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What Do You Do When a Tragedy or Emergency Happens at Home While Traveling?

To know life, one must love many things.”

Vincent van Gogh

I wish I could buy a ticket to heaven for my next trip.  Heaven gained a new angel while I was in Europe last week.  Our Black Lab Shadow went to the Rainbow bridge on July 20th, 2014.  Shadow got along great with our cats.  We love him dearly and he will be so missed.

Shadow was a black lab who we found running around in the middle a busy street in Columbus Ohio.  He had been fixed, but was very skinny and had what is termed Separation Anxiety Disorder which is also known as SAD.  Separation anxiety disorder is likely caused by abuse and or abandonment.  Shadow became very attached to my husband and only my husband.  He went everywhere with my husband - to work, to the store, anywhere he could go Shadow had to go too.  If Shadow couldn't go with my husband he would just lay beside the door until he returned. 

As Shadow got older than about age 10 or so his separation anxiety decreased some.  When he was about 10 years old we thought he may have had a stroke.  It turns out he didn't have a stroke but he had a problem called "Old Dog" Vestibular Disease which you can read about here: Our Scare With "Old Dog" Vestibular Disease. 

We don't know exactly what age shadow was when he passed away last week but the vet estimated he was around 14 years old.  My husband took the best care possible of him that he could even when shadow became mostly blind and deaf and needed help standing up.  He took care of him the best he could.  My husband would take Shadow to the vet periodically to be sure Shadow was not in pain and or suffering.  Shadow had liver cancer which likely was not causing him pain, but in the end the cancer may have spread to his bones.  

 While in Athens I was able to check my e-mail.  It was then I learned that Shadow was in very bad shape.  That was on a Sunday and my husband planned to take him to the vet on Monday to see if there was anything else to be done.  By the time I got to my hotel in Santorini and was able to call home he had really gone downhill.  I did get to say goodbye to him over the phone, but I would not have been able to make it home on time to say goodbye to him.  

I looked into flights to get home from Santorini even though I had already prepaid my hotel.  It would have cost me more than $3000 to get home.  I really did consider just leaving right away and going home, and I definitely would have if it would have meant that I would've been able to say goodbye to Shadow.  Shadow, unfortunately, passed away long before I could've made it from Europe back to the US.  

Shadow had been very sick for a long time we really didn't know if he had days weeks or months he definitely seem to live and have a quality life for a lot longer than we ever would've imagined.  Whenever I left to go somewhere for more than a few hours I made sure that I told him I loved him and gave him a hug.  Upon reflection, I do wish that I had found a way home early from Greece.  I did not enjoy the trip as much as I should have.  I don't know if I will ever return to Santorini or Greece, I have no idea how much more I would have enjoyed the trip had this tragedy not occurred.  I really just couldn't wait to get home from the time this happened.  

I'm not sure if this will be a lasting feeling but this is made me realize how important being at home with my loved ones is.  We have other pets and I never would want this to happen again.  My cat Coco was diagnosed with cancer when she was only 4 1/2 years old.  I didn't dare leave her when she was sick.  There's no way I would've gone on a trip when she came out of remission.  If there had been services for a human being that needed to be attended, I would have spent thousands of dollars to get home I do always insure my trips, but unfortunately insurance companies don't consider an animal the same way they do a human being. 

I did not discuss this on Facebook when it happened, it was just too hard.  I knew I would get 1 million different opinions on what I could or should do.  It came down to being a very personal family decision I wish that I'd never gone on a trip, but Shadow had been stable when I left.  If I had thought for one minute that he would pass away while I was on my trip leaving my husband to deal with such sadness and grief I would not of gone.  In my opinion no amount of money is worse not being there for your family member when they need you most - whether it be a pets or a human being.  

I don't want my love for travel to end because of this tragedy.  I canceled a trip that was scheduled for the near future.  I just need to come to terms with what happened.

“The tragedy of life is not death but what dies inside us while we live.”

Norman Cousins

 As much as I love to travel, there is nothing more important to me than being with family at a time of need, or especially in Shadows case, at the end to say goodbye.  I'm sure there are some of you reading this that would have made a completely different decision than I did and would have spent any amount of money to get home to be with their family even after Shadow passed away.  I understand that and I respect your opinion.  Trust me, there is nothing you can say that will make me feel any worse than I already do.  I do feel a little like this trip to Europe was a bit of a waste as the last half of it was not that enjoyable.

I'm very unsure whether or not I will want to visit Austria or Greece again given the memories that I have.  I do know that there is no way we can time or predict these things.  All I know for sure is that I would not have boarded the plane in the first place if I had known what was coming. 

Shodowcollage730Shadow got along great with our cats!
Photo 2(1)
Photo 2(2)Shadow when he was around 7 years old:
Pano (1 of 1)-121Shadow when he was around 11 years old:

Shadow1Shadow when he was around 14 years old in June 2014:

How we want to remember Shadow.  We got everybody "dressed up for St Patrick's Day in 2010:

Shadow2
Shadow's urn:

Pano (1 of 1)-255Here is our cat Jasmine being watched over by Shadow :)

Pano (1 of 1)-254These are two black dog figurines that I found in Santorini and bought in memory of Shadow:

Pano (1 of 1)-256
Goodbye our sweet Shadow RIP

Pano (1 of 1)-121  Thank you so much for reading and stopping by.  Have you ever experienced a tragedy while you were traveling? If you have any stories to share and don't want to leave a public comment, please feel free to email me my contact information is listed at the top of my blog. 

~Michelle