On Saying Goodbye to My Best Buddy Cam

This week I said goodbye to my best buddy of 6 years, Cam, my beloved Goldendoodle.

An unexpected and sudden turn of events.

Life as I knew it was business as usual last week. Menu planning, grocery shopping, creating blog content, and doing my day-to-day routine. Zane was out of town with our daughter and some friends on a Spring vacation in Miami.  I was home with my constant companion, Cam, doing life per usual. Little did I know that I was about to face the worst week of my life in recent memory.

To make things all the more surreal, two days before my difficult journey began, I recorded this podcast on grief with my friend Dimy Mixon, a licensed marriage & family therapist specializing in grief counseling. The timing seems so surreal.

Our beloved pet, Cam
Cam’s place in our room.

How it started.

On Wednesday, April 14th, I noticed a spot of blood on the white hide rug in my office. Thinking Cam had cut his paw on a piece of glass (I had broken a vase that morning), I took him to the vet just before they closed for the day. The vet quickly saw that the blood was from a nosebleed and that Cam had swollen lymph nodes~two symptoms that indicated a serious problem.

Six days of a roller coaster ride.

The next six days were like a roller coaster. Blood draws and exams daily at the vet.  One emergency room vet visit in the middle of the night. Multiple tests. Different doctors at every visit. On day 3, I decided to take Cam to Auburn University Vet School to the teaching hospital. This is one of the most advanced clinics in the United States for difficult cases in animals large and small.

Twice daily calls from Cam’s assigned physician at Auburn were basically the same. Cam’s disposition was always “bright,” “friendly,” and “loud.” The doctor told us Cam barked~a lot~from his cage. This of course was him looking for me, his mama.  On the medical side, the news was never positive. Platelets kept dropping despite every attempt to boost them. From vincristine to several other chemo drugs to a blood transfusion, my buddy was not getting better.

Our last day with Cam.

Zane and Emma arrived home on Sunday, so I thankfully had my family nearby for what happened next.  On Monday the 19th at midnight, the phone rang. Dr. Sender’s voice was grave, and I knew we were not going to get good news. Cam’s platelets were still low, and he had some internal bleeding. He needed a blood transfusion to make it through the night.

The next day, my daughters and I drove to Auburn. We called for them to bring Cam outside to us (COVID rules), as we were there to say goodbye. He walked out on a leash, with a sweet demeanor but obviously weak and no energy. My heart fell when I saw my normally spunky boy look so tired.

With two of my daughters, we spent the day with Cam outside the vet hospital. We spread blankets under a huge tree, and we had water and food for Cam. Zane was a few hours behind, so the girls and I loved on Cam all day by ourselves. We hugged him, laid beside him, and told him how wonderful he was. We face-timed special friends who loved him and showed him videos of him with his half-brother Winston barking and playing. Cam watched them all. He was so happy to be with us after being alone in a cage. He pressed up against us and soaked in every bit of the love.

We waited anxiously for Zane, as I needed him for strength to make the decision and carry it out. Cam was beginning to lose energy and cough (blood). When Zane finally arrived, Dr. Sender and his resident Brian Cali sat outside with us and talked about our options.

In a nutshell, we could keep going medically with little hope, meaning Cam would be back in a cage alone away from his family and being poked and stuck daily. We chose the other option, to love Cam one last day and release him peacefully while holding him in our arms.

We walked to a lovely courtyard at the vet school. Dr. Sender and Brian were beside us, not rushing us at all, and simply allowing us to grieve, cry, and give them the ok when we were ready. Cam was cradled in our arms at the end, and he had a smile on his face. I chose to step away before the last goodbye, but thankfully my family stayed until the end. My grief was so intense that I could not bear to watch his last breath.

Pain mixed with blessings.

Despite the excruciating pain, I’ve experienced myriad blessings from this ordeal. Below are just a few, as I am sure there will be more as time passes.

  • 6 beautiful years with my boy. My 6 years with Cam were endless joy, laughter, companionship, and absolute unconditional love. 
  • Support from close friends. The outpouring of love, support, and prayers from friends has been astounding. From my closest circle who’ve brought meals, visited, called, sent care packages and more….they’ve kept me going.
  • Love from virtual friends. I’ve been blessed by an outpouring of love from friends who follow Family Savvy and know and love Cam from seeing him beside me for the last 6 years. The messages have been so kind and heartfelt, and each one has helped make my heart heal a bit more.
  • Perspective on grief. Grief had been a distant memory for me, as I had not experienced it for several decades until now. Losing Cam has reminded me to appreciate every day with my people, as we never know what tomorrow holds.
  • Sweet blessings from God. The last day spent with Cam was bitter, but God gave us some sweetness. The beautiful weather allowed us to enjoy our last day outside. Four of my family members were able to be present.  My best friend literally stayed by my side the entire time Zane was gone and things were getting worse with Cam.  The blessing to be able to release Cam peacefully and not watch him suffer.

I know many of you have experienced the pain of losing a beloved pet. It is a pain in a class of its own, as a pet relationship is a unique one. Our pet gives unconditional love, constant companionship, and endless joy. Pets truly are a gift from God that I personally believe He will allow us to enjoy in Heaven.  He created animals in the Garden, and I believe they will be present in the new Heaven and new Earth. Either way, pets are a special gift.

Thanks to you all who have reached out. Next week, I will share the journey of Cam’s last week on a podcast. I feel this is therapeutic for me and for those followers who have grown to know and love Cam through Family Savvy.

As always, blessings to all of you and yours.

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  1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Joanna. Loving a pet almost always guarantees an eventual grief when we lose him or her. It is worth it to have them for a season, but it is an excruciating pain. Blessings to you.

  2. I too have experienced this sadness. I am so very sorry for you and your family. I believe with all my heart that my Odie is in heaven playing freely while waiting I’m me to arrive.
    All the best to you and your family.

  3. Melody, thank you so much for reaching out. I am so sorry that you, too, have grief over losing your sweet angels. Thank you for praying for me as well. I hope that God reunites us with our pets in Heaven. (C.S Lewis believed that, and so do I:-)

  4. Thanks for opening up your heart to share the last days with Cam.. I believe it’s healing for both you and the audience who have experienced the loss of a pet! I still miss my sweet dogs every day and I too believe that we will experience that joy of animals in Heaven. Please know that I will pray for you every time I see a post you put up.

    Melody McNair

  5. Thank you so much, Chris. Yes, we dog lovers all know that we will have to say goodbye to our angels one day. It is truly one of life’s hardest things to do. Thank you for your kind words and for your prayers!!!!

  6. Martha, thank you so much for your love and concern. My heart is broken, but I know that God will heal it over time. I am very grateful for your prayers.

  7. I’m typing through tears of sorrow for you and your family. My heart goes out to you all. Sending prayers for comfort for you all.

  8. I love you and that amazing furr bby so much. sending all my love, good healing vibes and all the prayers you need! he was a kind hearted, lovable, and the most precious gift from God. He was blessed with this best mama bear ever. Fly hith sweet boy
    Loves you

  9. I’ve reached out on Instagram and just wanted to say again how sorry I am. It’s a heartbreaking story. Glad you got to spend time with Cam. He is just precious. What a blessing. Many prayers for comfort and healing for you.

  10. You wrote this story beautiful and yes they are designed to be blessings from God. You have a beautiful spirit and your story has helped us prepare for the day we will experience our goodbye to our golden.

    You are my favorite blogger. You are talented and you love Jesus. May the Lord wrap His loving arms around you all.

  11. This was a lovely tribute to sweet Cam. He was blessed to have you for his mommy . He was so loved ❤️

  12. Megan thank you for you kind and encouraging words. I am so sorry about your loss of two goldens. They are the sweetest dogs:-) I am happy to hear you have a new buddy. I hope I can find one soon. XoXo

  13. Jamie,

    I cried from the minute I heard as I had to relive the painful memories of losing my second golden retriever four years ago on May 7 unexpectedly to a fast growing sarcoma. I could not handle not having a dog and on July 16 a short time later I adopted Jordy my mini golden doodle and side. I can deeply relate to every thing you have said and I cannot even begin to imagine the shock at six years old is just way too young.

    Please no I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers as I know your heart is so heavy.

    Sending you healing love and light and may the warm memories of your best friend soon outshine your pain and grief.

    Blessings on you sweet girl.

  14. Cass, what a wonderful life Gus must be livng at the home of Red Land Cotton:-) I hope God gives you many more beautiful days with him. Thank you for your prayers. The pain is crushing and constant, but I know time will ease it like it always does. Love you friend.

  15. Melodie, thank you for sharing. The unexpected ones are hard to grasp, but even losing matrue dogs is not for the faint of heart. God made them like angels on Earth. They offer such a sweet love like no person can offer. XoXo

  16. Nancy, thank you for your words of advice. I am definitely struggling when I come home to an empty house. I know, though, that time will heal the sharp pain; I just hope that is soon. Bless you!!

  17. Jamie, I am so sorry for the loss of your darling boy. The next few weeks will be hard, as you will be looking for him around the house. As a dog lover who has been with two Westies at the end of their time here with us, it is so wonderful that you and your girls spent the day cuddling him and telling him what a good fellow he was, such a bittersweet duty for all the love they give us.
    Be good to yourself in the next few days.
    Your fellow dog lover,

  18. Jamie you wrote this beautifully, as I sit here crying for you and Cam, I am remembering my 2 girls that I lost. Mimzy my black lab was sudden and unexpected like Cam, and sweet Bailey my chocolate lab, a decision that was heartbreaking and hard, she was old and her lower back just gave her too much pain.
    They gave us unconditional love, so pure!
    And yes I too believe they are up in heaven running and playing, waiting patiently for us!

  19. Well I’m sitting in a puddle after reading your post. We have a black lab who lived in the house with us for 6 years. When we moved to the farm, Gus became an outside dog. At 10 years old now, he’s almost deaf and totally blind. I love that sweet old fellow so much! The thought of losing him, and I expect it any day, fills me with grief. I feel your pain. It’s palpable from miles and miles away.
    I love you. Prayers for comfort from the Lord!

  20. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m tearful reading this. Losing our pets is heartbreaking. God gives them to us for a short time because they only need a short time to make an impact on our lives. Hope your memories of him will soon bring you smiles ❤️

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