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Coming Back after Loss

*Disclaimer, this is a personal post and not an educational one. Please feel free to skip if this isn't what you're interested in but please be kind ♡


Hello everyone and thank you for opening this post. If you don't make it very far, that's ok as I am not even really sure who I am writing this for. Maybe just for myself but this currently feels right in my grief journey and I'd like to try and talk about my experiences after suddenly losing my boy and sense of self 459 days ago.

To start things off, I am very much still lost but what I have come to realize is that down-playing my grief or pretending to be ok was more exhausting on myself than allowing myself to feel these emotions. I had to let go completely of the notion that "its been X amount of time, I should be better by now." because some days I function just great and then for 4 days I can barely think because I am so sad and that is okay no matter how much time has passed.

459 days ago seems like an incredible amount of time and that I have been feeling this way for forever, but at the same time I also feel like this happened yesterday. I have to really think about my life for the last 1 year, 3 months and 2 days because most of it is a blur trying to emotionally get through the day running 3 other dogs, a toddler, a full time job and my own business on the side without the dog I started it all for.

We had known about Mayson's heart and it's condition for many years as he had a severe murmur from puppyhood onward (reminder, he was given up by his "breeder" at 3 weeks due to being born with no eyes, had scoliosis and hip dysplasia) and when he officially got his diagnosis of Subaortic stenosis, pulmonary stenosis bordering on severe and MMVD Stage B1 (MYXOMATOUS MITRAL VALVE DISEASE) in May of 2021 while he was doing well (the appointment was due to increased panting) we were told at this time that dogs with these types of conditions "do great until they just don't" and that "he will likely pass unexpectedly and just pass away at home so please prepare yourselves" but, I was a bit naïve that he seemed SO WELL that I was sure that wasn't going to be what happened to our boy and I was wrong.

Around 7pm on July 21, 2022 I have a little video of all 4 dogs playing together in our new yard and laugh when I look at it (now) because Mayson is spinning around, throwing paws and wrestling with Stevie and fetching his giggle ball like he always did. By 8am the next morning my world was shattered.

Mayson has always slept on a bed on the floor in our bedroom, I get up around 5am and the dogs are fed usually around 6-7am. I called the dogs out for breakfast sometime around 6 and Mayson didn't come out and my heart immediately sank. I went into my bedroom and found him having labored breathing with his head off his bed laying in vomit, I could feel a slight heart beat but I couldn't get a rate and his gums were turning gray. I called the emergency vet line and I think my mom, who showed up to take my daughter as I carried my lifeless dog out to my car sobbing uncontrollably. Every single day I live with the guilt that he was laying on my floor suffering for who knowns how long and I needed coffee so bad that I didn't notice. I will live with that for the rest of my life. At some point myself or my mom called Ross who was 5 minutes away from a 12 hour underground shift who would have been completely unaware of this situation until the next day had the call not been made when it was. I do not remember the drive to the vet but I know I got out 2-3 times to see if my dog was alive and to start some time of CPR but I was alone and just needed to get him there. I knew it was over the whole time, but I still begged the world not to stop.

The vet teamed worked on him for what seemed like forever but I think we were gone from the clinic around 10am and he was gone by then. They did numerous procedures to get his heart stable, it was beating so rapid but so faint they couldn't even get a solid reading with equipment but it was beating over 300bpm. They would give him a shot, he was stabilize for about a minute and then his heart would go off again. They poked, prodded, did CPR, called his death twice, told me to transport him to Vancouver and had 3 different vets try to save him. I didn't want my boy to suffer, I didn't want him to die on the side of the road on the way to Vancouver as I did CPR by myself. I don't think he ever fully woke up from being on the floor, and I kind of hope not because that 4 hours or so if now forever engrained in my brain. That trauma of the event if something that changed me and I wish it was something I (or Mayson) never had to go through. We asked that he be taken off the machines and Ross and I held him, told him he was the best boy in the entire world and how much he was loved and going to be missed. I told him he changed my life and that he is the reason for everything. My passion, my business, my everything. He was let go, peacefully while we held him together. I have no memory of the rest of that day or week until we went back to the vet to pick up his ashes. I had been in the vet industry writing those sympathy cards to clients for years but when I opened up the card and his perfect little nose print fell on my lap, I think my soul died with him all over again. I was not ready for that.

My dogs aren't just dogs to me. And I know everyone says that but when you are a person that also struggles with mental health, you know what those words truly mean when I say that. Due to mental illness and many other factors growing up I was not easy on myself and at times my only constant and sense of purpose was my dogs, specifically Marley and Mayson. I got Mayson in 2013, just a year into my career journey when I was 19 and had no clue what I was doing. As any 20-year old woman can attest, my dogs I got at that age went through it all with me. So many moves, schooling, career changes, trips, boyfriends, new cars, adventures, bad decisions....I had Mars and Mayson through all of it. My only constant. Mayson was the reason I got into the field I am in today. Due to his poor breeding and on going issues he pushed me out of my Veterinary bubble (working at a vet clinic in Kamloops at the time) and forced me to expand my knowledge and encouraged me to grow and learn outside of that industry. I did the nutrition to heal him, the herbal to support him and the massage to comfort him and seeing his results created the passion I have to do the same for other owners and their beloved dogs like Mayson, who deserve to live long and pain free.

When he died, I didn't want to do it anymore. I used to pride myself on being strong and a source of support for my clients whos dogs were palliative or about to pass and I confidently coached owners on how to deal with that. Then here I was, feeling completely unprepared for the grief that was debilitating me and I felt blindsided and alone. 459 days have passed and still, when I see a golden retriever at work I muster up the courage to touch them but then once I smell the golden retriever smell (if you know you know Lol) I have to walk away and take a second and usually cry. It's still hard. I think it will always be this hard.

I can't really explain my grief or put it into the words that feel right. I still don't feel the same love for what I do like I did before Mayson passed. I now feel a slight sadness throughout my consults just feeling like I know an end is coming and that's something I am working on getting back. Getting back to celebrating your dog in the moment and making their life in that second the best it can be for as long as it can be is what needs to be focused on. Death is something we WILL all face with our dogs and I've come to realize that acknowledging that fact is so important but also equally important not to dwell on it.

I wish I had prepared more. I wish I had taken it more seriously when they told us he "may just die any time" and kept on how I was and now I have regrets. I don't have a photoshoot with him, I don't have many photos of him with our daughter, I don't have many photos of him and I together really at all and all of that I could have done by acknowledging we were on borrowed time. Please don't focus on the dread that your dog is going to pass but please also don't be naïve as I was to the fact that they are going to pass and you need to do things to make lasting memories while you have them. I would give up almost anything in this world to have had professional photos of my boy and I. Anything.

The reality of what I had gone through did not hit me consciously until months after he passed. It was a "normal" day for me but at some point I called the dogs in and also called for Mayson. I hadn't said his name out loud since he died and I can't even explain in that moment how my shock lifted and I realized my boy was actually gone. I started having flashbacks, nightmares about him passing and had panic attacks when driving alone in my vehicle because I felt the constant urge to pull over and see if he was ok in the back, but he wasn't there.

For those that know me on a level beyond just Woofer Wellness, you know that I am open about my struggles in mental health and in the two years leading up to Mayson's passing I had lost my uncle Mike to cancer in 2020 and also my beautiful Gramma Lea to cancer in 2021. In between those traumatic losses, Ross and I welcomed our wild girl Everleigh who was the only shining light for our family during those times but with that also came my depression turning into post-partum depression which any mom can attest to the mental pain that brings to shadow the joy of your new little one. Needless to say, the last 3 years have been emotionally unbearable and I feel like I was just getting by and then I lost my boy and all the grief I had thought I dealt with hit me at that 4 month mark.

When this happened I found myself isolating at home letting my anxiety and sadness fester and consume the entire day. To get myself out of the house and to get my mind elsewhere I joined the team at Roving K9 Kare in Kamloops which is a dog daycare and grooming facility. This job brought me back into remembering my passion and my love for dogs and how being around them is healing. It gave me back some purpose and a distraction from my grief and allowed me to take some time to process my new life and what it looked like without Mayson in it. I know I have disappointed and possibly let down/lost some of my previous clients which breaks my already broken heart and I am sorry for the back and forth of being available after my loss. I did not take any time for myself, was very much in shock and didn't realize it which set myself up for failure and was the opposite of what I needed in order to start my healing process...which is very much still on-going.

It's been both a long time and no time at all but I am ready to come back, to better the lives of dog's like my boy who I will proudly remember for the rest of my life. I started this because of him and I will do this always because of him.

I wanted to share a few messages plus a conversation I had with a very close friend of mine who recently lost her beloved boy as well in the last few weeks that brought me some peace I needed and were really impactful on my healing. I can't thank these people enough for these words and I hope they know how much they mean to me. I did not ask for permission so they are blocked out but you know who you are and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I have not been able to watch my own videos on social media because most of them are Mayson and I'm just not to the point yet that I can watch them all. However, right after I sent this text to her I randomly watched one of my old Tik Toks and the caption made me cry. He sends me things, I know it and it helps. Some people think I'm a little nuts but as we know, all the good dog people are.

Chayse: Thursday 5:26pm "....Some days I feel confused as to how much time has passed from losing Mayson and it's really strange how time just continues on but I still think of him constantly. One of the things that helps is knowing he's had a lot of friends sent up his way recently and I can picture his floofy tail and goofy retriever stomps as he runs towards them...I'm sure he's the best gate greeter there ever was."

That same night at 6:21pm I opened this video, completely by random and see my golden boy running to me as the caption says "Heaven's Door Greeters" and I lost it.

If you have had a dog sent up to my boy over the rainbow recently, please know this is exactly what they are met with and they are happy, pain free and running forever in heaven with my wildest boy. May they run and play together always as happy as we remember them.

💛 Mayson

December 24 2013 - July 22 2022

my sweetest golden boy.

We love you, we miss you every single second of every day and I hope I make you proud.

I was and am so thankful to have loved you for your 8.5 years we had together.

Thank you for teaching me, loving me and helping me through life because

I couldn't have done it without you.

I see you in every orb running with the dogs in my videos.

Thank you for showing up on days I need you the most.

‼️ Waiting Clients, I will be fully operational in the next month as my wonderful Boss has built me my very own consult treatment room and will be operating my services out of Roving K9 Kare at 839 Victoria street (virtual/phone available as well) in downtown Kamloops BC and will post how to book once the space is completed 😊

I can't thank you enough if you made it this far. Thank you.

Love and Tail-wags,

Chayse, Marley, Rip and Steven.

Sept 2023 (Ripley 9, Steven 2, Marley 11)

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