We were overdue for a vacation when my fourth year begged that we go for Thanksgiving. “All over. Even cold somewhere, ”Jacob offered as a concession, knowing that our Dalmatian Sketch and I preferred fresh air, while he, a native of Southern California, tended to shiver when the mercury dropped below 70, let alone in the bed City, since the scorching day months before when JP, Sketch’s father, lost his hair in the parking lot of a veterinary clinic in Palm Springs.
In the three years since I adopted Jacob, he had loved my dogs, and JP in particular, almost as much as I did. “I miss him too. But he’s gone,” he said in the resilient tenor of a boy who had endured more grief in his 10 years than I had in my 40. “Far away.” He looked up at the sky and I realized that it was not just grief that numbed my nomadic nature, but also feelings of guilt at the thought of leaving behind the ghost of my spotted traveling companion of 14 years.
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Violent thunderstorms covered the mountainside’s majestic evergreen trees and slender, white-edged poplars when we arrived in Aspen, Colorado, a haven our family had always found welcome to dogs and children – and surprisingly affordable to passers-by – despite its posh reputation . Sketch jumped out of the car and crossed a snow bank to greet an older schnauzer as he walked out of the lobby of our hotel, Limelight Lodge, and nibbled on the soft flakes that fell all around them. She struggled gently and unsteadily to face Sketch’s playful advances step by step. “Getting old is tough on her,” said her owner, a young-looking middle-aged woman, winced at the obvious discomfort the activity was causing her pet.