My name is Kevin and I am a new member here at DobermanTalk. Some of you may have seen my posts in other threads about my family and I losing our beloved Doberman, Alpha, just three weeks ago. Through the encouragement of DobermanTalk member, Hilary, we decided to share our experience.
Alpha was 3 years and 7.5 months old at his passing. As seen in his Instagram account below, he was always such a happy boy. I always joke with other people that Alpha didn’t know he was a Doberman. He loved playing keep away and like most dogs, he had a love for sticks / grass when we were on our walks outside. We live in a greenbelt area so every day (rain, snow or shine), we would take Alpha out and about and we would go on our walks / hikes around the neighborhood.
Because of Alpha’s love of sticks and grass, every once in a while, he would puke the sticks and grass back up. It’s nothing unusual and it has happened a few times. We ran this by the vet previously and it’s not a huge concern. Since he was young, his stomach was always on the sensitive side and we have researched this to be pretty common among Dobermans. So when Alpha was not feeling well, we figured it was an upset stomach again and he would puke it back out and he would be fine. However, one thing was different and it was that he was drinking a lot more water than usual. We were watching him like a hawk because of this but there were also no apparent signs that something was very wrong. He was picky with his food so we couldn’t tell if it was a loss of appetite and he didn’t have diarrhea either.
It was the next day that he threw up a bunch of sticks and we figured he’ll be fine after that. We went on our usual walk / hike and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The following day was also normal but he puked very late at night again. This was when we pressed firmly in his chest, stomach and all over his body to see if something was wrong. Alpha didn’t show any signs of pain whatsoever. By now, we’re super worried and we made a vet appointment for 2:30pm in the afternoon on the next day. But the next morning, Alpha passed away very suddenly. He didn’t even give us a chance to save him or say goodbye.
Our entire family is devastated and incredibly heartbroken as Alpha has become a huge part of our family. He was so young and this happened out of nowhere. The past 3 weeks have been extremely tough as we find this reality difficult to process. We have all been grieving and will probably do so for the rest of our lives. Our vet eventually determined peritonitis as the cause but it was only during a necropsy that he found out what it was. It was not bloat and he had no blockages or history of blockages. X-Rays also showed no foreign objects in his body and we have no idea what could’ve caused Alpha to get so sick.
Our vet told us it could’ve been a thousand of reasons and it was just simply bad luck. It also happened so quickly that the vet told us that there was really nothing we could’ve done to prevent it or perhaps alter the outcome. We find that impossible to accept and I feel personally responsible as I am Alpha’s primary handler. Regardless, I feel I have failed Alpha and I have failed our breeder. The vet told us that even if we brought Alpha in on the first day, by the time he went through all the tests to get the diagnosis, we might’ve arrived at the same point. And even if we were able to diagnose Alpha in time, the process of treating him would be painful and the chances of survival would be 50/50, maybe 60/40. Words cannot describe the excruciating pain we all have in our hearts. I keep asking why and what I could’ve done differently to save Alpha. Maybe I should’ve kept him on a leash instead of going on our walks and hikes off leash. Not knowing the cause will haunt me for the rest of my life. Everyone has told me that it’s not my fault and logically, I understand but I just can’t help but feel that there must’ve been something I could’ve done to change the outcome.
We all have mixed emotions right now, especially me. I am angry and bitter that Alpha was ripped away from us so young and so suddenly. At the same time, I feel guilty and remorse that I didn’t take care of Alpha better. We are all devastated and the pain has been unbearable. We all know Dobermans are Velcro dogs and he was my shadow. I miss hearing his footsteps around the house and just our daily routines. It’s been such a huge void in our lives. It took me a few days to eat again but I have not been sleeping well at all. I had all these visualizations of Alpha being a huge part of our family, meeting my future niece or nephew, or being one of my groomsman at my wedding if I ever get married. But that dream has been shattered and I can’t even cry anymore because I’m all cried out.
We miss him so very much and we’re unsure what we’re going to do in the future in terms of welcoming another dog into our home. I can’t really imagine going through the rest of my life without another dog or Doberman but at the same time, we don’t want to feel like we’re replacing Alpha. Also, the thought of going through this heartbreak and pain again scares all of us. Having said that, we have tracked down Alpha’s siblings and maybe in the future, we would be able to open our hearts again to welcome his niece or nephew into our home. See what I mean by mixed emotions?
We are sure that all dog owners understand what we’re going through. I have written an essay but I want to thank you all for being an outlet for our grief. Hopefully, we will all feel better soon but right now, this pain feels like it’ll never subside. I can’t wait to see Alpha again when we can cross the Rainbow Bridge together….