Updated: Apr 30
I write this post through a haze of tears streaming down my face. Some may not understand or even be able to comprehend what I am about to write, but what they think of me is none of my business. My heart is shattered right now.
If you have read my book, you will understand that my beloved Labrador who I had for over a decade in Florida ended up being a casualty of divorce and irresponsibility. I made a horrible decision when I was in a heavy emotional state and due to that decision, I will never know what happened to my dog that I raised from a puppy. That decision will haunt me for the rest of my life and maybe I deserve that because animals are a responsibility not to be taken lightly. After this experience, I told myself that I would not commit to another animal until I had stability in my life, personally, professionally and financially. I stood by my word.
When life finally started to stabilize for me, I was fortunate enough to have a friend who had a female Boxer Dog by the name of Koa. We had an instant connection and my love for the breed began instantaneously. I loved her so much that I told my friends that if they were ever to breed Koa, I would be happy to put down a deposit for a female, which I did. Roughly one year later, I had the pleasure of meeting my new best friend, Kya.
Kya was in my hand the first time she ever opened her eyes and I was the first thing she saw in this new world. It was the beginning of a perfect relationship and from the first day, I saw the trust she had in me. It was like she knew that I was her person and I most definitely was. She was by my side as I travelled through Northern British Columbia and Alberta running the road doing sales and we didn't miss a beat. We stayed in pet friendly hotels and she never damaged a thing. It was far below freezing on more than one occasion and she wore her leather booties and flannel dog jacket with pride. There is no such thing as perfection, but she was the closest thing to it in my world. I made her a promise on that very first day that I was the first thing she would see and I would also be the last.
I can still remember a time walking her through a dog park in Edmonton, Alberta in -20C with the snow pouring down when I ran into an old man walking his old dog. He asked me how old Kya was and I said she was only one. He smiled and told me to never take this time for granted because it goes so fast and suddenly, they are old, and the days start to become numbered... like his dog. As I walked away, I looked back to see the old man faithfully walking his old dog, fading off in the distance in the snow. I gave Kya a hug with extreme gratitude that I still had so much time left with this beautiful animal, but he was right. Time goes fast.
As the years went by, my faithful partner in crime returned my investment over and over again. I would always say that she gave me 3 solid laughs, even on my worst day. The unconditional love she provided me was priceless and never taken for granted. I started an online business and she became the mascot of my business in a way as I provided more social media posts than the average owner, not only because she always received an amazing response, but also because she was a massive part of my journey. Everyone loved Kya and I had no idea the impact she would have on so many lives.
My friend, Skye had a young daughter at the time by the name of Ella who was deathly afraid of dogs. She had seen pictures of Kya, but when they met, I saw the look on that kid's face as my dog made a new friend and dissolved the fear she had in an instant. Just another human that had their heart stolen by Kya and it was a beautiful thing to witness.
Through multiple career and relationship changes, Kya was as solid as a rock. She saw people come in and out of our lives with no anxiety whatsoever because she always knew that I would be back. She trusted me through my best and worst times and was there when it felt like nobody else was. The whole world could have been falling apart, but she could ALWAYS put a smile on my face.
I started a new relationship with my now ex-girlfriend Cheryl and after almost a year of being together, she had moved into my place, bringing her little girl, Caydence into our world. Again, Kya stole her heart and brought SO much joy into all of our lives. However, after almost 4 years of being together, we chose to end our relationship. Admittedly, I took the break up hard as I was not only losing my girlfriend at the time, but also her daughter who I had formed a bond with. Unfortunately, everything is temporary in this life and the reality of them being gone, left my house empty, but I still had Kya along with my cat Higgins to numb the pain just a little.
So, it was back to just us again, but by this time, Kya was starting to grey and I knew our time was limited. The old man's message in the dog park was echoing in my head as I never took a day for granted.
We carried on and although Kya wasn't as strong or fast as she had been in the past, she still had a way of making a massive impact on everyone around us. My grandmother and grandfather who raised me were both deteriorating in health. Both of them spent their last days in old folks homes and I brought Kya with me a few times as I could see the impact she made on not only my grandparents, but the other people at the home who in many cases, hadn't had visitors in months, if not years. It warmed my heart to see their responses of pure unconditional love, even if it was only for a few minutes. Those few minutes made a difference for these people who spent hours staring at a TV or even at the walls of the home.
Roughly a year later, I started a new relationship with a girl who I will always have a special spot in my heart for. Paula was a person who was in and out of my life since I was in high school and although we were now in our 50's, we chose to give our relationship another go. I'm not sure if it was about the desire to be together as it was about unfinished business, but I had no regrets trying again. Paula could relate to the reality I was about to face as she had lost her pup a few years earlier and it broke her heart. She really helped me to keep my emotions in check as I started to see Kya physically struggling. Her front paws started to turn inward and her joint connective tissue started breaking down. I tried everything I could. I gave her laser therapy, but it didn't work. I used high potency Glucosamine, but it was too late. I eventually had to use a nerve blocker to help her with the pain, but at the end of the day, I was being selfish. I was keeping my dog alive because I couldn't stand the thought of her being gone.
Reality slammed me in the face when she was in my living room and she couldn't stand up anymore. I called my vet, Dr. Oz at Rose Valley and he asked me one simple question:
"Are there more good days, or bad days?..."
Unfortunately, I had to reply with bad days. He said that I already had my answer and that he could schedule her to be put down or we could do it immediately. Through a river of tears, I chose to do it immediately. I carried her to the top of my stairs and got down on the floor with her to give her every treat I could find in my house as I fed them to her. That time the old man had spoken to me about almost a decade earlier had come to an end and I had no other choice than to pick her up and carry her out to my vehicle for our final ride. I got to the bottom of the stairs, but I had to open the door, so I gently put her down as all 4 legs collapsed under her body weight.
Loading my sweet pup into the back of my SUV was one of the hardest things I have ever done and the short drive to the vet clinic was excruciating. When we arrived, the staff showed up to load her on the gurney to take her inside. They left her on her dog bed to give her the most comfort possible and as I watched them wheeling her inside, my heart tore apart. She kept looking back at me with those trusting eyes and the tears kept flowing. As they brought her into a separate room to sedate her, I sat alone remembering the promise I had made when we first met. I would be the first thing and the last thing she would ever see.
As they wheeled her into that empty room, she was staring at me, still trusting that I would be there and although it was beyond hard, I was. The amazing staff at Rose Valley left me with her for a few minutes to say goodbye, but when the door opened, I simply wasn't ready. Those years, months and days had come down to minutes and now seconds. The doctor asked me if I was ready and although I wasn't, I said yes. As he performed the injection, I stared into her eyes and as her head sunk down and her breathing slowed. The pain I experienced in that moment was like nothing I had ever felt. I kept my promise. I was the last thing she ever saw and as I left the room, I took one last look at her lifeless body laying there which is a memory which is burned into my mind forever. I couldn't leave. I sat outside of the clinic for almost an hour before I could get it together enough to drive home.
I recorded a video of our last moments in her home that I cannot watch to this day. It's just too painful, but I may one day. To experience this kind of love requires experiencing the same amount of pain and I now realize that I may never get over it. As I walked back up the stairs in my empty house, I looked up to see a sign I had put up years before without realizing the message that it represented.
Every time I walked in the door, I would see this sign and it reminded me of the emptiness I had in my house and in my heart. I desperately wanted to make my house a home again, still enveloped with the emotion of losing the greatest pet I had ever experienced. I eventually contacted my original breeder to put my name on the list for another Boxer. I wanted a female and admittedly, I was trying to fill a massive void. Kya was a hard act to follow. The breeder was expecting a new litter in December 2021 and I felt that by the time they were born, I would be ready for a new pup and I was excited to make my house a home again.
Then, from out of nowhere, the breeder contacted me and let me know that they had a male boxer available. I was second on the list, but for some reason, the first buyer backed out and I had the ability to get another dog in June 2021. Although I was looking for a female, my desire for another pup overwhelmed me and after seeing a picture of him, I couldn't refuse the offer. I named him Sancho, a beautiful boy who was born an only child and when I picked him up that day, my heart was filled with joy at this new little pup.
We drove back to Kelowna together and I was beyond excited having this little guy in my life. He was almost a mirror image of Kya, but his personality was completely different. It was a new experience that I embraced, not knowing what would lie ahead for me. I was taking on a new puppy while trying to finish writing my book and pursuing a new career as a coach. It wasn't easy because he required far more attention than my last dog. I wasn't able to commit the same amount of time to him and he required far more training.
However, I made the commitment to him and I was going to carry it through. In this last year, Sancho has brought so much joy into my life, but also a substantial amount of frustration. It wasn't his fault, he just happened to get picked by an owner who was trying to fill a void that was not able to be filled. It was unfair to him and he could sense my frustration and unrecognized grief that I was still going through.
Sancho is such a beautiful, smart, loving dog who deserves the same love reciprocated and although I do love him, he deserves more than I can give. I made the mistake of letting him roam free in my house, not allowing him to get used to a crate when I wasn't home. I suppose I did this because I felt that my last dog could do it, so why not him?
As my life path started to change, I started to make sacrifices to continue to pursue my dream. Although I had been working from home throughout the pandemic, this was not the reality with my career and he couldn't come with me everywhere now that we are going into spring and the temperatures are warming up. The reality was that I couldn't leave him in my car. I tried going out for a few hours, leaving him in my bedroom as a test run to see if he would be ok. It didn't work out as I came home to find my bedroom door damaged and the carpet destroyed. The only option I had left was to put him in a crate, but when I tried to put him in one, it didn't work out very well. He was deathly afraid of the crate and it was too late to get him used to it. I could see the look of fear in his eyes in that moment and the trust that he had with me had been damaged.
I can recall a few times in my life when I had a friend or family member choose to adopt a pet and I always told myself that there was no way I could possibly let go of my dog. I just couldn't comprehend doing something like that. However, reality smacked me in the face once again and although I am now reliving the nightmare of loss once again, I am blessed to have found Sancho a loving home with my friends, Tom and Lisa.
I met Tom and Lisa months ago, walking Sancho through a park located just around the corner from my place. They were here on vacation at the time and they saw Sancho and asked if they could pet him. As always, Sancho was beyond excited to meet someone new and he stole their hearts immediately. They had mentioned that they had lost their male boxer, Stewie and they absolutely adored the breed. It showed when Tom was playing with Sancho and something told me that we crossed paths for a reason. We kept in touch through social media and Lisa was always asking me to send them a recent picture of Sancho, which I did on more than one occasion.
April 17,2022 was a day that was bittersweet. My good buddy Chris, along with his friend Luis and myself were traveling to Vancouver to see a concert and I had no other choice but to have Tom and Lisa babysit Sancho while we spent the night in Vancouver. They were so happy to have him there, even if only for an overnight stay. When I came back to pick him up the next day, I could see the impact he had on this couple. I chose to leave him with them for a week to make a decision using emotional intelligence. Instead of deciding what I would do in an emotional state, I gave myself the time to make the right choice for all parties involved, but especially Sancho.
I spent the week with my emotions all over the place, waking up in tears for days with the feeling that I had failed as an owner while trying to hold onto a pup who deserved so much more than I had the ability to provide. When I finally found some emotional stability, I chose to adopt my sweet pup to this couple who assured me that he would get all the love and attention he deserves. I had no idea the impact this decision would make on this couple. My sacrifice changed their lives.
You see, it's not about me. I'm not being selfish. I have a long road ahead of me trying to pursue this dream of mine and Sancho deserves the love this couple is now providing him and vice versa. Yes, my heart is shattered right now. I'm not going to lie. I won't be getting another dog for quite some time, if ever again. It's a responsibility that should never be taken lightly or to fill a void that cannot be filled. My house will never truly feel like a home again, but at the end of the day, I know I did the right thing for the love of dog.