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Dedicated to the memory of
Am. & Can. Ch. Quiche's Brianna Lee De Cam, OFA, TT
Brianna with our grandson, Cody
This is our tragic story. On January 11, 2000 we lost our very sweet, loving Brianna. I am writing this because I am hoping that in some way I can help others so that they will not suffer the pain, guilt, and anguish that I am going through because of my thoughtlessness, carelessness, stupidity (you name it).
It was Tuesday night. Brianna's puppy was in that second chewing stage that puppies go through at about a year old. My wooden chairs in the kitchen are showing the affects of the chewing. I had put the puppy up the night before so I would have a little peace from watching her, but this night she had already been penned for most of the day while I was at an appointment and then in obedience classes. I didn't want to put her up again because she needed some time with the family. So I grabbed a rawhide that was on top of the refrigerator and handed it to the puppy. After all, I was right there with her and I could supervise her.
Let me back up a little here. We have not had rawhides in our home for several years because I have heard of the dangers and the accidents that can happen. I can't tell you why we had that rawhide on the refrigerator except for the simple fact that one day just before Christmas we happened to be in Sam's Club and, on impulse, bought a bag of rawhides. I remembered how much my dogs loved to chew on them. I had given a rawhide to the puppy earlier, then had taken it away and placed it on the refrigerator when I became too busy to watch her.
I could hear the puppy chewing and felt relaxed because it wasn't a leg on our kitchen chair, or a boot, or Charlie's hat, and I got busy with the things I had to do. Cindy, a dear friend who is temporarily staying with us, walked in the kitchen and asked me what Brianna was chewing on. I told her it was probably the rawhide that I had given to the puppy. I then took it away from Brianna to show Cindy. Well, you can imagine what Brianna did. She was jumping around, wanting the rawhide back. She looked so happy bouncing around, wanting it back, so I gave it back to her. Why didn't I listen to that inner voice that said, "DON'T!"
I happened to be in the dinning room, just through the doorway of the kitchen when I heard Brianna choking. I ran in the kitchen and frantically tried to get the rawhide out of her throat. In my panic I even tried to push it down her throat but it was too big. It was the knotted end of the rawhide. I ran to get Charlie to help me. It was late at night and he had fallen asleep on the couch. I knew time was important, you try to take care of the emergency yourself. We live in the country and are 40 minutes from our vet. We both tried to remove the rawhide. Brianna bit down on Charlie's finger breaking it. Together, we couldn't dislodge the rawhide from her throat. Charlie ran to get Cindy, who had already gone to bed, while I frantically tried to find a phone number of a vet that lived closer to us.
That night I discovered, when you are in an emergency situation all time stands still. I have no idea how long it took us to try and dislodge that rawhide. I have no idea how long it took me to find that phone number. I know I couldn't read the names or numbers. I remember saying, "I can see the numbers but I can't read them." Cindy had to read the numbers for me. And since it was late at night I got a recording that gave me another emergency number. I called that number and got directions to the emergency clinic that was about 12 miles north of our house. Charlie carried Brianna to the van. Cindy drove the van while I tried CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation. About half way to the clinic I tried again to remove the rawhide from Brianna's throat and I was able to get it out. Now, looking back on it, I guess by then it was too late for her. We made it to the clinic with the police chasing us. The vets came out to the van but couldn't hear a heartbeat.
I told you time stands still during an emergency. When the vet asked me how long Brianna had been choking I couldn't tell him. It didn't seem that long. I only knew that it would have taken at least ten minutes to drive to the clinic, so I said about ten minutes. Not only does time stand still, your ability to think clearly is completely gone. My heart was broken, my mind was in shock, my body was shaking. I couldn't just give up. I remember saying through tears, "You got to do something!" They did try, they even tried open heart massage. But it was too late for Brianna.
I know that hundreds of dogs chew rawhide with no problems at all. I guess you have to know your dog. I knew Brianna was capable of swallowing that rawhide because when she was a puppy she tried swallowing a pig ear and I had to pull it out of her throat. After that incident I wouldn't let her have chunks of things to chew on, until that Tuesday night. Please realize that rawhides can be dangerous. Listen to that inner voice that warns you of the dangers.
We lost our American & Canadian Champion Quiche's Brianna Lee De Cam because I had let her have a rawhide. Now I will live with the nightmare of that night, the feelings of guilt and blame, the emptiness left in my heart and our home, and the "what if's". What if I hadn't given that rawhide to the puppy for Brianna to take away. What if I hadn't given it back to Brianna when I took it away the first time. What if we didn't live so far from our vet. What if I had been able to dislodge that rawhide. What if I had tried one more time to pull that rawhide out of her throat after she collapsed in our kitchen while I was phoning the vets, when she gave up fighting us. What if I had listened to that inner voice that warned me not to let Brianna have that rawhide. What if...........
To my loving, sweet Brianna,
I miss you. I am crying many tears. Everyone tells me to remember the good times, think on the six wonderful years we had together. I remember that first day I met you. Angie and I went to Paquette's home in Canada to find you in the litter. I remember how happy you looked, how you wagged your tail your special way. Elaine showed me how to tape your ears and you rode very quietly all the way home in Angie's lap.
You were such an energetic puppy. You loved to chase my broom while I was sweeping, and the mop while I was mopping. I can still see you running back and forth on the outside of the pen in the basement while I was mopping the floor on the inside. You had so much fun "helping". And I remember every morning you made sure we didn't sleep in too long. You would wake us up with your soft, patient, persistent whines starting around 6:30. You were our alarm clock every morning for about three years, I think.
You and Oscar grew up together. Do you remember all the fun you and Oscar would have out in the back yard. We had that big spool that you and Oscar loved to sit on, lie on, and play on. When you and he were puppies, I remember many times looking out our big picture window into our fenced back yard and there the both of you were playing your games on top of that big spool. Remember when we would play Frisbee together? I would throw the Frisbee, you and Oscar would run after it and bring it back to me. You would run on his left side and he would run on your right side and together you would carry the Frisbee back to me. What fun we would have.
Remember how excited you would get when I would throw the ball for you? You loved to play ball. One time, when we were at the Traverse City dog show I was throwing the ball for you and you got so excited that you grabbed the sleeve of my brand new sweatshirt instead of the ball and ripped a whole in it. I wasn't mad at you because I knew how much you loved to play ball. You were having so much fun and so was I. Yesterday I wore that sweatshirt with the whole in the sleeve.
You learned quickly. We would go to classes together where you learned that the people who would touch you weren't bad and you learned to stand pretty. You loved to work and you sure got mad when I would put you in that crate to work Oscar. Remember how you would carry on. Nobody could talk over your noise. You were always my talker. You know what! Your daughter is the same way.
At the shows, boy, did you surprise me. Remember that day at the Kalamazoo show. You were only thirteen months old and I think it was your first AKC show. Actually, I entered you in that show to help build points for your friend Shea. She needed the major and look what you did! You were the one that came home with the major. You finished faster than any of my other bitches. You had such wonderful movement and your upbeat attitude stood out in the ring.
Speaking of upbeat, you certainly were my sassy little girl. When we were at shows or passing other dogs you took it upon yourself to let those other dogs know that you were in charge. You would bark right back at them. You wouldn't start it, oh no. But you were ready just in case they started something. You soon learned that I didn't appreciate that behavior, so when we would walk by an ex-pen with other dogs in it all I would have to say was, "Brianna, be nice." "Nice" was our word for "don't bark back". I knew you wanted to bark but you would look at me, sigh, and remain quiet. You always listened to me and behaved. If we had a new dog staying in our kennel, you would tell that dog off. I can hear you now. "Woof, woof, woof, woof!!!" All it would take is for me to say, "Brianna, be nice" and you would calm down. I guess you just wanted me to know that there was a stranger in our midst.
Oh, and remember those trips in the van. You loved to go for a ride. You always thought you could catch those cars that would pass the van coming from the other direction. You would stand at the window and watch. You would lower your head and body as a car would approach and you would bounce at the window as the on-coming car would zip past. You had so much fun. When we would get on the highway, you would settle down because you knew there wouldn't be any cars passing us on the highway. But as soon as we got back on those country roads you would be on the watch for those speeding cars again.
You loved your dinner time. As we were fixing food for everyone you would dance around and talk to us, reminding us that you wanted your dinner, too. Boy, you certainly remembered your obedience training at this time. You would heal right along side of me, looking up at me in perfect heal position as I was carrying your food to your special spot where you ate. That spot is empty now, your dish with your name on it doesn't get filled any more.
Brianna, I will miss you. I can't believe you are gone from our lives forever. If I had only known what the future would bring, I would have played ball with you more. I would have hugged you more. I would have asked for more of your wonderful kisses. I would have let you lay on the couch like you always wished you could. I would have let you stay on the bed all night, every night. I would have let you lick my bowl of ice cream more often. I would not have made you "baby-sit" your daughter, Mataya, downstairs those times Daddy wanted some peace from "all the dogs". I would have spent more "alone" time just with you.Most of all, I would not let you have that rawhide.
With a broken heart,
Mom and Dad
MANY THANKS TO EVERYONE
To Elaine, Louise, and Christine Paquette, I want to thank you for this lovely girl. And thank you for your kind understanding and all your help through the years.
I also want to thank all our friends and family for all the support, cards, emails, and phone calls that help us get through this very sad time in our lives.
I would like to thank you the reader for giving me this opportunity to share this information and hope that you will think twice about giving your dog(s) a rawhide. Learn about and consider the dangers first. If you have had a similar experience I would like to hear from you. Please email me with your story.
SIDE BAR: To all vets that deal with emergency patients. Even though you may not know the owner of a pet brought into your emergency clinic I'm sure you realize how much we truly love our animals. We need compassion and we need to know that you care about us as well as our dogs and other pets. My trauma here does not only include the loss of a wonderful dog and the feelings of blame, it also includes the pain from the lack of compassion I received from the attending vet at the emergency clinic we went to that awful night. This vet was abrupt, coarse, and somewhat rude to me. I truly feel he didn't understand the state of mind I was in that night. He didn't seem to realize that Brianna was not just our dog, she was a family member that we dearly loved. I remember at one point telling the vet through my tears that she was my beloved dog and that he could be a little kinder to me. So now when I replay that horribly painful night in my head, when I think of the "what if's", when I continually "beat myself up" because of the stupidity of my actions, I am also replaying the unkindness, insensitivity, and rudeness that I got from the attending vet at the emergency clinic. His lack of compassion adds to the pain of losing our Brianna, what a memory to have linger for a lifetime.
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