A week after the loss of my soul dog, Kota, in August, my husband, Pete, booked a Thanksgiving getaway for the two of us at the Mountain Top Inn and Resort in Chittenden, VT. We were already having anxiety about what the holidays were going to be like without our best friend and companion. Can we somehow continue the bond with our best friend? Will a getaway be too emotional …. or will it be helpful for us?
After booking, my husband came upstairs, teary-eyed: “The cabin that I booked is pet-friendly. I told them about losing Kota. They said just in case we do have a dog by then, they are more than welcome.”
I got teary eyed, too. It’s not that we will never have a dog again. Dogs are my world. I just couldn’t think about traveling with a “new” dog. The holidays were going to be a challenge without Kota for sure.
I wanted to share my first getaway /holiday experience without Kota. I hope you that if you’ve lost a pet, this will resonate with you. Try to get out there and do something fun for yourself, honoring you pet. They remain in our hearts forever, and want us to enjoy life to the fullest.
I remember speaking with animal communicator, Laurie Blomer, about looking for “signs” that Kota is with me after saying goodbye to her. Sometimes I feel that I was looking almost “too hard.” Owls are big sign for me. Kota used to talk with the barred owls at night. I haven’t heard any of the owls lately, but I run into lots of owl pictures and other items that are owl theme which makes me think of Kota. (check out my podcast interview with Laurie for One Last Network here: Interview with Laurie Blomer)
The moment we pulled onto interstate 495 as we headed toward New Hampshire, I knew Kota was joining us in spirit. Right in front of us was a big RV camper with “Lakota” in big letters across the back. My husband saw it just a moment before me and exclaimed, “Look! Lakota!”
“Lakota” was Kota’s name when we adopted her from Arkansas. We ended up call her “Kota” as it seemed perfect.
That wasn’t the only sign! One of the walks we did in Chittenden, VT, just up from our cabin, we encountered an adorable vacation home …. named “Lakoda”. Kota was with us in VT!
Traveling after the loss of a pet isn’t easy. Pay attention to the “signs”. It may be a license plate. It may be an animal. It could be anything. The signs are out there.
Mountain Top Inn
The views! Breathtaking! We stayed in an adorable cabin. We had a fireplace that we kept going in the evenings. November at the Mountain Top is “off season”, but will still had an amazing time hiking and eating lots of great food haha!
There were 2 cabins and each cabin was split into two. Being away from the main building was perfect and a bit quieter and more peaceful, I’m sure.
A downhill hike from behind the Inn led to the Chittenden Reservoir. We only had a blanket of snow, but still beautiful to see! I would love to go back when the have more snow to do some snowshoeing or X-country skiing. Kota would have LOVED this hike!
Find a “new” place to visit and make memories. We could have stayed at a familiar place, but something new and refreshing was nice.
This may have been the best part of our trip! The horses! Our cabin had the best view of the horses from anywhere at the Inn. My husband and I enjoyed watching them. They waited eagerly for their breakfast in the morning at 7:00 AM and dinner in the late afternoon.
The Mountain Top Inn offers sleigh rides in the winter months, and we watched as they trained the horses for this.
Our server for our Thanksgiving meal was wonderful! She asked if we were staying in one of the cabins. We said that we were, and we told her about how much we loved visiting the horses. She offered us a bag of carrots to feed them – yes, please! She came back with JUMBO carrots and that added to our fun with our horse friends!
I have been working with grief counselor Beth Bigler of Honoring our Animals since Kota passed. It’s been very helpful. She knows how I was feeling before our trip to VT and how I was anxious about the holidays. “Why don’t you paint a stone in memory of Kota and leave it in VT?” That was a great idea! I painted a Kota stone and found the perfect place to leave it – right in between the horses and our cabin. Kota loved to watch horses! She can visit them, too.
Continuing the Bond
Just because our pets may no longer be with us “physically”, it does not mean that they aren’t with us in spirit. We can continue the bond we have with them. We can practice little rituals to remember them. Paint a stone and bring it on your next adventure to honor a pet you have lost. It’s comforting. I’m so glad that I did that.
My Vermont getaway was also a great way to strengthen the bond with my husband. We are still learning how to navigate life without Kota. We miss her terribly every day. We smile when we talk about her and we find ourselves saying, “Kota would love this!” … and we say this A LOT. And …. we smile through tears.
Around the Circle
This week’s post is part of a pet photographer’s blog circle, with our topic being “the bond”. Next up is my lovely friend and founder of One Last Network, Angela Schneider of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, Washington, focusing on ways your dog says I love you. If you haven’t checked out the One Last Network Podcast, please do so! Meet some of us and give The Art of End of Life Pet Photography a listen as a start. Have a great weekend!