On Monday 17th October it was ten years since you left us. I can’t believe you have been gone so long yet there are days when I still completely lose my shit and sob my heart out.
Some my might say “It’s only a dog” or “You should be over it by now” if that’s the case then stop reading because Travis was never just a dog he was our baby and his loss has permanently scarred my heart. I have never been able to love our other dogs the same way in which I loved him. I always hold just a little bit of my heart back because the pain of losing him made me scared that I would never be able to carry on, when we lost another dog.
It is silly really as when you take on a dog or any pet you know that they will only live for a set amount of years. That you will inevitably outlive them, it doesn’t stop you loving them and that love blinds you to the pain you will eventually feel when they take that trip over Rainbow Bridge. I still can’t read the poem Rainbow Bridge without sobbing. In fact I am already crying now just thinking about it, silly sentimental sod that I am.
I have tried not to let the overwhelming sadness that I feel in October over take me this year and for the most part it has worked but as the 17th approaches I am filled with dread. No one except an owner remembers the date a beloved pet passed, if we are lucky we are “allowed” a week of feeling sad when it occurs but after that we are supposed to just pick ourselves up and pretend it never happened. Grief around the loss of a pet is only just starting to be spoken about due to books and newspaper articles. There are those who are still incredulous that the death of a pet could have such a profound effect on a person.
I am not going to look at Travis through rose tinted lenses, from the age of 6 months he was sick until he passed just before his 3rd birthday (28th October) and that was very stressful on all of us. It is hard to believe he would have been 13 at the end of the month if he was still with us.
Travis could be a shit bag, which is part of the love I have for him. No one was as naughty as him, although he wasn’t as destructive as his sister Mollie, whose chewing knew no bounds, he was very head strong, food and drink thief, had zero recall ability and embarrassed me in more ways than I could possibly imagine. Here are just a few examples of his naughtiness that I still cringe at
- I had witnessed a car accident and a police officer came to my house to take a statement. Travis drank the police officers tea (whilst the cup was in his hand) and then stole the guy’s pen, whilst he was writing my statement and refused to give it back.
- Whilst walking on the common with my husband, Travis stole a radio from a Royal Marine recruits backpack. It took 4 Marines and my husband to chase him down and get it back.
- Travis was obsessed by body piercings, unfortunately we had a friend who had her nipple pierced, Travis used to nuzzle her breast the whole time she visited. He was similarly obsessed with my belly bar.
- He once ate half a birthday cake before I had even got it on the table to wish my friend happy birthday. He took the side of the cake as I was placing it on the table in front of her.
- He once attacked a Royal Marine Land Rover, making off with the mud flap.
- Another Royal Marine incident (we were well known to them by now!) walking on the common one evening with Mollie (Travis’s sister) we came across a tray of sandwiches and pasty’s just lying on the ground. The dogs ate the whole lot, the Marines were on the opposite hillside and could see their dinner disappearing down by dogs throats. At one point Mollie was running around with a carrier bag on her head whilst eating the contents. I have never left the common so quickly. The next day Mollie shat out two pasty wrappers.
- Travis and Mollie managed to open the kitchen cupboard door whilst hubby and I were at work and helped themselves to 5kg of Gravy Bones and a box of bonios in one sitting.
- When visiting friends with cats (Travis was great with cats) we would have to ring them in advance and ask them to move the cat food bowl to a place where Travis couldn’t get it. Shoulder height was the required level as otherwise he would eat the lot.
- At puppy training classes it was our turn to demonstrate Travis’s recall (which had been going well at home). Jay walked to the end of the room with Trav whilst I stood at the other end. I called his name probably ten times and he just sat stock still beside Jay. It wasn’t until I shouted “I’ve got cheese you greedy bastard” that he came back to me, much to everyone’s amusement.
- Travis loved his walks so much that if he figured out we were on the homeward stretch back to the car he would run off. Short walks would turn into an hour or more’s adventure whilst I tried in vain to catch him to get him back on the lead. In the end I would have to put him on a lead much earlier than I wanted to just to ensure I didn’t end up chasing him around forever.
- On one of the occasions where I hadn’t managed to get him back on a lead, he jumped into the back of a strangers car. This would have been ok, had he not been covered in mud and my fellow dog walker didn’t have a pristine car (very rare in the dog owning circles I move in!). Thankfully the guy did see the funny side of it.
- Travis once nicked the sunglasses off a dog sitters face and proceeded to chew them up in front of her. He also nicked the same girls flip flops. I did pay for the damages but it was incredibly embarrassing as she had size 9 feet which meant it was incredibly difficult to buy replacement flip flops.
- Coming up a steep hill whilst walking on the common I bumped into a Royal Marine who chatted away to me as we walked. As we approached the top of the hill there was a unit of recruits receiving a beasting (punishment) and were being made to do press ups. I asked the sergeant walking with me if he wanted me to put the dogs on the lead (I had Mollie and Travis) as they would bother the recruits. Gleefully he told me it wasn’t necessary. Travis and Mollie then licked the faces of every recruit whilst they did push ups and they weren’t allowed to do anything but the push ups or receive more punishments. I didn’t have the heart to tell the sergeant that they’d both been eating horse shit just 20 minutes earlier.
- I have saved the absolute worst for last, if you are eating I would advise you to stop reading this now. **************************************************************
- On yet another walk on Woodbury Common, Mollie and Travis disappeared into the bushes and it seemed to take an age to get them out. I didn’t think much of it and carried on walking. When we got home they were both fine, I settled into my routine of doing the cleaning and then going on the computer. All of a sudden I was hit with this horrific smell, it smelt like public toilets / blocked drains. It had a real stench of raw sewage about it. I searched high and low and couldn’t find where the smell was coming from so I presumed it was coming from outside, possibly a farmer was muck spreading on a field nearby. The smell continued to intensify, so I again investigated where it was coming from. On going into my bedroom, I was confronted with a lake of human shit. I knew it was human because there were identifiable lumps in it. Whilst Travis and Mollie were in the bushes they had eaten the contents of a latrine (from where the Marines train on the common). It was all over my bed, the duvet cover, the duvet (comforter in the USA I believe) the sheets, absolutely everything. How I didn’t puke on the spot I have no idea. It still turns my stomach just thinking about it. I grabbed everything very carefully off my bed and took it downstairs putting it in the washing machine on a boil wash. It took five washes to remove the mess. I now look back and think why didn’t I just bin the lot but then sat in a black bin bag for a week it would have continued to stink, so I did the right thing.
There are so many naughty stories I could tell you about Travis, to look at him you wouldn’t have thought butter would melt in his mouth. Compared to the three dogs we have now Mollie, Willow and Frankie he was a nightmare. It didn’t matter how many training classes he attended he was still a little shit. He wouldn’t even behave for the dog trainers, yet I wouldn’t change him for all the tea in China. He taught us so much, compassion, how to love something more than you ever thought possible and how important it is to cherish your fur babies every minute of every day.
So although it’s October and my heart is heavy with the loss of you dear boy, I am glad for the short time we spent together. Although it is still sometimes so raw and the grief bubbles away under the surface, your character filled those nearly three years with utter mayhem. You certainly kept us on our toes.
Until I see you again, rest in peace my baby boy.
28th October 2003 – 17th October 2006