Beware: this is probably the longest post I've ever written.
I had a very sad weekend. On Friday we put my Sammy down. Sammy was my little one-eyed, stinky, 12 year old mess of a dog. He was a Boston Terrier and he was my baby.
As a Boston Terrier, he began his life with a handicap. As a breed, they tend to have eye problems and seizures. He had both. And ear problems. And tummy problems. He was high maintenance from the beginning but I loved that boy with everything in me. God gave him to me because he knew how much effort it would take to care for him and how much love he needed. And I had it to give.
In March of 2010 Sammy had his left eye removed. We had been battling an ulcer in his eye for 2 months and could not heal it. One morning I noticed his eyeball had a hole in it. Literally. A hole. Yuck and ouch. Thankfully Sammy wasn't crying and didn't seem to be in pain. The vet said his eye needed to come out before it ruptured OR we could take him to an animal ophthalmologist. But he said that would cost at least $200 just to get in the door AND he might not be able to save his eye. I asked how well dogs adjust with only one eye and he said very well. So we opted for the removal. It was a traumatic experience for both Sammy and our family. He stayed at the vet for several days and when they returned him to me he looked like something out of a horror movie. I will spare you the sight.
For 2 days I was a nervous wreck because the incision site was seeping blood. I decided to call the vet and they said to bring him back in. They kept him for a week. The bleeding finally stopped and he came back home, looking much more normal. But without an eye. That took some getting used to. But it happened and life went on as usual.
Not too long after that drama ended, his other eye began having problems. He was getting ulcers again and we kept treating them to no avail. Our vet sent us to the ophthalmologist this time because we thought if he lost this eye he would lose his life. Strangely enough, the ophthalmologist (what a crazy word...it's such a pain to type over and over) said some dogs lose both their eyes and lead a pretty normal life. I wasn't convinced.
He treated Sammy for awhile and then his ulcer began to rupture and I thought for sure that was it for him. But the eye vet (that's much easier to type) said he wanted to do a surgery that would take away Sammy's peripheral vision but it would save his eye. So we proceeded. The surgery was just like a skin graft that a burn victim would receive, only on his eyeball. It saved his eye which saved his life and we were thankful. However, it left him with 30% vision in his only eye and no peripheral at all. Not a great way to go through life.
As I stated before, the vet said some dogs can lose both eyes and function well. Sammy had one eye with 30% vision and was not doing well. He only slowed down (his walking pace) while he was recovering from surgery because his vision was almost none. But after he healed and got as much vision back as he would get he sped back up. He would daily run into at least one thing, sometimes more. But I was still convinced that he was okay because he wasn't hurting himself. The vet said when he lost interest in the things he once loved, then it was time to put him down. At this point he still LOVED eating, he LOVED being near me, and still tried to play with his ball and his sister.
To Sammy's dismay, we decided to build a pool. This was a long time dream of ours and we finally had the means to do it. Sadly, I hadn't thought about how hard that would be on my almost blind and elderly dog. The day they dug the pool was not a good day for him. He "ran" into the wooden barrier they put around the hole to keep things and animals from "falling" in.
(This picture above shows the rebar inside the pool which was NOT there when he fell in. I am only showing this picture to show the wooden barrier around the hole.) Sammy didn't "fall" in; he ran in. He thought he saw something out in the yard, and even though I had taken him to the edge of the hole to show him it was there, he had obviously either forgotten or not realized how long the pool was. He took off running and within 2 feet of where he started, he hit the wooden barrier, flipped over backwards and landed on his back at the bottom of our dirt hole. To everyone's surprise, he got up and was fine. No whimpering, no limping, no crying, nothing. He was F.I.N.E. But it served as a warning to me: watch him carefully at all times. So I decided while they were building the pool I would walk him out on a leash every time. So I did.
The day the pool was finished and we were filling it proved to be another bad day in poor Sammy's life. I was watching him carefully. I took him to the edge again to show him and get him familiar. He was looking at it and sniffing around trying to figure out what it was. But his poor little eye probably couldn't ever figure out at what he was looking. Within a few minutes he plopped right in. Luckily we were out there with him and he fell in right next to where my husband was standing (talking to the pool guy so he didn't notice Sammy). He was able to reach down and grab him without even having to get wet. We noticed he was not a good swimmer. He started sinking pretty fast but Tim got him so fast we didn't have much time to even see if he could survive on his own.
After that I never let him outside alone. I always walked out with him and tried to stay between him and the pool. There was another day he was walking straight for the pool, but he was headed toward the tanning deck. It's a 9 foot area with only 4 inches of water. I decided to let him fall in to help him learn where the pool is. I knew he would be fine falling in at that spot. So he walked right off the edge. He was startled, but fine. And that's number 3 (number of times he fell into the pool).
Last week was our final and most dramatic scare. I took Sammy outside and was watching him. We had been out for a few minutes already and he was just kind of walking around, near us. I turned away for just a moment and then heard a "plop". He had fallen in AGAIN. Right near where Tim was standing, but my knee jerk reaction sent me flying into the water fully clothed. It took me about one second to realize that he was sinking fast and moving farther away from the edge by the second. I'm sure that with the little vision he had, falling into the pool was extremely scary. He probably had no idea what he had fallen into and after falling in most certainly couldn't tell which way was up. No wonder he couldn't swim. Poor little angel was scared to death. He was fine because I got to him so quickly, but I know it shook him up. Shook me up. And that made number 4.
How many times would it take for him to "get it"? For him to remember the pool is there? His vision was bad, but he should have known it was there. Three of the four falls were in the same area of the pool, yet he had no idea. Very hesitantly I decided it might be time to call it quits for poor Sam. This dog was seriously like my child and I didn't know how I would live without him, but I knew the day was quickly approaching. And I couldn't stand the thought of him drowning or dying from an injury caused by his poor vision. So last Friday he left this cruel world. It was a terribly sad time for me. But I rest in the fact that he really needed it; he was done. He still loved to eat and loved to be near me, but that's all he enjoyed. When I wasn't home, he laid by the door waiting for me. He had little quality left to his little life.
So now he sits by the door of heaven waiting for his mama to come home to be with him. I have visions of him being greeted by our other sweet heavenly angels, Lady Belle & Goldie, whom he loved dearly. And I hope they are keeping each other company until the day I arrive.
These were taken the day he died. Rest in peace my sweet boy.