We arrived back to home base, one cycle completed, and you will not be bored with numerical mileage and travel details. Doctor visits, and “home base” business, most complicated from the road, would fall into place. We crossed the last mountain range, the Vacas (“cows” in Spanish) to immediate change in weather from Sacramento heat, to cool Mediterranean ocean and Bay breezes. I opened our truck windows for a moment to reawaken my senses to the familiar smells of local flora: sticky monkey flower, oat grass, madrone, golden yarrow, live oaks, eucalyptus, bay laurel, musk sage, bricklebush, yerba buena, and much more, welcoming us to our former rooted abode.
Dropping the Airstream for yearly routine maintenance for a couple of weeks, we returned to our friend Jesus’s house where, nearly one year earlier, we launched, wings unfurled, into the unknown of travel adventure. One year is a tiny snippet in time, but before the familiar home patterns could reestablish themselves, we looked and saw with beginner’s mind. This was a special moment to observe change that frequently escapes those who live through familiarity, and we grasped each new observation like hands attempting to hold water. Fresh awareness transforms into familiarity, passes into the background, and enters the roar and cascade of the moment into deep memory and unconsciousness. Perhaps this is our brain’s prescription for sanity as awareness of the consistent process of change would overload our circuits.
Compiled lists of “to do” items fully saturated our three-week hiatus, but there existed one item that could not be subverted and tucked into the ignore list: our dog Gyp’s life and health was slipping away quickly. Gyp and I had conversations during the past several months, mostly me talking, her ears perked up looking for a stick for me to throw, was our lifetime routine. Looking into eyes that would lock unblinkingly at you, to win any staring contest, pulled you back in time to the inception of border collie herding genetics. Ours was a driven and stoic working dog from puppy fumbling to now old age arthritic stumbling. Her love was expressed by the incessant desire to serve us, and as sheep and cattle were not readily available, balls and sticks of every variety and size would suffice.
It is no easy decision to relieve permanently your dog/child, companion and faithful friend of many years of her pain and loss of dignity. We spent long hours weighing the pros and cons to arrive at the decision that this was to be the day. I walked out on the front deck facing the main thoroughfare, tears streaming down my face in unbridled grief, awakening to the ebb and flow of life around me. Cars streamed in cycles through the periodicy of rush hour morning commutes. Traffic lights controlled corpuscles of flowing vehicles, emulating life’s ebbs and flows through organic arteries imprinted through countless evolutionary cycles. Young and fit members of the nearby cross-fit cult trotted out of their dark den to run street loops and perform weight stretches and lunges, as an old woman, stabilized by cane, doddered past. I became keenly aware of the dark green of Mt. Tam and foreground vista that just one short year earlier was banded in multi-colored fall leaf shades, now displaying hues of mature rich forest green.
The noise of deconstruction and construction emanated from across the street, renewing my awareness of the tide and breath of life. A subtle lingering scent in the air of fall’s return shifted my spirit and thoughts to the one sense remaining with Gyp, all her herding focus narrowed into the careful awareness of air’s life-instilling treasures through her nose. This was the Now moment. All that came before and would come to be, nestled closely and silently in the din of this pulse of life. It just didn’t seem fair, though I knew deep down it was, that one so dear should pass away from this moment to enter into endearing memory. Life is not fair. Joyfully and painfully real, but not fair.
We perceive life in the now, celebrate its arrival in birth and mourn its passing. These thoughts crossed my mind many times as I observed our “puppy” slide slowly toward the eternal sheep fields. I struggled to stay in the now of thankfulness. We gathered together, the vet, her assistant, and Jesus (aka Erik), our steadfast friend, and brought Gyp into our group center to enjoy our love and gratitude for her abiding, single-minded devotion to our pack. We stroked her soft thick fur and muzzle as relaxing anesthetic was administered and her faithful heart slowly passed into silent peace. Her memory will live with us as a constant reminder and thankfulness of the preciousness of life in the mysterious now.
I just found your blog on a list of blogs followed by my friend, so I have some reading to do to catch up with your travels and your fine dog Gyp. I’m sorry to ready what just happened. It’s hard to do what you just did for your best friend but at times it’s the best thing you can do. My last time was January 2016 and I still find hard at times, even though I know it was the best thing I could do for him.
This is a nice post in memory of your life-friend. My heart is heavy for your loss. She had some great travels before she moved on.
What a beautiful post Ben. Thank you for sharing your experience. Gyp was a tenacious stick fetcher and tireless loving companion.
So sorry to hear about Gyp. Losing your little buddy is one of the most difficult things we go through. I hope you all can take comfort in the happy memories. Wishing you all the best.
it would hard to say whose heart is bigger…yours or Gyp’s.
But what a dog’s life!
I wish I could have said hello and goodbye ……