Saturday, March 23, 2013

The life and loss of Quiz...

Click Photo to Enlarge
I've had to work up to this post.

As most of you know, I lost my Sweet Quiz last week.  He was diagnosed with a large mass in his abdomen, thought to be on his spleen, and he went in for surgery.  Though the mass was tremendously large, pre-op x-rays showed his heart and lungs were clear.  He was still in great spirits... running around the exam room, playing with the surgeon and spontaneously offering his "get your tail" trick.  To me, he was at about 75 percent, but 75 percent of Quiz was still a lot of dog... even at 9 years old.

While I knew there was a chance it would be cancer, I left the surgeon's office feeling incredibly optimistic that not only would my boy pull through, but that he'd continue to live out the greater part of his life.

What I haven't shared publicly, until now, is that while in surgery, he was inadvertently given "a significant overdose" of Lidocaine to address a series of non-critical arrhythmias.  Immediately following the overdose, he went into cardiac arrest from which, despite CPR, he did not recover.

I am absolutely gutted over the loss of this dog, and with how it happened.  I feel like he had more than a fighting chance to get through surgery, but was robbed.  It was less than 24 hours from the time I took him to my vet to discover the mass to the time of his passing at the specialist's office.

Quiz was the dog of a lifetime.  The outpouring of support I've received from friends, family and my family of friends has been overwhelming.  Even people we never met are commenting on Facebook or other social media platforms to say how much they enjoyed pics and videos of Quiz, and how evident it was that we shared an amazing bond.  I had no idea that Little Red Dog had weaved his way into the hearts of so many.  I am immensely proud of him for that.

People talk about having a "heart dog" and Quiz was that dog 10 times over.  He always did whatever I asked of him ... and did so with an endless wag of his tail, a grin on his face and joy in his heart.  And then he did it again - because if doing something once was good, doing it 10 times was even better!  He was a gamer for sure.  I always remember Steve White saying, "I could've made him an awesome detection dog," and I'm sure he would've been.  He was awesome at everything he tried ... obedience, rally, agility, field work, dock jumping ... even the crazy working trials we did years ago.  And oh how he loved to snuggle at home.  I'll miss that the most.

There are so many things I, and others, dearly loved about him.  If you were around him often, you likely encountered his patented "jump up and tongue you" maneuver, wherein he'd spring straight up in front of you without making contact.  Of course, this would make you laugh, and he'd seize the opportunity to launch his tongue right into your mouth.

That dog had stamina for training like no other.  Boy did he love to work.  He taught me a lot in our training journey together... and he forgave me endless training mistakes and even the moments where I became frustrated and expected him to compensate for my training mistakes.  There were plenty of times when I frustrated him.  He had a very specific bark that let me know.

My absolute favorite thing about Quiz is simply how much I enjoyed him ... how much we enjoyed each other.  THAT is the message I want to share with others.  Enjoy your dog.  No matter what sport you compete in or what behavioral challenges you might face, live your life with your dog in ways that allow you to enjoy each other, even if it changes what you end up doing together.  If you participate in dog sports, aim for high scores if that's who you are, but in your quest for near-perfection, please don't forget to enjoy your dog.  Maybe it's because, over the past 18 months, I've not had as much time for training (having returned to graduate school), but I found myself really focusing on this idea... Enjoy your dog.  And for doG sake, train every session and run every ring like it's your last, because you never know when it might be.

I'm heading up the coast in two weeks to run a dog training camp on the beach.  That was one of Quiz' favorite times of the year.  He was at his bliss point chasing toys into the surf.  I plan to scatter some of his ashes while I'm there.  I'll be with some of his favorite people and dogs.  It will be a fitting send-off for his physical self.

It's difficult to have shared this ugly detail, but I needed my (and Quiz') army of supporters to know the whole story.  For the moment, I'm strangely thankful for the ball of anger this information presents, because I'm not sure I'd be able to handle the straight grief.  Processing the grief through a filter of anger might just be the buffer I need.

As for the specialty group, all I can say is that the staff has done everything right in the aftermath of this horrible mistake.  The surgeon told me they will launch a full review of the incident to determine what systematic changes need to be made so that this never happens again.  I will follow up until I am satisfied - Quiz can count on that.  You sometimes hear of tragic mistakes in veterinary medicine where the office fails to take responsibility, etc.  I do not feel that is the case here.  I have tremendous respect for the surgeon for disclosing what happened and, while it doesn't excuse the mistake, nor does it bring my dog back, it makes me believe they are doing everything possible to make sure the loss of sweet Quiz will not be in vain.  While I am angry, it serves me no purpose to feel vengeful, and I aspire to pursue this with grace in my heart.  Please respect that.

Thank you all for your love and support.  I will no doubt be leaning on you greatly in the days and weeks to come.

Run fast and free, Sweet Quiz.  You may have been Tanbark's Number Two Pencil, but to all of us, you were clearly Number One!

Edited to Add: Click here for The Story of Quiz... an Epilogue.


  1. Tears are streaming down my face... I will enjoy my doG <3

  2. I'm a long time friend of Sheila (Shadow's mom) and she shared your story with me.

    My deepest condolences are extended to you across the miles Stephanie. And my "heart" Kona sends you her furry gentle hugs as well.

    Beautifully written tribute to Quiz here. :-)

  3. Stephanie, beautifully written about your wonderful friend. My heart goes out to you. I sometimes wonder how long I will have with Daisy but can't tarry long on that question. I pray that your grief will be comforted by all your friends 2 and 4 legged.

    Best Wishes,
    Kathy Dudley

  4. Indeed, a beautiful tribute to a beautiful Spirit, Stephanie. I had the, the privilege...of meeting Quiz when he was a baby, watching him grow, and marveling at how he won Zoie's reluctant heart. Of course he had yours and the hearts of all of those who met his little Red Self in the first instance. He was, simply put, a charmer. A charmer with energy. LOTS of energy. But that energy, and the amazing lengths you went to to channel that energy, inspired me to strive for more with my dogs.

    Quiz, Mr. Q, was Exuberance personified. Of course, most dogs have that incredible joie de vivre, but Quiz multiplied it tenfold. One could not be in the same room (or training class) with him without experiencing a lift in spirit and a shedding of the day's problems. He somehow fostered a dedication to give whatever you were doing your best effort. Half measures were just not acceptable in his presence. You two redheads deserved each other and I am grateful I glimpsed even moments of your bond.

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Our loss. The world's loss. Kisses on yours and Zo Zo's heads. There really are no adequate words to express my grief with you and for you, but to tell you that your forgiving grace is the best testament to the lovely temperament of your boy. Quiz was just as forgiving. Perhaps it runs in redheads.

    1. Meant to add my name...Maggie Esquiroz

  5. First I must tell you your boy Quiz was very handsome. That was a beautiful tribute. We have never met but I have learned so much about you and the group through my dear friend Sheila. I don't have my own dog but I have been fortunate to dog sit for friends. I am quite attached to them all but most of all Sheilas girl Shadow.

    Based on your words you were blessed by Quiz in your life and I truly believe Quiz was blessed by your love.
    May the memories of Quiz keep you smiling and may your friends help you find Peace.
    Donna Scholtes

  6. May we all remember your words to enjoy our dogs no matter what sports including couch potate we engage in with our furry friends.

  7. I never leave the house without giving Liam a special hug and telling him I love him. For the reason you mentioned, that it could be the last time. He is my heart dog, 10 times over, as you said about Quiz and I cry every time I look at him and think of you. I am horrified by the mistake the surgeons made - I lost my almost five year old Clancy due to a botched surgery - the difference being that they never acknowledged their mistake in any way. Not even a sympathy card. None of that matters though - the loss and the heartache is the same. I am grieving for you. I am so very sorry.
    Carole R

  8. Stephanie, I admire your grace and the love of your dog. I will never forget him at the working trials. Please let me know if I can help you in any way during this awful period of grief and loss. Love, Lou

  9. I can not begin to find the words to express how heartbroken I am to hear this news. You are right that Quiz touched a lot of people, your bond was inspiring, his enthusiasm contagious. I am so sorry for this tragic, tragic loss.

  10. Sending thoughts and prayers your way, Stephanie. My heart aches for your loss. I appreciate your attitude in the midst of these very, very hard times. Thanks for the reminder to Enjoy your Dog!! I feel I do most of the time - will do so even more now!

  11. Hugs,
    Ellen and Quatro

  12. Stephanie,

    I am so, so sorry. There aren't a lot of things as potent as the pain of losing a beloved dog. But nothing is as worthwhile as loving well and being well loved in return. Quiz had that because of you.

    - Connie

  13. Stephanie,

    I can only say after reading this blog post that for me, the heartbreak deepens. It's so hard to lose one of our maginificent four legged friends, but under circumstances such as these it's even more unbearable. I wish I had the ability to say something that would be of help to you, but sadly, I do not, and words simply don't do justice to the sorrow that I feel for you, for Quiz, and for this situation.
    Nope, there are no words...

    But I can tell you how impressed I am with your resolve to face this with grace, and your choice not to be vengeful. Your decision to see this for what it really is, a horrible, sad, deeply regrettable mistake, can serve as a lesson for us all. It's a brave choice, and one that I greatly admire.

    As others have said, your tribute to Quiz is very beautiful, as well as extremely moving. And the message you have chosen to share is a very good reminder to us all. I for one, will take them to heart. Thank you for that.

  14. I don't know you or Quiz but a friend of mine shared your heart goes out to you and I am so very very sorry for you loss.

    Laurie Dana

  15. Dear Stephanie,
    I am heart broken at the loss of Quiz. A truly wonderful and talanted fur kid. I lost my first golden- Bear ( a red field golden) with a similar condition- hemangiosarcoma of the spleen at 11.5 years old. The vet provided me his text books on the condition and I opted out of surgery. I am even more sorry that the reason for Quiz's lost appears to have been preventable. A thought to consider... if it was cancer, this horrible event may have been a blessing in disguise. I know it is hard to consider but a slow death is worse that a fast one. If cancer, the next option is chemo. Enough of those thoughts- Quiz was a blessing to all that met him, a beautiful soul. After loosing my Heart Dog Ali, I was sure I would never have another like her...well, then came Shadow...the second blessing in my life time of another Heart it is possible. There will never be another Quiz, but there may be another Heart Dog out there waiting to find you. I will pray that you two find each other. Quiz was lucky to have you for his mom- he was treated so well and loved so much by so many. Be proud of your Quiz Stephanie. I know it feels like someone ripped out a piece of your heart, but with time, that hole is healed by all the warm memories that Quiz and you had together.
    My thoughts of well wishes and heart are with you,
    -Diane Sopher.....and Shadow too