Experiencing Loss on the Road- Changes Everything

I sit here writing this article with some tears on my cheeks. A lot has occurred in the last 3 months and not for the better. Our family has experienced a huge loss and it changes everything. It happened so fast, and we were not prepared for it. It’s been 14 days since our loveable fluffy husky Odi passed away and our hearts are still broken

Our Salty Dog

We came back down to the Florida Keys on February 28th and began our planned 3 months of Keys living with not a care in the world. We had an uneventful trip down and were settling into our island lifestyle. A lot of our days involved water activities whether it be kayaking, paddle boarding or just swimming and snorkeling. It was during this time that Odi began to really love the ocean. Huskies are known for being snow dogs, but Odi was becoming a salty dog. It was around March 18th that we had just come back from an ocean swim and Odi needed a bath. He was wet dog personified and needed a good ol scrubbing. During his bath, for some reason I lifted his tail to clean his hind legs really well when I notice a funny looking bump. On closer inspection it was a pronounced lump hidden by his tuffs of fur. I quickly called Jordana over and we both had a sinking feeling in our guts. We decided he had to go to the vet and get it looked at, but what veterinarian were we going to take him to? After some google searching, we found the Marathon Veterinarian Hospital in Marathon and got an appointment for the following Monday.

Odi was 9 years old, and he was approaching his 10th birthday in July. As I was driving with him to his appointment, I started to recall little things of how he was slowing down a bit. Some of these we chalked up to him getting a bit older, like the RV stairs being harder for him to climb up. Not pulling as hard as he used to on walks. Sleeping a lot more during the day. As I played these images in my mind, I never wanted to think about what I ultimately thought was now going on…cancer.  The visit to the Marathon Veterinarian Hospital was uneventful. They gave Odi a thorough examination, did x-rays and blood work. Sent us on our way and said they would call in a few days with the results.  

A few days later we received a phone call from the vet and received the results of all the tests they performed. Everything seemed to point towards cancer. They wouldn’t know for sure unless they did surgery to remove the tumor growth and biopsy it.  The surgery was a very involved one and due to the location of the tumor would require large margins to be taken, which would cause a host of other issues. Odi seemed to perk back up a bit and we continued to take him swimming and living the life of a salty dog in the Keys.

Odi sleeping on a lounge chair.

Two months went by and then a light switch seemed to be turned off and Odi began to really slow down. He began to have some accidents in the RV and that had never happened before. We needed to help him get into the RV and his panting was increasing. We went back to the vet on May 23rd and they decided to repeat the x-rays and do a full body picture, which hadn’t been done previously. To our disappointment tumors could be seen on his heart and in his lungs.  The veterinarian had the unfortunate job of telling me that it was metastasized. Walking out of the office with some steroids to keep Odi comfortable, we then drove over to the Wendy’s and I got him a cheeseburger.

We’d been here before. Back in 2016 we lost our chocolate lab to cancer, but that was after a 2-year battle. We’d had time to come to grips with what would occur at some point. This was different. In less than two months times we were now faced with losing Odi. We were not prepared for the speed at which this was occurring. We started the steroids and Odi perked up again. We had a good day, but then he stopped eating his kibble. So, we made him food and he ate again. Then the next day he didn’t want to eat and slept all day barely moving. We went and got him burgers which he finally ate on Friday morning; this would be his last meal. He stopped eating and the look in his eyes changed.

Saturday May 28th was our last full day together. We all went as a family to Key West to visit our RV friends. Odi was able to swim one more time in the ocean and sleep all day on the grass by our friends RV. We had one last sunset together.

One last sunset together.

That night Odi was a different dog. He was pacing the RV a lot, panting a lot and looked to be suffering and scared. Sunday morning was the hardest of days. We were not prepared. It was a Sunday in the Keys on Memorial Weekend and every veterinarian place was closed. All the hotlines referred us to Miami for help. There was no way we could let Odi suffer for a day to waiting for our vet to be open. We were in the midst of planning a road trip when we finally found Cruz Animal Hospital that was open in Ramrod Key. They have 24/7 service and after a phone call made time for us to come right in that morning. Odi would pass away with us by his side that morning. It began to rain after we walked out of the vet. The thunder sounded and we could only hope it was from all the paws running to meet him at the Rainbow Bridge.

There is a void in this RV like we’ve never experienced. Odi has been with us since the beginning of our travels. He was our sassy fluffy husky. He loved to lay under the RV right behind the steps. He loved exploring and peeing on all the things. He loved everyone he met. He loved to lay on the dashboard of the RV and he especially loved golf cart rides.

He was always with me as I drove the RV. I was never alone if Jordana drove the Jeep with the kids. Now I will be.

Our hearts ache.

We miss the pitter patter of his nails on the RV floor. We miss the RV rocking side to side when he would flop down on the floor. He’s not here to sass us when we wake up and he’s looking for water, food and to go pee. He’s not here and it hurts.

We love and miss you so much Odi. Till we meet again.

When we set out on this adventure of traveling the country, we never thought we’d have to deal with losing Odi. He was 9 and never showed any signs of being ill. We’ve dealt with a lot of things already from a blow out to losing our brakes. Always tangible things that could be fixed. This can’t be fixed and will probably take a long time for us to heal. We were unprepared for this. Everything moved so fast. We should have planned better for dealing with issues in the Keys and were lucky to find Cruz Animal Hospital to help us.

For 3 months Odi lived the life in the Florida Keys. He was a salty dog. We swam all the time in the ocean, he went paddle boarding and loved to sleep on the lounge chairs at Sunshine Key. In all our travels he went to 17 states, saw so many things and met so many people and dogs. I really hope we gave him a good life in the short time we had him, because he gave us his best all the time.

Odi and family on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.
Odi enjoying a sunset at Bahia Honda.
Odi, Aurelia and Odin.
Odi laying by the campfire in Maryland.

Stay Lost!

JP Latkovic is a former New York State Paramedic and Critical Care Flight Paramedic from Long Island, NY. JP, his wife Jordana, kids Aurelia and Odin have been full time RV living for over a year now. You can find them somewhere on the road heading north to South Dakota.

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