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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This post is intended to convey information that may help a dog/owner, not a vet rant. I anticipate in advance, and appreciate, all well-wishes and expressions of sorrow.

I just lost my 8.5 y/o male GSD, "R" (no name here to protect vet) on the operating table. It didn't have to happen, and, if my dog's vet had been better informed, it likely wouldn't have. Knowing what I know now, I could have prevented it, as well. I'd researched lots of GSD health issues, but not cancer.

Context - I haven't been on here for 6+ years because R had no health issues, beyond the occasional hotspot. I work at home and spent every hour of the day with the dog - my point is that I knew the dog better than I would have if I spent hours away every day at a job, recreated a bit on the weekends, etc. R got great food/exercise, and annual vet visits with the same vet, for continuity of care. Food was NW Naturals (raw bagged frozen nuggets of goodness). No flea or other chemicals. I say no health issues, but he did get an infection in his upper jaw, behind his eye, from a stick splinter (don't let them carry/chew sticks), and this vet spotted the issue quickly and did a great surgery, hence, increased confidence. My point here - healthy dog and diligent/observant dog owner meet lifelong competent vet for great relationship that benefitted all parties. Or, so I'd hoped.

January 5, or so - R ate his morning snack, then tossed it up with the yellow bottom of his stomach. Hmmm. Unusual for him, but, dogs vomiting stuff is not that unusual - I'll keep an eye on it. Normal after that.

January 9 - R suddenly lethargic in late afternoon (walk time, usually very interested) and yelps when exiting the car (after the walk, and again at the house), panting on the walk when it's 37 deg. F., and neglecting his zigzag visits to the trees. Just trudging along 20 ft behind me. Refuses dinner/snack - something is wrong with this dog. I don't panic, but I want him seen. Called vet, she's down to 1 day a week, can't get him in to her for a week. I could see another vet in the office, but that breaks history/continuity - new vet wouldn't know me, the dog, or the life he's led, so wouldn't be as helpful to the issue, imo - I've spent time (other dogs) wasted on fill-in vets. It doesn't look like an emergency, really, so I elect to keep the 1-week out appt. I get queasy about an hour later when looks a bit worse and decide to take him to the local doggie ER, just in case it's bloat, or something life-threatening. I noticed him drinking more water than usual.

ER vet is young/inexperienced (they work there on a fill-in part-time basis, I believe, not a regular gig). She does the usual exam, all looks well. She doesn't know him, so she didn't know that he should be whining and pacing at the vet's office, not just sitting patiently. He looked "normal," but he wasn't normal, for him. She checked his gait due to the yelp on impact. He seems tentative when walking. I had told her his vet said he had some arthritis starting in his elbows. Her diagnosis - likely arthritis discomfort and a sensitive dog = cause of the symptoms I'm seeing. She said "I could run bloodwork, but I wouldn't know what I was looking for." She prescribed an anti-inflammatory (carpo), and I took him home (I didn't give him the carpo). He seemed to get better later in the evening, and ate his dinner. Maybe it's nothing.

Between Jan 9 and Jan 16, he had several episodes like this - he'd be "sick" for half/full day (no appetite, lethargy, no interest in the walk), then get better - as if nothing was wrong. No yelp (used ramp for car, now) jumping off bed when "good," but slight yelp when he was feeling "bad." Drank much more water when "sick." What is going on with this dog? Also, on Jan 15, he had diarrhea (really loose, but not liquid - it smelled mostly like asparagus urine, not fecal matter, kind of a sulphur smell), on his bed - he'd never had any kind of accident in the house before. Can't wait for that vet visit.

Jan. 16 - Vet visit - By this time, I'd researched everything I could find about these symptoms, including the "good/bad" waxing/waning episodic nature of the illness events. What makes a dog sick, then allows him to get well? The only thing I could find that fit his symptom set (which now included that single episode of diarrhea) was Giardia - he did drink from streams on the walk (he had a Lepto vaccination, but I didn't know about Giardia). He was subdued during the exam, but not as much as when at the ER. The vet did her usual exam (including palpating him for pain), heard the symptoms (including the waxing/waning), heard from me on the Jan 9 ER visit, and found nothing wrong (she even looked at a fecal sample). I suggested Giardia, she didn't necessarily agree/disagree, but agreed to treat prophylactically, which we did. She also suggested, and, took blood, the results of which showed (1) evidence of inflammation, and (2) evidence of dehydration (phone message: "let's check it again in a month") - if only we could.

Jan 16 - Jan 30: The same pattern repeated. He went through the Giardia meds - no change. Good days and bad days, no better, no worse. Having no answers from 2 different vets, I was resigned to his having to get worse before we'd know what it was. We got our chance on Jan 30, a "bad" day (Jan 29 was a very good day). I left a voice message for the vet updating her and wondering now, after research, if he didn't have Salmon poisoning, as some of his food previously contained salmon), and asked for a call back. He refused dinner, though he'd eaten breakfast. Looked sick. He suddenly began to try to walk around to get to the water, and it was clear he was very unsteady on his feet, esp his back end, AND his right foot was curled under, where it stayed. Dull-eyed, panting, labored breathing. Uh-Oh. This is Not Good. Into the car and rush to the ER where the owner (and very senior vet) was in attendance. Tech checked R's gums and she took him away without a word. That can't be good. Vet comes in with the bad news - abdomen is full of blood. Ultrasound shows mass on spleen. Most likely hemangiosarcoma, very common in big dogs, very common in GSDs, and usually shows up after age 8 years (R's 8.5 years). 75+% chance it's malignant, but 25% chance it's not. Prognosis very grave if malignant as it would have metastasized by now. Surgery to remove spleen is one path - might show it's benign, then all's well. If malignant, then R's got only a few months before the cancer pops up again and we have to put him down. Or euthanize now. What would doc do? He went through this himself recently and he elected to remove the spleen, it was malignant, and his dog died 1 month after the surgery. Hmmm. It's a gamble, but R's a great dog, and who knows? Maybe it's benign, so I go ahead with the surgery. Doc warns me R's lost a lot blood, he's going into shock, and there's always the risk of death with surgery. I get that, but still see it as the best option. Doc closes the ER to incoming, takes my deposit, tells me I can wait there or go home and he'll call. I don't live far, so I elect to go home and wait for the call, since I don't want to angst in front of the receptionist. I get the call an hour later that R arrested as they were sewing him up. Spleen wasn't sent for pathology (why bother?).

So, that's what happened. What should have happened, imo? I give the first ER visit vet a pass - she didn't have the knowledge re: episodic good/bad. With the research I've done over the past 2 days, I'm now a quasi-expert on hemangiosarcoma - it seems any vet recently out of vet school should have known that R fit the profile of a dog with hemangiosarcoma, but she didn't think to suggest an ultrasound of the abdomen. With her relative inexperience, I'm not surprised - she'd have to be a pretty special vet, I think, to have come up with that at her stage, but who knows whether she fell below the standard of care?

R's usual vet, on the other hand, was a disappointment to me. 20+ years experience, and confronted with a middle-aged GSD having episodic waxing/waning constitutional symptoms? I've read a bunch of science journal articles by now and that's the pattern for this disease, even if people/vets who don't spend 24 hours a day with their dogs don't know it. What happens is the mass on the tumor is not constructed well (complicated to explain), so it cracks open and bleeds into the abdomen. That's the cause of the "bad" or sick periods - the immune system kicks in with inflammation to heal things up. The mass then clots and stops bleeding and the dog's body reabsorbs the blood - that's the "good" period. All's well until the mass cracks open again and the cycle repeats. At some point, there is a "big" one that bleeds so much it can't clot in time before it kills the dog. No, imo, under these facts, R's usual vet was remiss in not suggesting an ultrasound or other look-see into the abdomen, especially near the spleen (most common site). Yes, this is very common in GSDs per the literature of her profession, and no, I don't expect her to be an expert in every obscure disease that may be out there, but GSDs aren't the only breed that gets hemangiosarcoma.

She should have offered an ultrasound - that's how the ER found it. $150 - I'd have been happy to pay it. She'd have found the splenic mass 2 wks earlier, and I could have had the surgery done when he wasn't in shock. He would likely have survived the surgery, and I'd be tending his recovery today, rather than typing this while looking at his empty bed (I understand it was probably malignant, and I'd likely have had to euthanize him a month or 3 - a scan wouldn't have meant a cure.). If you can't figure out what's wrong with the dog, and you know you have a vigilant owner who really knows his dog, why wouldn't you recommend some kind of abdominal scan to see if there's, oh, I don't know, some kind of cancer lurking around causing problems? It's not as if there's not 1000 articles about this problem, including the waxing/waning illness symptom scenario.

I understand that part of the problem for the vets is that they usually see this disease at a later stage (usually a major hemorrhage), not an early stage where the owner can identify significant but subtle symptoms over many days from constant observation. Still . . . .

I feel R was let down by the veterinary profession, as was I. Hopefully, someone reading this will, now or in the future, recognize the same symptoms in their dog and share their concerns and the suggestion of a scan with the vet, before it's too late for the dog.
 

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I'm so sorry for your loss. If it's any consolation, the anger you feel is pretty normal after losing a dog to hemangio. With this breed, if you own GSDs over a lifetime, you can pretty much break all GSD owners into two groups: those who've already lost one (or more!) to hemangio, and those who yet will. It feels like a breed-specific cancer that stalks these dogs relentlessly.

Even if you caught it two weeks earlier, by the time the dog is experiencing those bleeds, the cancer has nearly always already metastasized. Imaging of the liver and lungs would likely have shown it there too -- or else it would have been seeded there, even if not yet visible.

Many people I know who've opted for spleen surgery had the dog die on the table -- it's shockingly common for that operation, even when done by a boarded specialist surgeon at a vet school. The specialist at the vet school advised me not to do it last time, and to just let her go. They pumped her full of pain meds, fluids and B12 so she felt better and could walk out on her own, and then we took her home...and she died in my DH's arms overnight that same night. Knowing what it was didn't get us more time.

My hemangio dog died within 2 weeks of a perfect annual exam and perfect bloodwork -- her first collapse was the big one. After losing her following the vet school's diagnosis at their emergency clinic, I called the regular vet, certain they'd missed something in the annual exam....and I was very angry at my generalist for not spotting some clue that she was sick. Alas, there was no clue. Hemangio is doesn't usually give itself away that way.

Even if you'd caught it two weeks earlier, and survived the splenectomy, would you or your vet have known to save the tumor to send out to one of the labs capable of producing a custom-tailored cancer immunotherapy drug from that tumor's DNA? Hardly any vets know about this experimental protocol -- which seems to be the best hope for hemangio right now. They send a small piece of tumor out for pathology and throw the rest away. Once the splenic tumor is disposed of, there's no way to manufacture the custom immunotherapy--so most hemangio dogs lose the oppportunity before they're even fully diagnosed. Without that immunotherapy, the regular oncology protocol for hemangio is not good -- you're considered a success story if the dog is alive 6 months after the splenectomy with chemo. Many don't make it that long -- a friend's Golden Retriever made it just three months after splenectomy after getting the full oncology treatment from the vet school.

A vet oncologist told me that they'd like to see older GSDs receive ultra sounds annually. It's expensive and requires sedation and shaving the dog, so it's just not something that gets done annually.

I'm so sorry for your loss. With this awful cancer, diagnosis is terminal -- sometimes we only get a day, or a week, or maybe a few months. Knowing doesn't usually make it any easier, except for the gift of being able to say goodbye. I hope you can find peace. I know you're hurting right now.
 

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I'm very sorry for your loss. I went thru something very similar with my Jax. The bloodwork showed an issue but it was so crazy he didn't know what was happening only that it was bad. It wasn't until her last days that we were able to say "this is cancer. Most likely hemangio". It's tricky. And it's not your vet's fault. The only way to really diagnose this is with an ultrasound and the typical symptoms aren't always there. My vet mourned with me. Jax was special to him too.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm so sorry for your loss. If it's any consolation, the anger you feel is pretty normal after losing a dog to hemangio. With this breed, if you own GSDs over a lifetime, you can pretty much break all GSD owners into two groups: those who've already lost one (or more!) to hemangio, and those who yet will. It feels like a breed-specific cancer that stalks these dogs relentlessly.

Even if you caught it two weeks earlier, by the time the dog is experiencing those bleeds, the cancer has nearly always already metastasized. Imaging of the liver and lungs would likely have shown it there too -- or else it would have been seeded there, even if not yet visible.

Many people I know who've opted for spleen surgery had the dog die on the table -- it's shockingly common for that operation, even when done by a boarded specialist surgeon at a vet school. The specialist at the vet school advised me not to do it last time, and to just let her go. They pumped her full of pain meds, fluids and B12 so she felt better and could walk out on her own, and then we took her home...and she died in my DH's arms overnight that same night. Knowing what it was didn't get us more time.

My hemangio dog died within 2 weeks of a perfect annual exam and perfect bloodwork -- her first collapse was the big one. After losing her following the vet school's diagnosis at their emergency clinic, I called the regular vet, certain they'd missed something in the annual exam....and I was very angry at my generalist for not spotting some clue that she was sick. Alas, there was no clue. Hemangio is doesn't usually give itself away that way.

Even if you'd caught it two weeks earlier, and survived the splenectomy, would you or your vet have known to save the tumor to send out to one of the labs capable of producing a custom-tailored cancer immunotherapy drug from that tumor's DNA? Hardly any vets know about this experimental protocol -- which seems to be the best hope for hemangio right now. They send a small piece of tumor out for pathology and throw the rest away. Once the splenic tumor is disposed of, there's no way to manufacture the custom immunotherapy--so most hemangio dogs lose the oppportunity before they're even fully diagnosed. Without that immunotherapy, the regular oncology protocol for hemangio is not good -- you're considered a success story if the dog is alive 6 months after the splenectomy with chemo. Many don't make it that long -- a friend's Golden Retriever made it just three months after splenectomy after getting the full oncology treatment from the vet school.

A vet oncologist told me that they'd like to see older GSDs receive ultra sounds annually. It's expensive and requires sedation and shaving the dog, so it's just not something that gets done annually.

I'm so sorry for your loss. With this awful cancer, diagnosis is terminal -- sometimes we only get a day, or a week, or maybe a few months. Knowing doesn't usually make it any easier, except for the gift of being able to say goodbye. I hope you can find peace. I know you're hurting right now.
Thank you for sharing your experience and useful information. I have sadness, I have disappointment (in the state of veterinary, and human, medicine), but I wouldn't say I'm angry. I know R was likely doomed, and only attempted the surgery because the vet said there was a 25% chance of its being benign - I'd play those odds for $2k. I don't regret that decision under these facts, but would I do it again with what I know now? I don't know.

What I would have liked is the 2 weeks to use to research things you mention, including the preservation of the spleen, and the tailored chemo for dogs (I've done that research for human cancer, so I'm familiar, and there are canine cancer specialists in Seattle who likely are familiar with the steps required). As it was, I was blindsided in a do-or-die "you must decide within the next 5 minutes" emergency scenario and minimal information, which event would have been avoided had the Jan 16 visit been more productive. 0-to-Cancer, in 30 seconds, if you will, while the dog is going into shock.

I mentioned I'm disappointed in the state of veterinary medicine, at least as practiced locally. I've always had 1-3 dogs, and this was my second GSD (first was euthanized after big stroke, at ripe age). I'm 60+ and have 1, maybe 2, dogs left in me, if I'm lucky (or probably 8 GSDs, apparently). Given the known GSD health issues, combined with the apparently low-level GSD awareness in this area, I'm very concerned about getting another GSD, though the 2 I've had were the best dogs I've ever had, in every way. I need a closer, more responsive relationship with my vet, not be just another name on the client list of a medicine mill that focuses on profit, over pets, and I don't seem to be able to get that. If I can't have that, then I may be unable to consider myself able to adequately care for another GSD. I'd be doing the dog a disservice. The thought of not replacing R is what causes me the most concern (apart from his loss).

If I get another GSD, I will happily get him/her an annual ultrasound. The question becomes, however, what other tests am I not getting because I don't know about them, and my vet doesn't think to suggest. That's my fear.

Thanks again for you support and information.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm very sorry for your loss. I went thru something very similar with my Jax. The bloodwork showed an issue but it was so crazy he didn't know what was happening only that it was bad. It wasn't until her last days that we were able to say "this is cancer. Most likely hemangio". It's tricky. And it's not your vet's fault. The only way to really diagnose this is with an ultrasound and the typical symptoms aren't always there. My vet mourned with me. Jax was special to him too.
Thank you for your condolence. Where I think the vet fell down, for me, was in not suggesting the very thing you reference as the way to diagnose the issue - the abdominal ultrasound, which the ER doc did do on the night of the surgery to confirm his suspicion (without even asking, which was fine). My opinion is that, with the state of available information on this disease and which dogs it predominantly affects, combined with her 20+ years experience, hemangio should have been on the very short list of things to check, given the wax/wane of constitutional symptoms in a middle-aged GSD. She should have suggested an ultrasound. If she had, R, and I, would have been spared the emergency trauma, and perhaps better options might have presented themselves for consideration.
 

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I am so sorry for your loss, Trotter. Please take solace in knowing your dog was loved and cared for. It is not about the quantity of life, but the quality of it, and it sounds like your dog had a wonderful life with a very carrying and attentive owner.

From Magwart’s post I gather that having been caught earlier would have just extended his life without necessarily a better outcome. I just read a few links on the subject, the outcome is just postponed if caught in time.

Knowing what I know today about cancer, depending on the type, I would likely opt for no treatment on the types where the success ratio is low. The pain and suffering associated with the treatment; only to survive for a little while in a debilitated and often totally dependent condition riddled with pain; where quality of life is nearly not existent should be avoided. Quality over quantity, always (my opinion, of course).

I do thank you for your post and that of Magwart and Jax08. In a few weeks we will have a GSD as part of our family. I will be pdf’ing this thread and adding it to our puppy’s file so I have a reminder of the symptoms and how to help in properly diagnosing it. If am faced with a similar situation and the diagnosis is hermangio, which I pray doesn't happen, I will not allow my dog to suffer through what will likely follow.

Please don’t spend your time trying to place blame, being disappointed, or trying to figure out what you could have done differently or who you should have gone to. Grief is normal after a loss, second guessing everyone (including yourself) is normal too, but I strongly recommend you use this time to occupy your mind with the good memories. Share those good memories with others when you let them know of your loss so that is the part of the conversation you remember. Invest your thoughts and energy in celebrating his life with you, not his loss or his last months. You have 8.4 years of memories against 1 month of suffering and distress.

Please trust me on this. To a certain degree, you control your thoughts and what you decide to invest your energy on.

I wish you the best through this time of grief.
 

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I am so sorry for your loss, Trotter. Please take solace in knowing your dog was loved and cared for. It is not about the quantity of life, but the quality of it, and it sounds like your dog had a wonderful life with a very carrying and attentive owner.

From Magwart’s post I gather that having been caught earlier would have just extended his life without necessarily a better outcome. I just read a few links on the subject, the outcome is just postponed if caught in time.

Knowing what I know today about cancer, depending on the type, I would likely opt for no treatment on the types where the success ratio is low. The pain and suffering associated with the treatment; only to survive for a little while in a debilitated and often totally dependent condition riddled with pain; where quality of life is nearly not existent should be avoided. Quality over quantity, always (my opinion, of course).

I do thank you for your post and that of Magwart and Jax08. In a few weeks we will have a GSD as part of our family. I will be pdf’ing this thread and adding it to our puppy’s file so I have a reminder of the symptoms and how to help in properly diagnosing it. If am faced with a similar situation and the diagnosis is hermangio, which I pray doesn't happen, I will not allow my dog to suffer through what will likely follow.

Please don’t spend your time trying to place blame, being disappointed, or trying to figure out what you could have done differently or who you should have gone to. Grief is normal after a loss, second guessing everyone (including yourself) is normal too, but I strongly recommend you use this time to occupy your mind with the good memories. Share those good memories with others when you let them know of your loss so that is the part of the conversation you remember. Invest your thoughts and energy in celebrating his life with you, not his loss or his last months. You have 8.4 years of memories against 1 month of suffering and distress.

Please trust me on this. To a certain degree, you control your thoughts and what you decide to invest your energy on.

I wish you the best through this time of grief.
I appreciate your thoughts re: dealing with grief. Perhaps unsurprisingly given my approach above, researching/analyzing/expressing re: the issue at hand is my somewhat overly clinical way of dealing with grief, my process, if you will. My primary goal, though, was to provide the EARLY, subtle, symptom set for earlier awareness of what might be hemangio, which information was, apparently, not available to 2 area veterinarians who examined R. And I really don't second-guess myself on this one. I went beyond what most would do to figure this out. I pay professionals a premium for their expertise, and, as a professional myself, I can recognize a breached standard of care when I see it. I don't blame, but I'm disappointed in an outcome that I believe didn't have to occur the way it did, when it did. And I'm concerned my area vets' relative inadequacies may preclude my getting another GSD, a dog with somewhat more complex medical needs.

I hope you're able to hang on to your "no treatment" resolve when confronted by an emergent medical event, and the attending doc suggests a potentially 25% positive outcome for a procedure he undertook with his own dog (with a relatively poor outcome, admittedly). To me (and to the vet), a 25% chance it was a benign growth completely cured by surgery, alone, was worth the negatives associated with surgery. I wasn't prepared to lose the next 5-7 years with R if I wasn't certain it was malignant, and they can't tell until the spleen's out.
 

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One thing I forgot to mention as a follow-up to: "I left a voice message for the vet updating her and wondering now, after research, if he didn't have Salmon poisoning, as some of his food previously contained salmon, and asked for a call back."

I'm still waiting for that call. That's the second time I've left a message for the doctor at that clinic and didn't receive any kind of response (1st issue on different animal resolved itself). How can any vet leave a concerned pet owner hanging without a response? I couldn't do it.
 

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Thank you for sharing your experience and useful information. I have sadness, I have disappointment (in the state of veterinary, and human, medicine), but I wouldn't say I'm angry. I know R was likely doomed, and only attempted the surgery because the vet said there was a 25% chance of its being benign - I'd play those odds for $2k. I don't regret that decision under these facts, but would I do it again with what I know now? I don't know.

What I would have liked is the 2 weeks to use to research things you mention, including the preservation of the spleen, and the tailored chemo for dogs (I've done that research for human cancer, so I'm familiar, and there are canine cancer specialists in Seattle who likely are familiar with the steps required). As it was, I was blindsided in a do-or-die "you must decide within the next 5 minutes" emergency scenario and minimal information, which event would have been avoided had the Jan 16 visit been more productive. 0-to-Cancer, in 30 seconds, if you will, while the dog is going into shock.

I mentioned I'm disappointed in the state of veterinary medicine, at least as practiced locally. I've always had 1-3 dogs, and this was my second GSD (first was euthanized after big stroke, at ripe age). I'm 60+ and have 1, maybe 2, dogs left in me, if I'm lucky (or probably 8 GSDs, apparently). Given the known GSD health issues, combined with the apparently low-level GSD awareness in this area, I'm very concerned about getting another GSD, though the 2 I've had were the best dogs I've ever had, in every way. I need a closer, more responsive relationship with my vet, not be just another name on the client list of a medicine mill that focuses on profit, over pets, and I don't seem to be able to get that. If I can't have that, then I may be unable to consider myself able to adequately care for another GSD. I'd be doing the dog a disservice. The thought of not replacing R is what causes me the most concern (apart from his loss).

If I get another GSD, I will happily get him/her an annual ultrasound. The question becomes, however, what other tests am I not getting because I don't know about them, and my vet doesn't think to suggest. That's my fear.

Thanks again for you support and information.
I have been reading about hemangio since I found your thread. For the first time in years, there is a tear in my eyes and a lump in my throat, again.

It has been more than 15 years since our family last owned a dog. Ours developed a growth, it was malignant. The vet explained there was no guarantee of survival if he received treatment. I had to make the ultimate decision.

Near the end of 2013 my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Prior to that, he had other health issues, including two open heart surgeries, the first open heart surgery not long after I had made the decision to end the life of our dog. Shortly after their dad recovered, our children, who were small at the time, wanted another dog. Something told me not to do it, I was right. For years after we had our hands full.

My husband was the best father, husband and all around human being I have ever met. I was very selfish and wanted him with us. When he was diagnosed with cancer, I told him his treatment was up to him. Looking back, I know I lied (didn’t realize it at the time) I kept researching for specialists, the best doctors and surgeons and pretty much everything that would extend his time with us. He went through chemo, which debilitated him, his once excellent memory was gone but he appeared happy and as upbeat and caring as he always was. He underwent radiation which burned his inside and made it difficult to even swallow water, yet he continued to be upbeat and as caring as he always was. To him, his family and our happiness was everything. All my research and work was geared toward extending his life. I figured if anyone could beat the odds, it was him. I did very little research into the survival rate until after his passing.

I believe there are few people out there that are stronger emotionally than I am. Some say that is not strength, but weakness. I don’t know. I never cried, there was too much to do to waste time crying; plus I needed to ensure neither him nor our kids saw me as anything other than the person that would help them pull through what we were going through. He was always the kind and caring one, I was always the disciplinary one that just got things done.

Our middle son’s wedding was set for 4/5/14, my husband passed on 2/21/14. I remember him telling the doctors that all he wanted was to make it to our son’s wedding; he would follow every treatment known to man if he could just make it to that wedding. On his first open heart operation he had prayed he would make it to meet our daughter’s second baby, not only did he get to meet her but he even made it to meet her third. All three of my daughter’s children got meet the best grandfather any child could ever ask for. We were all confident his prayer would be answered this time too.

He worked hard on our son’s wedding, even on the days he had chemo or radiation, he helped with the invitations and making a bunch of things for the wedding so we could save money. The last thing he would have wanted was for that wedding to be postponed. It was up to me to ensure everyone concentrated on the good memories and what he would have wanted. My son’s wedding was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended and had his caring touch through it all. There wasn’t a dry eye (including mine) when my son added a toast to the best father in the world.

Like I said, I don’t cry, but will admit to shedding a tear (mostly in private) ever so often. In retrospect, our dog had it much better than my husband did. The dog didn’t get to suffer.

Science has advanced a lot, many illness that couldn’t be cured before, now can. The big “C” still kills indiscriminately, in both humans and animals. I would never again ask a human to go through what my husband went through, or even suggest it.

I have no idea why I'm sharing this now, I don’t get to talk about any of it with family because that would just burden them with sorrow, which is the last thing I would ever want for them.

Anyway, in your case, from your post I gather you are a compassionate human being that wants the best for her family, including your four legged family. I believe you should share that love and compassion with another dog. He/she will be very lucky to have you in their life, however long it is.

Vets and doctors are human, they make mistakes and none are all knowing; where one doctor that has seen something similar before may provide an early diagnosis, that same doctor may lack similar experience in other things and misdiagnose on those. Even the exceptional ones will occasionally fail. Don’t be disappointed in the current state of medicine, think of how many survive today that wouldn’t have a decade or two ago.

PS – Edited to change carrying to caring. A sad combination of Spanglish and auto correct, if you will. I hope I fixed them all.
 

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I appreciate your thoughts re: dealing with grief. Perhaps unsurprisingly given my approach above, researching/analyzing/expressing re: the issue at hand is my somewhat overly clinical way of dealing with grief, my process, if you will. My primary goal, though, was to provide the EARLY, subtle, symptom set for earlier awareness of what might be hemangio, which information was, apparently, not available to 2 area veterinarians who examined R. And I really don't second-guess myself on this one. I went beyond what most would do to figure this out. I pay professionals a premium for their expertise, and, as a professional myself, I can recognize a breached standard of care when I see it. I don't blame, but I'm disappointed in an outcome that I believe didn't have to occur the way it did, when it did. And I'm concerned my area vets' relative inadequacies may preclude my getting another GSD, a dog with somewhat more complex medical needs.

I hope you're able to hang on to your "no treatment" resolve when confronted by an emergent medical event, and the attending doc suggests a potentially 25% positive outcome for a procedure he undertook with his own dog (with a relatively poor outcome, admittedly). To me (and to the vet), a 25% chance it was a benign growth completely cured by surgery, alone, was worth the negatives associated with surgery. I wasn't prepared to lose the next 5-7 years with R if I wasn't certain it was malignant, and they can't tell until the spleen's out.
It is highly probable that your research is your own way of dealing with grief. I know it was for me. I needed to know absolutely everything there was to know. Unknowingly, I just transferred my “second guessing myself” period to your situation, I am glad that is not the case and I truly apologize for the assumption.

I only know that I will be able to hang on to the “no treatment” resolve for myself. For other loved ones? You are right, I’m not as certain about that.

There is; however, little doubt in my mind (from your posts in this thread) that any puppy you bring into your life (when you are ready) will be a fortunate one.

My very best wishes to you in the future.
 

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It is highly probable that your research is your own way of dealing with grief. I know it was for me. I needed to know absolutely everything there was to know. Unknowingly, I just transferred my “second guessing myself” period to your situation, I am glad that is not the case and I truly apologize for the assumption.

I only know that I will be able to hang on to the “no treatment” resolve for myself. For other loved ones? You are right, I’m not as certain about that.

There is; however, little doubt in my mind (from your posts in this thread) that any puppy you bring into your life (when you are ready) will be a fortunate one.

My very best wishes to you in the future.
No worries! I appreciate your input and perspective, which helps to inform my own. I hope your own GSD experience is blissful and uneventful. Truly great dogs. So great, in fact, that if you told me at the outset I'd be limited to 8.5 years with him, I'd still do it over again.
 

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I have been reading about hemangio since I found your thread. For the first time in years, there is a tear in my eyes and a lump in my throat, again.

It has been more than 15 years since our family last owned a dog. Ours developed a growth, it was malignant. The vet explained there was no guarantee of survival if he received treatment. I had to make the ultimate decision.

Near the end of 2013 my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Prior to that, he had other health issues, including two open heart surgeries, the first open heart surgery not long after I had made the decision to end the life of our dog. Shortly after their dad recovered, our children, who were small at the time, wanted another dog. Something told me not to do it, I was right. For years after we had our hands full.

My husband was the best father, husband and all around human being I have ever met. I was very selfish and wanted him with us. When he was diagnosed with cancer, I told him his treatment was up to him. Looking back, I know I lied (didn’t realize it at the time) I kept researching for specialists, the best doctors and surgeons and pretty much everything that would extend his time with us. He went through chemo, which debilitated him, his once excellent memory was gone but he appeared happy and as upbeat and carrying as he always was. He underwent radiation which burned his inside and made it difficult to even swallow water, yet he continued to be upbeat and as carrying as he always was. To him, his family and our happiness was everything. All my research and work was geared toward extending his life. I figured if anyone could beat the odds, it was him. I did very little research into the survival rate until after his passing.

I believe there are few people out there that are stronger emotionally than I am. Some say that is not strength, but weakness. I don’t know. I never cried, there was too much to do to waste time crying; plus I needed to ensure neither him nor our kids saw me as anything other than the person that would help them pull through what we were going through. He was always the kind and carrying one, I was always the disciplinary one that just got things done.

Our middle son’s wedding was set for 4/5/14, my husband passed on 2/21/14. I remember him telling the doctors that all he wanted was to make it to our son’s wedding; he would follow every treatment known to man if he could just make it to that wedding. On his first open heart operation he had prayed he would make it to meet our daughter’s second baby, not only did he get to meet her but he even made it to meet her third. All three of my daughter’s children got meet the best grandfather any child could ever ask for. We were all confident his prayer would be answered this time too.

He worked hard on our son’s wedding, even on the days he had chemo or radiation, he helped with the invitations and making a bunch of things for the wedding so we could save money. The last thing he would have wanted was for that wedding to be postponed. It was up to me to ensure everyone concentrated on the good memories and what he would have wanted. My son’s wedding was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended and had his carrying touch through it all. There wasn’t a dry eye (including mine) when my son added a toast to the best father in the world.

Like I said, I don’t cry, but will admit to shedding a tear (mostly in private) ever so often. In retrospect, our dog had it much better than my husband did. The dog didn’t get to suffer.

Science has advanced a lot, many illness that couldn’t be cured before, now can. The big “C” still kills indiscriminately, in both humans and animals. I would never again ask a human to go through what my husband went through, or even suggest it.

I have no idea why I'm sharing this now, I don’t get to talk about any of it with family because that would just burden them with sorrow, which is the last thing I would ever want for them.

Anyway, in your case, from your post I gather you are a compassionate human being that wants the best for her family, including your four legged family. I believe you should share that love and compassion with another dog. He/she will be very lucky to have you in their life, however long it is.

Vets and doctors are human, they make mistakes and none are all knowing; where one doctor that has seen something similar before may provide an early diagnosis, that same doctor may lack similar experience in other things and misdiagnose on those. Even the exceptional ones will occasionally fail. Don’t be disappointed in the current state of medicine, think of how many survive today that wouldn’t have a decade or two ago.
I didn't see this until now, when I scrolled through the thread. I responded to yours after this one, assuming that was the only one.

Yours is a difficult story to hear. From my much more limited experience last year, I can almost see to where your experience carried you. My wife was diagnosed with uterine cancer (after her own similar medical misadventure delay in diagnosis that raised her staging - doctor for fibroids presumed only fibroids, not fibroids and cancer, so didn't do biopsy in patient who ticked every box under "do it!" = 4 month delay fully of excruciating pain - 2d opin doc did biopsy) - surgical requirement, chemo/radiation recommended by surgeon (whose firm would also administer the chemo). After successful surgery, we spent weeks researching/agonizing over the options, including whether to chemo, in light of other medical issues complicating her picture. We hired consultants and went for 2d and 3d opinions, all of whom recommended against chemo under her facts. The issue came down to, "having no regrets about the decision, come what may." In light of the research and input, we/she decided no chemo (but "yes" to substantive lifestyle overhaul to create hostile environment for cancer). No potential for upside to chemo with her staging (2b), and plenty of potential for permanent downside side effects (neuropathy, creation of additional cancers, the memory thing, etc. - you know them better than I). She's coming on year 1's completion, and we're cautiously optimistic, but not dancing. My point is that I have some small idea of part of what you went through, though there are no kids/events to deal with (or to provide needed distraction). We did have a great dog help us through it, though I can't imagine having to deal with potentially losing the wife and the dog during the same period.

We must play the hand we're dealt. You carried a huge load no one should have to bear, but too many do. Sounds like you got it done, though you've paid a price. You've come out the other side, but it might help if you could work through some of the aftermath with a pro to get a cleaner margin. Maybe not, but just putting it out there.

Will I get another dog - of course - I always have at least 1. Will it be a GSD? Probably - they're just too great a companion animal to avoid for any reason.

As for docs (human and animal [not that the animals are docs, you know what I mean]), I will maintain a critical vigilance, and do my homework. Thanks for sharing your painful but edifying story. Nothing will brighten your life like a GSD (puppy or adult - mine were obtained as adults), so you've got something special to look forward to [but be vigilant!].
 

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Thank you for sharing this...it was so educational.
I'm so sorry about the loss of your dog!!
It sounds like he had a very good life with you.

I agree - the veterinary and medical profession, they work with the best they know, but they're not infallible.
I'm like you - if something is wrong, I research it to death because I want to know what's going on (although I tend to jump to the scariest conclusion, which is not good).

Now I know more about the symptoms of hemangiosarcoma,
and hopefully early treatment/intervention can help but actually it doesn't sound like it helps that much...
what horrible bad luck.

Again, sorry about your dog and thanks for sharing.
 

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Thank you for sharing this...it was so educational.
I'm so sorry about the loss of your dog!!
It sounds like he had a very good life with you.

I agree - the veterinary and medical profession, they work with the best they know, but they're not infallible.
I'm like you - if something is wrong, I research it to death because I want to know what's going on (although I tend to jump to the scariest conclusion, which is not good).

Now I know more about the symptoms of hemangiosarcoma,
and hopefully early treatment/intervention can help but actually it doesn't sound like it helps that much...
what horrible bad luck.

Again, sorry about your dog and thanks for sharing.
I'm so glad you found the info useful. It's unusual, I think, to observe the earliest symptoms of the disease's manifestation, but I did have that experience and so wanted to share it in case it might help another get an earlier jump on splenectomy (if that's the decision under the particular facts). Supposedly, close to 25% of spleen masses are benign, so removal remains worth considering, as it might fix the problem. I agree, though, the odds don't favor that outcome.

R had a great life. We spent every day together, walked several thousand miles through the woods, he wanted for nothing. I wouldn't change a thing, and I doubt he would, either. Thanks for your kind words.
 

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I am sorry for your loss, and having lost Quinnie to oral cancer nearly a year ago, it is going to take some time. It is just so hard. But, hemangiosarcoma is a killer. If you regular vet found it and you elected to do the surgery at that point, your boy may not have passed on the table, but he still may have passed by this point. My friend's Matilda was almost 9 when they removed her spleen due to hamangio, and within a month she was gone. I am not saying we shouldn't try surgery, but I just don't think your regular vet gave you a much better chance at saving your boy.

Sometimes we do everything right, we feed the best choices, we exercise, we don't use nasty chemicals and pesticides, we don't spay or neuter, we shower the dog with love and a stimulating existence, and still we lose them way too early. The rain falls on the good and the bad. And whether rain is a blessing or curse, either works. Sometimes we have to blame someone because that makes us feel less powerless, and feeling powerless is awful. Unfortunately, sometimes we just are powerless.

When my vet called with the results of the tumor in Quinnie's mouth, she had just turned three and was already a heart-dog. I loved her so much. I told the vet, "Your wrong!" when she gave her 180 days to live. I know she wishes she was wrong. But she was right. Quinnie got 150 days. That powerlessness tormented me. I was angry at the vet, even though we both knew she had nothing to do with it. It just was. The grief is immense. I am so sorry. It hurts. It hurts so bad because having them in our lives, being in love with them in a way, something like a child, something like a friend, it so very good. We make every important decision with them in their proper place, and a ton of little decisions. We go to the store and buy treats or toys because it makes us happy when they are happy. We would move Heaven and Earth to change that outcome. But we can't.
 

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I didn't see this until now, when I scrolled through the thread. I responded to yours after this one, assuming that was the only one.

Yours is a difficult story to hear. From my much more limited experience last year, I can almost see to where your experience carried you. My wife was diagnosed with uterine cancer (after her own similar medical misadventure delay in diagnosis that raised her staging - doctor for fibroids presumed only fibroids, not fibroids and cancer, so didn't do biopsy in patient who ticked every box under "do it!" = 4 month delay fully of excruciating pain - 2d opin doc did biopsy) - surgical requirement, chemo/radiation recommended by surgeon (whose firm would also administer the chemo). After successful surgery, we spent weeks researching/agonizing over the options, including whether to chemo, in light of other medical issues complicating her picture. We hired consultants and went for 2d and 3d opinions, all of whom recommended against chemo under her facts. The issue came down to, "having no regrets about the decision, come what may." In light of the research and input, we/she decided no chemo (but "yes" to substantive lifestyle overhaul to create hostile environment for cancer). No potential for upside to chemo with her staging (2b), and plenty of potential for permanent downside side effects (neuropathy, creation of additional cancers, the memory thing, etc. - you know them better than I). She's coming on year 1's completion, and we're cautiously optimistic, but not dancing. My point is that I have some small idea of part of what you went through, though there are no kids/events to deal with (or to provide needed distraction). We did have a great dog help us through it, though I can't imagine having to deal with potentially losing the wife and the dog during the same period.

We must play the hand we're dealt. You carried a huge load no one should have to bear, but too many do. Sounds like you got it done, though you've paid a price. You've come out the other side, but it might help if you could work through some of the aftermath with a pro to get a cleaner margin. Maybe not, but just putting it out there.

Will I get another dog - of course - I always have at least 1. Will it be a GSD? Probably - they're just too great a companion animal to avoid for any reason.

As for docs (human and animal [not that the animals are docs, you know what I mean]), I will maintain a critical vigilance, and do my homework. Thanks for sharing your painful but edifying story. Nothing will brighten your life like a GSD (puppy or adult - mine were obtained as adults), so you've got something special to look forward to [but be vigilant!].
I am very glad to hear your wife has fared well and pray it continues that way permanently! I am also glad you will get another dog; he/she will entertain you both and will keep your spirits up as you continue the fight. It is always good to have someone dependent on you, someone that gives meaning to having to wake up early every morning (even when you don’t feel like it), at least that has always been the case for me.

Those that know me well fondly call me “information overload”, it is in my nature to want to know as much as possible about things I encounter, positive or negative. I do as much research for a vacation and did insane amount of research when my husband was ill, each time. You should see how many tabs my spreadsheet has, from my research into getting a GSD; we won’t mention how many pdf’s I have created from online information as well as how each is tabbed and electronically highlighted. It was months of research before I even first contacted a breeder. First, I wanted to make sure a GSD was right for me. I know I have a strong temperament, not yelling or losing my temper, but when I say something I maintain it, in spite objections or complaints; unless someone presents me with information that leads me to modify my previously uninformed opinion. I have always favorably accepted constructive criticism, it is the only way to expand knowledge I have not been in search of. I asked those that know me if they thought I could be a good owner for a GSD. Friends and my own kids told me that if I didn’t have the right temperament to own a GSD, they didn’t know who would. Obviously, I am aware I lack the experience and knowledge. For this reason, the puppy and I will be attending training classes. The classes are not just for the puppy, they are for me as well. I need to learn how to properly train and raise the newest member of our family.

As for doctors, they do the best they can with what they have; however, it is up to me when a loved one is involved, to become as informed as humanly possible to ensure I assist and ask as many pertinent questions as possible. I didn’t allow my husband to spend a single night alone in a hospital, ever. I cannot tell you how many 5:00 AM nurses I stopped from drawing blood from a vain when it was obvious he had a line. Over my dead body they were getting past me! My kids, his sisters and brothers took the day shifts so I could go to work, but the nights were mine! I knew that the least experienced and newest personnel drew the short stick and got night duty.

The middle child and his wife lived with us until they found a house of their own. They lived here through my husband’s last year and several months thereafter. While searching for their house they looked for one that had a downstairs bedroom and full bathroom so I could move in with them. His wife, who I also adore, asked me to no object; if I did, neither would move and leave me alone. I agreed, but I didn’t really mean it (I know, shame on me for lying, but I had to). Years have passed and they keep asking when I will be moving in. I’m 58, thankfully healthy (other than having to take blood pressure medication starting this past year); needless to say, I like my independence and believe they need their space to live their own lives as well.

My youngest of three is eloping with his fiancé at the end of this month.

For years they had been asking me to get a dog. I either said no or that I would think about it. About 5 or 6 months ago the youngest and middle child approached me once more about getting a dog, not for them this time, but for me. The youngest was going to get married. He will still be living here until they find the right house, but once that happens they will be moving out. And all three of them believe I should not live here alone, and they also believe I need a push into getting more exercise. This time I agreed with them, and this is how my search started. Plus, it was either get a dog or they would nag me to death until I agreed to move in with one with one them. Guess which option I picked? :)

With some temporary exceptions, I have had a wonderful life, in each of their stages. This new stage, for me, is with a puppy. As usual, there will be times where I question myself with “What have I gotten myself into?!?” only to find out later that it was the best thing I ever did, and not wanting to change a single thing. (Someone please remind me of this when I come here complaining about something the puppy did.)

We have both gone through pain. We both need to replace that pain with joy and laughter. We owe it to ourselves and those around us.

Please do let me know when you get your new dog. I’m supposed to have ours by around 2/14 or so (depending on weather), she will be 8 weeks old by then. We both get to start a new chapter in our life, a good one I think.

Yikes!!! My apologies, this is wayyyyyyyyyy long!
 

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I'm so sorry, you had to go through that. Our dogs are with us far too short a period.

I agree with you....vets don't always know everything. Even they have to get 2nd opinions sometimes....which they call "consultations." I had something similar with my previous dog. Long story short, my vet didn't make the diagnosis and as symptoms got worse, I decided I had to take my dog somewhere else, the local VRA hospital where they diagnosed liver cancer. Since then, I've decided to let my primary care doctor do the simple things like annual checkup, vaccinations, etc. with my current dog. But anything else, I'd take him to the VRA even if the cost is much higher. Why don't I find another primary care vet? Good question. I could...there certainly are a ton of them around me. I've got no good answer for that other than...I guess, "familiarity."
 

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I'm so sorry, you had to go through that. Our dogs are with us far too short a period.

I agree with you....vets don't always know everything. Even they have to get 2nd opinions sometimes....which they call "consultations." I had something similar with my previous dog. Long story short, my vet didn't make the diagnosis and as symptoms got worse, I decided I had to take my dog somewhere else, the local VRA hospital where they diagnosed liver cancer. Since then, I've decided to let my primary care doctor do the simple things like annual checkup, vaccinations, etc. with my current dog. But anything else, I'd take him to the VRA even if the cost is much higher. Why don't I find another primary care vet? Good question. I could...there certainly are a ton of them around me. I've got no good answer for that other than...I guess, "familiarity."
Not just familiarity, but also knowing every Vet will have their own limitations (unknown to you until something does happen). Second and third opinions, in cases when you suspect something a bit more serious are in order, logical and prudent (even if you believe you have the best Vet in the world).
 

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I am sorry for your loss, and having lost Quinnie to oral cancer nearly a year ago, it is going to take some time. It is just so hard. But, hemangiosarcoma is a killer. If you regular vet found it and you elected to do the surgery at that point, your boy may not have passed on the table, but he still may have passed by this point. My friend's Matilda was almost 9 when they removed her spleen due to hamangio, and within a month she was gone. I am not saying we shouldn't try surgery, but I just don't think your regular vet gave you a much better chance at saving your boy.

Sometimes we do everything right, we feed the best choices, we exercise, we don't use nasty chemicals and pesticides, we don't spay or neuter, we shower the dog with love and a stimulating existence, and still we lose them way too early. The rain falls on the good and the bad. And whether rain is a blessing or curse, either works. Sometimes we have to blame someone because that makes us feel less powerless, and feeling powerless is awful. Unfortunately, sometimes we just are powerless.

When my vet called with the results of the tumor in Quinnie's mouth, she had just turned three and was already a heart-dog. I loved her so much. I told the vet, "Your wrong!" when she gave her 180 days to live. I know she wishes she was wrong. But she was right. Quinnie got 150 days. That powerlessness tormented me. I was angry at the vet, even though we both knew she had nothing to do with it. It just was. The grief is immense. I am so sorry. It hurts. It hurts so bad because having them in our lives, being in love with them in a way, something like a child, something like a friend, it so very good. We make every important decision with them in their proper place, and a ton of little decisions. We go to the store and buy treats or toys because it makes us happy when they are happy. We would move Heaven and Earth to change that outcome. But we can't.
I don't like the rain! Make it stop, please. 3 years old and oral cancer - yikes, and the speed! Something else to worry about. You're right about the loss - very painful.

I do want to clarify why I went ahead with the surgery. I did not do the surgery because I thought it would prolong his life beyond a month or so - I recognized that, if the mass was malignant, it was game-over. I did the surgery only in hope R would be in the 25% of dogs (not, necessarily, of GSDs) with benign masses on the spleen. If it was benign, then surgery would have fixed him, and I'd have my dog back. The only way to check whether it's malignant or benign is to do the surgery. If I could know it was malignant without the surgery, then I would have euthanized him.

As for the regular vet maybe finding it earlier via ultrasound, the benefit to that would be the avoidance of an emergency surgery - we could have done it when he wasn't in shock.

Thanks for sharing your story and kind words.
 

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I am very glad to hear your wife has fared well and pray it continues that way permanently! I am also glad you will get another dog; he/she will entertain you both and will keep your spirits up as you continue the fight. It is always good to have someone dependent on you, someone that gives meaning to having to wake up early every morning (even when you don’t feel like it), at least that has always been the case for me.

Those that know me well fondly call me “information overload”, it is in my nature to want to know as much as possible about things I encounter, positive or negative. I do as much research for a vacation and did insane amount of research when my husband was ill, each time. You should see how many tabs my spreadsheet has, from my research into getting a GSD; we won’t mention how many pdf’s I have created from online information as well as how each is tabbed and electronically highlighted. It was months of research before I even first contacted a breeder. First, I wanted to make sure a GSD was right for me. I know I have a strong temperament, not yelling or losing my temper, but when I say something I maintain it, in spite objections or complaints; unless someone presents me with information that leads me to modify my previously uninformed opinion. I have always favorably accepted constructive criticism, it is the only way to expand knowledge I have not been in search of. I asked those that know me if they thought I could be a good owner for a GSD. Friends and my own kids told me that if I didn’t have the right temperament to own a GSD, they didn’t know who would. Obviously, I am aware I lack the experience and knowledge. For this reason, the puppy and I will be attending training classes. The classes are not just for the puppy, they are for me as well. I need to learn how to properly train and raise the newest member of our family.

As for doctors, they do the best they can with what they have; however, it is up to me when a loved one is involved, to become as informed as humanly possible to ensure I assist and ask as many pertinent questions as possible. I didn’t allow my husband to spend a single night alone in a hospital, ever. I cannot tell you how many 5:00 AM nurses I stopped from drawing blood from a vain when it was obvious he had a line. Over my dead body they were getting past me! My kids, his sisters and brothers took the day shifts so I could go to work, but the nights were mine! I knew that the least experienced and newest personnel drew the short stick and got night duty.

The middle child and his wife lived with us until they found a house of their own. They lived here through my husband’s last year and several months thereafter. While searching for their house they looked for one that had a downstairs bedroom and full bathroom so I could move in with them. His wife, who I also adore, asked me to no object; if I did, neither would move and leave me alone. I agreed, but I didn’t really mean it (I know, shame on me for lying, but I had to). Years have passed and they keep asking when I will be moving in. I’m 58, thankfully healthy (other than having to take blood pressure medication starting this past year); needless to say, I like my independence and believe they need their space to live their own lives as well.

My youngest of three is eloping with his fiancé at the end of this month.

For years they had been asking me to get a dog. I either said no or that I would think about it. About 5 or 6 months ago the youngest and middle child approached me once more about getting a dog, not for them this time, but for me. The youngest was going to get married. He will still be living here until they find the right house, but once that happens they will be moving out. And all three of them believe I should not live here alone, and they also believe I need a push into getting more exercise. This time I agreed with them, and this is how my search started. Plus, it was either get a dog or they would nag me to death until I agreed to move in with one with one them. Guess which option I picked? :)

With some temporary exceptions, I have had a wonderful life, in each of their stages. This new stage, for me, is with a puppy. As usual, there will be times where I question myself with “What have I gotten myself into?!?” only to find out later that it was the best thing I ever did, and not wanting to change a single thing. (Someone please remind me of this when I come here complaining about something the puppy did.)

We have both gone through pain. We both need to replace that pain with joy and laughter. We owe it to ourselves and those around us.

Please do let me know when you get your new dog. I’m supposed to have ours by around 2/14 or so (depending on weather), she will be 8 weeks old by then. We both get to start a new chapter in our life, a good one I think.

Yikes!!! My apologies, this is wayyyyyyyyyy long!
Well, that's a much happier story. Your husband was lucky you were strong enough to run interference and not defer (unnecessarily) to hospital personnel. I never much cared for kids, but I can see they be handy when we have more yesterdays than tomorrows. It'll be a little darker for me! Better have a good dog.

I think you sound like a great GSD owner. I've had a lot of dogs, lot of pitbulls, the GSDs, random fosters for periods, and the GSDs are the most like living with a person (I've not had the pleasure of other smart dogs, like Weimeraners, poodles, border collies, and the like). Not crazy high energy like a Malinois, either. Energy match between human/do is important.

I'm not ready for a new dog chapter yet, but I'll post it here when I do. I'll look forward to your posts about your new pup, too. I'm always ready to give unasked for advice. Thanks again for sharing.
 
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