The Journey
Our dear pets that we lost during 2003: Pudders, Bailey, Rubie and Toffee (the Rollie Cat).
The Journey

By Crystal Ward Kent
Copyright 1998, All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with the author's permission

When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey — a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength
and courage.

If you allow, the journey will teach you many things, about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot
touch another without leaving its mark.

Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life’s simple pleasures — jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joy of puddles, and even the satisfaction of a
good scratch behind the ears.

If you spend much time outside, you will be taught how to truly experience every element, for no rock, leaf or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be
overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as being full of valuable information. Your pace may be slower — except when heading home
to the food dish — but you will become a better naturalist, having been taught by an expert in the field.

Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details — the colorful mushrooms on the
rotting log, the honeycomb in the old maple snag, the hawk feather caught on a twig. Once we walk as a dog does, we discover a whole new world. We stop; we
browse the landscape; we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes, look up, down, all around. And we learn what any dog knows: that nature has created a marvelously
complex world that is full of surprises, that each cycle of the seasons brings ever-changing wonders, each day an essence all its own.

Even from indoors you will find yourself more attuned to the world around you. You will find yourself watching summer insects collecting on a screen (How bizarre
they are! How many kinds there are!), or noting the flicker and flash of fireflies through the dark. You will stop to observe the swirling dance of windblown leaves, or
sniff the air after a rain. It does not matter that there is no objective in this; the point is in the doing, in not letting life’s most important details slip by.

You will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends might not understand: spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle looking for the cat food brand your
feline must have, buying dog birthday treats, or driving around the block an extra time because your pet enjoys the ride. You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewie
toys, bounce little rubber balls till your eyes cross, and even run around the house trailing your bathrobe tie — with a cat in hot pursuit — all in the name of love.

Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, and feel
the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound.

You will learn the true measure of love — the steadfast, undying kind that says, “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are
together.” Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among the human race.

And you will learn humility. The look in my dog’s eyes often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not some flawed human who could
be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human foibles, not worth
considering, and so chose to love me anyway.

If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you will not be just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be — the one they were
proud to call beloved friend.

I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal
companion will follow a path you cannot yet go down. And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. A pet’s time on earth is far too short — especially
for those that love them. We borrow them, really, just for awhile, and during those brief years they are generous enough to give us all of their love — every inch of their
spirit and heart, until one day there is nothing left.

The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle
now gray. Deep down we somehow always knew this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken. But give them we must for it is all
they ask in return. When the time comes, and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead — young and whole
once more.

“Godspeed, good friend,” we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.
Farewell, Rubie
May, 1991 - February, 2003
Bailey moves on
On Sunday, February 23, 2003, we
bid a sad farewell to Rubie, our
Pembroke Welsh Corgi. She had
recently been diagnosed with bone
cancer, and although she was very
brave, it was clear that the time had
come to end her pain. We miss her
terribly--she was a wonderful friend
and family member, always ready for
a game of ball, a ride in the car or a
swim in the lake. She was a Canine
Good Citizen (she passed the test), a
Roller Girl supreme, and a wonderful
companion, and we were blessed to
have had her as part of our lives.
We have sad news about our official
stable greeter, Bailey. He wasn't acting
like himself on Tuesday evening, so
Dave took him to the vet. The doctors
diagnosed Lyme Disease, but found
that he had some other complications
and opted to keep him over night.
Yesterday they did an ultrasound and
discovered that he had a tumor on his
spleen, as well as fluid around his
heart. When they tapped the fluid, they
found that it was blood. Needless to
say, this was not good news, as all
symptoms were pointing to at least
one form of cancer. In the afternoon,
they sent the ultrasound out for
analysis and told us Bailey was feeling
more comfortable and that we'd get the
results today, December 4, 2003.

Then we got a call early last night
telling us that Bailey had passed away.
Naturally, we were stunned, since we
really weren't prepared for this news,
especially since he'd been feeling
better yesterday morning. Dave and I
went over to the clinic last night to say
our sad goodbyes and to make
arrangements for a private cremation.

It doesn't seem possible that he
slipped away so quickly. When he
wasn't at the barn he always slept
under my desk, and it seems very
empty as I sit here typing this note.
Bailey was so happy living here at the
farm, and we always said that he lived
in Golden Retriever heaven. We're glad
that his last four years have been so
wonderful for him, and thank you to
everyone who helped make him feel
like the special boy he was. We will
miss him tremendously.
Parting Prayer

Dear Lord, please open your gates and
call St. Francis
to come escort this beloved companion
across the Rainbow Bridge.

Assign her to a place of honor, for she has
been a faithful servant and has always
done her best to please me.

Bless the hands that send her to you,
for they are doing so in love and
freeing her from pain and suffering.

Grant me the strength not to dwell on my
Help me remember the details of her life
with the love she has shown me.
And grant me the courage to honor her by
sharing those memories with others.

Let her remember me as well and let her
know that I will always love her.
And when it's my time to pass over into
your paradise,
please allow her to accompany those who
will bring me home.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of her
and for the time we've had together.

And thank you, Lord, for granting me the
to give her to you now.


- © Brandy Duckworth, 1998
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