Sudden Death of Our 8 1/2 Yr Old GSD - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Sudden Death of Our 8 1/2 Yr Old GSD

I have always read the threads here, but never posted. It's sad that my first post on here after reading this site for years is about the sudden death of my little buddy Argo, who was an 8 ½ year old White German Shepherd. He weighed about 111 lbs. at death according to the Vet where he passed. He wasn’t a chubby guy, but he was definitely a large GSD. I am 6’7 tall and his paws hit my shoulders when he stood up. My wife is 5’2 and he was up to her waist when he stood next to her.
I am having a hard time with closure and I have been feeling a lot of guilt. I am hoping maybe for some answers here to help me understand what could have happened to my little guy. Maybe talking about it here with other GSD owners will help with the process of grieving. I want to only think about the good memories, but inside I am feeling so much guilt like I could have done something to save him.
My wife and I were away for a weekend trip and Argo was staying with a couple for the weekend in NYC. Sunday morning, around 9:45am, we got a text message asking if Argo ever doesn’t want to go outside for morning walks. The dogsitter was concerned because Argo is usually so energetic and excited to go outside. The dogsitter thought that Argo may just be getting depressed and miss us, which is something he has done before when we have been gone for a few days. We responded to the dogsitter that maybe he tired him out the day before from all the attention he was getting and playtime with the couple watching him.
Around 10:15 we get another text message from the dogsitter asking us to call him because he thinks something is wrong. When my wife and I call him he states that Argo had urinated himself where he laid and he wouldn’t get up still. He proceeded to say that when he pet Argo he felt that he was breathing heavy. We told the dogsitter to try offering him some peanut butter on a spoon to see if Argo would get up and move for it.
A few minutes later the dogsitter called my wife and I on FaceTime. Argo was on his side with the peanut butter by his face, but not really doing much else. My wife and I were calling for him through the FaceTime, but he still didn’t move. The dogsitter called the Vet, who luckily was located right across the street in the city and they told him to bring Argo in right away.
15 minutes later we get another FaceTime phone call from the dogsitter. They were able to get Argo to try and walk to the Vet, but Argo collapsed on the sidewalk outside of the building and urinated himself again. One of the Vet technicians thankfully came outside from the Vet and spoke to us on FaceTime and told us that they were going to carry him into the Vet.
Another few minutes went by and the Vet called us and said that she doesn’t think Argo would make it. She stated that his paws were getting cold and his heart beat was fading. She said that they were giving him Oxygen, Chest Compressions, and a shot of Epinephrine.
Another few minutes later and we received another call. By now it was about 11am. The Vet told me that they had lost Argo…
I am having such a hard time dealing with this. Argo was so playful and vibrant. We live in a house with many floors and many flights of stairs and Argo never showed struggle climbing them or going on walks daily. He loved the beach and to swim in the ocean in the summer. He still acted playful and happy like he was still 2 years old. We brought Argo for regular checkups yearly for shots, bloodwork, heartworm checks, etc and nothing was ever brought to our attention to be concerned about.
The dogsitter said that he was fine all weekend. He even sent us pictures and videos of him and his wife playing with Argo Friday and Saturday. He even mentioned that he woke up at 2am to use the bathroom and saw Argo’s head and ears pop up as he laid on the couch. Then when he woke up at 9/9:30 he found Argo on the floor.
What possibly could have caused this? It wouldn’t have been poison would it? I spoke to the Vet yesterday and she said that she strongly feels that it was Dialated Cardiomyopathy, but wouldn’t we have seen signs for this? Would this have caused such a sudden death? We are debating on having a Necropsy done at Cornell University, but my wife doesn’t really want to think about him being all cut up. I kind of want to do it for closure to know that there is nothing we could have done. I am beating myself up that I wasn’t there to hold him as he passed. I feel like he was probably wondering where I was as he was passing. Part of me is wondering if he got up to go outside hoping I would be outside on the sidewalk waiting for him… and then he gave up when I wasn’t out there for him. This is killing me right now….. 
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 12:41 PM
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I'm sorry. It's always hard when they die, and it helps to have answers as to why.
Have you asked the vet what they suspect happened? From my perspective it could have been any number of things. An underlying health problem, the natural aging of a large dog, something ingested that shouldn't have been -

It's heartbreaking and I think we always search for answers, for what we could have done differently, for what we might have done differently. And we tend to beat ourselves up because we like to think it would not have happened if we had done something different.

Perhaps you can convince your spouse that his physical remains serve no purpose unless you do a necropsy? The dog is dead. Usually the body will either be cremated or burried regardless.

All I can offer is my sympathy. A good dog's life is too short.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 12:59 PM
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We also lost a beloved pet suddenly and with no prior warning. Please don't regret that you weren't there. You showed Argo you loved him for years and he knew it. When we lost our dog, he was peaceful toward the end. He knew he was leaving us before we did. After we started to get used to the loss we realized how fortunate he was that it was quick and he didn't suffer for months with an illness. It will take time to get used to and you will always love him.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 01:06 PM
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So sorry for your loss. It's too bad the vet couldn't provide more answers beyond speculation. I would definitely pursue getting the information if you have the means to do so. This information could bring some closure and at the same time benefit the next dog if you choose to get one. Without something more definitive you will continue to second guess and speculate. Get (or attempt to) the answers while its still a possibility. That's just what I would do. Best of luck and again, so sorry for your loss and the way it all happened with you away. I feel for you guys.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 01:14 PM
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Unhappy

Just wanted to say my heart is breaking for you too.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 01:19 PM
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Unfortunately DCM is often seen with first symptom being sudden death. Sometimes they have weakness episodes, a heart murmur, coughing. But sometimes they don't.

I am so sorry for your loss. It is so hard to lose our loved pets.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 01:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by middleofnowhere View Post
I'm sorry. It's always hard when they die, and it helps to have answers as to why.
Have you asked the vet what they suspect happened? From my perspective it could have been any number of things. An underlying health problem, the natural aging of a large dog, something ingested that shouldn't have been -

It's heartbreaking and I think we always search for answers, for what we could have done differently, for what we might have done differently. And we tend to beat ourselves up because we like to think it would not have happened if we had done something different.

Perhaps you can convince your spouse that his physical remains serve no purpose unless you do a necropsy? The dog is dead. Usually the body will either be cremated or burried regardless.

All I can offer is my sympathy. A good dog's life is too short.
Thank you for your sympathy.

I spoke to the Vet that tried to save him a few times since that day. Each time we spoke she has insisted that it was cardiac related.

If he ate something bad, wouldn't he have shown other signs, such as vomiting? And wouldn't he have taken longer to pass?

The Vet and the staff have been nothing but kind and helpful to us thus far in dealing with the loss. They even gave us a private room to see him the next day when we returned to say our goodbyes. We spent over an hour in the room alone with him.

My wife said that I may have the Autopsy done, but it bothers her to think of him being cut up and dissected. We already have plans to have him cremated on Monday, so if I want an autopsy done we have to decide this week.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 01:29 PM
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So sorry for your loss, how awful. But you loved your baby and gave them a great life. Take comfort in that. When my girl passed away, I wanted to do a necropsy so much because she also died suddenly, was totally fine, then within hours, BAM! Gone. :-( unfortunately, my vet made me feel like a necropsy was not possible? So I never had real closure :-( if you have the luxury of getting a necropsy, do it. It will give you closure. Your dog's has already passed, so the body is just an empty body. It doesn't matter if they do a necropsy. Try to convince your wife. You don't know how many times I wish every day of my life since my Daisy passed away that I could have gotten a necropsy on her. :-(
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 01:30 PM
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I'm so sorry to hear about your loss of Argo. Their lives are never long enough, and you'll remember him forever.... even after you decide you're ready to open up your home and heart to another dog. There are so many people here who understand this kind of loss.

We lost a much-loved family member a few years ago due to a heart problem. Through sheer (bad?) luck I chose to take him in for a non-vital vet appointment to look at one of his teeth. Tooth was fine, but our vet happened to listen to his heart and gave me some shockingly bad news. We were warned that one day we would find him, suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, deceased. Our vet explained that there would be no struggle or pain (else we would have made the decision to end his life peacefully - medically). Surgical options due to his age were not reasonable, the likelihood of success was less than 25%, and putting him through it would have been borderline cruel. We gave him the best life we could, but knew that one day he would suddenly pass. And he did.

Knowing for months that the end was looming was stressful and hard for every one of us, except him. He was happy, active, and goofy every single day, and then he was suddenly gone. Even had you known something might happen, it may not have been any easier.... It's impossible to say. My heart goes out to you.

Please try not to regret being out of town. It sounds like he had a wonderful life, was loved deeply, and will be remembered.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-28-2015, 01:57 PM
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I am sorry for your loss that is terrible way to lose a fur kid.

"A House Is Not A Home Without A German Shepherd"
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