Sunday, March 29, 2015

In Memory of Sweet Millie

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My dearest, most-loyal companion, Millie, left this world yesterday morning from the comfort of her own bed with me holding her paw.  This last photo above was taken just the day before, as we enjoyed a nice afternoon on the shady, cool grass of Socorro, New Mexico’s town square.

While going through photos today, I realized just how similar our last day was to our very first day together back in April of 2005-- we started and ended our journey from a lush lawn of spring-green grass.

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What an amazing 10 years she gave me (and so many of you as well who enjoyed her adventures via this blog)!

Many would often comment that Millie had traveled to more places than most humans ever got to in far longer lifetimes, and as I tallied the places she visited today, that might very well be true!

She visited 39 states in the USA, 10 Mexican states, and 3 Canadian provinces visiting places from Vancouver Island, BC to Cabo Pulmo, Baja to the Florida Keys, to the coast of Maine…and darn well everything in-between.

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She took her first camping trip when she was just a 4-month-old puppy—up to the Wisconsin Dells with my brother, “Uncle Randy,” in our very first RV—a spanking new Starcraft pop-up tent camper.

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After proudly showing off yet another puppy hole she had dug…

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We thought her excess energies might be better focused on learning how to swim.  So the next day, she got suited up in a puppy life preserver, and off we headed to the lake.  Millie carefully observed the grown-up dogs fetching their sticks, balls, and toys from the lake and swimming back to shore.

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In very quick order, she was swimming well enough to ditch the pesky life vest for good!  There seemed to be no body of water, moving or still, frigid or not, that she did not gladly dive into and paddle. 

She swam countless lakes, rivers, running rapids, seas, and oceans including the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Sea of Cortez, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron.  I now wonder if she logged more miles in the water, than she had on land!

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I never tired of taking videos of her swimming, even though the game was almost always the same:  drop the stick or toy on the ground, wait for me to lean down to pick it up, quickly steal the said toy from me and shake it wildly, finally let me throw it in the water, swim to retrieve it, then spray me with water when she shook off back on shore.

Last year, when I got a waterproof GoPro camera, I suited up and finally did a “if you can’t beat her, join her” routine to wade into the Pacific and have Millie swim out to me and her toys.  This video from our time on the Isla  south of Mazatlan last winter, was one of my all-time favorites!

Once I realized how much Millie loved the water, I had visions of her becoming one of those docile Labrador Retrievers who sit in the front of a canoe.  But every time I’d manage to get her in my canoe, she’d cry and look for any opportunity to jump out of the wobbly, tipsy vessel and swim back to shore!

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It wasn’t until years later, when I finally traded the canoe for a super-stable inflatable Sea Eagle FastTrack, that Millie finally became that docile Lab happy to ride in the front of the boat for hours to see all the stuff that was too far to swim to.

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Her other great entertainment in life was to play Frisbee. If Uncle Randy was in town, she was always guaranteed a good workout.

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In later years, her Frisbee was more often used as a gift to give any guests who might come to our door, or a quieter way (than barking) to tell me she needed to go out.  But she still would run and catch one on occasion and enjoyed having Frisbees in just about every color imaginable!

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She also loved to dress up for the holidays (no doubt, a trait that my mom taught her).  She had bandanas and neckwear for every season and holiday (although, some she liked more than others if any of these facial expressions are of any indication!).

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At Christmas, she would often don her candy cane-striped “jingle bells” for an annual holiday photo.  It wasn’t until I compared this year’s Christmas photo to last year’s in Mazatlan, that I realized just how much weight Millie had lost.

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Cancer sure took its toll on Millie in the last 3 years.  In early 2012, she was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor on one of her rear toes.  After going through surgery to have the toe amputated, she then had to endure a month of painful daily radiation treatments. 

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I promised after that, I would not put her through that kind of suffering again.  So when we discovered this past September that her cancer had returned, rather than immediately seek out treatment, I decided she’d better enjoy a winter swimming in Baja.  And that, she did.

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There were many people Millie dearly loved, but perhaps none more than my mom.  A camping trip always seemed much more fun if “Grandma” came along.  We traveled together to the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, California and the Desert Southwest, the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes states, and to southern Florida. While Millie never much cared to be cuddled, she’d gladly snuggle up to her grandma, especially as Millie sensed my mom’s cancer progressing.

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Somewhere up in heaven right now, I’m fairly certain Grandma is getting kisses from her favorite granddog again.

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I have unwavering faith that Millie is now in a place with lots of sandy beaches and powdery snow to run through…

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with plenty of sticks to fetch,  unlimited free bones at the heavenly Petsmart, and sofas more comfy than any on Earth.

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There are surely plenty of campfires, dog beaches, unlimited bowls of cool water, lots of laughs, and green, green grass up there in heaven.

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I will miss my constant companion, trusty co-pilot, and paddling partner more than anything imaginable. 

I have never had a more faithful dog to always walk beside me (whether wearing her leash or not), always watch for me to return to the RV, always smile and be willing to go where ever I went, and trust that I would always be there for her in the end.

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Rest in eternal peace and sunshine, my dear sweet Millie.  I love you.

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64 comments:

  1. It sure is a tough time when you lose a pet. So sorry. Glad you have lots of great memories together.

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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  2. This post brought tears to my eyes. While I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person, I have watched Millie's adventures here on the blog for the last few years. Every picture of her swimming, or catching the frisbee, or riding in her RV brought a smile to my face. Thank you for sharing Millie with all of us. And while I know you will always miss her, I also know that she had the best life any dog could ask for. Sending hugs your way :)

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  3. There are NO words. But, when people say "It's a dog's life" meaning it is wonderful, I will always think of Millie! What a gift - for both of you.

    It's been almost 11 years since my dog Flash died. I still cannot talk about her without choking up. Guess that's why I have Velcro the Cat.....even though she thinks she is a dog.

    My heart goes out to you. Remember, take it one day at at time! Hugs,

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  4. Oh, Lynn, so sorry. You gave her a great life.

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  5. So very sorry about Millie. What a touching tribute. Glad we got to meet and hike with her in Utah. She had such a good life with you.

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  6. What a wonderful memorial to a wonderful dog. I am so sorry for your sadness. I lost two in the past 6 months and know the pain. Hugs.

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  7. Dear Lynne, I have been following your blog for a long time (apologies for not commenting until now). I am so very sorry for your loss. I never had the pleasure of meeting Millie but her joyful personality just flew out of the confines of the computer into my heart. Thank you for sharing this wonderful memorial to Millie. I send much kindness to you in this time of great sadness.

    Kelly in Albuquerque

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  8. Really sorry for you loss but wow what a life she packed into those 10 years.

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  9. Sorry for your loss, Lynne. Your wrote a very nice tribute.

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  10. I second everyone else's comments above. So sorry for your loss Lynne.

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  11. What a beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss.

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  12. They say life is summed up in the dash between our start and end dates on this earth... and Millie sure had one heck of a dash! Thank you for sharing with her such wonderful adventures, and for allowing all of us to share in some of that joy.

    There will be a hole in your heart that can't ever be filled... but I just know your mom and Millie are enjoying each other's company, and will take care of each other.

    Sending you lots of hugs and love.

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  13. Lynne -
    so sorry about Millie. You two certainly shared some amazing adventures together. We send you much loving kindness.
    Imkelina, Michael and Sydney

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  14. Lynne - I'm so sorry about losing Millie. These fur kids just work their way right into the middle of our heart and it's so hard to have to say goodbye. But what a fantastic life she had filled with all that love and adventure. And now you have all those fantastic memories.

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  15. What a lovely and touching tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  16. Oh Lynne I'm so sorry for your loss. No words can fill the hole that is left when we lose a loved one, no matter who or what they are. :(

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  17. We are so very sorry for your loss and know that Milly will be missed in so many ways. You gave her a wonderful life and brought much joy to each other. This post is such a wonderful tribute to her life and spirit. One day you will be together again and I am sure she is bringing joy to your mother now. Hugs!

    Colleen and The Traveling Longdogs

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  18. Millie lived well, and you were with her at the beginning and the end. She was well loved. So sorry...

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  19. Oh my, oh my. You really wrote a beautiful tribute to Millie. It was hard reading it but I am so glad you did and how your love for her shows thru, and how much you two were together in this life. My son lives in Socorro and I know just the spot where her picture was taken. Glad she had nice green grass.

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  20. So very hard to lose a family member like your dog, what a beautiful tribute to Millie.

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  21. A luckier dog there has never been. Thank you for sharing Millie with us and letting us enjoy her adventures with you. The loss of that kind of unconditional love cannot be put into words. You're in my prayers. Lacy

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  22. I am so sorry for your loss... I have so enjoyed yours and Millie's adventures. I hope all of your wonderful memories will help to ease your pain and loss.{hugs}

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  23. What a beautiful, beautiful post. I enjoyed seeing the photos of Millie from when she was a puppy to the present. Honestly, Lynne, when my time comes, this is how I want my kids to think of me - all the good times. This is such a wonderful tribute to a true friend and constant companion. Rest in Peace, Millie.

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  24. Millie allowed you to live a fulfilled life as you allowed the same for her. It is so good that you have such wonderful memories of the times you and Millie shared. She was a true love. I am so sorry that yo must go through this time of her loss. Hugs.....

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  25. Sad news today...
    Millie had a wonderful life with you, she was a lucky dog. You had a wonderful life with Millie, you are a lucky human.
    Someday, when you are ready, you will have another canine companion, and you will embark on a new adventure...
    But for now be joyful with your memories.

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  26. She was a precious being...rest in peace Millie.

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  27. What a time you two shared - filled with joy and beauty and the sad times too such as when you lost your mom. I am so glad you have such lovely memories to remember Millie by. You gave her such a great life in the great outdoors. I know how sad you are, losing our dear pets is so hard. Hoping you very soon are filled with joy again.
    Love from Orlando.

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  28. Such a nice tribute that brought tears to my eyes. I still miss my Gretta and it's been 4 years now.

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  29. Someone sent me this when our boy Cooper died and it provided some comfort. Its the closing lines in the movie "My Dog Skip". The young man who is the main character in the movie grew up in Mississippi with Skip as his best friend. Later he is overseas, attending college in England, when…
    I received a transatlantic call one day. “Skip died,” Daddy said. He and my mama wrapped him in my baseball jacket. They buried him out under our elm tree, they said.
    That wasn’t totally true, for he really lay buried in my heart.

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  30. I've never seen a better remembrance. I'm sure we all feel Millie and your adventures has touched all our lives.

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  31. This bought tears to my eyes and my heart breaks for you. Millie had a wonderful doggie life and was blessed to have you as her companion. She's watching over you now, and I do believe you'll be reunited one day. Even though I never met her, I felt like I knew her from your blog and she became a companion for me (as I'm sure she did many others) who followed your travels. Thanks for sharing her beautiful memories with us. A more fitting memorial I could not imagine.
    Nina

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  32. As I read your post, a tribute to Millie, I certainly saw your love for her shine through. While she is now gone from you, her wonderful time remains as beautiful memories that you can visit again and again.

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  33. My heart breaks for you, our fur babies are so special

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  34. I can't stop crying...............

    Jane

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  35. Your precious post makes me laugh and cry. Millie led a great life, lived in the moment, and seems to be smiling in nearly every picture (not all of the bandana). My heart breaks for your loss, Lynne. Big hugs to you.

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  36. Tears here... What a wonderful life she had.

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  37. Lynne, I am so very sorry for your loss. This post brought tears to my eyes; it is a loving and beautiful tribute to Millie. I have had the pleasure of traveling with you and Millie for just a short time, but in that time there was never any doubt that she was well and truly loved. You will always carry her in your heart and some day in the future the two of you will be together again. I know this will be a tough time for you; take solace in the knowledge that Millie had a fantastic life with you, even if to short.

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  38. What a beautiful tribute you put together, in words and pictures, to your beloved companion. Your love for her has been so beautiful to witness--I once heard someone say that the only true example of unconditional love is that of a pet to its owner. Clearly Millie showed this to you, but I also very much believe that your love for her has been just as unconditional--a very moving and inspiring example for all of us who have known you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you now.

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  39. Lynne,
    Diana and I send our hugs, as we know all too well what you are going through right now. Dang cancer. I am so glad Millie was able to travel to so many great locations with you.

    Our best,

    Jim and Diana

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  40. Bless your heart, and Millie's, too. Your memorial post today has touched so many of us and I thank you for sharing it with the world.

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  41. Oh, my dear.... what a wonderful tribute..sure made me cry... We have them for such a short time. You have great memories and wonderful, wonderful pictures..... Take Care and God Bless you and yours....

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  42. I'm so sorry to hear this. What a great dog she was. Reading your tribute I was crying and laughing at the same time,seeing her in that hat! You gave her such a great life. Hang in there.

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  43. Oh, so sorry about the loss of you beloved Millie. But you gave her the best life possible!

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  44. That is the most loving tribute to a locale companion I have ever read. Bless you and Millie.

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  45. Sad post, but it also made me smile because of the jam-packed ten years. Lucky Millie. Lucky Lynne.

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  46. Oh my Darling I am so sorry for your loss. What a sweet, sweet girl Millie was. And what a sweet, sweet mama she had. Bless both of your hearts. I am so sorry yours is hurting right now. Oh there are no words, I know that. Just know that somewhere someone prays for you both, and is so very thankful to have "known" her, and her mama. Love to you and Godspeed to Millie.

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  47. Oh Lynne, what a beautiful tribute. Millie in those costumes made me laugh and also brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful journey you both had together. My heart breaks for the pain you are going through, the loss of a fur baby is a hard one indeed. Big hug and keeping you in my prayers.

    Tina

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  48. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and companion.

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  49. Your posting brings tears to my eyes as well. Bitter-sweet memories through all these pictures....We had our yellow lab BOOMER. He was a great traveler as well. Sadly, in 2008 he developed a very aggressive form of cancer and we had to say Good Bye to him in Denver, CO. It was so bad that we woke up at night crying.

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  50. I am so sorry. One of my dogs was just diagnosed with a terrible illness, and I'm sadly foreseeing the same experience in the near future. It's heart-breaking.

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  51. My heart goes out to you. I too loved Millie just from your pictures. Be at peace knowing you gave Millie a most wonderful life that few dogs get.

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  52. So very sorry to read of your loss - what a wonderful life you had together - hugs from us and our furry friends

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  53. Hoping that reflection of your days together brings comfort to you in this time of separation...Rhonda, in Tennessee

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  54. There are no words... my heart aches for you!
    Take care.

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  55. I LOVED the GoPro water video!

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  56. Such a lovely tribute to Millie. Of course I cried. Hugs and more hugs.

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  57. So sorry for your loss. I have enjoyed watching her travels with you. This is a beautiful tribute to her.

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  58. I stumbled upon your blog just yesterday. My two dogs and I are set to start our own rv adventure in two weeks time. I'm so sorry for your loss and, even though I never knew your sweet pup, I was deeply saddened to hear of her passing. What a wonderful life you had together! I hope that simple truth brings you comfort as you mourn her loss.

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  59. So very sorry to read of Millie's decline. Charlie and I, along with our airedale Woolly Bear, had the pleasure of meeting Millie and you at Big Bend NP last spring. She was a lovely dog, and obviously very close to you. Your photo tribute to her was beautiful! With sympathy, Sara

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  60. Very beautiful and moving tribute that brought me to tears. She lived a life any dog would be lucky to have. I hope that in time you are able to offer that type of life to another lucky dog. Best wishes to you and thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute.

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  61. That was some kind of tribute, you were lucky to have a companion like her, and she was very lucky to end up with someone who cared about her as much as you obviously did. A lifetime ago, when I was a young man, I had a wonderful black lab who was constantly at my side for 13 years until cancer took her also. Now I travel with two much, much smaller companions, one of whom is now 15 years old, and I dread what is bound to come sooner rather than later.

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  62. I just found your blog and this post brought me to tears. I'm so sorry for your loss...Millie was, without question, an amazing soul. I fell in love just reading about her personality and seeing her beautiful face and sweet eyes in all of your photos. Hoping that she is snuggling with your mom wherever the next place is that we all go. Sending lots of healing thoughts...Sue and the crew

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