I wanted to write a new post for the new year. This wasn’t what I wanted to write.
Today, I lost Laevatein. She had a great morning of playing in the snow as I unloaded dog food and running about the house kill-shaking her toy dinosaur. She jumped in the car I was unloading, ready to travel even though lately we’ve been going only to her chemotherapy, and was generally happy and enthusiastic. I left her out to enjoy the yard in the comparatively warmer temperatures, but when she didn’t return I went out to check on her. I walked over the entire fenced yard, looking see if a drift had made a ramp over the fence or anything, but when I returned to the porch by a different angle, I found her lying on it.
My best guess is some sort of cardiac arrest. She’d never had any cardio symptoms and her lines are good, but it’s always a risk and at least one of her chemo drugs is cardio-toxic — it just seemed a better risk than the cancer which would have killed her already. I asked about a necropsy, but Purdue is the best option, and I don’t want to drive her hours over reportedly-still-bad roads for something that won’t change anything.
On the one hand, I am very happy that her last day was clearly one of fun and enthusiasm and no signs of distress or pain. On the other… Well, there’s a lot on the other hand. She had achieved remission with the extended chemo, and last night I was reflecting happily that I couldn’t feel her lymph nodes as I petted her.
Someone on Facebook dubbed 2013 the year of losing good dogs, because so many of us in the training community lost an excellent dog. Laev just made it to 2014. She would have been 9 next month, but most observers guessed her age at 2 or 3. Far, far too young.
An old training buddy was texting me and so was one of the first to hear the news. “We were just bragging on her last month at the club,” he said, even though she hasn’t been to Schutzhund in a couple of years. (She was playing Ringsport, and I’d been looking forward to taking her back.) When I announced her death online a little bit ago, a friend commented, “Laev was simply amazing.” And that’s exactly how I’ll remember her. She, like Shakespeare, taught me so much about training and behavior. And others; the vet staff said she was great to work with, using all her trained behavior to make blood draws and chemo drips straightforward and less-stressful.
She was a good dog.
Update: It was suggested by another vet, and Laev’s oncologist thinks it most likely, that Laev suffered a blood clot which broke free. Blood clot risk is elevated by some types of cancers and perhaps also by frequent IV use, which of course she had with chemo. So that’s certainly not an answer, but it’s a likely possibility. Still very sad.