On July 7, 2004, I received the following "Golden Boy Lost" letter from Bruce Everhart, a grief-stricken Golden dad. His 5-year-old boy, Charlie, had just died on July 4th from heat stroke. With tears in my eyes, I immediately wrote back to him. Then, I called both of my Golden babies to my side and kissed them repeatedly. I wrote to Bruce and then sent out a letter to my many dog friends in cyberspace, asking them to do two things for me. First, I wanted them to share the information below about canine snorting behavior and heat stroke as it could possibly save a beloved life in the future. And, second, I asked for folks to share those personal thoughts that they believed might help Bruce begin to process this devastating trauma.

A Golden Boy Lost
Dear Rochelle,
I am writing this because I am devastated and heart broken. My Golden boy died July 4th and I am having a very bad time. He was only 5-years-old. After talking with the breeder we got him from, I now believe I know what happened and want to pass it along to other Golden lovers in an attempt to keep this from happening to anyone else. Our boy had always been a snorter, which we thought was cute. To wake me us in the morning he would stand by the side of the bed and snort to wake us up. We had always taken only the best of care of him and all the vets he had seen knew he snorted. They all told us he was one of the most beautiful Goldens they had ever seen and that he was in perfect health. The breeder told me yesterday that through some fairly recent experience she has had, that the Goldens that snort are much more prone to heat stroke, and that is what happened.

The snorting is apparently caused from a slight restriction in the trachea and if they become overheated, it is possible in some rare cases that they will not be able to get enough air in to cool themselves. The 4th of July here was not that hot and there was a breeze blowing. He was playing with my grandchildren, who he loved, but was not doing an excessive amount of running. He spent most of the time riding in our John Deere Gator with them. I noticed when my son and the kids were leaving that Charlie was doing a lot of snorting but he always has and I wasn't alarmed. After they left I found him on our bed unconscious. I tried to bring him around, he felt hot so I got cold wet towels and washrags to put on him while my wife tried to find a vet on a holiday.

Finally, she found our vet at home and he told us to bring Charlie right over. He weighed 95 lbs and carrying him to the car was quite a job, but we got him in the car and started to the vet who lives about 15-20 miles from us. (His office is about 3 miles from us but due to the holiday he of course was not there) We made it about 5 miles and Charlie stopped breathing. I stopped the car, put my mouth on his nose, and blew my breath into him in an attempt to get him breathing while my wife, who is a registered nurse, massaged his chest. It was in vain, however. We could not get him back. We went on to the vet's home anyhow not willing to admit we had lost him, and he was pronounced dead.

I know this is a long e-mail and probably full of typos. But I needed to talk to you because I knew you would know what I am going through. At this point, I don't feel like I can ever recover from this. I loved him so much. He was my closest friend, my best buddy. It is very hard to visualize a future without him. Please pass this information along and let me hear from you. I need all the help I can get right now.

Thank you Rochelle, Bruce Everhart

Follow-up Message Received July 8, 2004
Dear Rochelle,
There are no words available for me to use that could accurately describe just how extremely grateful I am to you. Since I e-mailed you yesterday regarding the loss of my Charlie Boy and you put his story out, I have received well over 50 e-mails from all over the world from beautiful Golden parents as well as some parents of other breeds. Their very kind words have been at the same time poignant, loving, understanding and very very helpful. Due to the help and prayers of these folks and of yours, I am now beginning to believe that I can heal and start the process of letting go of some of the tremendous pain I have been going through since my Boy went to the bridge. I know Charlie would not want me to suffer as I have been no more than I would want to see him suffer.

In a future that I could not even imagine yesterday, I believe will see me as a Golden daddy again. It sure it won't be easy but I am beginning to believe that I can do it.

I plan to answer each and every e-mail as soon as I can. I will also keep all the e-mails I received and arrange them somehow in a book or folder to honor the life of my wonderful Charlie Boy. The thought that he is waiting for me at the bridge is of great comfort to me.

Bless you Rochelle, my wife and family and I are indeed very very grateful to you. You are a wonderful person. I will stay in touch and will most assuredly let you know regarding a new Golden child in our lives.

Your indebted Golden friend, Bruce Everhart

Follow-up Message Received January 5, 2006
RGolden Harveyeceived your e-mail this afternoon regarding Charlie's story. It was odd indeed since Charlie had been on my mind very much today. He is never far from my thoughts, but today he was strongly in my mind as I walked Harvey. Imagine my surprise having just returned from that walk to find your e-mail. Thank you so much. I am attaching this photo taken just a few minutes ago, on his favorite resting spot, our couch in our little place in Florida. Harvey was out chasing leaves today and is somewhat tired tonight.


I am now able to think of Charlie without all of the sadness surrounding those thoughts. As you know, at one time I didn't think I would ever reach this point. However, I now concentrate on all the good times I had with Charlie and that helps to ease the feelings of loss. Of course, Harvey has helped immensely. I love him dearly. I can see a lot of his brother in him, but in many ways he is very different in a good way. He makes me laugh and that is very good. I want to believe that Charlie sent Harvey to be with us.

I know you are going through some very difficult times at present. I am aware you do not want to dwell on that so I will not comment further except to say you are certainly in our thoughts and prayers. If you ever find yourself in need of someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Sincerely, Bruce

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