Healing After the Loss of a Soulmate Pet

By Cindy Karch | February 27th, 2024

How one woman’s broken heart finally healed

Jax (foreground) and Harly, German shepherds in the story from Cindy Karch on healing from the loss of a four-legged soulmate

Our beloved pets are with us for too few years. Cindy Karch tells of her soulmate pet, a German shepherd, and of her healing after Jax died.

This is a story about a boy and his dog. No, wait! Scrap that! Almost all dog stories begin that way. This is actually a true story about a woman and her four-legged soulmate German shepherd named, Jax.

My husband and I already had a female shepherd named Harly. She was a year old when we decided to get a second dog.

They say dogs pick their favorite person and it appeared that our girl favored my husband just a wee bit more over me. Probably because she knew he was always in severe pain following a car accident we were in together. Although I got injured too, his injuries were more serious than mine. That being said, our girl was always by his side, so I was hoping Jax would pick me to shadow and be by my side.

To our surprise, he was only interested in Harly. She had started mothering him the minute we brought him home. She groomed his face and ears several times a day. He thought she was his mother. So when it came time to either of us showing him affection, he was not interested in receiving it. This bothered me so much. I didn’t want him to be aloof!

So I began hugging and kissing him every day along with the words “I love you,” spoken nearly 100 times a day. At first, he would pull away. But after many months of hugging it into his brain, it just seemed to click one day that love was a good thing. He became not only an affectionate dog, but he ended up with the nickname “jealous lover” because he would not allow anyone to hug me, not even my husband or Harly. He would step in between to break it up. Jax now wanted me all to himself, and I secretly liked it that way.

Jax was my protector, my shadow, my howling partner, my exercise buddy, my therapist, and my best friend. He became the dog that never left my side.

Cindy Karch with her dog, Jax, her soulmate pet
Cindy Karch with her dog, Jax, her soulmate pet

My boy also had anxiety. Well, I can admit it, I too have anxiety. After our car accident, everything changed. I worry about my husband 24/7. That being said, Jax and I understood each other on a whole other level. I knew how to love him because I understood anxiety. We would gaze into each other’s eyes and he could see right into my soul. These quiet moments just made everything better. Jax was my unofficial therapy dog. He was able to calm me faster than any breathing exercises. He was everything to me. I called him my soulmate and my husband was okay with that because I married my high school sweetheart, and he knew how deeply I could love.

Jax was always high energy except for those quiet moments we shared. He always wanted to play ball or tug of war. So when Harly died unexpectedly from a rare condition at age 9, and Jax was 8, it stunned us to see him lose interest in life itself. Dogs too, can love one another deeply, and those two shared an unbreakable bond.

When we came home after saying goodbye to Harly, Jax had tears in his eyes. I have video and photos that are still too painful to look at. He saw us holding her collar and leash, he knew. They are such intelligent beings.

From that day on, Jax refused to play ball without his buddy racing next to him to try and catch it first. Instead, he sat in the backyard and stared at the door, hoping Harly would come outside to join him.


Every time he went outside, he looked for her. He poked his head in the dog house where she used to hide from him when she wanted quiet time; and he even made us open the shed just in case we accidentally locked her in there. He searched for her daily. When we brought her ashes home and put them in the curio cabinet, he sat and stared at them behind the glass. Somehow he knew, and it was heartbreaking to watch. I realized then, that I had to help him get through this as much as he was going to help me.

As the weeks and months dragged on, my sweet gentle boy almost completely stopped eating. We took him to the vet, of course, and he was given meds to increase his appetite. His dosage was so high that he should have been eating drywall, but nothing worked. His will to starve himself was stronger than any medication. My boy was severely depressed and even all the love in my heart wasn’t enough to help him. I tried to get him to howl one day as this was a fun thing we did when Harly was alive, and the sound that came out of his mouth still haunts me. He wasn’t howling; he was wailing for his girl Harly with tears in his eyes. I was witnessing his heart breaking before my very eyes, and I had never felt so helpless in my life.

Shortly thereafter, he began to get projectile “runny bum.” No explanation needed, you know what I mean by that. No amount of medicine would stop it and it caused quick weight loss. His blood work showed low levels of everything due to not eating. The vet couldn’t even do a biopsy because he was so weak that he probably wouldn’t wake up. He was starving himself to be with Harly. He loved his momma, but he couldn’t live without his best friend. It’s a huge eye opener when you realize dogs love just as much, if not more, than humans are capable of loving.

Then on the morning of Sept. 18, 2021, Jax had a drink of water and almost immediately vomited it up. He looked at me so confused with his arms spread flat on the floor. I told him it was okay and gave him love.

We brought him to the vet right away as they were closing in an hour because it was Saturday. We were told that after all the testing he went through, they determined his organs were shutting down. Jax was dying. We asked if we could keep him until Monday when they reopened, but the doctor said no. She said we would regret it by the evening because he would really start to suffer, forcing us to go to the only 24-hour emergency animal hospital in the city to put him down, and they were not letting people in to say goodbye due to Covid. The best thing for Jax was to say goodbye on the spot.

My head started spinning and I thought I might faint, but I pulled it together for my boy. We were given some time with him as we were both in shock. An hour earlier Jax couldn’t keep water down, now we were given 30 minutes alone with him before it was time for that lethal injection. How could this be? Just seven months earlier we said goodbye to our beautiful girl due to a rare condition. Now, here we were, bringing Jax in to get help, only to be told we’d be going home alone.

The vet returned to our little room to see if we were ready. Of course you’re never ready, but we reluctantly said yes. He was already prepped with an IV in his arm. It was just a matter of pushing the syringe into the IV. We put a blanket down for him, but he refused to lie down. So he sat on his bum, and we kneeled down and hugged him as the procedure began. We were both sobbing and telling him we loved him so much, and thanked him for eight wonderful years. We told him Harly was waiting for him.

We could feel him pass because his body started to droop down to the floor. We knew then he was gone. We gently put him down on the blanket and I refused to let go of him. I buried my face in his fur and cried like never before. I could hardly breathe, and I wished I had gone with him at that moment. My best friend, my soulmate, had officially crossed over to the other side, and my grieving was just beginning. How was I ever going to continue living without my sweet gentle boy?

Every memory of his life crossed my mind as he was slipping away, but a song also entered my mind, an old song that you never hear on the radio anymore. It stayed in my head all the way home. Once we were home, my husband told me out of the blue that he couldn’t get that same song out of his head! My jaw dropped! It had to be Jax who put that song in both our heads at the same time because we both had it in our heads as he was passing over and never told each other until we got home. I believe he is nearby whenever I hear that song now.

Fast forward 11 months. We got a call from our friends from whom we got Harly and Jax. A German shepherd puppy had been returned and needed a home. They thought of us right away. I said absolutely not! I had no interest in ever feeling like this again. I was finished with devastating goodbyes. I was still grieving Harly and Jax; still crying for them daily. But long story short, we ended up getting him when I found out he was the nephew of Jax and great nephew of Harly. He looks like his aunt, but acts like his uncle. He truly is the best of both worlds.

Our Tucker is now 20 months old. He certainly helped distract me from losing two very special dogs; however, I found myself still stuck. Stuck in that depressing place where I longed to hold Jax again and look deep into his eyes. He taught me a lot over the years, but he never taught me how to live without him. His two-year anniversary was quickly approaching in September. I found myself dreading that day weeks in advance.

Then one day, I watched a podcast called “The Mindset Playground” with Louanne Hunt. She had world-renowned animal communicator Sue London on her show. London has the gift of receiving messages from pets that have crossed over and, also, messages from a current pet.

When I watched the interview with her, I just knew she could help me. I needed to hear from Jax, and this lady was put in my path a week before Jax’s second anniversary. This was not a coincidence. I reached out and, to my surprise, Sue London herself responded to me the very next day stating she was getting signs that she had to help me. Sue was so compassionate and so very kind and understanding that she made time for my session with her on the very day of Jax’s anniversary. Exactly two years to the day after he passed, I was blessed to have my session with Sue London.

She told me things only the dogs or my husband could have known, so I knew what she was saying was all true. Not only did Jax show up, but so did Harly, my mom, and another German shepherd that we’d had. It was the most healing chat I’ve ever had in my life. Certain things were confirmed without having to ask.

Since then, I feel free. Free from the chains in my brain that were keeping me in that sad place. The grieving process is different for everyone – I know, I worked in mental health for decades. I counseled many over the years, but couldn’t move forward until I heard from Jax with the help of Sue. It was the best thing I ever did for myself.

Now our Tucker seems to sense that his momma is different, maybe even lighter as far as my energy is concerned. I walk with my head up and my posture has even improved. I feel content. I know all my dogs are together having fun. I know they visit me, and now I can actually see the signs, whereas before I was so stuck in my grief that I couldn’t see the messages they were sending.

I find myself on a new journey now. Moving on is never easy, that’s why God, or the universe, whichever you believe in, puts people on our paths to help us grow. Meeting Sue London was no coincidence. I was meant to receive a healing from her in regards to my dogs.

My wish for anyone reading this is for you to find that sense of peace after losing your pet. Look for the signs, they absolutely do send us signs. And if you find yourself still struggling after what you consider is too long, then may I suggest getting in touch with Sue London, Animal Communicator. Her gift can do wonders for your soul and maybe even heal it, as she did with me.

FEATURE PHOTO CAPTION, TOP OF PAGE: Jax (foreground) and Harly. All images provided by Cindy Karch.

Read more contributions from Boomer readers in our From the Reader department.

Have your own memories of a soulmate pet, essay, or other story you’d like to share with our baby boomer audience? View our writers’ guidelines and e-mail our editor at Annie@BoomerMagazine.com with the subject line “‘From Our Readers’ inquiry.”

Play online Sudoku at SeniorsGuide.com

More from Boomer

‘The Crying Indian’

By John Sullivan | April 17, 2024

‘Employee of the Month’

By Roger Ryberg | March 19, 2024

Owning a Vacation Home

By Sherrill Pool Elizondo | March 12, 2024