I arrived for Sophie’s last session with a heavy heart. While I was happy to see her and baby sister Bella, I knew this would be the last time we’d all be together. Her family and I had scheduled this Reiki session with the purpose of helping Sophie pass away peacefully, surrounded by the beautiful love she’d known her whole life.
I’d been sharing Reiki and TTouch with Sophie twice a month for the last year to help relieve the discomfort of degenerative arthritis and hip dysplasia. Sophie’s family had tried many things to ease her pain, including laser therapy and Adequan injections from her veterinarian, various joint supplements, and massage and Reiki. Despite all this wonderful effort, her condition continued to deteriorate. Eventually, Sophie stopped meeting me at the front door for our sessions. Her family bought her a hip harness so they could help her up and down on rough days. One day, her back legs slipped on the tile floor and she fell down so hard that she couldn’t get up at all. Her family contacted me and asked for an emergency Reiki session. They had also contacted Lap of Love for an in-home consultation after our Reiki session to see if it was time to let Sophie go. Her family adored her, but they didn’t want her to be in any more pain. But Sophie had other plans. She had a miraculous semi-recovery the night before Lap of Love arrived, and she was able to walk and move around again. We all agreed she wasn’t quite ready to go that day, but we also knew that she would be ready soon.
I believe Sophie felt that her family just needed a little more time with her. Sophie’s human dad had just retired and could be with her 24/7 to help her get around. We increased the frequency of her Reiki sessions to keep her comfortable, and after each session we talked about how Sophie would let us know when she was ready. The decision to let a pet go is a heavy burden for any parent, and Sophie’s family wanted to be sure they were doing what was best for her. We also started including younger dog, Bella, in the Reiki sessions to help her prepare for Sophie’s passing.
One night, Sophie’s dad awoke in the middle of the night to find Sophie sitting next to his bed, just staring at him. She’d never done this before. Her dad felt that Sophie was saying, “Ok Dad, now I’m ready.”
We scheduled one last Reiki session with the purpose of helping Sophie pass away surrounded by love and in a state of peace. Lap of Love was asked to help Sophie cross over after our session.
So I arrived that day with a heavy heart. Although Sophie had long since ceased to meet me at the door, on that day, even Bella didn’t give me her usual boisterous greeting. Sophie was lying in the kitchen, sternal-looking out the window and panting. I prepared our space as usual with healing frequency music and a veterinarian-approved calming blend of essential oils in the diffuser. Upon allowing Reiki to flow, Sophie immediately relaxed. Her breathing became slower and calmer, she laid her head down, and her panting stopped. Over the last year, we’d come to laugh about how silly Bella would nonchalantly sneak away from her mom’s lap to lie next to Sophie or lick my face to soak up her share of the energy. However, today Bella chose to lie down a few feet away as her family and I surrounded Sophie with love and Reiki. Bella knew that today was different, and that it was all about Sophie. I paused the flow of Reiki a few times to check in with Sophie and her family, and each time we paused, Sophie would become alert and her panting would begin again. I decided to allow Reiki to flow for her uninterrupted until the veterinarian from Lap of Love arrived. At this point, Bella came over to lie next to Sophie, but without interfering in the session. Then she moved to lie as close to me as possible, again without trying to take my attention away from Sophie. Dr. Jessica McAlpin with Lap of Love arrived and gently prepared us for the next phase of Sophie’s passing. We all lovingly placed our hands on Sophie and told her how much we loved her. We thanked her for all the love and lessons she’d shared with us. I continued to allow Reiki to flow as Dr. McAlpin administered a sedative to help Sophie relax followed by the euthanasia solution.
Sophie passed away peacefully and quietly, surrounded by immense love. She was no longer in pain. Many tears were (and continue to be) shed, as Sophie is greatly missed.
I was honored and thankful to be part of the love that surrounded Sophie when she most needed it, and I’d like to thank Dr. McAlpin for the beautiful service that she and (all the wonderful doctors at Lap of Love) provide. Her kind and loving manner helped to make Sophie’s transition peaceful. Of course, we’re sad to let our beloved pets go. But the experience doesn’t have to be filled with fear and anxiety—for our pets or us. Calmly helping our pets pass in peace is one of the greatest final acts of love we can give them. •
Doryan Cawyer, owner of Jade Paws, is a Certified Canine Massage Therapist and Reiki practitioner in Jacksonville.