As you may have read before, our adorable Jack Russell had been ill for more than 18 months. In February 2014, he became really ill after we took him off cortisone, and for the past 6 months we’d been trying everything to help him. Two specialist vets, sonars, blood tests, X-rays, and mountains of medicine (herbal, natural and allopathic) and many thousands of Rands.
His diseased liver was showing tiny signs of improvement over the last four months. Dr Eckersley had hoped for more improvement (his own words). At the monthly appointments, he encouraged us by saying “Oh, he’s walking so well today” – or when he fed him a snack after drawing blood, he’d say “Oooh, his appetite is very encouraging!”
I do appreciate his attempts at being positive and encouraging – I believe it’s his job to instill hope and provide encouragement for the pet owner. However, he observed my doggy for only 30 minutes every month and certainly didn’t see the difficult walking at home, the swaying from side to side, the groans when we tried to pick him up, the start of labored breathing lately and the many liters of water consumption.
The Big Decision
Andrew and I had been very conscious of making the right decision. We didn’t want any prolonged suffering for our precious dog, and didn’t want to end a precious life too soon. To help us with this important choice, we enlisted the help of kind, loving animal communicators. A few months ago they were (independently) emphatic in their answers – Jack says he’s not ready to go. On a soul level, he’d love to spend more time with us and he can’t say when the end will be.
We were thankful for the guidance and relaxed into his wish. We spent precious time together as often as we could. I work mostly from home and he was usually lying close to me in his doggy-bed, while I was typing away on the laptop. I would often plonk myself down on the floor next to him, and love him with soft strokes, belly rubs, looking into his eyes or running energy (as we say in Quantum-Touch). We tried to include him in our weekend activities by going for breakfast at restaurants that allowed dogs, so he could be part of our lives as much as possible.
We often go for weekends away from city noise to make sure we rest and recuperate well. Three weeks ago we had another weekend planned on short notice due to Andrew’s stress levels, and we decided this time to take little Jack with us.
It soon became clear that he was completely disoriented, didn’t know where to walk, and often took off in a strange direction. That worried us tremendously – he’d never shown this kind of behaviour before. Those 5 days away, Jack was mostly sleeping/napping, only eating half his food and we had to carry him to a suitable place for his ablutions. It was a “bushveld” kind of place with many rocks, uneven surfaces, staircases, steps and not much grass. With his increasing arthritis pain it was a bit of a struggle.
Arriving home his disorientation was gone, yet his arthritis pain and liver discomfort was still apparent. A friend, who had not seen him in a few months, visited over a weekend and was heartbroken to see his decline in health. We’d been steadily getting used to it and sometimes it takes a fresh eye to really see it for what it is.
After my dear friend’s visit, I was very uncomfortable and decided to check in again with my animal friends. It was with a shock that I received the news 2 days later that our dear Jack was indeed, more than ready to return Home. He was tired of all the medicines, of not feeling well, tired of all the blood tests every month and was ready to be at peace where there’s no more pain and suffering.
I received the beautiful letter on a Thursday morning, and immediately had a hearty cry. In Jack’s communication, Yolanda asked him what he needs to be happier. He replied that Mom needs to cut the cords. He was hanging in there for me. When I was ready, it would be time for him to shed his physical body.
That was a big eye opener for me. After the good cry, I closed my eyes, and did an imaginary ceremony where I told him how very much I loved him, I want him to be happy – and then I cut the cord between us. It was a hard thing to do, I tell you, yet quite freeing.
Almost immediately, Jack started showing signs of more decline. He was sleeping more, groaning more, and grunting a bit while breathing. I knew the time was very close. Andrew read Jack’s message on Thursday evening and shed his own tears for our precious dog and what it would mean to no longer have him around. My kind husband was still a bit reluctant to make such a momentous decision… could there be any doubt? What if it’s the wrong decision?
Extra Special Time
On Friday, I chose not to go to my usual early morning exercise, because Jack really didn’t seem well. He didn’t want to get out of his bed and I spent a lot of time sitting with my hands on his warm body. He hardly growled at our domestic worker, which was another sign for me that he was truly not feeling well. I had to go out for an hour to get some care for my own stomach ulcer due to many months of worrying about him and came straight back instead of the usual Friday grocery shopping.
Andrew came home early on Friday afternoon and skipped his planned 9 holes of golf. It was a magnificent spring day, with soft sunshine, colour in the garden and birds chirping happy songs. We put a big picnic blanket on the lawn, put little Jack in his bed on the blanket, and spent some quiet and precious time outside with him. Our “healing” cat, Emma, joined us and came and lay very close to Jack, as has been her habit for the past few months.
The Gift: Being in the Present
I consciously chose, every few minutes, to bring myself into the present. I have a habit, when things feel tough, to “check out” and day dream. This time I wanted to be able to savour every single moment of this precious time so I looked at the flowers, drank in their colours, listened to the bird song, breathed, became aware of my body, felt little Jack’s fur under my fingers, his chin resting on my leg. I found out how beautiful and peaceful it is to be present with “What Is” without the (sad) story the mind wants to spin.
A dear animal-passion friend also checked in with Jack during this special time on the lawn. She was in tears as she listened to his message. Marie was one of the people who confirmed a few months previously that he definitely wasn’t ready to move on, yet now he was telling her “Yes, he’s ready to go. He’s so pleased we’re spending time together and he doesn’t need anything.” He also said that he was already in a high vibrational state of peace aligned with understanding, joy and completeness.
It was becoming clear that our Jack was in between worlds. He was drifting off most of the time, his eyes peacefully closed, almost not aware of his surroundings. He’d not slept this much or looked this peaceful in many months. As Marie was explaining to me about his vibrational state of joy, I could almost feel the peace. His thin little face was peaceful and there was a calm aura about him that I had not noticed before. It really helped me to feel calm about the fact that he was not going to be with us for long. This peace is what I wished for him after a long struggle.
It was the hardest thing to do, yet we knew we had to start making arrangements for a vet. Liver disease can take a long time to finally shut down the organs and we were not prepared to put him through that suffering.
Yolanda let us know that Jack would dearly love us to be with him during his passing, so I wanted to arrange a home visit for a peaceful last experience. On Friday morning, I called our Home Visit Vet, and unfortunately she was on holiday and would only be back 4 days later. I had a good cry (again) into her sympathetic ear and she advised me to call the office and ask one of the other vets to do the home visit.
On Friday evening, after the peaceful garden experience, I called their office. The vet spoke to me himself and explained that he’s the only one on duty that weekend – and unfortunately that meant he couldn’t do a home visit. He asked us to bring him in to the office instead. I was devastated! “Noooooooooooooo!!! That’s not how I want it!!!”
I explained that Jack gets so anxious when we take him there, and I dearly would have wanted a peaceful last experience on earth. Dr Sampson said he could prescribe a tranquilizer, but I started crying so uncontrollably that I had to put the phone down after croaking that I’d call him back later.
Why, if my Jack wanted to go peacefully with us at his side, was a home visit not going to be possible?? It seemed so unfair. He deserved the best…. My heart ached.
I asked my lovely friend Marianne if she could offer advice. She’d previously done three Shamanic journeys for Jack and was very kind to let us know not to make any hasty decisions. The message was that I had to get to a peaceful, calm place first, and then I’d be able to make a wise decision. We decided to see how Jack was the next morning before making a decision. Secretly I was hoping that he would fall peacefully asleep during the night so that I wouldn’t have to make this heart-wrenching choice.
Wrestling and Letting Go
I was wrestling with this thought all of Friday night, while I was sitting on the carpet with Jack. How come it’s working out this way? For a long, long time I’d wanted a home visit with soft classical music, candles, flowers and all his familiar things around him.
Slowly, very slowly, something in me started letting go of how I thought it “should be”. I work with a beautiful method to get calm (called The Sedona Method), where we’re taught that one of the things underlying our emotions is “wanting control”. When we resist what is happening, it’s a clear indication that we want to control things. And yes, here I was – wanting control of the circumstances of Jack’s passing.
I was slowly able to open myself up to the possibility that it may have to be different than the way “I” thought it should happen. Maybe, with a tranquilizer, it wouldn’t be so stressful? Maybe it could be just as loving and kind if we took his bed and blankie – and still be with him every step of the way? The really important thing here was to not let Jack suffer. Whatever would be necessary for that, that’s what we’d choose.
A tranquil peace came when I let go of HAVING to have it a certain way and I decided to make the final decision on Saturday morning after some sleep, and seeing how little Jack was doing.
In a next blog post, read about Jack’s Special Last Day.
What’s your most heart-wrenching thought or question about your pet’s struggle with disease or passing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. If there’s a need, I will host a Webinar where we can work through some of these challenges to get to peace together.
Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.
She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Click here to read about the book.