An average dog knows more about loyalty than the most extraordinary human. Got home to see our beautiful airedale listless and stumbling. He came to me. We brought him inside. I lay down and he lay down next to me, just happy to be near his human.
He was cold. Listless, stumbling... but he was cold. Everything I could think of that would cause his symptoms came with a fever, or involved a slow deterioration. I guessed hypothermia. Beast wasn't a bright dog in a lot of ways and had brought himself to near-hypothermia several times by getting stuck under the porch. It wasn't that cold out... but it was all I could think of.
I didn't think shock. He wasn't dehydrated. He wasn't bleeding. His abdomen wasn't swollen or tender or rigid. He wasn't sweating (I know, dogs don't sweat, just used to humans). His breath wasn't shallow or rapid, it alternated between normal and very deep.
I couldn't figure it out and decided that it could wait for morning, for our regular vet. If it was hypothermia, he would be fine in the morning. Other than shock, there isn't a lot of intersection between "Things that will kill you quick" and "things the vet can do something about".
Then Beast collapsed. We made the run in to the 24-hour clinic late on a Sunday after an exhausting weekend. He didn't survive surgery. I called it wrong. It was shock. Cancer on the spleen, bleeding into the abdominal cavity. Bringing him in immediately might have changed nothing, but I'll never know. So I own this one, this death. A good, loyal, brave friend. Not that smart. And four legged, but I didn't mind.
Cold and wet digging a grave this morning. Didn't notice at the time. Digging gives you some time to think.