Friday, June 14, 2013

Cleo's Final Journey

Journey to the Heavens

Yesterday I took the dreaded slow trip out to Jackson Lake to lay my sweet girl Cleo to rest. It seems we’ve made this journey far too often. The hounds and I are blessed with some remarkably kind friends. In times of great sadness I lean on my friend Bill who helped set up a small burial plot for several of my precious hounds were they could rest peacefully on his farm. 

While I thought I had prepared myself for her departure during the last two months since we received the dreadful news of her illness that wasn’t the case. Once the finality of losing her set in all the emotions of losing your best friend set in. Cleo was the last survivor who had helped me through the passing of my father in 2001. I brought Cleo along with Maggie and Zoe to dad’s funeral. Afterwards we traveled for four or five months at a wicked pace trying to outrun the demons of despair that had set in. Ultimately this would lead to becoming involved in rescue which not only saved hundreds of hounds but my own sense of purpose as well.

I found Cleo living on a chain in a dirt filled yard in south Florida’s "Cuban Ghetto". Cleo was only a year old and she shared the backyard with an overly energetic pit puppy about the same age. Their chains were separated but the pit puppy was close enough to take a swipe out of her nose. She was petrified.

Cleo's first picture after her bath - she wasn't sure what was going on
I found here answering a classified ad in the morning news. The girl I was with told me I didn’t need a third basset but once I saw that look of fear in her eyes I wasn’t leaving without here. A problem came up when the woman told me in broken english she wanted $100 for Cleo. I told her I only had $60 but wasn’t leaving without her. So, I offered her a deal – pulling out my cell phone I told her "$60 and I won’t call animal control". I never saqw anyone agree so fast. At first I laughed and told my friend she probably didn’t have a green card but later I realized she was probably concerned about the illegal pit bull she had instead.

Learning the rules - there ne no sleeping on the floor

Cleo never spent a day living on a chain ever again. In my heart I know Cleo lived a wonderful life. Not only me but with her adopted siblings Maggie and Zoe. That bond remained even as our family of hounds grew.

For twelve and a half years Cleo gave back a love that was priceless. She had a certain grace that brought smiles to adults and laughter to children. Strangers would ask if they could pet "my dog" and I would simply tell them to ask her? Cleo always obliged. I like to think once you met Cleo - she left a lasting impression that always brought a smile to your face. She was loved by many.

I knew Cleo was closing down in her final hours. I was by her side letting her know what a truly great dog she was and that it was all right to let go. Cleo was fighter. I truly believe she fought on not wanting to disappoint me. Cleo was loyal in her love right up to her last dying breath.

While the tears have slowed and eventually the images and memories will be replaced with smiles but life will never be quite the same around here. For twelve and a half years now I never went to sleep at night without sharing a final lights out "Night Cleo – daddy loves you". It was those words on her passing that started the tears flowing.

In the end I talked to her about going to sleep so she could see Maggie and Zoe again. She is in a more peaceful place now. In times of great grief music and words can play a powerful role in moving one’s mind from sorrow to remembering the good times shared building those priceless memories we cherish till our final breath.

An English songwriter Peter Green wrote a song that always mesmerized feelings deep inside my conscious soul. The song was written in 1969 called Closing My Eyes. It on a old Fleetwood Mac album called "Then Play On".

"Then Play On" is a mindset that reminds me to continue living each day one at a time. That is what life is all about – playing on.

In loving memory of my girl I’ll close with this song as I press on feeding on her smile.

Written by guitarist / vocalist - leader of the Band - Peter Green.

John Mc Vie [bass]
Danny Kirwan [guitar / vocal]
Mick Fleetwood [drum]
Jeremy Spencer [slide guitar / vocal]
Peter Green [guitar / vocal]

Lyrics -

Now it's the same as before
And I'm alone again

With no sorrow for myself
And I'm blaming no one else

And closing my eyes
And seeing you standing there

Now it's the same as before
You've touched me with your love

And though you're in my heart
We're still a world apart
As now I'm back to the time
Where I would search for a dream
But no use to try anymore as before
Someday I'll die, and maybe then I'll be with you

Rest in Peace - Till We Meet

So I'm closing my eyes
To hear the people laugh

For they're all aglow
Not knowing where to go

But is it asking too much
When the question is what to do
With the life I'll have
It seems I know nothing now
Except my love for you
And the strength in my hands
To go on feeding your smile

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