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Celebrating International Dog Day

Updated: Mar 6

Have you ever looked someone in the eye and just known….Known that adventure awaited, that no matter what, you would be safe and no matter what, you would be loved. Ever had the feeling that this soul was put on earth just for you? I had 11 years of that. 11 glorious, love-filled years before death came his way, as he inevitably does. His physical presence left me torn open, like a brand-new ravine on an already flooded landscape.

Photo of Boomer by Tracie Sievers.

In 2011, I was searching for a dog and I stumbled across this little guy named Boomer through a local rescue organization. I saw his picture, went to meet him - and, as they say, the rest is history. Boomer had a charm and charisma that instantly drew people to him - even though he was one of those scary “Staffies” in Australian lingo, or “Pitties” as commonly mislabeled here in North America.

There was a gentleness to his eyes that caught people off guard, even when he was smiling with all his teeth showing! There was nowhere he wouldn't go, nothing he wouldn't try, and no human he couldn't soften with his presence. He slept by my side, snuggled under my right arm underneath the blankets when it was cold, and asked for nothing in return but my company.

We made the move from Australia to Canada when he was 6 years old, and while I couldn't warn him of the journey he needed to undertake, and he could never tell me about riding in the belly of the plane, the car ride in the snow or the strangers who washed and fed him, there was never any doubt that it was the right decision.

We hiked and swam our way around beautiful British Columbia, and even did a couple of trips into the United States. Boomer opened the hearts and doors of many for me to safely enter - a solo female traveler and her dog!

His decline felt sudden, yet as I look back, it was happening ever so slowly. He wouldn't jump into my arms in excitement. He would sleep later and longer. He would sit and look out the car window instead of having his head out, tongue flying in the breeze. And then one night, he grumbled so painfully and got out of bed, stopping after just 5 steps in front of the fireplace. So that's where we spent the night - him by the fire wrapped in a blanket moaning softly and me wrapped in my own blanket barely able to close my eyes.

The vet diagnosed a Splenic Hemangiosarcoma - an aggressive cancer - and outlined a couple of options for life. We took a chance and took Boomer home. They gave him 1-3 months to live, and gratefully, he gave us what he could.

With our 2 other dogs in tow, we hiked Boomer's body up a mountain side as the snow was melting and buried him in a cairn. There is a magnificent view and sunshine at all times of the year, with a porcelain elephant keeping vigil over him. When we visit, I am reminded that while this is where his physical body lays, his soul is with me always. As I write this, I can hear his nails clicking on the wooden floor…

A friend's 11-year old daughter painted a portrait of him that now hangs proudly on our wall with a cast of his front right paw. Another friend made us a photo book, which has the ability to make me laugh with glee and cripple me with tears. Family and friends wrote us stories and sent pictures about their favourite memories with Boomer. Strangers told me how he changed their perspective of his breed.

Our truck has “Magic Window” stickered on the back driver's side window - we came to understand that he believed the world outside the window was magic, always opening up just for him to see, smell, and experience something different. “Magic Window, roll down for me. Magic Window, all the things I might see. Magic Window ….”

How to honour your pets

Just a quick “Pet Memorial '' search on Google brings up a plethora of options from jewelry inlaid with animal ashes, as well as urns, garden stakes, memorial books, framed prints with collars, and even tattoos. It's personal, and it's meaningful. I hope to encourage you to remember and honour those non-human beings who have graced your world.

Perhaps they made you feel seen and safe.

Perhaps they witnessed your sadness.

Perhaps they licked away your tears.

Perhaps they made being “alone” easier.

Perhaps they even made you laugh out loud.

HHA's next virtual Pet Lovers Death Café will be held on November 8th at 7:00PM. You can register to attend here.


Tracie Sievers is a current Death Doula Candidate with HHA and aims to bring her services to both Humans and animals at the completion of her certificate.

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