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My sweet Luke passed on yesterday. He turned nine years old on June 14th.

I posted here more when Luke was younger. He was such a sweet, sweet boy.

Luke got sick the day after Easter. He was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Histiocytic Sarcoma -- the worst of the three kinds of Histiocytic Sarcomas -- and they are all bad. The expected survival time with this aggressive cancer is two to four months. Luke was diagnosed on April 28th (incorrectly, but it didn't take long to figure out what it really was) and he lived until August 28th. The vets said Luke was such a strong, strong boy. He fought hard.

The cancer destroys red blood cells and thus, anemia, and then organ failure results if the hematocrit gets low enough.

When I first took Luke in they thought he had IMHA. He was at the regular vet for several days/nights as they tried to raise his hematocrit with medicine for IMHA. I went to see him each day and on day three I thought he looked bad and they said his hematocrit was nineteen (supposed to be 36 to 55). Luke looked so tired. They wanted to keep him another night. If it dropped below 15 he would need a transfusion. I drove home so worried about Luke. When I got home and was in front of my house I called them again. As I sat in my driveway I asked them was someone there to give him a transfusion if he needed one. They said nobody was there at night and they don't even have the blood on hand for a transfusion -- they have to call their donor dog owners. I drove right back to get Luke and took him to the emergency vet.

That night, his hematocrit dropped to 14 and they gave Luke a transfusion. I was so thankful I had the sense to go back and get him from the regular vet. After Luke's transfusion his hematocrit went up and they decided to aspirate his spleen, which looked misshapen on ultrasound. That's when they diagnosed his cancer. They said we needed to remove the spleen immediately and there was a 50/50 chance he would survive. If they saw more cancer in his body they suggested euthanizing him while he was still under. That was so nerve-racking. He made it and in 10 days was swimming! They later told me they had taken a small biopsy of his liver, however, and it was present there. They thought most of it was in his spleen though.

His first chemo didn't take. Then they tried something else and after a week told me that wasn't working either and there was nothing else they could do. My heart was broken. A few days later, Luke perked up and she said the chemo was working after all. It was pushing back at the cancer and his body was generating enough red blood cells to raise his hematocrit.

During the four months Luke was happy. He swam. He walked. He went on vacation with us in the North Carolina mountains. In the last two weeks of his life he was walking and swimming. Then on Friday night of last week, Luke stopped eating. He had never stopped eating while having the cancer, nor did he throw up or have any diarrhea. He didn't eat Saturday and he didn't eat Sunday. I tried nausea meds and appetite stimulants. The oncologist said to bring him in on Monday and found that his hematocrit, which had been 33 had dropped back down to twenty. She told me it was the cancer and she believed it was spreading quickly in his liver. There were no visible masses, but the type of cancer he had was diffuse and could be in several places. She said they could try one more kind of chemo, but he would need another transfusion and there was less than 50% it would take.

We decided to let our sweet baby go. We got four more good months with him, but of course we wanted much, much more good time.

Yesterday at noon the vet came to our house and assisted our sweet baby in getting to heaven. I slept on the floor with him the night before and he was so peaceful. He used to sleep on our bed, but I think he found the limestone floors cooling because he had started going down his steps to get off the bed more recently. He hadn't been moving much at all without assistance the day before. That day he walked outside on his own to potty twice. I hugged him and kissed him and petted him over and over telling him how much we loved him. First thing in the morning, I tried to give him treats and he took them! Then I tried to feed him five ounces of sirloin steak and he wolfed it down. About two hours later I gave him five more ounces of steak and he ate it heartily. I figured what the heck and gave him a small cup of ice cream. He so loved ice cream. He ate it all. After that, he laid and we waited.

When the vet got here Luke stayed so calm. He kept his focus on me as I petted his sweet face and head and told him how much I loved him. She gave him something that put him to sleep in about 15 seconds. Then a short while later she gave him the medication to stop his heart. I knew when my sweet baby was gone and it seemed to only take 10 seconds. It broke my heart.

I couldn't sleep last night and I've cried a lot today. I know I'll never have another dog like Luke.

Luke has a little sister named Abby. She's a King Charles Cavalier and is four years old. I had to go somewhere today and when I came home she ran all around looking for Luke. I've always said Luke is in love with me and Abby is in love with Luke. I know she's going to miss him so.

I can't touch his food bowls. They have his name on them. I did make it outside to get his aqua dumbbells. He swam all summer long in our pool. I would throw an aqua dumbbell in, his dad (my husband) would swim down & grab it, then swim up to Luke at the edge of the pool. He would then push backwards off the edge and Luke would get so excited and jump in to get it and swim the length of the pool and come around and give it back to me. He used to do it over an hour, but when he's been sick more like 20 to 30 minutes. Luke also was blessed to spend eight summers of his life going to the beach at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We also hiked in the mountains of North Carolina.

He had such a good life. We were so blessed. I don't know how I'll ever get used to my big boy not being here.
 

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What a beautiful boy. I can tell from the pictures how sweet he was and what a bond you two had. I am so sorry for your loss.
 
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I am so sorry for your loss. It's clear from your pictures that Luke was a wonderful sweet boy and you gave him the best life he could have. Goldens are too good for this world and that makes it so hard to let them go but you did the right thing in giving him peace and comfort. I hope all of the happy memories you have with him give you some comfort going forward.
 

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What a sweet tribute to your boy. I am so sorry for your loss. Its very clear how much he meant to you and how much you loved him. I think its safe to say most of us have been where you are now and understand your loss. May all your wonderful memories of Luke bring you some solace. Rest In Peace sweet Cool Hand Luke Smith.
 

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I am so sorry for the loss of your handsome boy. You gave him a wonderful life and he gave you back his whole heart. That's what goldens do.

I can tell you there will be others to love but never like him, your heart dog. Time will help you to heal, for some of us really lots of time, but never will be the same, nor we will be the same. Hugs!
 

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I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious Luke,the photos are beautiful, he looks like such a happy boy who had a wonderful life. Would you like me to add his name to the Rainbow Bridge List?.
 

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Discussion Starter #10

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It broke my heart to read your story about Luke. If we could ease your pain with our words, we would all write a book for you. What a beautiful boy...I'm so sorry.
 

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I am so sorry for your loss. Our stories are very similar. I lost my strong and noble golden at the end of May and couldn't even write about it until today.

He also rallied for almost 3 months and we enjoyed our time with him, taking him to all his favorite places before we had to say our final goodbye. We too had to make the decision to let him go, and I was stunned that it all happened so quickly.

My husband took his bed and bowls and put them away because I couldn't stand to see them, but couldn't remove them either.

It is a heartbreaking loss because the love they share with us is so pure and 'golden' that it can't even be explained in words. We honor the memories of them, by remembering all of the happiness they gave us, even though it still hurts right now.

I hope that in time, the memories will bring a smile to your heart.
 

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I'm so sorry. I cried reading your post and could feel the love you have for your boy. I have two and my 12 year old has hemangiosarcoma. They gave him 30 days at diagnosis, which was 72 days ago. Like you, we are still watching him do many of the things he loves. We are not fooled however of what's to come. I don't know how I'll go on without him. But I'm never giving up on him until his body can no longer handle it. Luke was so loved and so special. What wonderful parents he had who took such special care of him. I'm sure he will be your angel and I choose to believe you'll be together again. Your tribute was so touching. And thanks for sharing the details of his condition, I've had many fellow Golden owners ask about hemangiosarcoma, I wish I had known more about it before it happened to my Bailey. Thinking of you and prayers to you and your family.
 

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I am so sorry for your loss. Our stories are very similar. I lost my strong and noble golden at the end of May and couldn't even write about it until today.

He also rallied for almost 3 months and we enjoyed our time with him, taking him to all his favorite places before we had to say our final goodbye. We too had to make the decision to let him go, and I was stunned that it all happened so quickly.

My husband took his bed and bowls and put them away because I couldn't stand to see them, but couldn't remove them either.

It is a heartbreaking loss because the love they share with us is so pure and 'golden' that it can't even be explained in words. We honor the memories of them, by remembering all of the happiness they gave us, even though it still hurts right now.

I hope that in time, the memories will bring a smile to your heart.
Thank you. I just tried picking up his bowls and was going to move his sister's (Abby) bowls to his place because it's closer to our main area. As soon as I picked them up and started putting hers there, I realized I definitely couldn't do that yet and Abby ran to the back door looking out of it like she does when she thinks one of us is coming home. I guess I'd better wait to try those kind of moving on actions.

I'm so sorry about your sweet baby. I was also stunned by the quickness of Luke's departure.
 

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What a lovely tribute to your beautiful boy. What wonderful pictures. We just lost our almost 11 year old, Lincoln, a few weeks ago so I know how you feel. Your memories will help you through the grief.
I'm so sorry about Lincoln. It's heartbreaking. They leave us way too soon.
 

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I'm so sorry. I cried reading your post and could feel the love you have for your boy. I have two and my 12 year old has hemangiosarcoma. They gave him 30 days at diagnosis, which was 72 days ago. Like you, we are still watching him do many of the things he loves. We are not fooled however of what's to come. I don't know how I'll go on without him. But I'm never giving up on him until his body can no longer handle it. Luke was so loved and so special. What wonderful parents he had who took such special care of him. I'm sure he will be your angel and I choose to believe you'll be together again. Your tribute was so touching. And thanks for sharing the details of his condition, I've had many fellow Golden owners ask about hemangiosarcoma, I wish I had known more about it before it happened to my Bailey. Thinking of you and prayers to you and your family.
I'm so very sorry about Bailey. I know that's a really bad one. I had never even heard of the one Luke got. They said worst of the worst when it comes to that particular type of cancer. Apparently, it's very prevalent in Bernese Mountain dogs and is why they only have a lifespan of seven years. It's also becoming more prevalent in Flat Coat and Golden Retrievers.

I'll say a prayer for your sweet Bailey. I hope she gets to stay with you much longer.
 

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Your Luke was a handsome Golden. You took excellent care of him during his final months. You can rest assured knowing all your love and care you gave to him was something he could feel. Laying with him on his last night is the perfect thing to do because even though his time was fast approaching, he felt secure and safe with your presence next to him. I did that with my Skye on her last moments so she wouldn't feel alone.

Godspeed to Luke.

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“Dogs … are constant reminders that life reveals the best of itself when we live fully in the moment and extend our unconditional love. And it is very true, that the most tender, uncomplicated, most generous part of our being blossoms, without any effort, when it comes to the love of a dog.” —Maira Kalman
 
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