With Jumbo by my side, we walked across the Escalante desert at night, sleeping in a cave, drinking water from a mud puddle. Together we climbed in to and out of Dark Canyon, both of us nearly unable to walk the next day. We wandered for a week through the Pasayten wilderness in to Canada. We crossed the Alvord desert, explored the Owyhee canyons, camped on Steens mountain. We climbed Mt. Townsend, Marmot pass and the Ridge of Gargoyles. We went up and down the Dungeness, and back again.
We ate together, slept together and looked out for each other. When I couldn’t bring Jumbo, he stayed home to protect and accompany my wife.
Now he is gone.
Holy hell, losing Jumbo ain’t been easy. Took me a month and a half to post a picture and write something. Now I have to pick myself up and try to get back to the mountains without him.
I don’t much buy in to the theory that humans are superior to animals. In fact, I find it kind of offensive. Especially knowing that Jumbo could hear and smell better than I. He sensed things I couldn’t see. He could run twice as fast, jump higher and swim circles around me. He had way more patience. He could endure more pain and suffering. He simply had me beat in almost every department.
When I hear someone say “It’s just a dog.” I mumble a few cuss words under my breath. That dog Jumbo was a spiritual being. A living manifestation of the universal life force. A Buddha. My Buddha. My teacher.
Despite the pain of loss, I wouldn’t have missed a minute of my life with Jumbo. He died with dignity, and his last teaching was on the ephemeral nature of our individual lives.