The NC 500 is a ring road around the North east to North west coast of Scotland. We bagan in Inverness and decided to go clock-wise. The roads are quite varied from single track to double lane, some with curbs, some rock walls, some guard rails, all narrow.
The first few days, we ran into a few cars coming anti-clockwise around the road. Having been in Ireland, where the roads are much narrower, Chris was up to the challenge. The views from all directions are, simply put, breath-taking. The further north we go, the more small towns and single homes we pass. Mostly fishing villages. The history dates back hundreds of years.
Our first stop was in Applecross. A small town at the end of the road. There are two ways in; the first is a winding switchback road that shoots straight up into the highlands with accents and descents at 20% grades and hairpin, single track roads. This is not recommended for anything bigger that a Type T2 VW camper. The second takes off out of Shieldaig, also a single track with passing points, but is a more gradual meandering road along the coast. It is a 23 mile trek in and 23 back out. From your final destination, Applecross, you are awarded with the beautiful Isle of Skye vistas and a proper sunset, providing the clouds part. Sunset is currently at 10pm and sunrise at 4:40am and we are still a month away from the longest day.
We set our next destination as Gairloch and ventured about 4 miles outside of town to Big Sands, a camp area situated in the first and secondary dunes. The camp is spread amongst the dunes on grassy pitches, some with electric and others without. It is in this small sea that hundreds of bottle nose dolphins and basking sharks can be seen on a calm clear day…of which we had neither during our stay. We were graced with a few hours of clear skies and sun, but with a constant 10mph wind, the sea was awash with white caps, making it difficult to do any spotting.
Today we headed further north to Ullapool. This is a big port city, okay not very big city, but the port services 2 car ferries out to the Isle of Lewis. From there you can caravan around and take a ferry to Isle of Skye and back to the mainland.
In Ullapool, there isn’t much going on past 6pm. We snuck in just before closing time, to the Seafood Shack, a food truck serving only fresh and sustainable food at very reasonable prices, at least for fish and crab offerings. The ferry had just landed so the place was jammed. We placed our order, Chris got the Halibut wrap and I opted for the dungeness crab, both served with a healthy serving of green salad.
We are starting to settle I to a life of van travel again, this time without Gandaulf. I do get my share of puppy lovin’ for sure. Every dog I give scratches to, seems to know I am missing my boy. He would’ve enjoyed playing here, so much room to run, and water to swim in.
Around every turn is another gasp at the beauty, another picture postcard moment. We still have nine days left in our Scotland itinerary. Can hardly wait to see what the far north and north east has to offer. Cheers!
The fun part of traveling is culture and how it effects everything from the architecture to the music.
We landed in Edinburgh on Sunday and were picked up by some friends we met in Nepal and have stayed in touch with for the last 4 years. The internet makes the world so small and staying in touch so easy. Ivy and Leo made us feel right at home and put us up for the night. The next day we were escorted into Edinburgh by our new found tour guide and treated to a lovely history lesson.
We next picked up our camper van and headed out on new roads in a new country. Off to Perth for a quick walk-about and to admire the beautiful city which seemed abandoned vs Edinburgh. I felt a bit of sadness for the shops and owners, but I am a foreigner so what do I know.
We have traveled today to Inverness for another overnight on our way to the NC 500, a ring road around Scotlands most northern coastline. Ancient coastal cities of Highland Scots and Viking cities of old. We are hoping for fair weather travel and not so narrow and windy roads.
One of the best things to do when in these wonderful lands is to enjoy the local pubs and a bit of the local folk music. Dance and sing if you choose to do so. So much history and heart in each song. A fun way to end a long days travel.
What a glorious day indeed! The Irish coastline of Kerry, a fiord on the southeast side of the island surrounded by the Atlantic, is a magnificent combination of history and lore, blight and famine, conquest and survival. The peninsula is very isolated 179km of narrow, windy roads that takes off out of the small town of Killarney, Ireland. The drive takes approximately 3.5 hours without making any stops.
After our driving experience, we opted into taking a tour so Chris could admire the scenery, and not be so stressed. Turns out this was a fabulous idea and our driver gave us driving tips. He was a 68 year old from the O’Sullivan clan who had personal history living out on the peninsula as a boy. He drove milk trucks from village to village and had quite a reputation. As with all your drivers, he was a wealth of knowledge, singing, reciting poems and passing on the history.
I guess what struck us the most was the incredible shades of green. The incredible contrasts of the yellow Gorse bush or Furze. It is said that Furze bushes, like all other thorny bushes in Ireland such as hawthorn and white thorn, belong to the Sidhe, and often guard their portals to magical realms. It is a magical bush looked over by the fairies of the land. Folklore has it, that if a bride cuts a sprig and puts it in her bride bouquet, she will have all the luck of the Irish.
The Irish Black-faced sheep are also scattered around the towering hill sides. The only way to bring in the sheep from these craggy hillsides is with a sheepdog. I spent about 45 minutes watching one of these small, sure footed dogs in action with his shepherd. Amazing agility and speed, controlled mostly by different whistle tweets from as far as a quarter of a mile. I thought about Gandaulf for a moment and how he loved the chase.
We had a local lunch at “the most beautiful lookout in all of Ireland in fair weather”, or so the sign said. I had my first lamb stew and Chris had the shepherd pie. The view was indeed spectacular of the bay and the mountainous islands as the fog held light to the peeks. A statue of Mary standing on a serpent stood in the middle of a stone ring looking down on us with outstretched hands and a soft welcoming gaze. I felt blessed once more to be having this adventure.
Today began our Ireland trip. Our jet lag is finally waining and we are getting down to a new circadian rhythm. Overall we are getting into the groove of travel again after quite a long 6 month hiatus.
We grabbed a taxi into the little town of Blarney, on the southern coast just a few miles north of Cork. The history of Ireland is steeped in powerful lords and many wars. The landscape is dotted with castles and villages surrounding these monolithic towers of rock, most all older than the first settlements in the US. Even the woolen mill was older than my first “historic registry” home in Utah.
I will be the first to admit that I am an ignorant American. Hells sake, I don’t even know how to physically dial a non-US phone number. At least I am not ashamed to ask and our campground host, Rebecca, was a pleasant young woman who was more than eager to educate me. Better to ask than pretend you know something you don’t.
Our visit to the lovely little town of Blarney, was like stepping back in time. The town is based around a castle built in the 1400’s. It remained in the family for centuries. In the 1800’s the Blarney Home was built. The castle is the home of the “blarney stone” given by the witch of the lake to one of the sons who rescued her from the lake. He was afflicted with a stutter and following the witches directions implicitly, he found the stone and kissed it as instructed. His life then changed as he became a fluent speaker and was given “the gift of gab” as it is said to do. Even until this day, the lines to ascend the castle stairs to the top floor where the Blarney Stone is at rest, just to give it a kiss, is at least an hour long.
The gardens surrounding the Blarney Mansion and castle, were in full display. The variety of flora and fauna planted was in full bloom. The magnificent colors were amazing. I didn’t know so many colors existed in nature. Anything from brilliant reds to flesh peach and salmon orange. Purple flowers, buttercup, and wild garlic filled the air with fragrance.
The most harrowing part of the day was the 2.5km walk back to the Caravan Park (campground). The road started out with a sidewalk, but quickly became a narrow road full of blind turns and no way to get off the road if two cars should pass by at once. The sides of the road was 3-4’ high thick growth which included its fair share of stinging nettle, which is normally found in riverbanks at home. By the time I realized what it was, Chris and I had both inadvertently come in contact with its viscous little hairs.
We finally made it back in one piece and toasted our 7 miles of walking in one day. The day ended with showers, laundry and a recap of our day.
It’s been a good day except for the 2 hours of driving. The countryside is gorgeous. The famous rock walls are now covered in a thick coat of green.
The roads are narrow and the means to an end if you want to see the small towns and castle/church ruins dotting the landscape.
Our choice of a van, the same size as our old van, was a good one at the time. Our driving skills are good but to combine the small rural roads, driving on the side of the road unfamiliar to us, a right hand drive and a stick shift, and we are like fish out of water.
What is the one constant in everyone’s life? No matter black, white, brown, or green…no matter if you live comfortably with means, or are barely scraping by…no matter if you live north, south, east or west…animal, insect, plant or human, impermanence is at play in your life.
Over the last year, our lives have been greatly impacted by this often times unwelcome part of the life cycle. Everyday things change. Our likes and dislikes, our health, plants bloom and die, trees loose leaves, even as simple as outgrowing our favorite outfit, everything is in a constant state of living and dying…change. We live our lives as if we have a life-time of living to be had, fall through each day as if there will surely be another. Will there be? Are you sure?
In my Buddhist practice, my teachers and their teachers and right on back to the Buddha, have always talked about impermanence. Nothing is without change. It is not only about a physical human death, even that is not permanent, but more about the constant flux that is a naturally occurring part of everything, living and dead. Humans are the worst at accepting this phenomenon. We try hard to make sure things are as we like them, to be sure we are always comfortable. We diet to stay the same weight, facelifts to prevent the inevitable force of gravity, even engage in risky behaviors to slow the aging process. Western medicine is all about treating the diseased so that death can be cheated. We never even think about death. To speak of our death is considered taboo, macabre, not something accepted in a “normal” daily conversation.
I know that the hardest part of accepting death, is to realize that death is not the end, not a permanent condition. Yes, our physicality comes to an end, but there is so much more to all living things that just a failing vessel of blood and organs, all things are made of the most basic of matter, water and carbon, formed into a structure that can resemble many different things, from a tree to a worm, yes and the human body. The essence of which is held together by energy. This energy is universal, it exists in the chair you’re sitting on, the flowers blooming in the spring, and even the ancient old growth forests rotting on the forest floors.
OK, so you may be thinking, how do I stop or slow change? How can I accept something, death for example, that seems so final…so permanent? What happens to that life force when the vessel dies? Religions have been trying to pacify the panic and mourning that goes along with death with the promise of heaven and hell. Alchemist have been trying to find the secret of eternal youth since the beginning of time. No matter, impermanence is just a universal condition to be accepted and worked through on a daily basis. If you knew you were gonna die tomorrow, would you do anything in your power to stave off this inevitability? You are not alone. Why not live everyday as if it were your last?
If I told you that to slow, maybe even end the violence in the world, the pestilence, the hate, anger, and all the “man-made” destruction of the planet, all we have to do is live each day as if it were a gift, treat each other with kindness, show unconditional love and acceptance to our fellow human beings and stop harming even the smallest of insects, would you at least try? It is so much easier to find fault, to feel the anger and act without thinking, to pass judgement and spread gossip, to continue to pollute rivers and oceans as if they were an endless resource. To avoid change at all costs. What if we all just gave it a little effort? What if everything you said to someone, stranger or friend, ally or foe, went through three gates first. Is it true? Is it necessary? The hardest one, is it kind? What if you smiled at a stranger, held the door for someone, didn’t honk and yell at the driver you feel is being crazy or stupid. Could you make a pact to do one kind thing for someone or something everyday? Could we each start a pay it forward society just by one kind act? What if it were really that simple?
The world is suffering, we all are dying everyday, tomorrow is not for certain. Every where Chris and I go, we bring love and light into someone’s darkness, whether we know that person or not. We are not alone. It is never too late but it does take an army to move an anthill these days. I implore you to at least try, how can it hurt? We can’t stop change but we can influence it with just a few random kindnesses.
It’s been a month since we said farewell to Gandaulf. I still have moments in the day when my eyes fill with tears and the words get stuck in throat. Times when all I want is to feel his thick, soft fur between my fingers, and smell his musky odor. At night I swear sometimes he is still there at the bottom of the bed snoring. Of course I sit with the feelings, let the tears fall and, like the clouds in a blue sky, it passes and I am left in the present moment…to move on.
We continue to sell off all our possessions and donated 4 big boxes of women’s clothing to the women’s shelter and odds and ends to the DI. Our shed is becoming more and more vacant everyday. Getting rid of “stuff” is fun, freeing and terrifying all at the same time. What I want to get rid of, Chris thinks we might need someday and sometime visa versa. No matter we settle and the item stays or goes and we move on to the next.
We have started our trial packs. It takes almost as many clothes to be gone for a week long vacation as it does to pack for a year. Save a nice outfit for the occasional fancy dinner or cafe hopping, a few more necessities for hiking or swimming, and an extra pair of shoes…they make a thing called a washer and dryer, so…just like at home, you still need to stop for a domestic goddess day.
The farewells continue almost daily. I have hooked up with some healers that are concocting some plant medicines for me to continue my journey of good mental health and a balance of mind and body. It’s been almost six months since I went cold turkey on anti-depressants and entered the world of good, wholesome plant based medicines. The journey has had its ups and downs, but I am a whole new person, not better, just changed and more energized and grounded.
Between this change and my spiritual endeavors, I have broken through the ancient fortress built around my heart and mind, and found a strong, safe foundation to build a new life on. Yes I have many small tears left on my heart, but I am free from this old baggage and free to build a new adventure in loving kindness and peace.
It has begun…today we officially sold our Adventure Van, SleepyTurtle. The UTV and trailer got sold to a friend we’ve been selling cars to forever. All of our toys and our “home” have gone to good homes. This we are happy about. The universe has been at play in the last 3 months.
As sad as it was to loose Gandaulf, we were in the right place…not in Baja. His death was the beginning of the avalanche of change in our lives. Our entire lives have been geared around Gandaulf, so when he went over the rainbow bridge, we felt a great loss and confusion.
This entire week has been all about getting back on our feet, liquidating everything and getting on with our new chapter of life. Mornings are getting easier, and we are beginning to accept whatever has happened as our path. It’s bucking against things as they come up, that causes us discomfort. As we listen and pay attention to the signs, being aware of the subtle nuances of our daily life, things fall into place. Things that seemed insurmountable.
Farewells have also begun this week. This is where I struggle. We have touched so many new lives, and made so many new friends over the last 3 years which may not seem like that big of a deal to some but for Chris and I, we never have been able to develop friendships outside of work. Now we’ve connected on a deeply personal maybe even spiritual level, and unknowingly influenced their lives by just being ourselves. This for me is a gift. It is exceedingly difficult to connect with people at a meaningful level these days, perhaps due to mistrust and social media…Or maybe the later makes it easier? These special relationships will never go away, and there is no such thing as “goodbye” in our book.
May 6, 2023 will be our new adventure start date. Until then, the universe has our backs.
It’s been 3 weeks since the loss of our pup and companion, Gandaulf. We got his cute paw print from the vet that compassionately help us let him go. Yesterday was the first day I didn’t cry over my coffee and all morning. I almost didn’t cry at all.
The hardest thing to reprogram is my brain. Let me explain; I know our boy is gone. I know he’s not coming back. We also talk often about the hardest forever decision we made and I think we both are getting better knowing that it was also the most selfless decision we’ve made concerning another living being. We’ve spent the past few weeks looking for the right words. The words that tell us it’s gonna be okay…someday.
A good friend posted exactly what I needed to hear. My tears are not shed for Gandaulf, but actually for me. He has been released from this world of suffering and moved into the universe as energy we can draw on through our memories. I can feel him in my day in and day out movements, sometimes I stop at the van entrance and wait for him. The day will come that memories with bring me joy, maybe through tears, but at least he will make me smile again.
Part of any journey, after a death, is picking up the millions of pieces of your life that are scattered about in places you didn’t even know or forgot existed. Then put one foot in front of the other and live! Living for us includes travel, so that’s what we’ve been doing.
I told Chris that when Gandaulf passed, she and I needed to go on a around the world trip. First stop…Ireland.
We are starting in Dublin and traveling south along the country, this map is going the wrong direction, but symbolizes the trip.
We have given ourselves two weeks to sight-see, hike and explore the rich history of this small island.
We are too excited to find the words to express our giddy, child-like wonder that stands in front of us on this long journey of travel and cultural immersion. The world is our oyster, as the saying goes. Travel without our side-kick will be lonely at times, and for sure much quieter. The hardest part of jumping off is always that nagging fear that rightly resides in the back of everyone’s brain when it comes to getting out of our routines and facing the unknown. Traveling for an undetermined amount of time, to places we’ve only seen in magazines and blogs. To relieve yourself of all your worldly possessions and travel with what’s on your back, what fits in a carry-on roller bag and a small daypack.
Someday we will settle down, when the wanderlust turns old and our body’s desire a place to call refuge. By then, perhaps we will have found a place, or a couple of places, that check off all the blocks. Until then, tune in for the next adventure to begin and we invite you all to travel vicariously with us. Thank you all for your support while traveling in The Turtle (sleepyTurtle our van). We may be down one body, but his traveling, fun loving spirit will continue to travel along with us. Peace
On March 21, 2023, at 4pm, we lost an integral part of Two Travelin’ Chicas and a Corgi. Gandaulf had been with us since he was a mere 10 weeks old. He was the cutest little corgi muffin we’d ever seen. It had taken me months to talk Chris back into letting me get a puppy again. I was up for the challenge of house breaking, training and cuddling and with Chris traveling so much, I’d now have a companion to keep me company.
We went and got him on February 22, 2010. He was full of energy and very sharp teeth. I spent the first 2 hours and last 2 hours of everyday, training and playing with him so that he would be able to go to work with me everyday. He graduated his puppy class at 5 months old, the youngest they’d ever allowed into the class, and I dare say, the smartest. He never did like car rides much, and being his moms were car dealers, that became a big joke. Maybe it was his tiny legs? Maybe not being able to see? Maybe because everyday we drive a different car, truck or SUV…he never did warm up to rides in the car until we started to travel in the van.
By the time he reached three years old, he had charmed his way into many hearts. He was a great greeter at Salt Lake Imports, our dealership, and an even better sales dog. He loved to play ball so he would distract the customers while they were buying a car. He would do the cute thing and lay his head on their shoes and look up with his big endearing dark brown eyes. It was at 3 he started training to be a service animal.
We started out with walking through malls, airports and riding the light rail. He knew all the commands but when it came to walking through buildings with multicolor floors, he’d lean back on his hind legs and stop abruptly. Everyone around us in the airport, would pile up behind us and laugh as he made quite a scene. Eventually he overcame whatever he saw that scared him and he’d walk, ears back, head held high and little legs scurrying under him to keep up.
It took about 3 months to get him fully trained enough to get his jacket and register him with the US Service Dog Agency. Gandaulf was now a registered service dog and could travel anywhere, go anywhere and knew how to behave. He was one dog out of his jacket, but once we put his jacket on him, he transformed into another. He was always quiet, never begged in a restaurant, and ignored other dogs like he had on blinders. He was just perfect.
Chris and I loved to travel, and now Gandaulf could go just about anywhere with us. His first plane ride was 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City to Virginia Beach. Then he went to Mexico, Costa Rica, he was even an honorary “corn dog” in Nicaragua on Little Corn Island. He has been on sailboats where more pictures were taken of him than the sunset the tour was about. He had become a traveling partner and just loved every adventure. We always joked that he thought we traveled awfully far just to play ball.
He took to swimming, streams, Alpine Lakes and loved body surfing in the Oceans. He would help land any fish we caught on the banks of a river or in our white water raft. He loved to ride on kayaks, paddle boards and even had his own backpack for coming along on bike rides. He owned a climbing harness, life jacket, vibram sole booties and a snow jacket for messy Utah winter days when the snow was deeper than he was tall.
When we decided to retire early, we had to figure in our boy into our plans. We originally wanted to move out of the USA and settle down but with Gandaulf, that wasn’t gonna work out as well. He was a world traveler but the amount of paperwork and rabies vaccinations and other requirements made it difficult to go to more than one country at a time. Vanlife was just becoming a thing so we decided that sounded like fun! On November 11, 2017, we bought a 2015 Ford Transit Cargo Van and begun researching solar, plumbing and how to build out the perfect travel van, and begun building.
After 3 long years of trying to sell our business, Salt Lake Imports, we finally had a buyer and on March 2020, we wrapped up the paperwork on the sale, finalized the sale of our house, and diligently finished work on the van. She was done in June 2020, just in time to escape the madness of COVID-19. We dubbed her SleepyTurtle and had a wrap put on her of a Turtle made of turtles from the Iroquois legend of Turtle Island. We hit the road and spread our new found wings of freedom.
Gandaulf traveled like a king, after all he was a Corgi. We bought a child’s beanbag and stuffed it between our seats, making a cushy seat even in height to ours and he was able to see out the windows and cuddle up to us if he chose to. He had his own vent for AC or heat. If a window rolled down, he was right there to checkout whatever might be thinking of invading his castle. He greeted everyone with a smile and butt wiggles, no tail…
From June 2020 to February 2023, we traveled all around the western US, Canada and Baja Mexico. We laughed every time we saw a “brown forest service sign” and took off on an unknown road. The beauty of this type of traveling. We had built up the van for going off road. She had the largest off-road tires we could put on her, steel skid plates under her belly and protecting the differential. We had custom “rock rail type” nerf bar running boards made and a custom roof rack to hold her solar panel. We could be off grid for up to 10 days or longer when we are by water.
In July 2021, I noticed a small clump of strange tissue inside of Gandaulf’s eye. We immediately called his vet and within a few days, had flown back to Salt Lake for a vet visit. He needed to be seen by an eye specialist, so we flew back to Idaho and drove home to Salt Lake. Gandaulf’s appointment was thorough and the doctor came back with the news. He had developed and interocular tumor, but the pressure in his eye was good so it wasn’t an emergency to have his eye removed so we kept having the pressure checked and took pictures every week and sent it back to the docs.
It was on a hike in July 2022 that we noticed the first big change. We were hiking down to a river to do some fishing, Gandaulf hiking as usual until he started to sneeze backward. We don’t know if he snuffed up a grass seed or just some dirt but the pressure of the inward sneezes, caused the tumor to rupture inside his eye. He was obviously in pain. The next morning, he was in for a complete work up at a new vet in Colorado. Full X-rays, blood work and pressure check. No issues found other than the ruptured tumor. We got some pain meds and eye drops and in a few days he was right back to normal.
Life went on as normal for us…As normal as it was after loosing both Chris’ dad and little sister in January 2022. Gandaulf was approaching 13 years old and we started noticing his mental state was declining. It was harder for him to get in and out of the van. He had become very reactive to being touched, putting on his life jacket or service jacket became dangerous if you touched him wrong. He had become a vicious dog just out of the blue. He had less energy and was definitely showing signs of slowing down. Ball time got shorter and shorter and bu September he was having a hard time seeing in low light. His hearing was going and he was loosing his mind.
October 2022. We came back to Salt Lake to have a ceremony for Chris’ dad out in the west desert as he requested. I had really become worried and was afraid of my dog, I had been bit twice by him during his little temper tantrums and was beginning to see the end coming. We took him to his vet, Dr Kara, and he didn’t recognize her. She sat on the floor and cried, while explaining that he had dementia and appeared to be in a great deal of pain. She prepared us for maybe needing to help him out of his pain and confusion. We gave him 4 days to respond favorably to a new medication regime, and as usual, Gandaulf responded well and we learned how to live with his dementia and crazy moments of rage.
We were off again on the road, heading for Oregon for a stint of house sits through January. We explored Bend, Maupin and finally Portland in all it’s rainy glory. Gandaulf was sleeping a lot and needing more help to get up and down stairs and in and out of bed. He still loved to go on hikes with us and ball chasing still was his favorite past time.
January 2023 found us planning our winter trip to Baja. We planned on heading down the Oregon and California coast, stopping along the way to visit old friends. The rain was relentless, with atmospheric rivers hitting the coast causing devastating floods and mudslides. By the time we reached Palm Springs, we were able to dry out and stop while awaiting our new tags for the van so we could cross into Baja and start our winter adventure. Three days from us planning to cross the border, the guys that bought the dealership called and told us they weren’t going to be paying rent and we’re vacating the property. Our plans had been dashed once again. We needed to pack up and drive back to a wintery Salt Lake City, frozen by a very snowy, very long cold spell, needless to say we weren’t happy.
We lucked out and found an AIRBNB in a friends basement that served our needs while we sorted out the empty building, repairs and release or sale. Gandaulf slept a lot and was patient while we made repairs, painted and shuttled back and forth from home to the shop for the next 6 weeks, 6 weeks we could’ve been in Baja, toes dug into the sand, playing ball and hiking around. Six weeks that should’ve been all about our last hurrah with Gandaulf.
On the morning of March 20, 2023, Gandaulf woke up as he always did, lying on the bed waiting for his moms to help him down and give him his morning meal, scratches and walk. When I got up to help him down, I noticed his eye was weeping and he seemed to be reacting to bright light. The tumor in his eye looked normal so I didn’t give it a second thought. All that day and the next, his eye continued to weep and he was being more cuddly and needy than was his norm. On March 21, the eye had gotten worse and he wasn’t opening it at all. I knew in my heart that this was not going to end good.
We called his vet, who was in the Caribbean for the week, texted his other vet and a good friend who adopted older ailing Corgis, looking for someone to tell us what we wanted to hear, but all three gave us the same sage advice. It’s always better to go out on a good note, while he still remembers you and before he is so far gone with pain and confusion, that he’s not the dog you’ve known and loved. We took him to the only vet that could see him the same day. The tears started as we left him with a strange vet and waited to hear what could be done. At 10:30 the phone rang, the vet said she needed to remove the eye but needed to do all these tests first to be sure the “cancer”, first time I heard anyone call the tumor cancer, hadn’t spread. Of course we agreed to do whatever it took to get our boy happy again. The phone rang again, Gandaulf needed to be sedated just to do the ultrasound. It was time to stop all treatment, keeping in mind the advice we had been given. We went to the vet and picked him up.
The next few hours we played ball, ate ice cream and ate hamburgers through the tears. Gandaulf seemed to be perfect, enjoying his playtime and extra special treats. I held his paw as he napped one last time on his throne in the van and Chris and I cried asking each other if we were doing the right thing. We just wanted someone else to make the decision and speak the words. At 3:30 we took him back to the vet and we’re escorted into “the room”, the finale to a great life and the most compassionate act in our lives together. At 4pm, as I held him in my arms, Gandaulf went to sleep, never to wake up again in pain in this world.
We truly thought we would die right there along with him. We knew however that he would not want us to stop living our life of adventure and travel. We knew that this little guy was a tremendous part of our lives and he was going to be missed dearly. We knew that the tears would flow, some days would be good, some not so. It’s been almost two weeks, we are still struggling but slowly getting on with our lives. He will always be remembered by all those he touched in his short life. He had a huge impact on ours. Someday the pain will not accompany the tears, the tears will dry up and a smile will replace them when seeing his pictures, his beautiful smile, all our memories that he was part of. Someday…