Sergio was the most loving and wonderful Poodle in the world. He was regal and playful. At times forgetting how large he was, one of his favorite things was to lay in your lap or between your legs. He had many nicknames, including "Big-Baby, and Rock Star." He answered to them all. He loved to play "blanket rat"... chasing your hand under a blanket and pretending to bite you. He had a technique where he would bend a throw rug and make a mountain and then place his bone on top of it, just like a table. If you weren't around to toss toys and play with him, he learned to toss his bone in the air and whack it with his paw like a baseball bat.
He was always, without exception, the happiest boy you would want to know. The slightest jingle of the keys, sent him racing to the garage door to go for a ride. Mostly, he just wanted to be touched. He'd rather have a hug than a treat.
Sergio was born on April 6, 2003 and along with his brother Carlo, came to live with us in our home. These two would bring us to the understanding we lived in their home - and oh what a life we all had. Hiking, walking, sitting in the sun, chasing birds, playing with his brother other buddies, sailing on grand yachts. A few months short of his 9th birthday, Sergio developed a very slight cough, almost as though he had something caught in his throat. After about 10 days, we took him to the Vet. He was diagnosed with Valley Fever and we immediately began treating him. We were assured as long as we were diligent with his medication he would beat the Valley Fever. Sergio had never been sick a day in his life and was lean, fit and otherwise healthy. We had no reason to be concerned. He developed an oh! -so-slight limp which came and went over the next four weeks. Hardly noticeable and each time I would check for bruising, a cut or a small stone in his paw which revealed nothing. But one evening it was apparent, he could not put any weight on his front leg. I rushed him to the vet and after x-rays and exam, the Vet carefully selecting her words, said it could be a number of things and it was best to wait for the radiologist to read the x-rays. I drove home, unable to wrap my brain around what she was not saying. In the morning when she called to ask me to bring Sergio back for a biopsy, I knew it was to confirm my worst nightmare. Sergio had Osteosarcoma. We were devastated. How could this healthy, beautiful friend be so sick and we not know?
It was his brother, Carlo, who had Addison's, bladder stones, and countless other issues who we worried about, but never about Sergio. Over the next 10 days we visited an oncologist and other specialist to do whatever it took to save Sergio's leg. We wanted to be sure we looked at every option. We researched and learned about the Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University and our hopes were lifted reading about the radiation therapy and other limb saving techniques. Willing to do anything for this loving friend who had brought so much joy and happiness into our life, we made the 1000 mile drive to Colorado.
A CT scan revealed Sergio's leg was badly deteriorated and amputation was likely the only option to save his life. The doctor's, nurses and staff at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital became an extension of our family, they loved Sergio from the day he entered the doors and cared for him as if he were their own. Sergio left their care after amputation and we began the long drive home with our hopes that he would live a good life as a tripod. Sergio however, did not fair as well as we had all hoped. He had panic attacks and nightmares and rarely slept. His journey was difficult. The doctors at the hospital checked on his recovery regularly. Dr. Jess Barrera checked in regularly. Frequent visits to his local vet seemed reassuring.
Abruptly 14 days after surgery, Sergio stopped eating. He lost interest in everything and over the next 48 hours, one of us was constantly at his side. On the 17th day, April 2nd - and 4 days short of his 9th birthday at 1:30 a.m., Carlo jumped down off the bed and gently walked over to Sergio who was laboring to breath, they stared at each other intently and to this day we believe they were saying good-bye. At 6:30 a.m., an almost lifeless body of our beloved Sergio was rushed to the Emergency center of his local vet where we said good-bye to our hero. I personally look back and wonder, when did the look in his eyes change, when was the first noticeable limp, what did I miss and what could we have done differently? The logical side of me knows, we did all we could guided by the experience, knowledge and care of all the medical professionals caring for him, but the emotional side wishes against all reason, there had been a better outcome for Sergio who is missed horribly and will never be replaced.
The staff at Colorado State Cancer Center showed so much care, concern and respect for our situation, it has been heartwarming to know Sergio touched their lives in some small way. We are grateful to everyone and appreciate very much the book signed by the staff sent to us in remembrance of Sergio.