I very, VERY seldom take time off since it means leaving my clients to fend for themselves (that’s a lengthy subject fit for another post), but when I’m given a chance to see a special dog who moved and left a hole in my heart, I GO, with my amazing clients’ blessings. I like to think it’s not every canine caregiver who has plane tickets bestowed upon her so that she can travel to an ex-client-now-friend’s home and reunite with her pooch pal. That this was done for me by Summer’s parents, Elyse and Tom, is so touching that there are no words. I’ve stayed in contact with many past clients, even facilitated play dates between their pups and the pack mates they so sorely missed, but I’ve never flown to see them, nor have I been invited to stay in their families’ homes purely for the fun of visiting. The trip I took to Summer’s phenomenally beautiful Florida home created a precedent that I hope will become the rule, not the exception.
Murphy, Riley and Nico were Summer’s walk partners, so their thoughtful mom sent me off with a gift from them.
My original flight to Tampa was canceled due to bad weather, but Summer tossed some of her good karma my way and I was able to board an extremely iffy standby flight the following morning.
Summer’s reaction when she saw me get out of the car was hysterical. She made noises like a deranged wildebeest as she raced toward me, then she knocked me to the ground and covered me with sloppy kisses from head to toe. We didn’t film because some moments are meant to be experienced, not documented.
This home is like paradise…or rather is paradise. No need for metaphor or simile. It’s a cluster of Spanish-style stone buildings, which Elyse aptly calls casitas, that surround a tile and garden courtyard. I’m a lover of flowers, so the colorful, frothy bougainvillea and mandevilla were candy for my eyes. Tree frogs sang at night and lizards scurried by day (I’m not the sort of girl who’s skeeved by these creatures, they fascinate me!). It’s heaven on earth. I’m so happy for Summer that she’s traded hectic NYC for this.
We dined out and explored St. Petersburg, which is delightfully dog-friendly. Every restaurant has outdoor seating with ginormous fans to circulate the stagnant air, and many offer dog beds and bowls of ice water. Tucker was licking leftover bacon grease from his nose in the last photo. Or maybe he was putting it on his nose for later. Hard to say.
It was a wonderful visit, but too short. After I packed my bags, both pups stuck to me like glue. Summer buried her head in my lap as if to avoid seeing me go. I scratched her ears until she felt better and then waved goodbye. But only until the next time.