Lost 2 dogs within weeks. I don’t know how to cope. How to breathe.

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    Warning: this post is long. But please read it. I need everyone to know who Marley was. He was my reason for living and now he’s gone. I don’t know what to do anymore. Every step I take feels like I’m losing him more and more. It feels like my life and my heart and my home will never be the same

    I don’t know where to begin. I lost two of my dogs in April but this post is mostly about Marley. I lost him 2 nights ago. I can’t eat. I can’t drink. All I can do is cry and sleep. I’ve never known pain like this in my life. I feel nothing but pain and sadness and guilt. I’m an animal lover and have always volunteered walking dogs. I met Marley in 2017 when I started volunteering at a private rescue. Marley was about 5 at the time. He was not approachable. He was aggressive. He was a giant Great Pyrenees. He was beautiful. I only knew the breed because I had adopted my first one when I was volunteering at a local humane society. She was the most beautiful dog I had ever seen. And she was scheduled to be put down the following day due to food aggression. I convinced my husband to let me save her life and it took some convincing but he agreed. Ellie joined Jax and king and we had 3 dogs. We later took in another husky that was neglected. She became dog number 4. Little did I know at the time, Marley would soon become dog number 5 and our lives would change forever. I spent months working on getting Marley comfortable with me. It was a slow process and even then he was unpredictable. He’d snap without warning. My poor husband. I guilted him into letting me bring Marley home for just a weekend to get him out of the kennel. He saw right through me. It became a source of tension for us as he had (legitimate) concerns about his own safety around Marley. Marley couldn’t cause damage, but he was scary and unpredictable. I begged my husband. I cried and begged. He was firm. I drove Marley back as I cried and cried. For the next few days I was depressed. I don’t know remember what happened but my husband said he couldn’t see me like this anymore. He made me promise to do everything in my power to change marleys behavior and make it so that he and Marley could coexist. I immediately drove to the rescue and packed him up. We never looked back. He was difficult but it was worth every minute of it. Eventually my husband started to work more and Marley became the start of my passion for animals. I began working with wildlife who were orphaned and injured. All Marley wanted to do was sleep in bed with me but he couldn’t. He couldn’t get in the bed even if he wanted to. And he wouldn’t fit. It devastated me because he wanted so badly to lay with me. Fast forward to a year later and my husband and I had to move out of our rental and buy our next home. I wanted to be in the country with an animal rescue. He wanted to be in the city, close to family, with reasonable limits on animals. He was so patient with me and the animals but I guess in hindsight I took advantage of his patience. The animals became a source of tension. Ultimately we decided to go our separate ways. It’s crazy because there was no love loss. He will always be my best friend. But I guess a relationship ends when two people no longer grow together? I don’t know. All I knew was I needed to be able to say yes to any animal in need and I didn’t think I could live a life where I had limits. My heart broke for every animal. How could I say no? It’s not like my husband was unfair at all. He was the opposite. Caring, patient, an excellent provider. My family loved him. We had all of our common interests. As I type this I realize I need a separate post about this topic. Anyway, in addition to never saying no to an animal in need, I knew that Marley needed to live like a king. Do I sound crazy? Everyone told me I was. I dreamed of a house of my own where Marley could sleep in my bed every night. I wanted it so badly that I ended my marriage without hesitation. Marley became my right hand, an extension of me. I bought my own house and bought a bed that was low to the ground for him. He slept with me every night. Came in the car with me anywhere and everywhere. He was my life. And I was his. When he first became sick I was so pessimistic. I thought he was in bad shape and wouldn’t be able to handle what was to come. I was wrong. His organs and everything else were great. He was a strong and resilient 8 year old. He had a knee replaced and was moving better than ever. Lost a ton of weight. He was finally living a real life. I lost him 2 nights ago and I can’t function. It feels like I can’t breathe. When my husband and I separated, he kept the 3 huskys and I took ellie and Marley. Everything between us was perfect and amicable and it still is to this day. Almost as soon as I moved into my new house, I got my first foster. Another Great Pyrenees who spent his life in a shed. He was dog number 3. In a short period of time, I was up to 8 dogs. I maintained that number with 1-2 fosters rotating. Because of my experience with Marley, I became the resource for dogs who were difficult to place. I realized that Marley changed my life so that I could help more dogs like him. Dogs who had no options. Marley spent the first year of his life chained outside with no human interaction. He spent the next 4.5 years at the rescue being loved by very few but admired by all. He was a mystery. Those very select few (probably 3 people total) who could actually interact with him on a meaningful level, they knew how special he was. And then he chose me for some reason. I never knew how much Marley changed my life until I lost him. I have 4 dogs right now without Marley. All are Great Pyrenees who are difficult to place. But none of them bring me any comfort right now. I know I’m a terrible person for saying that. I have other animals that I care for. So many. And all I can do is feel pain and guilt and sadness over Marley. I can’t eat. I can’t drink. I don’t know how to move forward. I’m so broken. People tell me I was a great mom and to cherish the time we had together. But how can they possibly understand the guilt I have from letting him die? Yes he had a beautiful life. We had a beautiful life together. But his chapter was not supposed to end that day. I only had him for 2.5 years. It was not newly enough time for me to rewrite the terrible life he had before I met him. I don’t know what to say or do. I’ve shut down. I can’t talk to anybody. The more people tell me to be grateful for what we had, the more I want to crawl into a black hole and never come out. The only thing I’m capable of doing right now is feeding all of my animals. Inside I feel dead. I feel like I’ll never be the same. All the animals I have and Marleys impact on my life was profound and unique in a way I never could’ve imagined. He was the light in my eyes. The true love of my life. I am more than just an animal lover. I changed my life when my passion for animals outgrew my lifestyle. None of that matters anymore. I feel like my dreams and hopes died with Marley. My sweet boy. I couldn’t protect him when it mattered most. I’m sorry this post is so long.

    On April 6th, I lost one of my dogs, Jax. He spent the last 2 weeks dealing with a sudden illness, having surgery and ultimately dying of a massive blood clot 5 days post op. We got him and his brother as puppies. They were litter mates and never spent a minute apart.

    I had one day to grieve before marley became very sick on April 8th. I rushed him to the emergency vet immediately because his symptoms were consistent with bloat. As I rushed to the vet, I couldn’t stop crying and trying to understand why this would happen now, not even 2 days after Jax died. Jax had a twisted intestine. Marley had a twisted stomach. Both sudden. Both random. Both not so common. Why me? Why them? When I got to the hospital, they asked me to allow the techs to come out and get Marley while I stayed in the car due to covid. I sat there crying hysterically until the doctor called. Testing confirmed bloat and a twisted stomach and he needed immediate surgery. Because of Jax, I was so nervous about Marley. Marley ended up doing really well through the surgery and the next day post op. Just when I thought he was coming home they called and as soon as I heard “Marley was doing great but unfortunately…” I assumed the worst. Marleys stomach had filled back up with fluid. They didn’t know why. They emptied it but it kept refilling. Later in the evening the following day, I got the most amazing phone call. Marley was ready to go home. They diagnosed him with a GI motility issue and said he would need medication for the rest of his life. I think picking him up was the happiest day of my life. We went home and he was still a little out of it. A day or 2 later I noticed his abdomen swelling and rushed him back. They had to empty his stomach again. He stayed there for the day and they called me that evening. I remember the doctor apologizing and saying Marley had been ready to go but the call was delayed by a few other emergencies and Marley fell to the bottom of the list because he was doing great and ready to go home. I was so happy. I almost cried. They said to increase the GI motility drug because we need to kickstart his GI tract and sent us home.

    The next day Marley was not better. I called the hospital but they said Marley needed to go to a different hospital with an internal medicine specialist. I hated the idea of another hospital stay but we had no choice. Off we went. They admitted him and called me to say they’re keeping him at least overnight to run a lot of testing and to figure out what’s going on. They said they’d be in touch the following morning. It seemed like forever had gone by until my phone finally rang. The doctor introduced himself as the specialist overseeing Marleys case. He told me that Marley had irritable bowel disease. I asked him if this is serious and if I’m going to lose him. He laughed and said Marley is going to be just fine. I was so happy but so cautious given what I went through with Jax. Marley was discharged a few days later.

    For a couple of days, Marley was doing great. He went back for a recheck appointment on April 21st. They said everything was great and started him on a steroid. He was slowly becoming himself again. For the first time since this started, I had hope. Marley had a few very good days

    On April 24th, I woke up to find Marley not in my bed which was a red flag. When I found him in a random room in the house, he was lethargic and wouldn’t eat. He remained this way all day. I called the vet and he said that this would be normal for him until the steroids kicked in. He said dogs with IBD have good and bad days.

    Marley ended up rebounding and having a few good days until April 28th. I woke up to a house full of bloody diarrhea. I initially had no idea what it was. It was horrible. Marley was a little lethargic but still had a slight appetite. I once again called the vet and he said the same thing. It’s a normal issue with IBD and not to worry.

    The following day, Marley had no diarrhea and actually had a solid stool, though it was black in color. He was still lethargic but still had an appetite. I noticed his gums were very pale so I called the vet again. He told me again that this is normal for the disease and allowed me to give Marley a vitamin b injection. I was a little frustrated because these symptoms seemed serious And I knew Marley was miserable. I asked him what would be considered an emergency at this point and he said if Marley goes more than 24 hours without eating. Since Marley was eating that day, I let my guard down. He did otherwise seem fine. He went to bed with me that night.

    I woke up the next morning and he was nowhere in sight. My heart sank. When I found him I could tell he was off. Still lethargic and now he had no appetite. He spent a majority of the day moving around and trying to get comfortable but he couldn’t. I told myself that the specialist knows best and that this it normal. I told myself that I could take Marley in Friday morning if he still didn’t want to eat. As the day went on, Marley just seemed more off. I ran to the pet store that evening to get him a new food. He came in the car with me as he always does. When we got home he didn’t get out of the car right away which isn’t unusual. A little while later i went out to get him from the car and he was outside laying in the dirt. Very odd. I called his name and he was just out of it. I chalked it up to him being lethargic and weak since he didn’t eat all day. I had to physically pull him up to get him moving. I thought he was walking a little funny but I told myself it was all in my head. As soon as I opened the front door his front legs seemed to give out and he plopped down. Again I thought I was overthinking it. He kept trying to lay his head down and get comfortable but he couldn’t. I brought a blanket out for him and he continued to rest his head, adjust, and sit up. As I started to walk away I turn and looked at him. He looked at me and let out a breathing sound almost like a person gurgling in water. But it was with his breath if that makes sense. I looked at him for another minute and he didn’t do it again.

    I went to bed that night and woke up to find him not in my room. I wasn’t completely surprised since I figured he was resting comfortably in the foyer. When I turned the corner and looked down, my heart sank. I knew before I even got to him. My baby was gone. As I type this there’s a heavy feeling in my chest and it just keeps growing. It’s like I can’t breathe. I feel nothing but pain and guilt. His funny walk, that weird breath, I should’ve taken him to the hospital. Instead I took this vets advice and let my dog lay there suffering. I kept thinking how can Marley be ok but I figured worst case we would go to the hospital that morning if he didn’t improve. Never ever ever could I have imagined I would lose him that night.


    Dear Mal:

    I am so sorry for your losses, particularly losing Marley. As I read the last paragraph, I felt a wave of emotion, a sinking feeling. Your love for Marley has been immense, you really did your best for him, your very best. It’s about grieving now, isn’t it. Accepting that he is gone. I don’t have any more words for you, other than repeating myself: you loved Marley deeply and you did your best for him.



    Dear Mal:

    Thank you for sharing your story, and your beautiful bond you have with Marley. His soul will be forever remembered.

    I believe he was more than a dog, more than an animal, he was a guide who guided you to discover your true calling… who you really are. The animal reign needs a vibrant and caring person like you…and that is why he is the column of your life, he put you in synch with what and where your soul needs to be. He won’t ever really disappear from this world, because he shaped you into a better version of yourself that won’t ever leave your body again… in a way… he’s part of you. And not just in your heart, but in the way you will start operating from now on. He taught you unconditional love on another level… and he made you feel unforgettable emotions that shaped you in the person you are today.

    I am sure that what you’re feeling right now is absolute pain and darkness, and as you said… you feel like you’re dead inside. And I would like you to sit down and really meditate on this feeling… feel the pain as a sensation as much as you need until you are ready to put it aside for at least a couple of seconds… and realize what is really going on right now… Because what I believe is going on right now could be the exact opposite of what you think… It could be that you really became the type of spirit Marley guided you to be.

    When the pain will go away I know, that you are going to be ready for a different chapter. Marley will be the fuel for you to go on and be ever greater… save even more dogs… create even better projects for them… and live a fuller and brighter life.

    And last thing, you really did everything you could. Saving him in the first place was already everything you could, so you really shouldn’t give guilt that much power at all, because guilt in this case is just an illusion in your head… it is not your case.

    I truly wish the best for you and I am sending my positive energy towards your beautiful mind and soul, and I can’t wait to hear about the beautiful things you will be doing in memory of Marley.

    Take care, Al.


    I can totally understand you because I’ve been through similar things.

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