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Happy SampsonIt was 7th April when I made the long journey down to Burton on Trent to view a dog I was to bring home that I knew almost nothing about let alone what he looked like!  4 and half hours later (a few wrong turns) my cousin and I pulled up at the house where Sampson lived.  A few minutes in the car discussing whether this had been a good idea and we nervously got out taking the steps up to the door.  I pressed the bell and waited anxiously although only a few minutes of waiting it felt like a life time (I was so excited yet nervous).  The door finally opened and I introduced myself and was let in, we walked through the hallway where we could here a commotion going on, the kitchen door was opened and through came a large bounding wagging ridgeback….Sampson!  He darted straight over to us wagging excitingly – this was a good sign but he must of forgot that he was on wood floor and as he got closer and tried to stop he came bounding over crashing into me, an excellent first meeting, and to top it off a big lick right across the face!  I was over the moon!

Sampson - Pick Up DayOnce the initial introductions were over with, it was time to come home, as I said my goodbyes and opened the car door, Sampson bounded past me and jumped straight in, not a second thought in his mind, he was coming home with me, attached to his new lead I buckled him in on the safety belt and gave him a few biscuits, he settled down brilliantly, not making a sound although he was looking a little scared, maybe he was just realising his actions…jumping into a car with a stranger……..this was the beginning of me finding out what a big pudding this dog really was!
(Sampson pictured the day I picked him up, he had jumped straight into the car)

The journey home was a straight forward one until we took the wrong turn off and ended up going through Leeds rather than past it, Sampson being the gentle giant he was took it all in his stride and slept through it!  Eventually 11.00pm and we were home, stopping off to drop my cousin off and meet her children, a kiss for each of them Sampson was already making new friends, finally he was home and about to meet the cats……  

I turned the key to my front door and Sampson waited quietly allowing me to go in first, what manners!  In he came and had a sniff around walking straight past the cat to the cat’s disgust!  Jumping straight into his new bed, that was him settled for the night, as I climbed the stairs I heard him follow me quietly there was a rule to be set up no pets upstairs, but it was his first night and after such a long journey how could I say no to his big soppy eyes, I woke up next morning to Sampson laid next to my bed, he had not moved all night and had his head just resting on the side watching me, I knew I was safe with him around and I think likewise he knew he was going to be safe and cared for.  This was the beginning of the no pet upstairs rule being broken for good!

Sampson - Bath TimeTuesday morning and time for his bath!!!!!  He did arrive quite smelly and dirty and with a chronic ear infection that was obviously driving him crazy as he couldn’t stop shaking his head.  Off to the K9 pool we went, he loved the car!  After an hour of pampering and a much cleaner red dog not the dark brown he looked when I collected him he smelt gorgeous and looked a lot happier!  Time for his new collar and tags to look the part!  We went for a little walk and into the local pet shop for some treats I had to butter him up as he needed a visit to the vets to sort those ears and the only thing I did know about him was the he did not like the vets!
(Sampson at the K9 pool, getting his fortnightly bath and soaking me)!

Unfortunately for Sampson I worked in vets and that would be where he would be coming with me, to work!  I found out that Sampson took this in his stride and loved coming with me, laying down in reception on his cushion with the endless amounts of treats and attention from clients.  Although he did not like his ears checking!  Once he realised that his ears started to get better and the pain was less he didn’t mind them being checked once a week and made leaps and bounds in progress even with me (as he wouldn’t let anyone check them), this was very hard trying to treat them at home on my own and I have some stories to tell about that!

Sampson at The BeachAs the weeks went on we got into a routine and Sampson was really settled in by the end of the first week, he was loving his exercise as I was told he rarely got to go out, he was a very fit dog and even the vet couldn’t believe his age!  He loved the beach and we went into the woods twice a day, Sampson often wanting to go on for longer even in the rain, he loved to be out.  Another of his routine was visiting the K9 pool once a fortnight for a bath again he seemed to enjoy this attention, sitting in the dryer was comical to watch!
(Sampson and me at the beach)

Everywhere I went, he went, he loved to sit in the garden and watch me do jobs, and the children on the estate would come in and stroke him, he loved to lie in the sun, often with the cat stood by him they seemed to get on really well.

I now had, had Sampson for 7 weeks and it felt like he had always been with me, it was lovely to come home to a wagging tail when I had been out and great to get out with him for exercise, he was just everything I had been looking for in a dog, then on the 8th week I noticed that he had not wanted to go out and whilst his appetite had been really good a few kilogram’s of weight had dropped of him rapidly, still happy and wagging and not causing any major concerns we just carried on cutting our walks shorter and reducing the amount of times we went out, after all he was an older dog, old age catches up with us all right?  Friday night, feeding time and all had been fine all week, Sampson started to eat his tea but all of a sudden buckled and was unable to stand and came over all weak……it was time to go to work so we got into the car and off we went not expecting at all what was to come.

By the time I got to work (the vets) Sampson was back to his normal happy self, wagging and dragging me off to the bushes for a wee, still I was worried, so I got my boss (the vet) to take a look at him, the only other sign I had for him not being right was his shedding of his coat, it was coming out in clumps which is unusual for a ridgie.  Apparently this is a sign of stress due to the illness.

The vet did a thorough examination and decided to run some bloods, he could feel a lump in Sampson’s abdomen.  The bloods came back ok for a dog of his age, so the next step was to x-ray to rule out what the lump was.  By this time my stomach was churning, Sampson none the wiser went about his usual routine and went to his bed.  We took x-rays of his chest and abdomen to check for the lump, it was found to be a splenic tumour.  The chest x-ray was clear of visible tumours but did show he had an enlarged heart and his prostate was also enlarged due to him not being castrated.  Sampson was given a couple of weeks to live (this is the time it would take for the mass to rupture) it was already the size of a tennis ball!  This had grown in 2 weeks as it was not felt on his last examination for his vaccine.  I was also offered the surgical option to remove his spleen and he should then recover well and live on for another few years as there was nothing else showing cause for concern.

I opted for surgery as I didn’t want to wait for him to collapse and then possibly die at home alone and in pain once this thing had ruptured, Sampson was fit and well until now why shouldn’t I give him the chance, he loved me and I loved him, we  were going for it!

Sampson was given a big kiss and cuddle and taken into theatre, his surgery was a success and he came round well, I was over the moon and went home with hope this was at 1.30 am, my shift finished at 11.30 pm the night before!  I finally went home to bed as I was at work the next day on a long shift, I was woken at 7.30am by the vet, Sampson had taken a turn for the worse, I was at work within 15 minutes and am still expecting the speeding tickets….he had deteriorated very quickly and had a bleed into his abdomen, a blood transfusion was set up for him and blood brought over from other clinics.  Everything that could have been done possible was done, more x-rays and scans were performed to determine what was going on, nothing really conclusive, and he was going into DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) although this wasn’t known at this point.  The vet and I had lengthy discussions on what the next options were and we both agreed that he still had a chance if it was a post op bleed and the only way of finding out would be to go back into theatre and take a look inside, if not the only other option would be to let Sampson sleep.  Again I was faced with a dilemma do I try and find out or do I end it all now?  I don’t think I would ever have forgiven myself if I didn’t take him back into theatre I had to know what had gone wrong, so we went back into theatre to have the condition DIC confirmed, I waited patiently, silently, hoping, my boss finally came to me with the bad news that Sampson was bleeding from every vessel inside, he had gone into DIC and there was no coming back, his blood was no longer clotting, this was a secondary condition to the splenic tumour so the vet thinks that he had other tiny tumours throughout his body that weren’t shown on the x-rays, no one could have known, I decided not to wake Sampson up.

Saying goodbye to Sampson was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I see this on a regular basis, working at the vets, but this hit me hard!  It had been 2 months to the day I picked him up, 7th April to 7th June not a very long time yet I had become so attached to him.  This dog will live on for a long time as I have plenty of stories to tell about him even though I only had him a short time.  I have few pictures but lots of memories and would like to thank all at Ridgeback Rescue for letting me have Sampson and introducing me into the world of rescuing.
Sampson & Yoda(Sampson, loving more than anything to lie in the sun whilst I did the gardening)!

Thanks, Lorraine.


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