The Day that Broke my Heart

I wasn’t aware I could love an animal the way I love my Brindle Boxer, Tyson. I also wasn’t aware that I could experience grief so profound, heart-wrenching and soul-shattering that even writing these words would reduce me to tears.

This is the story of the day that broke my heart...

Tyson came into my life in 2009. I had just moved home from Ireland and I was looking to fill an insufferable void. I felt empty, lost, depressed and unmotivated. I thought that perhaps a dog could offer me solace and provide me with the love and happiness I was so desperately seeking.

I could not have anticipated just how healing that goofy Boxer would be.

The relationship I share with this fur baby is unmatched. Ty and I have a soul connection that dates back many lifetimes. I know we were destined to meet in this world and I am confident we shall meet in the next.

It’s difficult to articulate - the bond created with an animal. I don’t have children but Ty was my baby. There were days when I was unsure I could possibly love him more and then he would do something subtle or seemingly insignificant to prove me wrong.

Ty was the essence of unconditional love.

He constantly needed to be near you. He’d plop himself between your legs on the floor, place his barrel chest in your lap as you sat on the couch, let you sleep in the soft of his belly as he lay on his bed and shoved his face between your knees as you sat on the toilet. It didn’t matter where you went, Ty was there; soaking up as much affection as you were willing to give.

He demanded that you live in the moment.

If ever I was mindlessly scrolling on my phone, Ty would interject. He’d push away the device until I returned my attention to him, reminding me of my silly preoccupations and encouraging me to be present.

His patience was unmatched.

I could dress him up (and often did) in my clothes, Halloween costumes, silly hats, glasses and even in a makeshift paper bag cape. He entertained all of my obnoxious attempts at humor; his only goal to make me happy.

If you were sad, he knew it.

As soon as the first tears fell, Ty was in your lap. He’d let you bury your face into his back, allowing the muffled sobs to soak into his fur. He detested when you were sad.

Tyson never barked, went to the bathroom in the house, tore up the garbage (though he’s ripped up toilet paper in protest a few times) or eaten shoes. He communicated by tapping his bowl when he wanted food, the door when he needed out or your leg when he demanded affection.

He was perfect.

I know every pet owner believes this of their beloved, but with Ty it was actually true.

His incredible nature was the reason I could oversee his snoring, nasty Boxer farts, heavy summer panting (he hated the heat) and attifinity for eating dirty panties.

He gave and gave, asking nothing in return.

On July 8th 2020, I got the worst news of my life.

I had taken Ty in for a routine checkup. He’d slowed down considerably and had been favouring his right hind leg. I had worried he’d stepped on a cactus (I knocked one over) and I wanted to make sure everything was okay.

It was not.

Instead of confirming my worries, the vet presented me with a list of her own.

Ty had a heart murmur, elevated heart rate and a tumour on his chest that was likely pushing against his esophagus and inhibiting his breathing. She gave me options for cardiologists but was concerned about administering medication (due to potential side effects.) She also said he could suffer a heart attack because of his rapid heart beat.

As she explained the risk of his heart stopping, I felt mine go cold.

The blood drained from my face and I burst into hysterical tears. Shinead took the phone from my hands because I was inconsolable and unable to articulate.

When I regained composure, I asked the vet what she recommended.

She suggested that the most loving action was to lay my 12-year-old baby to rest.

After a few emotional hours of searching for Covid-friendly options that would allow the three of us to be present, I booked an outdoor euthinasia for the very next day.

The next 24-hours were a blur of disbelief.

He seemed fine.

No. He was fine.

Sure he was old, but he couldn’t be scheduled for euthanization. He couldn’t be sick. His heart was strong. He was strong.

And yet, he wasn’t.

This wasn’t some sick joke. It wasn’t a bad dream. It was real. Ty was on borrowed time and we had less than a day to say goodbye.

The three of us made a promise to be strong for him. He hated seeing us fall apart and we didn’t want to consume his final hours with our grief.

Instead we spoke cheerfully, showered him with treats and cuddled our fur baby to the point of annoyance; breathing in his stinky Boxer smell and burying our sadness into his soft belly. We did our best to fake the agonizing pain.

A few hours before his appointment, I put on a meditation - a Mantra for Releasing Attachment and Letting Go. We sat around his bed as he snored softly and meditated. We each called upon our Angels to guide him safely home, to breathe in his essence and to entrust him with all the love in our hearts.

We then took him to his favourite woods and let him soak up the forest energy one last time.

When it came time to go, we put on our bravest faces for my sweet boy.

We were the last appointment of the day and the vet graciously allowed us time to lay in the grass and talk with Ty before they led him away to administer his catheter.

When he returned, he settled on his blanket where we fed him treats and stroked his fur. I cuddled beside his warm body and stared into his eyes; speaking through my soul with the gentle reminder of how much his mommy loved him.

As his eyes slowly began to close, I held him tighter, thanking him for choosing me and reassuring him that everything would be okay.

When the vet said his heart had stopped beating, the three of us fell apart. We released the strength we’d mustered, succumbed to the pain we'd held in and fell into the despair we hadn’t wanted to acknowledge.

The Mantra we’d meditated to earlier played softly in the background, no match for the uncontrollable heaving of our broken hearts.

We took Ty home, burying him on his bed, tucked in with his blanket and surrounded by his favourite toys.

As we slowly placed the upturned earth over his now still body, we played the Mantra one last time. We lit sage and held hands, circling his grave and muffling our goodbyes through breathless sobs.

I’m grateful for his beautiful passing. There could not have been a more fitting release for an animal who was loved so deeply.

The agony I’m feeling and the loss I’m experiencing are unprecedented in my life.

I still see him in the house. I still look for him when I enter a room. I still hear him when I’m sleeping. He is gone but still so present.

What dawned on me was that my perfect baby did exactly as I’d hoped he would.

He healed me.

He healed my sister.

He healed my mom.

He loved unconditionally, kept us safe and brought meaning into our lives. Ty showed up for all of us in his unique way.

Shinead moves back to Ireland in three weeks. I’m going back to Thailand in seven. My mom is looking to relocate.

We’re all pursuing dreams more aligned with who we are. We’ve each worked hard to release, realign and find healing. For the first time, each of us is cultivating happiness from within and confident in where we’re headed.

I think Ty knew that.

I believe he knew his work was done and that he could leave us to follow our hearts and move confidently into our next chapters. His soul contract was complete and it was okay for him to go home.

His finite body returned to the earth so his infinite being could be free to protect from afar.

Never before could he wander alongside me as I navigate the world. Now he can.

Ty taught me the power of unconditional love and reminded me that we are all given a finite amount of time. I will carry him in my heart and honor his memory by being present, giving freely and seeing the best in everyone. Most importantly, I will try to look at myself the way my dog looked at me - with love, acceptance and grace.

My baby left because he knew we were going to be okay.

And we are.

With Love and Light,


Rest in Peace, sweet boy. Mommy loves you.

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