For the 4th of July long weekend my friend, Lori, and I decided to visit her brother, Peter, in Atlanta. We wanted to bring Starbuck so we made the 12-hour journey by car on July 3rd, amidst heavy traffic and pouring rain.
Peter had been to visit Lori in Maryland a number of times and we always a great time. He’s sarcastic and funny and he loves to pick on his big sister. He also loves dogs as much as I do. He has a 150+ pound Great Dane named Maxwell. Last Christmas, Max traveled with Peter to spend the holiday with us. Starbuck was a bit wary of Max’s size when he met him. Usually Starbie prefers to be around little dogs (because he thinks he is one). But Max is another gentle giant who just loves to play and make new friends.
The car ride to Atlanta was long and tedious. A bad accident slowed us to a complete stop for almost an hour not far outside of DC. Then the rain started; slow at first, then turning to torrential downpours. There was intense fog in the mountains. Lori and I were stressed and soon got sick of being in the car. Starbuck was confused about being in the car so long and he obviously felt the stress from the humans. When we finally arrived at Peter’s place and let Starbie out of the car, he was so happy that he literally bounced around the yard. He remembered Peter and Max right away and greeted them with a big wag.
It was all an adventure for Starbuck. He loved adventures. And I loved to watch him enjoy those adventures. The smallest things were so exciting to him. Any time we went somewhere new he would relish every second. Each activity brought on great excitement – smiles and wags – no matter how many times we did them.
This time, Starbie’s greatest adventure was in the elevator that brought us to Peter’s second floor condo. We’d go down and up several times a day; to go for walks or out to the car or out for potty breaks. He ran to the elevator every time as if it was the first and he wiggled with excitement when the doors opened. He was fascinated every time the floor shifted, then stopped, and the doors opened on the other side. For me it was like watching my child at Disneyland. My heart swelled every time I saw how happy and excited he was.
We took long walks in the beautiful parks of Atlanta. We walked in the rain. We even ran in the rain a few times. We checked out the house Peter was renting out – all with Max and Starbuck in tow. Along the way we’d let the dogs off leash and Max would desperately try to get Starbuck to play. Only once did they get into a game of “chase” before Max’s size startled Starbie. Starbie preferred to roll in the wet grass and sniff all the different smells. He constantly looked up at me with big smiles on his face.
Of course I didn’t know that a week later Starbuck would cross the rainbow bridge. I didn’t know that I’d be lost and heartbroken. I didn’t know that there would be a hole in my chest that keeps me from breathing.
I am so grateful for that adventure in Atlanta. Watching Starbie have so much fun; watching him enjoy so many things – old and new – warmed my heart. It gives me solace to think about that trip and the concentrated amount of time I got to spend with him before he passed.
I’ll always smile when I get into an elevator from now on. I’ll have to think of it as an adventure.