Travelin’ pup

Travelin’ pup

One of the cool things about CCI puppies is that they get to have more adventures than the average bear. Dionne went on one last weekend. With a group of old friends, Steve and I spent Saturday night in Jacumba, a strange little wreck of a town in a neglected stretch of the end of America. Once upon a time (back in the 1920s and 1930s), Jacumba and its hot springs enjoyed a reputation as a classy resort, one supposedly patronized even by actor types from Hollywood. But when the interstate was built and by-passed it, the town plunged into a steep decline. The resort burned down in 1983, and today the whole place hearkens up the spirit of other ghost towns of the West.

But some life still stirs. In fact the Jacumba Motel recently underwent a complete renovation. Also, most of us had been to the town at one point or another over the years, and we knew that an overnight here would feel like a journey to another time and another land. Also, Steve and I were heartened to learn that we could bring not just Dionne but also Tucker, which made it an extraordinarily simple one-night getaway.
The new hotel is pleasant.
A lot of rain preceded our arrival. But despite periodic showers and threatening clouds, we had a lovely time.

Even though the tennis court behind the hotel is sad, it was a perfect place for dogs to run wild.
Steve and I got a room with its own dog-friendly private courtyard, and of course Dionne instantly identified the only square foot of dig gable dirt.  She dug it.
We toured the town attractions on foot, including this eye-catching sculpture. (Photograph by Bob Schneider.)
From the hotel, you can hike within minutes to beautiful spots like this. (Photograph by Alberto Lau.)
As well as scenes of extreme devastation, like the ruins of the old spa. (Photograph by Bob Schneider.)
We also walked to the border fence, weird and wild in its own way. (Photograph by Howie Rosen.)

Tomorrow Dionne will be off to some very different adventures. She’ll be staying with two different puppy-sitters while Steve and I fly off to a couple of literally different lands. Tucker will be hosted by old family friends.

If all goes well, we’ll all be reunited in about three weeks. As usual, we’ll miss our furry pack members when we’re on the road. But we’ll appreciate them all the more when we’re reunited.
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The worst news possible

The worst news possible
Ella, as captured by her puppy-raisers

I got a bone-chilling e-mail yesterday from Kathy Alameda, puppy-raiser of Ella. Kathy picked up Ella from CCI on the very same day I collected Dionne. Since then Ella was our house guest on two separate occasions, and Dionne visited Ella in her home several times. We thus have felt a special bond with both of them, so it was particularly horrible to hear that Ella was in the veterinary hospital, battling for her life. Kathy reported that the cause of her illness was mysterious. She had been unable to keep down food or fluids and had become very lethargic.

A few hours later, Kathy sent an update: Ella’s liver was failing. At 6:20 last night, she reported that she had just spent two hours at the vet’s with her girl, trying to comfort and cheer her. But a little after 3:30 today she sent the worst possible news:

“With a very sad heart I write to tell you that Ella passed away today. We are all in shock. We never found out the cause of her liver failure.”

Steve and I feel shocked too. Ella was a gorgeous blonde and a vortex of energy and high spirits. She and Dionne adored each other and had glorious, ecstatic times running around the Alameda’s Rancho Santa Fe property. Times like this, which Kathy captured on her phone in January:

You know when you volunteer to raise a puppy that something could go wrong. I’ve heard of several examples. But the dogs are almost all so vibrantly, jubilantly happy and alive, you don’t expect anything will go wrong. It seems almost unthinkable.
Now it’s happened, to an exemplary family. I can’t imagine she’s in a happier place than she lived in. If brief, her life was extraordinarily happy. This is one of my favorite moments of what I was privileged to share of it:
Sweet dreams, Ella.