Posted by robyn arouty on
Today I was asked to do a very special photoshoot. Linda & James’ 6 1/2 year old rottie, Maximus, had taken a turn for the worst. He means the world to them. Linda & Maximus even went through Katrina together. He’s too young to be so sick. Instead of therapist, this time my role was photographer…so I stayed silent (i know!) & watched as Dr. Cassie Schuster worked her magic. She is a Doctor of Naturopathy…& has so many initials after her name I’ve already lost count. She’s been working with Max for several months. I met the family at her Wellness Ranch for the shoot…& was not prepared for what I saw. Max couldn’t walk. He appeared very lethargic…exhausted…ready to go…
I asked Cassie several questions after the shoot today. We decided to team up for a special post. Please read Cassie’s commentary below the photos. It’s amazingly brilliant…& it may come in handy for you someday…
“Working with animals brings me a joy that I just cannot describe: their total unconditional love, the trust they extend, and the bond they will make with a human who shows them compassion - nothing better in the world.”
“Take that a step farther into what I call “animal hospice” and you add honor to that joy. This is the story of Max, a gorgeous hunk of Rottweiler that started coming for Reiki treatments. As his health needs changed, his Reiki treatments changed as well and now we are looking at end-of-life care.”
“Max is a warrior. A fighter. But today he was different. Today Max was showing signs of transitioning from one plane to another. Often staring off into space, it’s easy to think he’s distracted or not interested. Actually, he’s tuning in to the fur babies who have already crossed the Rainbow Bridge - he’s deciding about leaving us.”
“His people are awesome, taking care of his every need, from carrying Max to and from the car, to wiping his watery eyes, to taking care of his leaky bladder. They want him to get well. They want him to show a sign of turning around and rejoining the family. Max appears to be ready for other things though.”
“When an animal is ready to transition, their needs change and this is what we talked about today with Max, his people, Robyn, and myself. It was tearful but healing, to be together in thought and understanding. This is the most difficult thing to do - watch your beloved fur baby cross over.”
“Max’s people wish for him to cross over in the comfort of their home, surrounded by the people and the other fur babies who love him so much. We talked about taking away the physical distractions - turning off the television and stereo, turning off harsh lights, speaking in low tones - basically removing the energy that binds him to this earth.”
“When Max is at home, he has already started “speaking”, vocalizing. This is part pain but also part communicating - asking for a space and time for him to transition. At some point Max will lose his appetite. He’s conserving energy to pass instead of using energy to digest food. At some point he will refuse water - again, preserving precious energy because he no longer needs physical intervention.”
“It will be a huge gift for Max’s people to allow him to cross over at home. What if he’s in pain? What if it becomes too unbearable to watch? Have a support team, have a plan. Know that there are many loving souls who will take a shift of watching and holding the energy for Max.”
“In the end, the peace will fill in the sharp edges of the void, softening the loss, allowing the healing process to take place.
There is nothing like the love of our animals. It is an honor to be in their presence at a sacred time such as transitioning.
Max, I salute the warrior in you, and I thank you for the many lessons you have brought to us. Namaste.” —Cassie Schuster