In 2003 a very sick dog came into my life. My partner at the time brought her home from the ER vet hospital where she worked. We named her Savannah Shea. She weighed in at under half a pound, was malnourished, had heart worms and hydrocephalus. In the beginning she had seizures often but always bounced back quickly. She grew to just over three pounds, was fierce and feisty and loved everyone she met. She taught me so much about courage and living life in the moment. Savannah was my biggest joy, my muse. My partner and I split up in 2009 but Savannah remained in both of our lives. On August 30, 2012 I got the phone call that would change my life. Savannah had been attacked by 2 large dogs and didn’t survive. My girlfriend drove me to the ER and the vet tech brought me into a room to let me hold her. I sobbed and told her I was sorry. I told her I would make her proud. As the days went by I sunk into a deep depression. My muse was gone and I was devastated and lost. What exactly was I doing with my life to make her proud? When I looked in the mirror I felt that I was a disappointment to Savannah.
One day, at my job working on an ambulance, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a friend’s post about dairy that read, “If you eat dairy, you support the veal industry.” I clicked on the article and couldn’t believe what I was reading. The video “Meet Your Meat” was attached to the article and I forced myself to watch the ten-minute video. I turned to my ambulance partner (who also happens to be my life partner) and said through tears, “I’m going vegan.” My loving partner was immediately on board. This was exactly four months to the day that Savannah had passed. December 30, 2012….the day I went vegan. The day Savannah saved my life.
Losing someone you love so deeply shatters your heart into a billion pieces which in turn leaves your heart wide open, vulnerable and searching for answers. How could I call myself a lover of animals and then call them my meal? Here I was an avid dog rescuer, yet I wasn’t mirroring my ethics and morals with my food choices. Suicidal, depressed, and longing to hold my baby again, I was pleading with the universe to tell me why I was here. A broken heart, a brief moment of downtime on the ambulance, a post from a vegan friend, a partner who offered full love and support…Sometimes in life when your heart is shattered and you are searching for something bigger, the stars align to show you the truth. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “Only in darkness can you see the stars.”
People often ask me why I chose Veganism. I chose Veganism because I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of Savannah’s moms. She gave me her unconditional love and the power of that love continued even after her death. She helped me to see that the unnecessary suffering inflicted on so many animals is not a life I should proud of. If I felt so strongly that dogs should be treated with respect, compassion and love, then shouldn’t I extend that towards all beings? There was no other way to make her proud than to stop supporting the cruelty and abuse that comes with living a non-vegan lifestyle.
I feel Savannah in every sunset. The glow of warm colors reminds me that she is here with me, supporting me and guiding me through this journey. This helps me to appreciate the dark moments because without them the light wouldn’t be so lovely and bright. I know now that Savannah is proud of me because I’m finally proud of myself. Losing her was devastating, but it transformed me, helped me evolve, and created a better version of me. That is the power of love.
Colleen Hope Diaz, VLCE, spends most of her time fostering dogs and volunteering at shelters and farm sanctuaries. She believes that with every vegan cupcake she bakes she is opening up more compassionate hearts and minds. Colleen shares her home with her lovely fiancé Bree who is also vegan, along with their four rescue chihuahuas and a foster hospice dog with cancer. When Colleen isn’t spending time with her fur babies she is working on an ambulance as an Emergency Medical Technician. You can find Colleen on Instagram @sheahopelove. You can also follow the journey of her hospice dog Chicka by searching @chickas_spectacular sunset.