The aftermath: Agony, and beautiful magic

March 29, 2014 | By | Add a Comment


Continued from here

As I walked out of the clinic, after Shayna’s journey to Heaven was facilitated, and the cold air hit my face, I looked at my truck – the truck that was the only vehicle Shayna had ever been in, the truck in which she had so many wonderful memories – I just collapsed onto the concrete, weeping uncontrollably.  I realized that I will never again lift her up into or out of the truck, that I will never again see her radiating, beautiful face in my rear-view mirror, ever again.  See a recent photo-burst of this here, and video here:

My angel just over my right shoulder, as I drive, March 8, 2014

March 8, 2014: With an angel just over my right shoulder. Can you feel the glow of her spirit, as I did, every time I felt her there, and saw that grin in my rear-view mirror?  See more pics in this sequence here, and a video of an earlier ride here.

I felt like my Technicolor world had just turned to black and white. As if a part of my soul had been ripped out, and would never, ever return.

I then visited with one of Shayna’s two sets of godparents, Chuck and Adella (see them on the right, here), who loved her as one of their own.  They had been through this many times before, with their Siberian Huskies, but knew this was my first time, and that Shayna was my life. My soulmate. We talked about the fact that I really had no choice except to prolong Shayna’s agony at night – and that where there are no real choices, there can be no good or bad, right or wrong.

My prayers for Shayna to let me know she’s okay, and is in Heaven, were answered, Part 1

I then went to the yoga studio at the wonderful fitness center I attend (ACAC), and participate in various yoga and meditation classes, to try to relax, and to pray. Mostly, I found myself praying fervently for a sign from Shayna, that she’s okay; that she made it to Heaven.

About a half hour later, an image formed in m mind that I would like to think was sent by Shayna – of her before me, standing amidst a field of endless waving grass and flowers, under a sky so bright I had to squint. She appeared young again, and was smiling up at me, and the message I got was, “Shut up, Daddy, let’s go have fun!” And she took off, running away from me, at full gallop.

I once said to a friend that I had never seen anything in my life so beautiful as Shayna in full gallop, her smile leading her way.  Here’s a video from when she was five years old, running at full gallop. Even though it’s not as high-resolution as my later videos, you can sort of see what I mean:

That night, I stayed with Rob, a good friend who knew and loved Shayna.

My letter to Shayna

As I could not sleep, I intermittently I began writing a letter to Shayna, telling her what she meant to me.  Through the years, I had suggested to other grieving dog parents that they do this; now, I decided to take my own advice.

The next morning, I went to a cafe other than the ones I normally go to, and finished up my letter to Shayna. Read what came out here.

I then went to the gym, tried to work out, or even do my water exercises, but kept breaking out in tears. I had to leave. Then, I went to an appointment with a rabbi (who is also a dog lover) and we had a really good chat.

March 27: Returning home for first time; breaking down

I finally went back to the house for the first time, late at night. It was torture at first.

August 20, 2013: Our "bedroom" in the living room.  This had been our setup since she got sick in October 2012.

August 20, 2013: Our “bedroom” in the living room. This had been our setup since she got sick in October 2012.

To not have Shayna rush up to me upon opening the door, after she heard me scrape my backpack against the door, to alert her to my arrival… to see her medicines… to see her 116 toys laying about… to see her two beds (one in front of the sofa on which I began sleeping, in October 2012, after she got sick, the other under the dining room table)… to see her water dish, and to know that I would never fill it up again… to see all these things, and know that she was never going to physically be in our home again, was crushing.

Most of Shayna's 116 toys, in the back of my truck. I gave some to neighbors, and donated the rest to the SPCA and Service Dogs of Virginia.

March 28: Some of Shayna’s 116 toys, in the back of my truck. I gave some to neighbors, and donated the rest to the SPCA and Service Dogs of Virginia.

I again dropped to the ground and again prayed for a sign from her, that she’s okay.

After gathering up her toys and putting them into her baskets, etc., and putting her blankets into the bed of my SUV (destined for the SPCA), I fell asleep with a roaring fire in front of me. This is something I hadn’t enjoyed in years, because Shayna got very nervous and scared by the random crackling and pops, and I didn’t want to do anything to aggravate her heart.

March 28: My prayers for Shayna to let me know she’s okay, and is in Heaven, were answered, Part 2

I awoke to nothing but the soft music playing, and the distinct feeling that aside from me, the house was empty. To roll over and not see Shayna’s smiling face, the most beautiful I’d ever seen, was… agony. I again prayed for a sign from her, just a hint, that she is okay.

I then went back up to the same, new cafe as yesterday, and began writing this final update to Shayna’s friends, and donors to her health fund, about her journey to heaven.

After parking my truck, however, I looked up and saw something that took my breath away. In fact, for a few moments I was completely paralyzed in disbelief:

28Mar14 JON RULZ (1)

My truck is the red one, at right:

28Mar14 JON RULZ (3)

Was this a sign from Shayna?  Who knows?  But what are the odds that I would park at that particular cafe, on that particular day, at that particular time, and see that particular license plate staring directly at me?

As a reason-based person, who until recently was a committed atheist, transformed to deist, but who has acknowledged the innumerable miracles that have been bestowed upon me since moving to Charlottesville, VA in December 2001, the greatest of which was the gift of Shayna, after such a long, frustrating search… I didn’t know what to believe. (As a reminder, or if you don’t know the story of how I found Shayna after a very long search, only by listening to a “little voice”… read this excerpt of my book that details this magical journey.)

But I knew one thing for certain: if I ever shared these pictures with anyone, let alone the general public, without proving they were taken on this day, no one would believe me.  Nor would they believe in the potential power of prayer, and of departed spirits to communicate with their Earth-bound loved ones.  So I asked a cashier at the cafe to give me a piece of paper and a marker, and had a passer-by take this picture:

28Mar14 JON RULZ (2)

As I sat in the cafe, looking at this scene through the wall of windows that, I felt the deepest parts of my grief began to dissipate, like dew in a morning sun, and felt what I believe was Shayna’s radiant aura envelop me, just like it had during every day that we’d been together.

The first person I thought would appreciate these pictures was Dr. Dani McVety, of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, who has taught me so much about the end-of-life process, and also about certain spiritual dimensions of it. She wrote back and suggested that I really am blessed. I’m not inclined to argue with that assessment. I also emailed these pics to several others who knew I’d been praying so hard for a sign from Shayna, and they were equally amazed.

What I will be doing to honor Shayna’s legacy, and the lessons she taught me

Going forward, my mission is to do exactly what I promised Shayna in my letter to her: to ensure that I work for the rest of my life to apply the lessons I learned from her, to my own life, and to help enrich the lives of other dogs, and the people who love them.  And, to ensure that Shayna’s name, her spirit, and her legacy will always be associated with good things for both.

To this end, I will be developing several projects, in her name:

  • Shayna’s List ( A site in its infancy, that will be dedicated to celebrating quality veterinarians and makers of edible dog products, and exposing and holding to market account their opposites.
  • A mechanism that will help make more efficient the process of connecting dog parents who otherwise cannot afford the care they need for their best friends, with donors who want to provide that help.
  • An Internet-based dog training resource that will help dog parents to more fully recognize, tap into, and develop their best friends’ potential.

What you can do to honor Shayna

If you believe in Shayna’s legacy, in the unlimited potential of the human-dog relationship, and that our dogs deserve the best we can possibly offer them, then please consider doing one or more of these things, in her honor:

  • Go volunteer at a local animal shelter, particularly the smaller ones.  The big ones generally have vibrant fundraising mechanisms; the smaller ones usually don’t, and are hurting for resources.
  • Make a donation to a local or national animal welfare organization, in the name of Shayna Angele Sutz (and if possible, provide a link back to this website, to show others how special she was).
  • Do you have a creative streak?  Go talk to the leaders of your local shelters, and find out what their biggest problems are.  See if you know people or organizations that can help to solve these problems.

And if you believe in the potential of the projects I (roughly) described above, then stay in touch with me, at jonsutz (at) yahoo (dot) com.  If you want, I will put you on a (bcc) email list when one becomes available, so you can be kept up to date on how I am progressing in honoring Shayna, and in developing these projects.

Thank you.






Filed in: Life with Shayna

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