Monday, November 22, 2010

The Rainbow Bridge

Above: Chelsea, as a young girl, with Christine visiting the battlefields she so loved

I have heard many people refer to the Rainbow Bridge. I never really knew what they were talking about. But it sounded like a very nice place to go. My new friend, Christine Barnes Boran, explained just what she meant when she confided that her beloved Tibetan Terrier, Chelsea, went to the Rainbow Bridge in 2003. That's when I found out that the Rainbow Bridge is where some people think TTs go when they are ready to leave this place we call earth.

Not only was she beautiful, Chelsea was a certified therapy dog. She paid many visits to the late Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun who I understand is quite famous for his Roe v. Wade decision. Among many other things, Chelsea loved dirty laundry and float boat rides.

Christine was kind enough to share her reflections on Chelsea's last walk to her favorite haunts, the Manassas and Bull Run Civil War battlefields near her home in Virginia. Chelsea often visited the battlefields when she was younger and healthier and loved these walks so much.

Of course, it was an agonizing decision for Christine:

"She lived a long and healthy and productive life until that summer, when I could tell she soon would give me the look that said she had had enough. I didn't wait too long or let her go for long. I would have to say goodbye to her while she still had a little quality of life. I'm attaching a beautiful poem which Michael and I read to her under that arbor in the gardens before we took the car ride to the vet that day to send her to the Bridge. We read it to her together. It's beautiful. Get that hanky out,'s very touching. It gave us peace holding her under that arbor and reading it before we took that dreaded car ride to our vet. After the vet handed her so sweetly wrapped in the pink floral bedsheet, Michael drove home through horse country with me in the back seat holding my Chelsea, now gone, in my lap."

Cut the leash that holds me here,
Dear friend, and let me run,
Once more a strong and steady dog,
My pain and struggle done.
And don't despair my passing,
For I won't be far away,
Forever here, within your heart,
And memory I'll stay.
I'll be there watching over you,
Your ever faithful friend,
And in your memories I'll run,
...a young dog once again.

Now, I don't like to think about death. Heck, I don't even really know what it is. But if it's someplace I have to go without my dad and my pups and my kibble, I don't really want to go. Even if it is does have a very pleasant name. Christine's reflections made me think about just how precious the time we do have together is. My dad got real quiet after I shared Christine's write-up of Chelsea's last day with him. I knew he was sad so I came and sat next to him on the floor. He picked me up and held me for a very long time.

Above: Chelsea on her last visit to the Stonewall Jackson Memorial

Chelsea Q-T-Pi of Camelot CGC TDI
April 27, 1989 - September 5, 2003

In Memory of my "Chelsea-Burger" and the "Q-Tip"

Written at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 5.
Chelsea passed to the Rainbow Bridge about 5:30 p.m.

I very sadly and with tears in my eyes report to you the loss of my sweet Chelsea this evening. She spent the whole day with me in quality time, including a trip back to her favorite haunt of all the famous Stone Bridge at Bull Run and on the National Battlefields to take one smaller slow hike over to see Stonewall Jackson on his horse and the Henry Hill House. When she was on the battlefields again, I could see how happy she was. She sniffed around the cannons and had lots of treats today, including steak off the grill, yogurt, and other cookies. She became tired easily though, and I carried her most of the way. She died very peacefully and sweetly in my arms. She will be buried on our property at a lovely animal burial ground amongst wildflowers and ferns.The sun was shining today, and it was cool and fresh outside. When she passed, we were near a beautiful farm by a pretty fence...a rooster crowed a few seconds after she started her journey. She was wrapped in a beautiful pink-flowered bed sheet by the vet and handed back to me. At 12 Noon, we laid her in her final resting spot. As we read more poems including the Rainbow Bridge poem, a ray of sunlight glowed on her wrapped little body. After her resting spot was covered, we popped a bottle of Champaign in celebration of her. The cork remained there for many months after that.

Forever Chelsea

Her favorite place in the last year has been on a blue wingback colonial-style chair on a homemade quilt made just for her in her favorite room. She loved to sit and look out at the pretty gardens below. She gave me the opportunity today to assist her checking out of the "Earth Hotel" where she enjoyed many amenities. She allowed me the honor to accompany her to the front desk, drop off her key, and escort her through the lobby before she made her trip to The Rainbow Bridge today. She did so with sweetness and dignity. She has brought many wonderful friends into our lives....beautiful and very caring fellow TTs and their people. She was a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International and attained her AKC Canine Good Citizen title. I still miss her so very much.

The Tibetan Prayer Flags I owned are with her now. I held onto them all day today while we were together. There have been many tears and I ache at her being gone, but I rejoice having had known such a lovely TT who has brought so much joy to my life and to others.

Christine Barnes Boran

The Duchess and Countess of Lyndale

Above: The Duchess Oversees Her Territories

You remember my friends Ella and Maisie from the Isle of Skye. Well it turns out that Ella in a duchess and Maisie is a countess and they live on a FABULOUS estate, Lyndale, on the Isle of Skye. And you may remember that I wrote about the
Isle of Skye way back when. That was when I first met Ella's mom Linda Ridsdill Smith. Back when Maisie was just a twinkle in her mother's eye. Maybe even before Maisie was a twinkle. We go way back!! We're tight.

Not to repeat myself, but Skye is an island off the coast of Scotland. According to Skye's official website, it "is the world's favourite island, recently voted 4th best island in the world by National Geographic magazine."

Above: The Countess Surveys Her Property

If you ask me, Lyndale is the number one reason to visit the Isle of Skye. And, don't get me wrong, there are lots of good reasons to visit. Now, since you are probably packing your bags already, easy back cowboys. Your first move should be to visit Lyndale's website: Here you will come to learn Lyndale is an idyllic holiday retreat, set in its own private estate and surrounded by spectacular scenery.

Hidden down a wooded bluebell lined drive, the estate centres around a 300-year-old tacksman’s house which, along with its old laundry, stables and grade-B listed (say what?) 'ink-pot' style gate lodge, have been renovated with tremendous flair and enthusiasm by owners Marcus and Linda. And that is an understatement. I am, literally, shaking with excitement. And my tail? My tail is out of control. Because, you know, not only is Lyndale more SWANK than any Four Seasons or Peninsula Hotel ever, but Lyndale is also the home of the duchess and countess and their fabulous chamber maid, Linda, and boot black, Marcus. And the setting!!! The grounds. Oh, the grounds! It's a place where Tibetan Terriers can, and do, run free.

As I very recently told my dear friend Andrea, the only dilemma is where to stay. Should one stay in the Main House, the Stables, the Laundry, or the Gate Lodge. Fellow TT owner Andrea has been and stayed in the Gate Lodge. "It is absolutely lovely. It is GORGEOUS - thoroughly recommend a visit, it's soooooo relaxing an idyllic setting," Andrea understated. Everything is perfect and, yet, understated. No detail is ignored. Even the umbrella's are AMAZING. I am lusting for one.

Ella, there must be a dashing duke you can introduce me to. Or Maisie, a suitable count? Until then, I would be very content to spend my days (and nights) with you at lovely Lyndale.