New Journey: The Last Sunset
Dave stood patiently by my left leg as I fumbled in my jacket pocket and found my house keys, after our usual evening walk. Juggling his lead in one hand and my keys in the other I turned the key in the lock. I opened the front door “Hi Honey we’re home,” I mentally recited.
My girlfriend was standing in the hallway – her bags were packed and her face told me this was the end of our long relationship. Life dropped away from me with the terrifying suddenness and shock of a plummeting elevator.
Dave trotted along the hallway oblivious and into the kitchen and gulped water from his bowl; I fought back the tears but failed. 10 minutes earlier I had been taking carefree photos of the beautiful Sussex sunset as Dave chased the bees and the singing birds.
This was the last sunset I photographed before my life took a dramatic change in direction. The location was Parham Glider Field, near Storrington, West Sussex and the time was a little after 8.45pm.
The date was the 6th August 2015. A lot has changed since then as our story will reveal.
Dave and I had been enjoying our daily walk over the fields. We had chatted to our canine and human friends; a motley bunch of hounds that accompanied us most evenings. The humans chatted small talk and the dogs crouched and ran, jumped and sniffed!
A happy gaggle of people – brought together by a mutual love of the countryside and animals. Dave would run huge circles across the freshly mown grass of the landing strip. Grass would be thrown up like dust devils as he charged full speed – without a care in the world. The occasional glider would swoosh over our heads and land with a silent waggle of a wing.
10 minutes later it had all changed. Without much drama my partner said her words and closed the front door behind her. I heard her car start and drive away. The sun had set for good.
Well Dave it looks like it is you and me now kid.
I sat down on the sofa, it didn’t really matter which end I now chose, and lowered my head and looked to my knees. The denim of my jeans was soaked; tears cascaded down my face at an alarming rate. Emotion flooded my thoughts and probably the floor. I closed my eyes and sobbed.
After a few seconds a face appeared; between my knees. A pink wet nose nudged me, I ignored it. A second or so later it nudged me again, this time more purposefully. I opened my tear filled eyes and looked. Big brown eyes looked back into my pitiful red pupils.
I sniffed a sorrowful sound and weakly stroked the silky smooth head that was now wedged firmly between my knees and staring up at me. Alpha dog was falling apart and Dave, a mere 6 months old, had come to rescue me. From death by tears!
We looked at each other; if you have ever spent time with a border collie you will know only too well those deep soulful eyes. Without a shadow of doubt he knew something was very wrong and his instinct was to come and help; to seek comfort with the pack – well the pack of one as it now was.
Dave allowed me time to grieve over the loss of my relationship. I could see he was subdued and like me he would often look to the empty dining room chairs and silent cutlery and question this new life in his canine way.
After a few days of feeling sorry for myself I made plans to move to Devon, some 180 miles away from my beloved Sussex South Downs, from my close friends and from the footpaths and streams that Dave and I knew so well.
I sold my motorbike, bought my own car and set off to live with my parents for a few weeks to let the dust settle. Perhaps not my “Best day ever,” but one that cemented the bond between man and dog, if ever Dave and I needed a reason.
Now let me take you back in time; to that wonderful day when Dave chose us.