Our Trip...

As I sat on a plane traveling west at 40,000 feet over Ireland heading home and while sitting next to a window, I pondered my life and Clancy and Abbie.  I took another kind of journey several years ago, and while it was in the works, I never sensed a thing, much less ever thought it ever possible.  The view from the window was speculation but gave me a sense of smallness in a vast world, making me feel so incompetent in a world of wonderment and how small we really are.

Late last year, some friends of ours moved to England and purchased a house in the charming town of Great Malvern.  It has been well established for a thousand years or more and is full of history.  Our friends also own two of our dogs, Xena a Daughter of Clancy and Molly and Jack a Grandson of Clancy.

As we were looking for a vacation for the fall of the year, I came across a transatlantic cruise that was traveling to the Azores, Ireland, France and finishing in England.  When our friends were leaving the states to go to England, goodbyes were said, and the statement made “if you’re ever in England, come and see us.”  I laughed inside knowing it would never be possible, timewise or financially or so I thought.

The 1st of April, fate had its way.  All the cards came together, and we booked the trip, how did this happen? No way could we swing a 3-week vacation in several foreign countries much less travel in areas we never knew about, finding someone to watch the dogs, Elaine’s work schedule and getting someone to care for Elaine's aging father, it's not going to happen, but it was not my decision.

Abbie had been in remission from her cancer for 30 months and was doing great.  In fact, just a week from our departure date, I posted that she had had a birthday and how well she was doing, but in following three days, she had passed.  She was buried here on the farm just two days before we left for vacation.  Going through the usual customs that we do for our dogs when they cross, I brushed her and clipped part of her hair and collar and placed it in safe keeping.

As we left on the trip which was very timely, I took a small bag that was only aware to me of its purpose and knew what I needed to do.  I kept this secret to myself not because I didn’t want Elaine to know, I just couldn’t talk about it, and I would embarrass myself trying, I’m very emotional about my dogs.  Just a few days before the cruise ended, early one morning, I went to the salon and had my hair cut.  For some reason, I had been determined to let it grow since early last year.  When in the chair, the stylist was surprised I wanted it cut and ask several times, “you sure?”  My only request is to keep a braid of it. And I did for my mission.

After settling in at Malvern Hills and deciding what to do while we were there, I also requested a trip to British Camp which was very close to where we were staying so early one morning we were off on my mission.  The day was vibrant, and in the early morning, you could see the beauty before us, even telling our host, “this is spiritual,” and it was.  After hiking through switchbacks and looking at the sights, we finally climbed to the area that was meant just for us. 

Our host knew what was coming and she laid back giving me plenty of distance, and I took out the small bag that contained the hair of Clancy, Abbie, Oreo, Elaine and myself.  The wind was fierce heading directly due North toward Clancy’s birthplace in Selkirk UK.   I took out the fur, smelled it one last time, kissed it and released it watching it travel to distant places.  It was very bittersweet, comforting, and I felt my heart tugging again.  I watched their fur sail into the heavens while it was carried long distances.  After I was finished, I turned into the northbound wind turned my face to the heavens and wept like a child, I miss them so.

Jack and Xena with me.
During every vacation since Abbie got sick, we have had a plan in place for her in case she got ill while we were gone and never needed it.  Abbie’s birthday was just a week or so before our departure, and again we worried, we were on borrowed time. Only three days before we were to leave, I had some blood work done for her, and she got a clean bill of health but without the results which were due the next day.  I knew something was wrong even before the Vet called and he confirmed it.  The cancer was back.  Abbie went downhill very quickly, faster than any dog I have ever seen.  Later that day, she crossed the bridge to be with her dad, Clancy.  It's only fitting that Abbie traveled with us to England, you see, her heritage is also from the United Kingdom too.

British Camp has it all; a 365-degree view of all of the surrounding territories and heavy in history.  It has had castles, Romans, battles and has been fought over by many cultures but today it is owned by the public, never to be changed and space to walk your dogs where sheep are allowed to graze on the hills.  It also has the fur of Clancy, Abbie, and Oreo which is always present in spirit with the greats of history that is there. 

It’s hard to leave some things behind, and as we were leaving England at the train station, our host said “I will visit them,” and I know she will.  I took my last look toward them and felt that I left part of me too and I believe I did.  I don't know why I am so passionate about the dogs, and I'm sure you have wondered that also about yours.  They give so much and need so little, but when their bright fire burns out, nothing shines as brilliant, and it's not replaceable and never will be.  Do I believe in fate, maybe if things happened once ever so often, I don't know, but in my world, I see it all the time through my dogs and the rescues we deal with.  Everything came together for this trip for a reason...    Ken