A Mandala Tribute to our Late Pitbull, Bjorn

7 Minute Read

I want to share with you the story of how the mandala tribute for our late pitbull, Bjorn was created. For many who follow me on Instagram, you will know of Bjorn as I always shared photos of him and his adventures in my stories. I haven’t shared this story though. It’s not a happy one but there is a happy ending so grab a cup of tea or coffee and strap in for the ride.

The Story of Bjorn

Bjorn only a few months old sleeping on my lap wrapped in my grey gown

Bjorn would have been 5 this year. He was born around February 14 in 2019 and he came to us in April of that same year. I had been volunteering for the local animal shelter’s charity shop for a little while and we got news that a litter of pitbull puppies were picked up. The mother had passed away and the puppies were living in a box, severely malnourished. The shelter was only looking for fosters at the time, but Gideon fell in love with Bjorn. He was a foster fail because there was no way we were going to let him go to a home other than our own.

He was so full of life and joy, always making us laugh. There was always time for the love he wanted to give as he was the most affectionate dog. There was never a cuddle or kiss he turned down. I’ve had a lot of dogs in my life, but never one like Bjorn that’s for sure.

Bjorn’s Favourite Things

Some of Bjorn’s favourite things were bananas, getting a bite of sausage when Gideon would braai (BBQ), and going to the ocean. I remember how he would jump out of the window of the car the moment he saw water and he’d just run into the waves like it was his only mission in life. It was also almost next to impossible to get him back in the car when we wanted to leave!

Losing Bjorn

In December of 2023, Bjorn got sick. We were going through a hectic heatwave at the time and he was never one to show he was sick or injured. Even if we went walking and he got a thorn in his foot, he’d continue walking and pretend it wasn’t there.

He just seemed off someway and we decided to take him to the vet in case something was indeed wrong. He was diagnosed with Ehrlichia, a form of tickbite fever. The vet however was optimistic as he was young, had never had tickbite fever before, and it seemed like we caught it very early. She gave us a course of action and medication, and we went home.

Sadly, he steadily declined and he passed away just before Christmas.

He brought so much light and life into our lives the 4 years we had him. When he left us, we could really feel the emptiness and lack of him in our world. I personally think that one of the hardest things I learnt about grief is that space which is left behind when a loved one dies. You then need to adjust to a world with that gap of space in it. Nothing fills it. Your world doesn’t necessary get darker, but it feels emptier or lesser in a sense, even when/if your life is full.

If you are going through something similar and you are looking for crystal support, take a look at crystals for grief. I’d also tell you to work with whatever speaks to you even if it isn’t one of those crystals. The support we need during times of grief is unique to each of us.

Mandala Tribute for our late Pitbull, Bjorn

The Original Mandala I Created for Him

During the time Bjorn was sick and after he passed, I couldn’t find myself in a space to work with crystals deeply or to draw simply for my own peace. What was bringing me light during that time was that I had been spending time drawing memorial pet mandalas for friends.

Looking back, my art style changed a lot when he was busying transitioning to the next life. He was already sick when I was doing these pieces for my friends. Being able to do their creations is what helped me cope during that December month. It was healing to me. I feel like he was the catalyst that birthed these type of mandalas through me. It’s bittersweet that not only did he leave me with his beautiful memories, but also the inspo to draw mandalas like this. For that I’m always grateful.

It wasn’t until late January, when I decided that I wanted to draw something for and of him. I figured I’d start with the original mandala I drew for him on his birthday in 2023:

Then came the harder part: picking a photo of him for the mandala. This took me a little time and I went back and forth on so many of his photos. I kept coming back to the particular photo I settled on for his piece. It’s probably not his best or cutest photo, but I kept coming back to it.

The Mandala Tribute for Bjorn

A mandala tribute to our late pitbull Bjorn

The mandala tribute to Bjorn is a little different than what I normally create. Usually I let my intuition guide me when it comes to colour usage in the background. For his piece, I used the same colours in his coat to create the bokeh lights behind him.

Would you believe me if I told you that it took me 6 months to finish this drawing of and for him? I couldn’t believe it, but it did. I started in January and finished in June of this year (2024). I’ve only been able to face working on his project when I felt strong enough to do it. Another thing that grief taught me is that time is bendy when you lose someone. Sometimes it feels like ages have passed and other times it feels like it was just yesterday. It’s this in-between space I suppose. I’d have never said this took 6 months because I swore I started on it a month or two ago.

The Light of a Soul Pet

We got to spend the whole of Bjorn’s lifetime with him, and for that we are blessed. Short in human years but one of quality. I say this fondly, but it’s like that when it comes to pets isn’t it?

A term I recently discovered was “soul pet”. It’s meant to be that almost bluetooth-like connection you have with a pet that links to the very depths of your soul. This really resonated with me because I think Bjorn was really a dog of the soul.

I want to tell you that if you’ve been in that space of losing a pet, then you know that it can be a difficult time. No one can ever replace the space your pet took in your heart, soul, and life.

Many people think or say that it’s “just a pet” but no matter who you’ve lost, be it a human loved one or your beloved pet, it’s valid. You’re allowed to and should grieve when you lose a pet. You lost someone who filled your heart and soul with light and happiness.

If you’ve lost a beloved pet, I’d love to hear some of your memories in the comments. This is a safe space to share that precious experience.

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