Summer's road has been an emotionally arduous one, with more goodbyes than I care to say in one season.
Life has taken unseen turns that brought me from entirely equine focused this time last year, to a new spark leading me, perhaps herding me down a different path. My retired horses are being moved again, farther away but near to family and friends. While this change was not by choice, I think it will reveal its own unexpected opportunity and new experiences.
Dani sold on July 3rd, one day shy of my one year anniversary with her. It was without a doubt the right choice for us, and I hope she and her new owner will be partners for a long time, even, greedily, forever.
Not long after that, I lost my two old dogs within ten days of each other, both to neurological issues. Lasya, my 14 year old Chow/Shepherd mix had been declining slowly over time with spinal cord degeneration, her joys and abilities becoming incrementally fewer, and cruelly Freya, my previously healthy 14 year old Norwegian Elkhound became partially paralyzed literally overnight. She was hospitalized four days, sent home with chance of improvement, and ultimately relapsed in terrible and obvious pain with a probable spinal tumor. In between despair and hope for Freya, Lasya collapsed for what I knew was the last time.
They were my first dogs of my own, with me through career change, marriage, divorce and many moves in two states. Constant companions during trips to a family home which is no longer, wolfish leaders on countless miles of path and road all over the Front Range of Colorado, city and country. They were yin and yang: Lasya calm, protective, fiercely independent; Freya clownish, affectionate and endearingly needy. They both took their last breaths in their own home, surrounded by love - a choice I felt both grateful to have and reluctant to bear the weighty responsibility of. At the darkest moment I thought "never again..." but as the hair was swept away (double double coats), as sympathy cards arrived, as the decided lack of clicking toenails on the floor made the clocks' tick unbearably loud, as my hand found no familiar dog skull to rest on and the empty place next to my bed seemed to spread like a dark shadow through the house, as I picked up the first tin of heavy-but-not-heavy-enough ashes, I realized that living without a dog was impossible. Like horses, they are a part of my past, present and future.
I began to peruse Petfinder - only a rescue would do - and a face would not leave my mind. A sweet, intelligent, potential-for-trouble face. An application was submitted, an interview was conducted, a meeting was arranged, and one week later I welcomed Ruby Pearl, who came all the way from a high-kill shelter in Arkansas, into my home. She is a little ten-month-old, fifteen pound firecracker, a herding terrier mutt with DNA-confirmed Jack Russell and Border Collie relatives as well as a mishmash of other unidentified breeds. She is astonishingly smart and boundlessly energetic. She is what my mother called a "stick-tight" dog and I will never wonder where she is. We have already begun our travels and adventures together. She reminds me every day of things that I loved and miss about Freya and Lasya, her ghost pack, who taught me much of what I know about dogs and allow me to love another. She is showing me how to play and how to teach her. She is exactly what I needed.