Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sammy's Story

In this month's Blog I would like to pay tribute to a very special little beagle named Sammy. I was blessed to have been given the opportunity to meet, care for, and grow to love Sammy. Sammy was super resilient boy who battled a severe heart condition in addition to the bladder cancer I was treating him for. He fought hard, had a fabulous quality of life, and constantly proved me wrong by outliving all the predicted survival times for his condition. Sammy was blessed to have a wonderful human family that loved him immensely and took amazing care of him. Sadly, Sammy lost his battle in July 2012.
Below is “Sammy's Story” authored by his human parents. It is a wonderful tribute to his life and it proves how often animals actually end up rescuing us when we think we are rescuing them.

Dr. Gina Olmsted

   On Sunday, July 22, Sammy, our sweet Beagle, passed away at home, surrounded by those who loved him.
We'll never forget when we first saw his adorable face. We brought dog and cat food to the Animals for Life shelter in Middlebury, CT one Saturday morning in February, 2010, and as we walked through looking at all the dogs, there he was, quietly sitting on his haunches, one paw up against the cage door, calling to us with his eyes."I belong to you", he was saying.  We filled out an application, but were told that another family was ahead of us. But fate would bring him to us instead. When Sue brought Mac to the vet to be neutered, (that was the name they had given him) she discovered that he had a heart murmur and would need daily medication.  When the other family heard this, they no longer wanted him, and so Sammy found his forever home with us.

  He was sweet and funny and cuddly and a bit of a devil. He loved his walks and his couch and his stuffed lion and llama, which he "stole" from the stuffed animal basket.  And he adored his people. His heart and lungs got progressively worse, but it didn't slow him down. With the help of his local cardiologist, as well as the chief
cardiologist at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, he was stabilized.

  Then on December 10, 2011, we received the devastating news that Sammy had a tumor in his bladder. A wonderful internist at VCA Shoreline Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Shelton, CT diagnosed it, and that same day we had the good fortune to meet Dr. Gina Olmsted, an oncologist from the Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, CT. She became not only Sammy's oncologist, but a dear friend who loved Sammy so much.  We tried 3 months of different protocols, including intravenous chemotherapy, but the tumor wasn't shrinking.  So together with Dr, Olmsted, we made the decision to stop all treatment.  His kidney function was very poor, but much to every one’s surprise, he rebounded, got a second wind, and had 4 more excellent months.
   We believe that he knew how much we needed him to stay with us through July.  My father's funeral was July 14, and by July 19 my nephew and sister, who were here from the west coast, had left to go home.  The house quieted down, and then Sammy began to slow down. For 3 days we were constantly with him, every moment of the day and night.  He wasn't eating any longer, nor could he take his walks, but he loved being outside on the grass and sleeping with us at night.

On Sunday, July 22, he spent most of the day outside on the grass, and we took turns staying there with him. By early afternoon he let us know that he did not want to be outside any longer, and he stumbled to the front door.  I carried him inside, and put him on a soft bed in the entry, but he was very restless.  Finally, he tried valiantly to walk to his couch, and so I gently picked him up and laid him in a comfortable position. At 5:10pm, he took his last breath, and went over the Rainbow Bridge.

   Over the past years we have loved a Springer Spaniel, a Collie, 2 Basset Hounds, a Flatcoat Retriever, and 2 mixed breeds, but none ever stole our hearts like this little Beagle.  We are heartbroken and bereft, and wait for him to come trotting around the corner.  We are so grateful to everyone who walked with us and Sammy on his difficult journey –  His local veterinarians and cardiologist, the veterinarians and staff at Shoreline and Animal Medical Center, and Dr. Gina Olmsted and the staff of the Veterinary Cancer Center.

We have been told by so many people how blessed Sammy was to have found such a loving home and such devoted parents like us.  But we are the ones whose lives were touched and blessed by the gift of this loving, adorable Beagle.

-Helen and Karen


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