Tuesday, October 18, 2016

You Can Do Everything Right and Have Things Go Wrong Anyway

When things go wrong, and a dog gets hurt or becomes ill, doubt and guilt often follow. What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently?


Did I do this to my dog?


Every time I've been asking myself this question. Sometimes the answer was, maybe. If I knew all I know now, could Jasmine's health have been better? Could we have avoided some of the things she had to face? Maybe. We made some mistakes, Jasmine's veterinarians made mistakes.  If all the mistakes could have been avoided, would it have made a difference?

Sometimes things are what they are regardless of what you do.

This is a true story; it happened to a friend of a friend:
He lived outside the city and drove to work daily. One morning his wife woke up in tears, urging him not to take the car to work. "I had a vivid dream in which you died in a car accident," she cried. "Please do not take the car to work today." The friend's friend decided to oblige her. Not because he believed a dream could dome true but to give her peace of mind. He took a train. He arrived in the city. Just as he was walking out of the train station, a passing car lost control and went flying off the road toward the building, pinning the doctor to the wall. He died instantly. Would he still be alive had he not been warned and taken the car? 

With Jasmine, there were things I wish we had done differently. With JD, no matter how much I analyze things, everything was to his advantage.


JD came from a responsible breeder.


We got JD from a pup, hand-picked from a reputable breeder. We wanted the perfect buddy for Jasmine, and we wanted a healthy dog. We also specifically picked parents on a smaller side. His parents were healthy; both had smaller and thinner constitution.

JD didn't get neutered until he was over a year old.


Back then there was no science backing up such decision, but there was enough talk among breeders and holistic vets for us to decide to wait. Unlike Jasmine, who, at vet's recommendation, got spayed very young, JD had the advantage of staying intact until his body matured.

JD was vaccinated but discriminately.


JD got his initial vaccines and one set of boosters. After that, other than rabies vaccine, we chose to titer instead. Because of our dogs' lifestyle we did vaccinate against leptospirosis but that was it. He was getting his rabies vaccine only every three years.

JD had wellness exams semi-annually.


Twice a year JD would get a full physical exam as well as urinalysis and bloodwork done. We also tested for tick-borne diseases and heartworm regularly. He was on heartworm preventive but no other chemicals or meds.

JD was quite healthy, but when he did have an issue, he always got veterinary attention. When we found a bump on his leg, we did everything by the book.

JD was fed high-quality diet.


Even though JD did best on kibble, he always only got top quality food. He got some fresh foods and home-made treats. No junk ever.


JD was slim.


We kept JD at optimal body score condition for most of his life. When he started having hip issues, we got him even thinner yet to help out the joints. He was kept thin, but his muscles were strong.

JD had a healthy mouth.


A dental exam was part of his wellness visits. JD's mouth was healthy, and he got his teeth brushed daily. The one time he had a bad tooth we took care of it properly.

JD got plenty of exercise and time outside.


From day one JD was getting daily walks, time at the farm, and later, time at Jasmine's ranch. He always got a lot of exercise and fresh air. Every since we moved to Jasmine's ranch, he had at least two hours outside daily, accompanying Cookie and myself on our hunting expeditions.

We never used any chemicals around our dogs.


We don't use dryer sheets. I only clean with vinegar or baking soda or, for really tough stains, enzyme-based cleaner. Our guys live as chemical-free lives as it gets in this time and age.

When the swelling on his head cropped up, we did work with a vet.


The diagnosis made sense and the treatment made sense. Everything looked great until it didn't ... When I look back, I can't see one thing we should have done differently. And yet, he was only eight-and-a-half years old, and he's gone. Within twenty-four hours he went from a happy dog to a train wreck. There was no warning. Everything was fine and then it wasn't.

Sometimes, you can do everything right and have things go wrong anyway. Sometimes, you can take the train and still die in a car accident.


Related articles:
Bugs. I Hate Bugs. But They Seem to Have Nothing to Do with JD's Puffy Eye 
The Saga of JD's Puffy Eye Continues
If We Don’t Hear From The Vet Today, We’ll Be There First Thing In The Morning: Jd’s Swelling Keeps Bouncing Back
What Turned out Not Being an Adverse Drug Reaction after all (Part I)
What Turned out Not Being an Adverse Drug Reaction after all (Part II)
What Turned Out Not Being An Adverse Drug Reaction After All (Part III)
RIP JD


Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.




40 comments

  1. Sometimes things are outside of our control, call it fate or destiny or whatever you like. You did your best based on the information you had at the time, and that's all anyone could ask.

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    1. Yes, sometimes I guess it is fate. Maybe it's fate all the time; who knows.

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  2. That is a very tragic story about your friend of a friend. And you're right...sometimes you can do everything right and it just goes wrong. All we can do is the best for them and hope it turns out well.

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    1. I think it must have been the worst for his wife. She was the one who convinced him to take the train and she'll never know what would have happened or not if she didn't.

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  3. I feel your pain... but you cant be hard on your self sometimes these things happen. your doing an awesome job and im sure JD is super grateful to have you in his life.

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    1. "Things happen the way they wish," Jasmine's vet often says.

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  4. It's my boy Rileys death anniversary tomorrow and I often get caught up in the same thoughts

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    1. Sorry to hear. I think you did everything the way it could have been done. Things tend to work out the way day do regardless of our efforts.

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  5. Sometimes you can do everything right, and things happen. Still painful though. When I allow myself to think of poor Saffy, my puppy mill rescue I fall apart. She went for dental surgery, something happened, the vet panicked and Saffy died. If only I had known my current vet at the time, it never would have happened. I know there's nothing I can do, I can't change the past, but it's heartbreaking nevertheless.

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    1. So sorry about Saffy. Going by the story I included, though, perhaps he'd die anyway. Perhaps such things are inevitable no matter what one does or doesn't do. And perhaps having passed right there and then saved him from some major pain or suffering. Just like when my dad diet from simple food poisoning. He was on meds for his heart which caused him bleed out internally from vomiting. So senseless. But perhaps that too saved him from some suffering he'd otherwise have to go through in the future.

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  6. All you can do is the best you can do. Sometimes we learn more and we do better next time. I have learned lots about dog nutrition in the last few years and wish I had been more informed in the past, but there's no going back.

    Sounds like are and were an amazing dog mom!

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    1. Thank you; I guess the frustrating thing is that things can go wrong even when you do everything right. If you screw up, you can at least learn and do better next time. If you don't, there is nothing else you could do differently. So while you save the guilt and regret, it still sucks too.

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  7. Jana this is such a good post as when Baby passed from IMHA at the age of 6 I for months blamed myself however much the vet and friends told me I was not to blame, I still to this day 5 years later question myself. I am paranoid I think with Layla and do everything according to the books and still live in fear.

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    1. I'm so sorry about Baby. Jasmine's vet often says, the disease does whatever it wishes. Meaning that things can go wrong regardless of anybody's efforts or interventions. We can do our best but at the end things lie in the hands of fate (or whatever one wants to call it).

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  8. I think it is always tough for those of us who love our pets to see anything bad happen to them. When Cinco passed away in April, I blamed myself like you wouldn't believe. To this day, it is hard to convince myself that I could not have done anything about his cancer. I want to be super woman, but in reality, I'm not. Bad things happen to all of us and it isn't anyone's fault. It's almost harder when there aren't any villains to avenge!

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    1. Yes, the lack of a villain does make it harder. But things happen the way they do and we just have to accept them. So sorry for your loss.

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  9. I believe in fate. I think you can do a lot to change it but sometimes, even when you do your best and take every precaution, boom. You seem to do an amazing job. I always get inspired to learn more. I wish I had known what I do now for my gorgeous lab Cookie who passed at 13.5 a few years ago. I could have made her last few months much more comfortable, even if I couldn't have changed the fact that she got cancer.

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    1. I think that sometimes certain dogs come in our lives so we learn. Whatever we learn can then help many others.

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  10. This touched my heart because I have been here - with my furkids and kids. As parents, pet or human, we can make every right choice - or best choice we think is right, and still "fail".

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    1. I don't think it should be called a failure. Some things are just out of our hands.

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  11. I believe we all do what is best for our fur children. It's hard not to feel guilty, but I'm sure you did everything you could.

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  12. I'm sorry. Things happen. My last dog had behavior issues, my current dog has medical issues....we can do all the right things, but sometimes life isn't fair. But, every dog will teach us something, and they say we only get what we can handle.

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    1. They do teach us a lot. Hubby always says, "nobody said life was gonna be fair." But then he complains when it isn't ;-)

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  13. So touching. Sometime this happen for a reason that we may not ever know or understand. I truly believe that certain dogs, people and things come into our lives and yes even leave our lives for a reason.

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    1. I think it would be easier if we knew the reason. Maybe ...

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  14. Oh, this is a difficult one. I think although we do the best we can, you are so right, sometimes things still may go terribly wrong. Excellent and very thought-provoking post. Having shared a journey with Canine Epilepsy with my beautiful (now angel) boy Gibson, I agree with you, that by sharing our stories and journeys, we can hopefully help others.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, I started the blog to share our journeys in order to make lives easier for others, perhaps save a dog or two from suffering.

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  15. I think we have all been in your shoes. I lost a dog years ago because he ate something he shouldn't have while I was at work because I didn't believe in crating and he was left to roam the house. Now I crate all my pups when I'm gone. We learn from things we did/didn't do with all of our pets. But it sounds like you're a great momma and your furbabies are blessed to call you mom 😊

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    1. So sorry about your baby. Dogs do tend to eat things they shouldn't. We never crated our dogs either, hopefully we have been managing to keep bad things away from them.

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  16. Haven't had anything happen. Although he did have a bad reaction to anesthesia last time which makes me nervous.

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    1. I can see how that would make you nervous. It's a good idea to go over what happened and what might have caused it and adjust the protocol next time. We did that with Cookie's sedation protocol because she had a terrible reaction too. The new protocol worked flawlessly.

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  17. I agree, it always seems like that feeling of what should we have done differently.

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    1. It makes sense that one would question what was done. If a mistake happened, one can learn from it. If no mistakes happened, it's kind of frustrating because there is nothing one can change to prevent bad things in the future. Sometimes things just happen.

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  18. I'm so sorry about JD, but you are right sometimes you can do everything right but it doesn't mean you can prevent death. Two family members I loved dearly in my life died of lung cancer. They never smoked a day in their lives and led healthy lifestyles. I have several other family members that have always smoked like chimneys but they've never gotten a single disease. You can only do what you can do, making the best decisions you know how. I admire your dedication to a healthy lifestyle for both you and your pets! You're a great dog mom, I know that for sure.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Reminds me of an episode from House MD, where the woman got pinned under rubble. Forman: You did everything right, this would happen no matter what you did. House: Is that supposed to make me feel better? (obviously it actually made him feel worse)

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  19. This is so true, but still very sad. My cat died of kidney failure a few years ago and I kept wondering what I could have done to have kept him healthier. I just got two kittens (3 years after I lost my Pumpkin) and am planning on getting them the best food and care possible.

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    1. Kidney disease is, unfortunately, becoming an epidemic with cats :-(

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  20. So much this. Exactly how I felt after losing two of my babies this past year. Tears....

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    1. So sorry about your babies. xoxox Sometimes things happen in spite of our best efforts; whether for better or worse.

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