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Spencer's Story

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Spencer's Story

Spencer’s last day

February 28th, 2012 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

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I posted on tripawds this morning in a panic.  See, as I posted below – Friday Spencer was doing GREAT.  Like, amazing.  Running, happy, eating, drinking.  he didn’t seem sick at.all.  He happily ran to and from the school bus stop in the afternoon to get the kids off of the bus.  That was always his favorite time of the day – “school bus time”.  Around 2:20 each day, if I so much as flinched, he would jump up, tail wagging, and run to the door.  Then look disappointed when it wasn’t quite time to go.  When finally, at about 2:38 each day, I would open the front door he would run out onto the porch with his tail wagging, looking back to make sure I was coming.


But as we know with Spencer, he never let on when he wasn’t feeling well.


So I knew something was wrong this morning.  And honestly, I started worrying last night.  But not REALLY worrying, just a little.


On Saturday I had to go to a birthday party with my youngest daughter.  That night the kids and I went and slept at my mother’s house so that we would be closer to the gymnastics competition that William had to be at by 7:40 Sunday morning.  As we were packing the car to leave Spencer was doing his normal, “don’t leave me.  I’m coming.  Here, let me go ahead and get situated in the car for you!” routine.  We had to tell him to go back in the house.  🙁  My husband was flying out to CA on Sunday afternoon, so he ended up staying at our house packing and Spencer was with him.  So I wasn’t around Spencer much on Saturday or Sunday.  When my husband got to my mom’s house EARLY Sunday morning, he brought Spencer over there to spend the day.  After the competition I met my mom at a restaurant that is near her house, one that allows kids AND dogs (on the patio – a lot of places near her don’t allow kids so that they CAN allow smoking).  On the walk home, Spencer did seem to struggle some.  I wrote it off to him not being used to walking on a leash.  For the last few months the only time he has been on a leash has been to walk in and out of the vet’s office.  I don’t know when the last time was that he did an actual walk on leash.  Anyway, I did notice that he was having a harder time hopping along and really seemed like he was back about 1 – 2 weeks after his amputation (getting tired, having to stop and rest).  I wrote it off to the carboplatin treatment that he had just over a week ago.  He was still eating.  He was still giving lots of kisses.  Still wagging his tail.  One thing I did notice, that I didn’t pay much attention to was that he was getting a little bit of dandruff.


The kids and I drove home with Spencer last night and my son asked if Spencer could sleep in his room.  So, I moved the bed in there and that is where Spencer slept.


This morning we all got up.  Spencer did seem to have a little tougher time than normal; but nothing *too* alarming.  Until he started coughing.  And then he started coughing out some blood.  The largest amount was a drop about the size of a quarter, most were just a few drips.  The kids had been arguing with me that they didn’t want to ride the bus, they wanted me to drive them to the school (normally my husband drives them; but since he was out of town either I needed to drive them, or they needed to catch the bus).  I finally told them that I was NOT leaving Spencer home alone with him not feeling well and that they HAD to ride the bus.  That I was taking him to the vet and would e-mail their teachers with updates.


I got them out of the house, sat down and e-mailed their teachers to warn them that the kids were worried about Spencer and that I’d send an update later.  By now Spencer wasn’t coughing anymore; but he was laying on his bed by the couch (he had lots of beds) and I could hear a rattle when he would breathe.  I had to stop crying (posted on tripawds while trying to get myself under control enough to talk to them).  In my post I asked if things could really go down hill this fast, if we could go from on Friday thinking that we had months to suddenly maybe only having weeks.  Things seemed to be going downhill so much faster than with Baron (my last doberman, he had lung cancer).  I guess that I expected the cancers to go about the same since Baron’s was lung cancer and now Spencer’s was in his lungs.


I called GVS (Georgia Veterinary Specialists) and asked what I should do.  Spencer’s oncologist is not in the office on Mondays.  So I asked if it was worth it to drive over to GVS for the ER, knowing that with traffic it could take me 2 hours, or if I should go to the family vet since they at least know all of Spencer’s history.  They told me that considering the time it would take to get there it would probably be better to go to the family vet.  At first I planned to wait to call them (The Veterinary Clinic West) once they opened at 8:30.  But then I peaked at Spencer’s gums and tongue and they were pretty much grey.  I snuck upstairs (because I didn’t want him following me) and took a fast shower, then back downstairs.  I called The Veterinary Clinic and left a message saying what was going on (pale gums/tongue, coughing blood, weak) and that I was driving on down and would be there waiting when they opened at 8:30.  I called spencer to go out to the car.  He got up, walked around the couch, and kind of fell down.  He couldn’t get back up.  I called my husband in a panic wondering WHAT I was going to do.  Calmed down, went out and moved the car so that it would be as close to the door as possible, got the sling that I used to help Spencer walk right after his amputation.  I came back in, tried to slide that under him and help him walk to the car.  But we only made it about 3 of my steps.  His legs didn’t seem to be working at all.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.  I knew there was no way I could carry him that far.  I went out in my front yard thinking I’d try to catch one of the other men on the street.  My neighbor’s son (20 something) and one of his friends were in the driveway and I called to them (while bawling) and asked if they could come help get Spencer in the car.  they ran right up and carried him out and laid him on the bed in my car (actually a mini van, have one of the seats folded into the floor and keep a dog bed there for Spencer).  During all of this The Veterinary Clinic had called back and told me to take Spencer to the Cobb ER Vet, that if he needed a transfusion that was the place he needed to be.  So we headed down there.  Me crying the whole way, driving and trying to pet him.  When I got there I pulled up to the door, ran in and asked for help getting him in.  They wheeled him back and I started filling out paperwork.  I had called my mom while I was driving and told her I needed her to come up, that things were bad with Spencer and we were headed to the ER vet.  While I was checking in she called there checking to see if we had made it.  She was on her way.  Someone from the ER vet’s office came out, told me that things were serious with Spencer, that they needed to do x-rays, blood work, fluids… and she started to go over the cost with me.  I told her to just do it.  I figured at that point that it really couldn’t add up to much more than we had gotten used to spending on all of the chemo and told her to just do what ever they needed to do.


My mom and step dad got there, the vet came in to talk to us.  He told me that I had done an excellent job filling out the patient history.  (getting kind of good at it by now!)  He was frank – things didn’t look good.  He asked if Spencer had a heart condition and I told him that his heart wasn’t functioning quite at full capacity; but that it wasn’t cardio myopathy as of September.  Apparently he was having a hard time hearing Spencer’s heartbeat, which could indicate a heart issue, or fluid in the chest.  Spencer’s WBC count was off; but his red blood cells were good.  His platelets were really, really low.  And it is not common to do a platelet transfusion for a dog.  they didn’t have platelets there.  He said MAYBE UGA had some, or GVS (where Spencer went to the oncologist).  They were going to run a few more tests.  Do the x-rays.  then they would get back to me.


With the x-rays we saw why he couldn’t hear the heart.  Spencer’s chest was FULL of fluid.  No way to be 100% sure; but most likely blood.  We weren’t positive; but it looked like there might be a few new lung mets in another part of his lungs.  The vet told us that he could use a syringe and draw off the fluid; but that what ever had caused it to start would still be there.  That we MIGHT buy Spencer another week; but it might only buy a few more hours.  That Spencer was not going to be able to go back to how he was on Friday.


I asked my mom and step dad to go and pick my kids up from school.  At first Spencer was back in what looked like a big incubator; but was just a box with oxygen.  They moved him into a visitation room so that he could lay comfortable and had an oxygen tube that I just tried to hold near his nose while I laid and cuddled with him.  It was obvious that he was sick.  I think he was worse than he was the day I picked him up from his amputation.  At least on that day he perked his ears up some and wagged his tail a little.  By the time he was in that room today, he wasn’t doing either.  I also noticed that his dandruff (that I had noticed yesterday) was really bad.  Something I had never seen on him.  And, his fur just wasn’t as soft.  It was kind of bristly.  Very strange.  I guess that all those fluids going into his chest were maybe making it where the moisture/oil in his skin wasn’t there, so his fur was dry?


The door to the room was closed; but I heard my kids when they came in the building.  They were really trying to keep their crying under control; but they were SO upset.  They were upset with me for promising them, as I sent them off to the bus, that Spencer would NOT die today.  They were upset that the cancer was taking their dog.  They were just flat out upset.  And who can blame them?  They snuggled him a lot.  Hugged on him.  And then got upset all over again when I told them they needed to go in another room with my mom while the doctor gave Spencer the medicine that would “first make Spencer sleepy, so he would go to sleep.  then it would stop his heart and he would die.  And he wouldn’t hurt anymore and would go to Heaven.”  They wanted to stay with him.  But… when I had Baron put to sleep he urinated, and I didn’t know if that would upset the kids.  And the bigger concern was that the vet thought there was a chance that some fluid/blood would come out of Spencer’s mouth and nose.  And I worried that would REALLY upset the kids.  So my mom took them in the other room.  My step dad and I stayed with Spencer until he was gone.  When I went to get the kids I told them that he was gone, he was in Heaven now.  My older daughter (7.5 years old) looked at me so serious and asked, “what was it like when he disappeared?”  I explained that his body was still here; but that his soul, what made Spencer different from every other dog in the world, was now in Heaven.  The kids really insisted that they wanted to see his body and I decided that it would be OK, so we stepped back in and they saw that it just looked like he was sleeping.  They mostly seemed OK with things.


My mom took the kids out to the car and I stuck around to get the 3 paw prints that they were doing (in clay).  Once I had those I went out and rode home with the kids (my head was SPLITTING from all of the crying, so my mom was driving).  My Mom and step dad took the kids out for lunch so that I could have a little bit of time on my own.    My step dad helped me get the dog kennel, dog beds, dog bowls and everything else down in the basement.  Our family room feels weird without Spencer’s big kennel and 2 beds in it.  🙁

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • riosmom

    I’m so sad for you after reading this… I think we all secretly hope that our pups will go quietly and peacefully in their sleep, but the reality is so much less heartwarming. I’m glad that you got Friday. Try to remember that day, and how happy he was. When you get caught up in the sadness and heartbreak that was Spencer’s last day, try to remember those happier times.

    Hugs to your family — we’re thinking about you and sending you strength.


  • etgayle

    brings it all back so clearly in my mind. so sorry for your loss, but reading this i am so touched by all of the ‘angels’ that helped you get through this challenging day. run free spencer, love never ends.

    charon & spirit gayle

  • Dakota Dawg

    Please take to heart what Micki and Charon wrote: Focus on all of Spencer’s 4 1/2 years and not his last 24 hours; and there were certainly angels guiding you all. It may not seem that way now, but in time you will realize Spencer’s soul was being guided home. Your children picked up on some valuable lessons, too; everything from how we treat each other to how the crappiest day in the world can be a bit less crappy with good people there.

    I am so sorry you had to go through this without your husband. I am so sorry your children had to do an about-face in terms of when Spencer’s last day was. But I’m so happy you had Spencer, that the children had him, that he had you all, and that good people helped him when he asked for help.


  • Kathy L

    I am so sorry to hear about Spencer. I’ve followed his ups and downs over the months and just thought I would check this evening to see how he and his family were doing and was saddened to hear his journey ended. You did so much and I am sure he knew how much he was loved. Thank you for sharing your experiences and all those lovely pictures. He and Baron are probably sharing stories right now. You have a special angel watching over you.


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