Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Yesterday, we had to put our 8 ½-year old Labrador retriever, Otter, to sleep. She had been suffering from transitional cell carcinoma and her health went downhill rapidly since her diagnosis in mid-May. The hard decision was made easier when I looked into her eyes and saw that her lust for life was not there anymore.

Otter lived true to her name and it reflected her love for water. She could find a ditch or puddle in the driest of times. A mud wallow would work as well. Wherever and however she got wet didn’t matter to her and she was always proud to come home and show us how wet and muddy she was.

But Otter’s name easily could have been “Shadow.” Otter followed me through the house, around the yard, and into the woods around our house. The minute I got up to leave the room, the snoring stopped and she was on her feet. She was always at my side in the kitchen and I called her my “sous chef.” She was my taste-tester when cooking and my janitor when I dropped things on the floor.

She was a holy terror as a puppy. Eating base boards, furniture, rugs, and “chew-proof” beds (we went through three of those). No amount of walking, running, and playing could tire her. Finally, she mellowed and stopped chasing the cat up a tree. I never took her hunting but she definitely would retrieve. Mostly it was balls in the yard but once it was a bunny she discovered in a nest. As she was galloping to me with her discovery in her mouth, she decided it was probably better to eat the tasty morsel than lay it at her master’s feet. In mid-stride she stopped and gobbled it down. She did other dumb dog things like swallow rocks and play with venomous snakes. She survived puppyhood which finally ended about age seven (which is more than I can say for the snake who met its maker by way of a shovel).

Otter’s sweet disposition and enthusiasm was contagious. She cheered us up on gloomy days and always made us laugh with her antics. One of her traits was to come over to you, place her muzzle under your hand and gently lift up so you would pet her which was always soothing to both of us.
I will truly miss seeing my shadow. Now the motorhome seems so much bigger without her. A good friend reminded us that “puppies always begin with laughter and end with tears.” And such was our wonderful little Otter. Thanks to all the people (and dogs) that have been in her life and fed her cookies, let her swim in their swimming pools and lakes, and given her belly rubs.
Otter took to kayaking well and loved watching the birds and fish jump.
On a walk in Maine just a few days before she died.
Otter was so happy to rip apart her toys and get the squeaker.
One of Otter's favorite toys was a George W. Bush squeaker toy.  After she
bit his ear off, he finally shut up (at least in our house anyway).
She barely fit in the tub, but couldn't wait to get in it.  After all it was water.
Yes, Otter was spoiled and did get a cupcake for her second birthday.
Otter was happy to retrieve anything.  Even a tennis ball run over by the mower.
Betsy taught Otter to love lobster or maybe Betsy just wanted her to guard it for her.

Even dogs love blueberry pancakes in Maine.

We thought the dog parks at the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) were great but I think Otter
was appalled to be there.
Otter giving a kiss to Betsy who was her second favorite!
Otter always went on vacation with us to Florida. 
Since Otter loved to swim we always rented vacation homes with a private pool.  Yes, we
broke house rules and let her swim. 
Sometimes, the only house we could find to rent was a 4-bedroom house with a pool for the three of us. 
We all loved to swim and loved our vacations.

In fondest memory for all of the years that she gave to us.  We were so privileged and loved her so.
Black Rock Otter


  1. So sorry to hear about your precious dog passing. I'm a new reader as I found your blog on the 'hitchitch' site. I have been following Ron and Terry for a long time.

    You take excellent pics by the way!

    Mark and Craig (Part time RV'ers).

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. From her story, she had a wonderful life with you. I lost my Lizzie a year ago last New Years Eve. She, too, had cancer, and let me know by the look in her eyes that it was time to go to Rainbow Bridge. I swear, she and Otter sound like they could be related. They look so much alike, and the story of Otter's life is so similar to Lizzie's. I know how hard it was to let Otter go, but it's our responsibility as "parents". I hope my husband and Lizzie were waiting for her and will care for her until you meet, again. From my blog to yours: Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me. Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me know. Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps fall upon my waiting ear. When it is cold and wet, please take me inside, for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to the bitter elements. And I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land, for you are my god and I am your devoted worshiper. Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life should your life be in danger. And, beloved master, should the great master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you, rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands provide me the merciful boon of eternal rest, and I will leave you knowing with the last breath, I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.
    ~ Beth Norman Harris

  3. I'm very sorry for your loss. When Walker died, I grieved him more than I did my parents.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to an awesome companion! Very sorry for your loss but happy for all the wonderful memories you get to keep. Hugs all around.

  5. hobopals letter brought tears to me eyes.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear for your loss. She was a beautiful dog and you loved her well.

  7. And now I'm crying all over again. We drink to your memory often at our house, Otter!!


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