Updated: Feb 21, 2020
In season 2 we headed south out of South Carolina and headed for Florida.
It was the end of March 2019 and we didn't have any real plans in mind, but to soak up the warm sun and take the dogs swimming as often as possible.
First stop St. Augustine, Florida. From there we made our way down the east coast of Florida, all the way to Key West. Making many stops along the way, we headed through the Everglades, and then back up the gulf coast of Florida.
Caliber and Dakota (our dogs) learned what is was like to swim in salt water. They learned really quick it doesn't taste good. Of course we made sure they wouldn't drink it, but after one taste they didn't want to drink it.
We were able to find a lot of different places in Florida for the dogs to swim using the app BringFido. Which they love swimming! So every opportunity we made sure to stop and find them a swimming hole along the way.
Although I had brought the camera gear along with us, I didn't hardly film anything. Things were just different. I wanted to really soak in the moment, focusing on what was right in front of me, and see where God was leading me. It was a time of holding my little family close and just enjoying life with no real plans. As we had already erased the plan of RVing to Alaska for the season to soak up more sun and enjoy the hot weather.
The only plans we had for ourselves at the time was switching RV's for the comfort of our dogs and to have more adventures with the ease of a smaller RV. (Check out our Winnebago Travato National Park Edition here).
Once we had arrived in Tampa, Florida we had decided to go to a Tamp Bay Ray's baseball game. Neither of us are any big sports fans, but it had been years since either of us had been to a baseball game and so we went. We enjoyed ourselves and had a lot of fun. After that game we decided to make our way across the USA to see how many stadiums we could make it to before baseball season ended. This gave us an objective across the county. Travel across the country, explore new places, and see different baseball stadiums. I was pretty amazed at how different each stadium was from one another. I mean after all, it's all the same game.
Along our route we had a hand full of vet visits for our pug, Caliber. She was 13 and we knew her little body was aging. She had developed a cough and occasional arthritis pain. We were able to clear up the arthritis pain for the most part, but the cough wasn't seeming to go away. After seeing a couple different vets across the county, we were told it was too early at the time to see what was going on. I began to worry that we were going to loose our baby pug soon. On the other hand, Dakota, our rottweiler was 11 years old and in great shape and in good health. She was always happy and nothing seemed to slow her down.
It was now near the end of June. We had traveled across the lower states, and up the coast of California. We stopped in San Francisco to see the Giant's stadium. While we were in San Francisco, we decided to go paragliding.
Over winter I had came across someone's YouTube channel who was into paramotoring. I never thought of doing such a thing, until I watched their video. I was intrigued. It became something I had wanted to try. I'm pretty scared of heights, but this looked fun. After all the other experiences I had with heights like sky diving, hot air balloon, canyoneering, rock climbing, etc. I decided I couldn't judge what I liked until I tried it. Because like all those other experiences, I was afraid and scared to try them. And most of them I didn't think I would like or ever want to do again. So, with not knowing if I would love it or hate it and never want to do it again, I went paragliding. Turns out, I loved it.
We had left California and was making our way to Colorado for our next stop.
During this time Dakota had started limping on her front leg. We checked her paw for stickers, but nothing. We began assuming she had hurt herself from jumping off of something or getting out the RV somehow. After a few days, her leg didn't seem to be getting any better. We assumed that because of her old age that things would take just a bit longer to heal.
We stopped somewhere in the middle of Nevada out in the desert for the fourth of July. We enjoyed that day riding our mountain bikes and grilling hamburgers to celebrate. We rarely gave our dogs food from the table, but this time they each got a bite of grilled hamburger for dinner.
The next day we packed up and headed out. We decided we needed to take Dakota to the vet to get her leg checked out, but most of Nevada and Utah is pretty desolate, so we planned to take her once we reached Denver, Colorado. And hoped that before we arrived to Denver that she would be back to normal and we wouldn't need to take her to the vet any more.
We had arrived in Jenson, Utah and were about two days out before we would be in Denver and Dakota began to get worse. She was no longer walking on her front leg and she began having a hard time laying down. She started to seem pretty unhappy, unlike we have ever seen her before. As she was always a very happy dog. So that night I sat with her on the floor giving her a massage until it was time for bed.
The next morning we would be passing through Craig, Colorado. It was July 8th. I made a phone call to the local vet there, who said we could bring Dakota in to get her leg checked out.
We stopped at a store for a few supplies and then headed over to the vet.
The vet did a physical exam on Dakota and said they couldn't determine what was going on. They prescribed her meds and we began getting ready to leave the vet's office to get back on the road. But it was at that moments the head vet came in to check Dakota out for himself and had stopped us from leaving. He said we should have her leg x-rayed. They said they would need to sedate her enough that she wasn't moving for the x-ray and that she would still be awake. We didn't want her to be drugged because we live in a RV and didn't want her to be sedated while we were enroute to our next stop. Besides we felt like what could the x-ray show us? If she had a broken bone or had a sprain, was there anything we could do? No, but make her rest. After much convincing from the vet we decided to go ahead with the x-ray, after all we wanted the best for her.
Robbie and I stepped into the waiting room and waited for the vet to call us back in. A million thoughts of negative "what ifs" flooded my mind. Dakota and Caliber were my babies and I wanted the best outcome. I began to cry and so I got up and stepped outside. After a few minutes I pulled myself together. I had to be there, not matter what the results, for Dakota and for Robbie. I sat back down next to Robbie and then the vet finally called us back.
"Have you had her since she was a puppy?" Asked the vet.
"Yeah" I responded, "she's our baby we've had her, her whole life".
At this moment my thoughts became flooded with, "what does that have to do with anything", "that must mean something bad", "don't cry she's fine", "why would he ask that" "this can't be good."
"It looks like bone cancer in her shoulder blade, I'm going to take a couple more x-rays from a couple more angles" explains the vet.
Then the tears came flooding back. I wasn't ready for this. I thought this would have been a simple vet visit and then we would be back on our way.
We waited outside the x-ray room once more for the vet to take a couple more x-rays. He looked over the x-rays again and then called us back into the room once more.
"I'm ninety percent sure she has bone cancer in her shoulder blade" said the vet.
"What are our options" I asked.
"Well you have three, none of them are the wrong answer. We can prescribed her meds to relieve the pain and try to slow down any cancer and hope she gets another couple months out of life. Or we can amputate her leg to keep any cancer from spreading and hopefully not be in any more pain. Or we can put her to sleep now while she is sedated. Take all the time you need to think this over between the two of you and remember no answer is the wrong answer," said the vet.
Robbie and I had no words.
"Looks here like she's a couple weeks away from turning twelve. You know rottweilers usually only live to be about nine or ten, I would say you got two to three extra years" says the vet.
Speechless. I didn't want to have to be making this decision, ever.
Robbie asked the vet and his assistant a couple question. Then we told the vet to give us some time to talk it over as we went out to the RV to talk amongst ourselves. We knew at this point that keeping her alive was because we didn't want to say goodbye. But we also knew that keeping her alive with one less leg, rather it was amputated or not, would be difficult for her. She was already beginning to need our assistance to get around.
After hours at the vet that day going through x-rays and discusing our options, we knew we would have to face one of the most difficult decisions ever.
It was time to say goodbye to our Dakota bear.
While she was still laying on the x-ray table with her little eyes looking over at us, we gave her hugs and kisses for one last time.
With our hearts broken, we got in the RV and continued down the road in silence.
The next few days things were different. Things were really different. It was just three of us now.
We continued on, stopped at a couple more baseball stadiums and then decided to headed back to South Carolina.
After we made it back to South Carolina, we had found ourselves a small place (to have some where to stay for when we were back home). After settling into our new place, we cleaned out the RV and list it for sale. In the meantime we waited for the Winnebago to be built and get it shipped to us. It was great having a place back home to help make the switch.
A month later our new Winnebago arrived, but our Leisure Travel Van had not sold yet. So we decided it would be better if we just stuck around until it did.
Then the beginning of November 2019 had rolled around. Caliber's cough had subsided over the last couple months, but now her chin started to swell up.
I took her to vet and they didn't have any answers. They said they could do an x-ray. What good would an x-ray do? Tell me my pug was dying now too? I was not ready to go through this again. So, I decided against it and left. Two weeks went by and her chin had gotten even bigger. So, I took her back to the vet, and this time the vet said it's probably cancer. But without undergoing tests they weren't really sure. This time they said they would prescribed her meds and sent us on our way. Over the next few weeks she had seen the vet, but there was nothing that could be done. Caliber's chin just kept getting bigger and worse. It eventually caused her to loose a couple of her bottom teeth. And it had gotten to the point that I had to hand feed her because she was no longer able to pick up her food on her own to eat.
It was now Monday December 16th. I knew the days of her life were narrowing down. That morning Caliber greeted me with excitement at my bedside, like she usually does. I took her out for a longer walk than usual in the park, spent the morning with her soaking up the sun, played the afternoon away in the living room, and snuggled together on the couch.
The next morning, December 17th, Caliber came to my bedside for what would be the last time. She greeted me as usual, only this time I could tell her little excitement was gone. I picked her up and hugged her. I knew she was in pain and not doing well at all.
I brought her into the living room and sat her on the couch next to me while I drank my coffee... I'll spare you the details of what happened during this moment. But we knew for sure after what happened that morning, it was her time to go.
On December 17th, 2019 we were heart broken, yet again, as we had to say goodbye to Caliber.
Now here we are, 2020. Dog-less. Empty nesters...
Trying to decided what direction we are heading next.
Looking to the positive side of things. We're loving our new RV! And now that we don't have any pets, we're now open to traveling really differently. Like flying to other countries or taking really long cruises.
We want to know your ideas! Do you have adventure ideas you would like to see us do? Like, hike Mount Everest? Tell us your ideas on Facebook.
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