seemed right that way – since we had all loved her, so very much, together.
Sandy’s Christmas stocking was hung on our mantle the day after Thanksgiving. It will remain there through the holidays and in a few days her ashes will be placed beside it.
Slowly we’ll get the toys and dishes and special things she liked put away. But not forgotten. Never forgotten.

Sandy, you brought us joy, comfort, understanding, laughter, fun, conversation, friendship – and unending love.

Rest in peace.
September 26, 2000 – December 1, 2007

Lori from TX


One Response

  1. Rob Says:

    Your story was similar to mine. My Harleys story is here I wrote a week ago. She was a 4 yr old Yellow Lab that died in my arms taking her last few breaths. I too have her ashes setting on my desk at home. We all know our dogs wont live more than 10-15 years but they bring us so much unconditional love they are Gods gift to humans.
    May you have peace remembering your Sandy