You’re likely to find lots of photos of the when and where–the seasons and the sights–in my blogposts, but less of the who. My kids don’t like to be plastered across the internet, and I’m okay with that, so I don’t offer many photos of traveling companions.
Sometimes that seems radically at odds with what my blog is all about. Nobody would ever mistake this blog for a travel guide or a treatise on “how to travel.” More often than not, it’s all about “the feels” for me. Did I laugh, did I cry, was I horrified or amused, or surprised or underwhelmed, etc, etc.
But “the feels” and the way they linger in our travels are just as much about our traveling companions as about where we went, what we saw or did. Right? No journey is just about the road you travel, the views you stop to marvel. They are just as much about the companions we travel with. It’s a simple thought, and it should be a simple post to write.
It’s anything but.
Some months ago, our most loyal and loving traveling companion passed away, and I’d like to honor her in this blogspace.
Her name was Bebe, and she was a very bright light in our lives. She passed away at 15 years old, and she loved every moment of life right up until the end.
She was a rescue dog who came into our lives when my daughter was just a toddler. Bebe was so full of love and personality– from the moment you met her it was clear that she was one of a kind. Even her questionable breeding made her stand out: she was a Mini Dachshund/Black Lab mix. Just let that sink in for a minute.
We used to call her our “pocket lab” — a 20 pound version of those gentle giants. She had no idea that she was tiny. In true Lab character, she chased every frisbee you threw, and (if you threw them low enough) she caught most of them expertly. Dragging them back to you was a little harder, as some frisbees were taller than she was. But she was young, eager, and very athletic . . . and we quickly discovered soft, flexible frisbees (easier to drag, so problem solved!).
Bebe was the first to kiss away your tears, the fastest to steal your breakfast if you weren’t vigilant (which we quickly learned to be), and the most eager traveler, always with her nose to the ground and leading the charge. On a trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria), she sat at attention for a rickshaw ride and, I believe, enjoyed the experience more than our kids did.
It was inconceivable to us that she would ever not be in our lives and our travels.
But there is no life without death, and the unbridled joy of sharing life with a pet does exact the steep price of grief when they are gone. Unquestionably a price worth paying.
Bebe changed our family is so many ways, and all for the better. How did she change our travels? When she couldn’t join us on the travels, she gave us a compelling reason to come back home when the trip was done– instead of grumbling that our trip was over, we cheered to see our pup again. When she did join us, she reminded us to venture down each alleyway of a new town–and sometimes we’d find something unexpected and wonderful. She reminded us to run full speed ahead when there was something interesting in front of us. She reminded us to roll down the window and let the breeze greet us as we cruised into a new town, to stop in the parks and sun ourselves in the green grass, and to turn all of our senses over to a new place. If we were in the French countryside and grumbling that there was no wifi to check our messages, she’d drag us out for a walk, or stick her nose in the air to say “Do you smell that? There’s lavender, sunshine, and fresh baked bread– get up and let’s get moving.” And she’d be right, every time.
There was never any lack of joy or openness to new adventures with Bebe– she was our better natures in every way. We miss her terribly, but she taught us well. And she left us her trusty sidekick Ollie to continue the lessons.
Have dog, will travel. This is our motto.
I’ll leave you with photos of just a few of my traveling companions, past and present.
Turkey, 1998 or 99
*To read up on Zeugma–which I should get around to blogging about some day, it’s a fascinating place– check out these links