Friday, April 29, 2011

Question of Faith

My faith in the wake of Erin's passing was given close scrutiny, everything I knew or thought I knew about God was examined from every angle. Religious aspects were not alone under the microscope; they joined family, friends, society, attending veterinarians and most of all...myself. Out of pain, sorrow, and grief must come clarity and a reason for why she perished; answers had to be discovered and somebody had to bear the brunt of my scorn. For me it's not enough that she passed away but who is responsible for snatching her away from me and could anything be done to prevent that unfortunate event.

I believe that God breathes life into every living creature inhabiting this planet and without his blessing we would all fail to exist; that's my belief, the doctrine I maintain and for myself it's what I put my faith into. Erin was supposed to live forever or at least that was my intent, never was any thought given to her demise, my life revolved around enjoying every day with her and not looking forward to a future alone. After the initial shock and grief of death comes the realization that something bigger must keep me afloat or succumb to temptation, there are many traps on the path to enlightenment and many have dire consequences for me.

I've read in articles on grief that the grieving often lash out at God and religion for the deaths of their loved ones but I didn't take this approach of anger and instead my sorrow galvanized my bond with Christ. Answers have been sought out but never has there been any fits of rage where I cussed or belittled my creator for the position I currently find myself, he has a plan and in that my trust is placed. My spiritual response is one of thanks for nearly 12 fabulous years, I feel incredibly blessed in my relationship with Erin, it was the pinnacle of my life, and I'm grateful to God for the cherished time together. Often I let him know how thankful I feel for everything, to please watch over her until the glorious day of my arrival, and to sprinkle glimmers of her presence onto my life.

My eternal reunion with Erin hinges solely upon my relationship with God and the only avenue to one is via the other. As touched upon in other posts, I truly believe that beloved pets are in heaven awaiting our arrival and while the details are unknown to mere mortals, if he desires animals in heaven then they will be there. Prayer and times of reflection bring me closer to God and in these moments of solace I also feel a connection to Erin, pictures of them together brings comfort during stormy times. When everyone else deserts me it's good to know I can put my faith in the all-mighty, instead of fleeing from him I sought him out to gain courage for the prolonged battle.

Sometimes it appears that God's grace is the only reason that I'm still alive, there are many times when I question myself, my life moving forward without Erin, and whether I even want to keep living but breathe I continue as my desire to live outstrips my longing to fall asleep forever. In states of grief I've often asked God why he chose Erin as it wasn't her time, she had much more to accomplish, a dream vacation to Maine was planned, it's not fair to anyone involved, etc. Questions abound regarding her passing and my life but I've never doubted God's plan for me and I'm positive he will bless me again in the future. All I do is for him and in memory of Erin!!

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dogs love European Restaurants

A major perk of being a dog in Europe is the ability to enter dining establishments alongside humans and fortunately for Erin this luxury was discovered not long after arriving in Germany. We began to explore our surroundings in our adopted hometown of Mannheim and while wandering the snow covered streets, back alleys, parks, and riverbanks I peered inside a window of a local restaurant where to my surprise, there was a dog camped out next to a table. I tied my expat dog to a chair, proceeded to inquire as to whether I could enter with Erin and before I could utter "danke" we were both upstairs near a fireplace getting warm, dining on German cuisine, and enjoying our new life together. It was a major coup for us as rarely would I dine in Europe without her thus she would not be subjected to spending additional time alone.

The restaurant became a frequent haunt for me and Erin thus the staff learned her name very quickly as well as my dining preferences. We were usually shown a table upstairs where we shared meals with other canines quite often and never was there any disturbance or unruly behavior amongst the dogs; many folks didn't show there was a furry beast lying at my feet until we got up to leave the restaurant. The dogs that were allowed inside were always well behaved with advanced obedience skills so it seemed as if this was an elitist social club for the crème de la crème of the canine world. Erin concentrated upon me following the fork as it went from the plate to my mouth, patiently she waited until I sneaked her chunk of steak or some home fries which she devoured in a heartbeat. On occasion's when traffic was light and no other dogs were in the vicinity, the waitress would bring her a few biscuits in addition to the human goodies she received.

Another favorite place to dine with Erin was a Mandarin Chinese restaurant in our subdivision; we were welcomed with open arms, spent many evenings enjoying the owner's company while sharing the delicious food. The owner spoke of his journey from Asia to Germany decades ago, his family and the restaurant while inquiring about life in America, my job in Europe, and the dog. The staff knew little English and since my German was iffy, I usually resorted to pointing at whatever items were desired. While communication was a challenge, one thing we had in common was Erin whom the wait staff doted upon on a regular basis, they ensured she receive a decent amount of attention every visit. Dozens of visits and another dog inside can't be recalled, they were seen outside under the umbrellas with their human companions but it was peculiar that no other made their way inside, wonder if an exception was made for us. When the owner was informed of our move to Kosovo, he showed lots of emotion while exhibiting more love for Erin than ever before, it was very heartbreaking to say goodbye and witness his final moments with my girl.

 I did my best to locate a dining facility that welcomed dogs regardless of the location and success was achieved in many Western Europe countries. Some were less than desirable, barely suitable for a dog while others were fit for a queen or a doggie queen in this case. Decadent meals of excess were savored in the heart of The Swiss Alps, Belgrade, and France; these feasts were amazing in every way and Erin was the lucky recipient of table scraps that most folks would die for. Perfectly situated in the position to receive maximum food with little effort, she remained motionless until my attention was directed her way and huge slabs of beef, pork, veal etc. was gobbled down with bliss, and she certainly ate well across a dozen countries. On reflection those heavenly meals shared with Erin have topped most in terms of quality since returning to America and I feel so privileged to have spread the wealth with my best friend.

 A dog-friendly establishment in Innsbruck provided a very memorable meal as I wandered in with Erin where she promptly laid down under the table. Tugging and pulling on the leash soon began and she wouldn't stop despite my pleas, turns out the majority of tables had a dog underneath and a massive white creature was trying to say "hello." Released from my grip she strolled over to greet the Austrian beast, the folks sitting at the table before visiting a few more tables and then finding her way back to me. Always the social butterfly she was in her element and this was before the assorted meats, cheeses, and pancake soup arrived, then the good times really started. Nothing like strips of pancake soaked in broth to get a dog's attention; she scarfed down the semi-cooled treats as if it was her final meal and resumed socializing with dogs and customers alike.

 From Amsterdam to Northern Greece, we had so many memorable experiences as hundreds of meals were consumed in the company of each other and I can't ask for anything more. They provided opportunities for us to strengthen our bond and love while spending additional time with each other, not to mention the shared fabulous food. She was the perfect travel companion as well as my best friend!! RIP Erin!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Time Heals All

The old adage "Time heals all" is an interesting saying and one that I believe is not entirely true as it pertains to me. While the passing of days will help soothe the pain, mend the heart, and slow the cascade of tears; the dull hollowed out ache inside continues and there's no guarantee that feeling with ever go away. The not so distant memories of a shattered heart, the eruption of tears at a moment’s notice and the dark film that layers life in general still haunt me and while those conditions have improved greatly with the tick-tocking of the clock, I wonder if they'll completely disappear as the years roll by.

I try to envision my life a year from now, 5 years, and even 20 years from this point and imagine what shape my heart and emotional psyche will be in from the aftermath of Erin's passing. There's no telling what pitfalls await me on the road to wellness but I believe life will be pretty good for the most part. That said, I expect my heart will never fully heal no matter the amount of time elapsed, how would it when half of it was taken away. Talking to others who have experienced major grief and reading books on the subject tell me I'm correct in my assumption, one never heals in full but the cut will scab over so it's tolerable.

As if on cue a perfect example of how I'm still vulnerable just occurred at a local coffee shop where this post is being written, guess these incidents happen for a reason. A lady whom I've seen around for years but have never spoken to approached the table and asked me "Don't you have a dog, I never see you without it?" What a punch in the stomach in addition to a shock to the system as this nameless woman asked about Erin, 8 months ago after her departure. So many days have passed and to have strangers still inquiring about her whereabouts chokes me up, it's difficult to not shed a few tears as I relay the news of her death. The abruptness of these inquiries always catches me off guard, remind me how sensitive a subject her passing remains, and reinforces the fact that my angel is truly departed. While it stings to speak of her passing, I've discovered it really is a compliment as folks rarely saw me without Erin.

A portion of my heart will never be touched again as that's where my love and other emotions for Erin reside. There is a void carved out by a million memories, so many shared smiles over a 12 year period and unconditional eternal love that time will never be able to fully fill in. My sorrow will certainly be eased by loving others and future loves will own a piece of my heart in the process but I'll forever have sacred ground where no one else is able to tread but my fur angel. If I live a thousand lifetimes and experience a million loves, there will always be a tinge of pain as I long for another special lifetime with Erin. RIP Erin!!

"The past is never dead, it is not even past. " ~William Faulkner

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life Goes On

The subject of Erin's death was always a forbidden subject, never did I allow the thought to enter my mind nor did I permit someone to bring up the frowned upon topic. To speak of the unwanted event would bring it much closer to fruition so such chatter was best avoided at all costs, it's my belief that speaking of negative subjects somehow bring them that much closer to occurring. Never did I think Erin would pass away or fail to exist in a physical form, not that I believed she was a goddess or some entity that would reign over this world for an eternity; it was just that I couldn't envision her in any other form than eternally beside me.

While humans are expected to outlive their pets and burying them is part of the human-animal relationship I was sure we would perish together. At the same moment our hearts were supposed to expire, the transition would be made in unison, and no more steps along this path would be taken, I'm sure this sounds crazy but everything I was and will be is because of the years spent with Erin. A destiny was awaiting me and it feels as if my fate was rerouted at the last minute, it doesn't feel right traveling down the road without my faithful sidekick. Sometimes I feel like "Lieutenant Dan" in "Forrest Gump", drifting afloat rudderless with the current awaiting a sign from God which I'm hoping will arrive in the near furture.

Lt. Dan: "You cheated me. I had a destiny. I was supposed to die in the field! With honor! That was my destiny"

Sometimes it's a wonder how I can hold my head above water, it would be too easy to subcumb to tragedy and be done with everything but I'm holding onto faith that something beautiful and exciting is awaiting me. It is said that God only saddles us with what we are able to handle thus he must believe I can handle extreme burden, grief, and guilt along with the weight of a building crushing me but tomorrow is a brand new day and I'm anxiously looking forward to it. Thanks to everybody who has supported me on this journey and embraced Erin's story!!! RIP Erin!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Journey

What a remarkable journey it was
Your life deserves much applause
You were no ordinary creature
If human you'd be a wise teacher

From the countryside you came
The city you staked a claim
You blazed a trail far and wide
With passion and love your guide

Friends were never betrayed
An enemy was never made
With olive branches extended
Your relationships were so splendid

Around the world we traveled
Our thread of love never unraveled
Many sights many sounds
Our time abroad never fails to astounds

An angel in disguise you were
A great therapy dog all concur
The ailing welcomed your touch
Heartbroken were comforted so much

Beautiful in so many ways
Heaven was found in that soulful gaze
An eternity could be spent by your side
My yearning leaves me teary eyed

Time together was a magical dream
All alone I'm being swept downstream
A million memories etched in my brain
Ten million tears have fallen like rain

Your impact is beyond human measure
Our years will always be a sacred treasure
Hope you'll guide me from high above
As my compass will be your beacon of love

Your body is now free of aches and pain
I envision you chasing squirrels in the rain
So glad I was there at the very end
Thus your journey was made with a friend

RIP Erin!! 1998-2010

Saturday, April 16, 2011

MEME Award

Tag–I’m it. Mari,  the talenetd author of the blog has tagged me with a MEME. I am to answer a few questions about myself then pass the MEME on to other bloggers I enjoy. It’s a fun, getting to know you, assignment.

Here goes:

1. If you could go back in time to relive one moment, what would it be?

I'd love to relive the day I brought Erin into my life. Every intimate detail would be cherished and recorded for memories sake, that day has impacted my life more than any other in this world.

2. If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
To spend more time with my departed loved ones especially Nana whom I miss greatly. Time elapses so quickly and it can never be recovered, so many opportunities missed :(

3. What movie or TV character do you think you resemble most in personality?
George on Senfeld, the neurotic everyday next door neighbor
4. Which TV or movie character would you like to be?

Forrest Gump. What an incredible life he led, we should all hope for that much excitement, friendship, and love.
5. If you could push one person in the whole world off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?
Due to my religious beliefs it is doubtful I could shove another human being off a cliff. Murder is not in my genetic makeup and nothing I've really considered.
6. Name one habit you want to change in yourself.
My capacity to carry grudges if I feel insulted, wronged, or slighted. There is no amount of time too short to dislike someone but I'm working on the issue as I've offered an olive branch today :)
7. Describe yourself in one word.
8. Describe the person who named you in this MEME in one word.
Thoughtful, talented and content.
9. Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.

To share the amazing life of Erin while healing my broken heart
10. Name at least 3 people or more to send this MEME, and then inform them.

These three blogs inspire me to become a better person and really stir the emotions for vaious reasons. All are worthy of visiting over and over, please check them out!!

Sulekkha at Memoirs

Rimly at Journey
Thank you to Mari for tagging me with a MEME!! As a fellow dog-lover I feel a special kinship with you and I love your beautiful photos, helpful tips, and lovely animals, please keep sharing them.



Friday, April 15, 2011

Daddy's Girl

Erin splashed color onto my black and white canvas, in reflection it seems that life was sorely lacking something until she entered the scene and changed life for the better. Inseparable from the beginning, she was the reason the sun rose and set thus my reason for living for the past 12 years. While she loved people and other animals without limits, it was clear she was "Daddy's Girl" by her devotion and unconditional love. Often in the company of others, she socialized as needed only to return to my side for a seemingly obligatory check-in where I nudged her back into the fray but repeatedly she made an appearance to remind me of her proximity. Contentment and happiness were the order of the day when together and to minimize any anxiety I certainly tried to limit our time apart, all decisions were made in the best interest of Erin and I wouldn't want it any other way.

It was hard being separated from her, so many times at work I wondered what she was doing; I could picture her napping on the couch, lying in the backyard watching the world go by, or searching the house for the treats hidden during our daily scavenger hunt. Everyday before departing for work, a handful of doggie treats were scattered about the house for her to locate, usually they were placed upon the furniture, randomly thrown in rooms or partially hidden under a magazine, etc. The idea was to stimulate her mind, provide some entertainment, and to satisfy her ravenous appetite, rarely did she not find the edible treasures scattered about. It usually took a few minutes at most to locate the goodies scattered about and this came after the required frosty paw or greenie.

Returning from work was arguably the best part of my day as Erin would dash from the backyard to greet me at the door. As the vehicle turned into the driveway she headed towards the doggie door at the rear of the house and as the kitchen door was swung open I'd be greeted with that broad smile and a tail that moved in a blinding blur. Plopping down on the floor she fell into my arms like two lost friends and it really seemed like it was a lifetime of being apart, it was a special time that we both cherished. Next came "Pillow and cover", a phrase that indicated she was supposed to leap into bed for some belly rubbing, cuddling, and a round of horseplay; somehow the bed was not only for sleeping but a site for bonding and tomfoolery

Erin was always loyal to a fault, waiting patiently in the backyard for me to appear at the appointed time regardless of the situation or weather condition. While I admired her loyalty to me, it was frustrating to come home and find her soaking wet in a thunderstorm, completely doused and shivering like a leaf on a tree. Staring through the chain link fence, possessed of a look that wondered where the heck I'd been, she remained in place despite the inclement weather. "Get your butt inside" meant track mud and water to your usual position at the entranceway thus promptly she darted inside oblivious of her physical condition and appearance. A towel engulfed her except for the head and I pulled her close in an attempt to warm her up using my body heat meanwhile she looked lovingly upon me with the most soulful eyes imaginable. It's impossible to remain mad at a creature who is willing to sacrifice their physical well-being and comfort due to their unwavering loyalty.

Erin was "Daddy's Girl" to the very end and even in the face of adversity, her devotion to me was clearly evident. While her body was failing and death moments away, the spirit and determination that everyone admired was still shining through as she attempted to stand and comfort me, it's tearful as I recall that moment but it demonstrates her unbridled devotion and no other act defines our love better. RIP Erin!! Daddy will never forget you!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Healing Through Writing

People write for various reasons, possess different motivation for putting pen to paper and the reasons vary as much as the words tumbling from the respective authors head. For me this blog began as a means to soothe the pain after the passing of Erin and my desire to shed some light on what was an incredible journey. One can resort to alcohol, drugs or any other means to cope with the loss of a loved one but none of those options were very appealing to me on a long-term basis and also I felt none of these served my recently departed in a honorable manner.

 I considered it my obligation to write anything and everything about Erin as a means to connect with her on an entirely different level. The more words about her life and our years together that could be scribbled down the better, nothing were too personal or sacred to be jotted down and that included the final 36 hours of her life. That period was the first piece written as it was fresh in my mind and while it was very painful to recount, I wanted to document every intimate detail for futures sake so tearfully I poured the words onto the pages. Reading about Erin's final scene in life is very difficult thus the leather journal lies in a desk drawer where it could sit dormant for the remainder of my years but it served a great purpose as being the first step on the path to healing.

Soon after came an idea of a children's picture book featuring Erin and several spiral notebooks littered with scrap pieces of papers are the foundation of that vision. Pages of revision after revision, numerous sketches and notes of constructive criticism are proof of the labor of love but as of late that goal has been sidetracked as the blog has received the majority of my attention. To see my fur-angel depicted in print for children would be the ultimate tribute and hopefully one day that dream will become a reality. It's really therapeutic to envision Erin on the over-sized pages of kiddie books all around the globe and one of my aims in life is to make that vision a reality.

During the writing process of the children's book came the idea of a blog about Erin's life and while I knew absolutely nothing about the process of how a blog works, there was no denying one would be set up in tribute of her. The result has been beyond my wildest imagination as sharing stories from her past has been so soothing while received feedback has been nothing but positive in every aspect. It's been my pleasure and honor to reveal glimmers into her life and the years we shared together, she led an extraordinary life in many ways and her story is too special to not be spread via the internet and other means. So many people have responded favorably to tales of Erin while opening up about their own life struggles so there's been a great sense of healing for all involved.

Pouring my heart out about Erin is gratifying in so many ways, sharing her stories has allowed me to release some of the emotional pain I'm saddled with and the healing benefits has exceeded my wildest imagination. "Erin is Love" has been a worthwhile endeavor and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to touch hearts around the globe with my words. Looking back, I've come a long way in terms of both my writing skills and internal angst, seems I'm a totally different person than the one who started this blog many months ago. The writing process has made the journey to my final destination much easier and I'm so grateful for this opportunity to share her story. Thank you to all who have embraced Erin's tale and continue to support me along the path to healing!!!!

"The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Erin's Positive Impact

Employment and residing in Kosovo was an eye opening experience for both of us. It became quite apparent upon arrival that our life's would not be status quo especially for Erin in an environment where dogs of the friendly ilk are rare and canines are considered feral mongrels for the most part. While life among the locals was occasionally stressful, the bond of the soldiers with my companion was anything but that. The work environment inside the hangar was typical of any other aviation scene with a buzz of maintenance activity being performed upon a various of helicopters but these soldiers are forbidden to bring along family members or pets thus they get very homesick and that's where my girl came in.

Erin's appeal was evident the very first time I took her on base with me as the weekend shift gate guards made such a fuss over her, they petted and stroked her flowing coat while examining my car for contraband. Later on, soldiers pointed and wandered over to say "hello" after spotting us walking around, they inquired as to how I was able to possess a dog in Kosovo and I quickly learned that Erin was one of a kind; no one else was permitted to have their household pet in the region. Tethering her to a post outside the laundry facility, rec center, or the cappuccino bar was akin to tying an impala to a stake amid a pride of lions. Whenever I exited the respective building she would usually have a few soldiers huddled around her spoiling her rotten, she'd look up to me with a huge grin that screamed "this is the good life."

Occasionally I spoke to soldiers in the hangar about their family, friends, and beloved pets and eventually a discussion of Erin would arise therefore they were informed that she lived with me in a downtown apartment. They wanted to know about her life in Kosovo so I talked about life there, her incredible journey across Western Europe, and showed them pics stored on my cell phone. After several months of living there I approached my leadman with the idea of bringing Erin to work with me in order to boost the morale of soldiers in the hangar. My boss had no objection as her reputation for being obedient and friendly was well established but I would have to ask permission from the commanding officer before we proceeded any further.

The idea was pitched to the officer where I ensured him that she would be absolutely no trouble at all, that quality and quantity of work wouldn't suffer and any harm to Erin would be my responsibility, he agreed that it was a good idea and the rest is history. A pack stuffed with food, treats, water bowl and other necessities was brought along as we entered the hangar the following day. On a leash she was but only for a few minutes as my co-workers convinced me to release her to the delight of both the soldiers and civilians, nothing like having an outgoing dog around to enliven the place. It was great being able to have Erin nearby as I worked and she loved all of the attention dished upon her, it was such a positive experience for both of us. The entire hangar was one large playground with many rooms, offices, and work areas to explore, no doubt she wondered why I hadn't thought about this sooner.

The soldiers all doted on her and never tired of calling Erin's name, sometimes it was evident that feelings were hurt when she favored one over another. Many wanted her in their offices so she would venture off with them for some bonding or an opportunity to rest for awhile but before long I could hear the distance jingling of her tags and knew she ws headed my way. "There's Daddy" they would shout to reassure her as she raced toward me for some comforting then Erin would wander off with someone else. This generally continued all day with her appearing at my side then the next moment was lying at the feet of another getting those ears massaged, it was a good life for her and the soldiers certainly appreciated it.

After a few months I stopped bringing Erin to work much to the chagrine of everyone as I feared she would eventually get injured in the hustle and bustle but what an amazing situation it was for all involved. It was a rare opportunity for her and for the many soldiers on that Balkan tour, it's a memory which I'll surely never forget as she touched the hearts of so many U.S. servicemembers. I'm so proud of her as she made a positive difference in the life's of others. RIP Erin!!

“Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.” ~Gene Hill

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dogs dig beach Scene

Running along the sandy beach avoiding the crashing waves that pound the shoreline she darts in and out of the ebbing surf. Erin does her best to sidestep any wave of substantial height in a game of chicken with nature. It's a game which she wins for the most part then out of nowhere a wall of water sneaks in to surprise her, the wave splashes down abruptly or quickly rushes up to eye level and she retreats to the safety of dry land. Looking up to me for reassurance, she is reminded it's okay and casually she meanders back into the cool salt water where any level that exceeds the bottom of her belly is too high for her liking. She loved the feel of water on her body especially her belly but was never too keen on the idea of swimming.

Arriving at the beach, she bounds from the back seat and gives me that look that says "hurry up, what's taking so long?" The backpack is slung over my shoulder, it contains all the essentials for one human and one canine to survive a day exploring the beach, inside the well used bag is food, water, doggie snacks, sunscreen, reading materials, and anything else that comes to mind before we hit the road. Multiple of squirrels greet Erin as we casually stroll toward the beach and she would gladly skip the beach to spend time chasing the varmints from one palm tree to another. Urging her toward the dog-friendly beach she proceeds at a leisurely pace, sniffing and exploring the new scents that cross her path or peak her interest.

Several miles of sandy expanse are hers to investigate as she sees fit, together we walk in the shallow surf with an occasional wandering into deeper water for some excitement. Off leash she wanders slightly ahead of me never putting too much distance between us, she glances back to ensure I'm with her and she continues the journey. Millions and millions of shells litter our route along with sand dollars and horseshoe crabs grounded at the shore line, little attention is paid to these creatures by Erin who strolled along without a care in the world. As the water receded, pockets of collected water or doggie wading pools made the perfect spot for her to relax, she would plop down with the biggest grin affixed to her face and there was little doubt happiness filled her heart.

Off-leash she remained for the majority of time unless we came across swarming masses of frolicking sun lovers and to avoid an unpleasant situation, I restrained her for appearances sake. Many folks would point or stroll over to say hello to Erin, who was always available for some human-canine socializing. An occasional dog would cross our path, be seen playing in the surf, or spotted lounging under an umbrella, it was so nice to be on such a dog-friendly beach. The north side of the beach was isolated except for a few brave souls, this section seemed like heaven on earth. Such a beautiful serene place where a dog could run all day, roll in the loose sand, play chase with other dogs, nap when tired and Erin was the anointed queen of this paradise. Running and playing upon the beach and surf was as good as it got for her and the ever present smile made it so worthwhile to me.

Hours of romping on the beach led to one exhausted dog, there was only so much energy Erin could expend before shelter was sought out. Upended trees due to beach erosion provided shade from the scorching sun and the perfect spot for her to rest, consume water and food, and take a nap if desired. Many days were spent in doggie paradise, she always had an amazing time and the beach never failed to deliver maximum fun for her. It was one of those magical places for her to explore, a location where she connected with nature and a place that  cemented our bond. She always fell fast asleep on the way home with a broad smile as exhaustion overtook her and that told me the hour plus drive to the beach was well worth it for what it meant to Erin. Memories of us walking in the surf will last a lifetime and our beach days rank as amongst our finest together. RIP Erin!!