sudden and completely unexpected

Sabrina, Tyville Madison

12 January 2002 – 20 January 2011

how I'll remember her, kicking up grass and running all out

(if you don’t mind, I’m cutting and pasting what I wrote on the GH board on Ravelry.)

I can’t believe I’m actually typing this. Sabrina had been having some leg troubles the past 6-7 weeks. We’d tried a few things – anti-inflams, muscle relaxants. When we had the dogs in for their dentals on Dec 8th, our vet took back and hip x-rays of Sabrina because of her unexplained limping. They looked really good.

She wasn’t getting any better, so I had our vet refer us to the vet clinic at the university for a second opinion/more in-depth exam and diagnosis. We got an emergency appointment to bring her in this morning. We expected it was going to be a soft tissue injury or else her lower back.

Since the weekend when I contacted the vet to ask for the referral, Sabrina had declined. She couldn’t get up on the couch any more, when she was laying down, she had to do so very carefully and slow with that hip and just couldn’t seem to get comfortable.

The way the vet clinic works there (because it’s a teaching hospital) a 4th year student does the initial exam, then she takes the dog to one of the practising vets (this one was an orthopaedic specialist) and presents her diagnosis and the two of them then did a further leg/hip exam. We waited out in the waiting area (down a few hallways away) and we could hear Biner screaming from there. Gah. They kept her in there, then came out and talked to us and said it could be a torn ligament, it could be that isoblahblah muscle that goes from the top of the thigh around the hip/pelvis, or it could be something else. They’d need to take an x-ray. I said “osteo?” and they said that was what they’d be looking for on the x-ray.

So they said to go have lunch and come back or they’d call us when they’d done the x=rays. We were at Denny’s halfway through our food when they called. They said the x-rays showed something we needed to talk about so could we come back right away. I knew as soon as Bill clicked off his phone it was bad. We walked into the room and they had the x-rays up and I could even tell it was cancer and it was aggressive and all through that leg. They x-ray’d both her legs like she was laying down, then they did a second, closer one of her left leg. The right one was all bright and firm looking, the left was was dull and grey and mottled. They said they could do further tests to determine what exact kind of cancer it was, but that would mean taking a bone sample. No. No more pain. She said it was very aggressive.

Based on what the vet said, we don’t think we could have done anything else. She said that the options were to amputate, then chemo and hope it hadn’t spread. She thought Sabrina would have had another 4 months of a good quality of life if we did that. The other option was radiation; no better odds. Just seeing her stress (and hearing her) during the examinations, we couldn’t do that to her.

They told us the options and we decided to not have her be in any pain any more. She was groggy from the sedative they gave her for the x-ray. They took us to a room and we had Apollo in there with us. They wheeled Sabrina in on a trolly/table thing, they had a nice fleecy blanket under her and one on top. As they wheeled her in, she lifted her head, bleary eyed and gump-tongued. They let us have as long as we wanted with her, then we called them back in and they gave her the shot. We petted her and told her she was a big brave girl, she looked up at me, then she was gone. I couldn’t have let them do that and us not be there. It was so hard, but I didn’t want her to be afraid.

The house seems too empty, especially the couch where the Princess reigned. Apollo is a little out of sorts, too. On the drive back, he snuggled up to Sabrina’s jacket in the van.

Since we’ve been home we’ve both had crying jags and just sitting here tearing up. I don’t know, maybe it’s better that it happened so fast like this, instead of us putting her through the trauma of coming back home, her not being comfortable and pain-free for another couple of weeks? We were completely unprepared for this; we thought it was a muscle or else her lower back. I think we’re both in shock a little bit.


46 thoughts on “sudden and completely unexpected”

  1. Oh god. Hugs. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I haven’t read your blog long, but in that short time, I fell in love with Sabrina. My heart is breaking for you, your family and Apollo.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. Please take heart and comfort in the fact that you gave her a beautiful life, full of love and safety, and the hardest decisions are for the best.

    I’m writing this at my desk next to a picture of my own princess heart dog Angel 1993 – 2009 (not a GH, but a rescue non the less). She reminds me that the love stays with you as long as it is shared.


    Beth Lewicky

  3. My heart is broken! I’m so sorry to hear about Sabrina, but glad that she is no longer in pain. I know it was a difficult decision for everyone.

    Thoughts are with your family…

  4. My mom, Wendy, reads your blog regularly. She told me about Sabrina and we all feel very sad for you. Our cat, Minnie, had cancer and passed away in September. We didn’t know your dog personally, but we cried for her anyway.

  5. Sabrina brought a lot of laughter and a lot of smiles. You made the right decision to end her pain. No matter what you believe, you can know that she will always be in a special place…your hearts.

  6. I’m so very sorry for your loss. My cat recently passed from cancer, so I know the deep heartbreak you are experiencing. Remember she will always be in your hearts.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss, Apollo must feel it too. Thanks for sharing your story. I still remember when you first had Sabrina.

  8. Many hugs to all of you. I share your pain and tears for Sabrina. We lost our Rotti the same way to Osteosarcoma. I take comfort in knowing that she will greet us again when it’s our time. Sabrina was a brave, loving sweetheart and it’s because she has such a wonderful family.

    Take care and all the best.

  9. I have followed and enjoyed your blog for several years. I’m so sorry for how this turned out. Sabrina is out of pain now. You provided her a wonderful life and gave her a final, selfless gift today. She’ll be waiting for you. Wishing all three of you comfort in the days to come. Although it may be unthinkable right now consider not waiting too long before finding a new friend for Apollo, if it’s at all within your future plans. Our younger dog moped and remained depressed during the six months between when our older dog passed and I brought in a new puppy. Had I gotten a new dog sooner I don’t think he would have suffered for so long. He’s now a happy boy living with his half-sister (three years his junior.) Take care,


  10. Wow, this is totally unexpected. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I can only imagine how much you are going to miss her.

  11. I am so very sorry! Osteo is a Greyhound owner’s biggest fear, I think. We have had our cancer battles here, but not with osteo. If it helps any, I think I would have done exactly what you did. The thought of bringing one home and then having them break a leg would be a huge fear for me. Our hearts go out to you tonight!

  12. Oh my gosh, I am so so sorry! What a very sad shock for you all. It’s nice that you were all able to be there, Apollo too. Remember that she loves you just as much as you love her. I’ll be thinking of you all. Take care.

  13. We’re so sorry 😦 You did what was best for her by not letting her suffer more, that’s exactly what we would have done. She was such a sweet girl and had a wonderful life as the princess of the house.

  14. So very sorry. You are a good mom and made the right choice. Do not second guess yourself. Sabrina is in good company right now with my Bright Eyes and Harry. I am so very sad and honor Sabrina.

  15. I admit I haven`t been able to read this post to the end yet but I just want to tell you how much I feel with you – all those memories coming back up… It was the right decision you took for your girl. Hard for us who stay back in the world that seems so empty now but we are so glad to be able to keep our beloved pets from more pain!

  16. Dear Terri,

    I’m so sorry. I’m sitting here weeping into my breakfast. Big hugs to you and Bill and Apollo.

    Love to you all as well from Sabrina’s cousin, Mandy.

    Sabrina was an amazing dog. She kept us all entertained. When we were in London we saw the most amazingly perfect dog bed for her at Harrods and took a picture of it. It was indeed fit for a princess. That’s the kind of impact Sabrina had on us even though we never met her.

    Take care.

  17. So incredibly sorry for your loss of Sabrina and your grief. I was worrying about osteo as I read about Sabrina getting worse in your posts. She was a beautiful girl and a great spirit. I know you and your husband and Apollo will miss her terribly.

    When we lost our Dina to osteo last September, I wrote down special memories and stories in a blank journal I had.. you have so many in the blog, but it’s a thought anyway. We, too, made the choice to save her from more pain, and if it is any comfort, I would make the same choice again.

    I will be thinking of you all… the only thing I can tell you is that it does get better over time.

  18. I am sooo sorry to hear this very sad news. My deepest sympathies. I will miss following her happy days thanks to you. I love that pic too – what a heart wrenching twist…hugs to all three of you. xx

  19. Our thoughts and love are with you both.. Give Bill and Apollo big big hugs for us… That god damn osteo took our Priest.. I hate it so much


  20. Terri –

    My heart breaks for you. My Penny girl is a mirror image of Sabrina – attitude and all.

    I loved your reports on the greybies and often had my husband take a look as well.

    He will also be devastated for you all at this time.

    Warm wishes and the biggest of hugs. I wish there was more I could do.

    Jamie Lea

  21. OMG! Terri I just read this. I am still at work and I am just bawling. What can you say to news like this so unexpected! I am so very sorry.

  22. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I loved to read about Sabrina and Apollo and your adventures through the years. Pets hold a special place in our hearts and you guys were wonderful “parents”. I’m glad she’s no longer in pain. My thoughts are with you guys.


  23. Terri and Bill, I can’t believe what I just read – I am so terribly sad and sorry. Poor Sabrina, she soldiered on so well. I will miss her stories and photos terribly but you did what you had to. Been there, done that twice – it hurts. I will always remember her as a special sweetheart. I am very sad. Hugs to you, Bill and especially Apollo.

  24. I am so sorry to read of your loss. It brings the hurt so close to the surface for any of us who have had pets, loved them and lost them. I know this is a difficult time for all of you. We feel your pain but are so glad you also shared the joy you had with Sabrina with all of us.

  25. I’m so, so sorry Terri. Words can’t express. Through your posts, over the years we’ve all come to enjoy and care for Sabrina and Apollo as if they were the puppies next door. Thank you for sharing her life with us and for sharing your grief so honestly as well. ❤

  26. I’m so deeply saddened by the sudden loss of your beautiful Sabrina. I began to read your blog regularly after the loss of Murphy, our Chow/Shepherd cross, last summer. It was healing to me to see the love you and the big fella have for Sabrina and Apollo, and how they loved you in return. Please know that I understand and you are all in my thoughts.

  27. Dear Terri,

    I am so sorry to hear about Sabrina. I know you and your husband will miss her for a long time to come. So will Apollo. Cancer is so cruel. Please know that I am wishing you much strength to endure the grief you are suffering.

  28. So sudden… and so very sad. I’m truly, very sorry for your loss. She had a wonderful life, and gave you both so much happiness. What a great way to live.

  29. I am so very, very sorry to hear this. I figured I’d be reading that she was better. My heart goes out to you and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  30. oh my god. i knew i had missed something. with all the flood stuff and returning to aus, i did a mass “mark all as read”.
    i’m catching up in a coffee shop–my bike got a flat–and i’m in tears. my nose and eyes prickle. this saddens me so much. it’s very close to what we experienced yet not at all the same–does that make sense?

    i am so sorry. when i got back into the blogs to catch up, i immediately noticed that sabrina wasn’t in the posts. i had to catch up. i am so sorry.

    i know that you still miss her. and be warned that the shock part might never wear off. i got to let go of pets with old age, but i still feel robbed of my grieving for tamale. of course i’m not being unreally morbid, just that i feel that my good-bye was rushed and cut off. i’m just letting you know that might linger with you, too. the silver lining is that i find joy in the tears i still get thinking about her.

    i am so very sorry for your loss and for not emailing sooner.

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