This is not the New Year post I had anticipated writing.
On January 1, we said goodbye to the best friend a family could ever ask for.
Sir Otis Jefferson Walton came into our lives only 5 short years ago. We shared countless adventures, made many friends and even stayed connected with his four legged parents with visits to them every couple of months. He lived a full and fulfilling life. The children that came to the farm loved him and so did everyone that crossed paths with him. My family and friends all shared unique and special relationships with him.
Anyone that knew Otis, knew he was so very special.
I was blessed to spend every single day with Otis. He came everywhere with me, my ‘ride or die’.
The morning of December 27, we were laying together in bed and he looked up at me with his beautiful eyes. We shared a long and intense stare. It felt different than other times we gazed at one another in adoration.
Kevin and Tyler were out. It was just Otis and I. I told him how much I loved him and that he was my best friend. I went as far as to say that I hoped he lived a long long life because I loved him so much. I asked him what he 'wanted to do today.' I said ‘let’s go somewhere special since it’s just you and me’. I was over the top grateful for him. It’s almost like I knew something was about to change. By the way he was looking at me, it is like he knew something was about to change too.
Only a few moments later, I let him out for his morning pee. He leaped off the stairs and chased a squirrel at full speed. Suddenly, as if someone shot him in the back, he went air bound, turning in the air and landing on his spine. He called out for me in a way that I have never heard before. I ran outside and tried to help him up. He had lost total control of his hind legs.
I got him inside and called Kevin to come home. I knew we needed to get help right away and there was no way i could carry him myself into the truck and get him to the vet. He was a large standard poodle, weighing 95 lbs.
Kevin came home and we carefully lay Otis on a tobbogan so we could transport him to the vet. After taking x rays, our regular vet knew it was serious and referred us to the emergency hospital. They did an assessment and told us it was a spinal injury and that we would have to take him to another hospital for an MRI and to see a neurologist.
We arrived and Otis was admitted. After his MRI, he was diagnosed with having a FCE aka spinal stroke, a somewhat common condition in large breed male dogs. young to middle age. He was paralyzed in his hind end. There was a good chance he could live a somewhat normal life with intense care and rehab. We were 1000% on board to do whatever it took for his recovery. We set up an altar for him and prayed while he had to remain in hospital for two days for monitoring. We were so hopeful.
When we were down at the barn that evening, after leaving Otis at the hospital, Isa had honed in her gaze on me. The sun was setting in bright pink behind her. The color of heart. The color of healing. I could sense that she knew something more than I did. She walked over to me and stood with me in silence. Isa is not big on physical touch but she is one that can be felt from a distance and, often in the realm of dreams. I stood with her, the space between us beating with uncertainty yet cushioned with love.
We set up an altar to help us communicate with Otis while he was in the hospital, over an hour away from us. We placed photos of him throughout his life, healing crystals, ceremonial tobacco and rose petals around him. Art is a powerful medium for communicating with Animals. Tyler had painted the most beautiful picture of Otis last year and gifted it to me for Mother's Day. This special painting was the centre of our altar, as it held so much love and connection to Otis' essence. We meditated together at his altar. We prayed hard for his healing.
On our way to pick him up on the 29th, we kept seeing the numbers '222'. Three times. I pointed it out to Kevin and Tyler, unsure of its significance but feeling called to bring it into our collective awareness. One of the the times, the numbers were so big, it was like Spirit did not want us to miss them. There seemed to be an importance to take note of the number sequence, which has now become clear.
We set up our kitchen to be his rehab space, cozy, safe and warm. We put a mattress beside his bed at night so he wouldn't sleep alone. He was used to being close to us. I booked hydrotherapy and physio for him to begin this week. I did all the home care recommended to help him, including gentle stretches, switching the sides he lay on, and slow, assisted walking to prevent muscle atrophy. He also enjoyed Reiki, sound healing, crystal body work, and subtle aromatherapy.
But there was a bigger plan for our journey together.
On the evening of the 31st, Otis began to rapidly decline. He couldn't stand on his front legs anymore and was clearly in severe pain. I could feel a huge shift in his energy. Something dramatic was happening. We called the vet and took him back to emergency where he was diagnosed with a rare condition called Myelomalacia which occurs in about 10% of spinal injury patients. In short, Myelomalacia is an aggressive, fatal condition manifesting as a rapid and progressive necrosis (death) of the spinal cord. There is no cure and, upon the onset of it, the progression is rapid and so is fatality.
We said goodbye to Otis the next morning, during the sacred time of sunrise.
As I leaned over his pained and paralyzed body, he stretched his head up one final time to lick my tears. Our last kiss.
I gently stroked his face and shoulder and we all spoke of his goodness and gifts. He sank deeper and deeper into his breath, seemingly grateful at the efficiency of our receiving of his offerings.
When Kevin paid the veterinarian bill, the invoice number was '11222'. We all looked at each other and smiled through our tears. Otis was with us. All of our Animal Spirit Guides were.
I have loved all of the dogs that have come into my life but there was something very different about Sir Otis. The way he looked in our eyes. The way he knew how to offer his love and support in different ways to each one of us. His witty sense of humor. His love of Yoga. His willingness for adventure and his equal willingness to hang out and chill.
Our home will never be the same without him. He was such a special part of our family.
While I am treading in the waters of grief right now at the loss of our best friend, I remain eternally grateful for the years we were able to spend with him. I am also grateful for the many ways he has been communicating with us since his physical departure. He has shown up through numbers (222), songs (A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay) and heart shaped rocks (an ongoing theme of my Spirit Animals). The timing of his ascension was such that I backed out of a publishing contract for the book I have been tirelessly working on which was to be completed by Spring. I am trusting the timing. I am trusting the process. At this point, I have learned that there is a Language of Synchronicity, a Natural process to our lives that largely revolves around timing. Perhaps I am not meant to write the book. Perhaps, I am just not meant to write it right now. Perhaps, there is a shift happening in the perspectives, new teachings and gifts that I am meant to share in my work and my writing.
I am not rushing through this as I have in the past, keeping myself so busy that I have to rush out of grief's water because it is uncomfortable to sit in it. I am taking the opportunity to fully immerse, with curiosity, into the medicine of these potent emotions, as a portal of deeper understanding and great possibilities.
Otis has offered me the opportunity to sit here for a while. He is giving me the chance to find the nectar of grief's profound encounters. And, despite the moments where I need to work hard not to drown in it, the gifts have been plentiful, bringing a sense of Divine balance to the experience.
This morning, as I blared the song he chose for us by Coldplay called 'Sky Full of Stars', the numbers '222' looked back at me from my phone screen. This is the stuff you can't make up. This is all part of the unified field of consciousness and communication. If we are willing to listen, it is everywhere! Life moves through us and with us in the most beautiful ways and, often times I wonder if the origination of music was to connect us with Spirit as so many Guides communicate with us in this way. Perhaps, there is something more for me to explore there....
There has been so much sweetness born out of the sorrow of his death. I have reconnected with many people who have reached out to offer support to me and my family. I have spent hours and hours on the phone with loved ones who offered their comfort. Many have shared their own stories of grief and sorrow so we could get comfortable wading in the waters together.
These are the types of connections I have often been 'too busy' to truly savor.
This experience has led me to pause. To lean into the love and support being offered to us, something I have struggled to do in the past. I am the helper who struggles to ask for help.
Otis is guiding one of the greatest evolutionary process of my journey this far - to ask for support from humans when I need it, and to be open to receiving love when it is being offered to me by another human. This has all been easy for me with the animals, for they have been my solace and comfort since before I could walk or talk. It is also easy for me to be the one to offer love and support to other humans. But receiving it has been quite another story. Perhaps, not anymore. This experience has confirmed all that I have intuitively known about the interconnection of all life. It is clear that us, humans, have stepped so far from our true nature, as a collective, and the Animals are helping guide our return. To walk more gently. To move a little slower. To speak a little more mindfully. To be more compassionate. To be more kind. To love and be loved.
Grief and Sorrow are often the twins of Love and Joy. Heavy feelings born from the pure bounty and beauty of love. In my client practice, I have described grief as the legacy of love. The 'souvenir' a loved one leaves behind to remind us of how much love was shared.
My reflections of this experience have offered up a bit of a different perspective.
Grieving the ascension of sweet Sir Otis has actually been the opening for me to fully experience the full potential of Love in the Earthly human form. At the same time, the wheel turns from love to grief and back to love again...in new, more evolved ways.
I have always known Animals as our Spirit Guides, showing up and leading the path of higher Good. Sometimes the lessons are obvious, and sometimes we are oblivious to it all, seeing ourselves as the leader or the one who has offered a safe haven. In my experience with Otis, it was magnificent to witness our Spirit dog, Rocky, who transitioned in 2018, show up to walk Otis home. We saw his name on the board when we first arrived at the emergency hospital, written as 'on the way.' When Otis was admitted, Rocky had 'arrived'. Rocky played the role of protector in our lives and we were hoping he was coming to protect Otis from his fate, but, as we have sat together in reflection, Kevin and I both had a feeling Rocky had come to take Otis home.
Perhaps, if you are still reading this, you feel an invitation to reflect on the animals that have come into your life. Often times, we focus on the sadness of their transition or guilt ourselves with possibly doing something wrong by them. The Animal Guides want us to place our focus on something more. What role have they played in your evolution? How have they served your path of healing and personal growth? Have you experienced them join forces to be of service to one another? How have you been able to be of service to them? In what ways have they communicated with you from the Spirit realm?
A couple of days later, a couple of my friends came to visit and share some of Otis memories together. That same morning, I had asked Otis to show me a heart shaped rock. As I went down to the barn, my eyes were peeled on the ground searching. I was trying too hard. My friends and I went to a local cafe and, as we walked through the isles of their gift shop, a heart shaped rock stood out at me. It was so soothing to hold. At first, I didn't even relate it back to my request that morning. I had totally forgotten about it. My friend held it in her hands and then she began singing the words to the song playing at the cafe, she smiled and sang 'only the good die young!'. I jumped up and said 'it is a heart shaped rock, I asked him to show me one today!!!!' We then began to share stories of their dogs who had passed away in the last few years. There were two smaller heart shaped rocks, so we all left with one.
On the drive home, we listened to Coldplay and then another song came on. My friend started singing loudly, through her tears, sharing that this song she had dedicated to her beloved dog, when she passed away a few years prior. I posted the photo of the three heart shaped rocks later that afternoon, only to realize I was posting it at 2:22!!!
If you are still reading this, I want to thank you for taking the time to share in my reflections of grief and the sweetness of my sorrow. It means so much to be seen and heard in the purity of this vulnerability.
Some of us are not here for a long time, but here for a good time.
Our time together with Sir Otis was a goodness I will hold dear in my heart for eternity.
It wasn’t long but it was as good as good gets.
Run free sweet boy.
Until we meet again…..
Your loving (and listening) humans,
Fotini Chandrika & Farm-ily
If you are grieving the loss of a beloved animal family member, support is available through the OSPCA. They hold virtual gatherings the second Tuesday of every month. Here is the link. Please share with someone who you feel may need the support. There is also 24/7 Pet Loss Grief Support available to all at 1-855-245-8214. Not everyone may talk about what they are going through after losing a pet in their physical form, but it can be a painful and lonely process for some. Please offer your support. It is what the Animals want us to do. They are guiding our evolution to be better humans, for them and for each other.
Here is the link for the OSPCA support group: https://ontariospca.ca/pet-loss-support-group/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAnsqdBhCGARIsAAyjYjT3y06TUjq-eKb6tRQLuAfBpov5wrufmZ_Mgy3jeIbXip-TaZURWnwaAo-XEALw_wcB
A dear friend and colleague of mine, Tina Turner - Conscious Evolution student, and I share an intimate conversation around the topic of an Animal Beloved's Death. You can find the video through this link: https://youtu.be/adphNQOW-7s
The Horses and I are also here to support you virtually or in-person. Please reach out to us if you feel called to explore grief together. You don't have to go through it alone.