Out of a dozen or more canines, Spook was the happiest dog at Spirit River Ranch, even though he was nearly killed by the neighbor’s pit bulls, and suffered a long, painful rehab in our living room.
It was then that we learned that our rescued catahula hound, Spook, was deaf. Those crystal blue eyes, and his “spookiness” might have given us warning, but this lost soul found his way into our hearts so completely and profoundly, we didn’t care. Even with all his early troubles, he became our Ambassador of Happiness, welcoming everyone who came to our friendly B&B with a sideways gait, oversized paws, a goofy howl-bark — and unquestioned acceptance and joy. Even though he was often startled, nothing ever got him down. He had boundless energy and he was a constant inspiration for living life to its fullest.
It was a year or more later we learned the skittish pup was sadly lost while traveling with his mother as part of his first (and only) cattle drive — undoubtedly confused and distracted, as the livestock bumped, bellowed, and plodded along the red roads bordering the Ranch. After a few hungry nights he found us. The ranch hands said he was too spooky to be hand fed. Even though he couldn’t hear anyone call it, the name Spook fit, and it stuck.
Those same dusty roads brought hundreds of visitors and residents of all types to our corner of the world, with stories to tell and souls to heal. There was a constant stream of guests, workers, officials, cowboys, friends, families, pets, and horses. Each one left happily changed for having been at that magical place — a place which was borne from bare earth out of our devoted love and beautiful dreams, and grew stronger from the many who left a part of their heart with us.
But now, we are all gone from Spirit River Ranch. My husband John passed away there, and his treasured pets (Annie the German shorthair, and Tex the siamese) followed him soon thereafter. Everyone else who called the Ranch home has a new life in a new location.
The properties were split apart and houses turned over to new owners. The furnishings, and vehicles, and equipment were sold. The celebrations were silenced. The website went down.
The entity had a lifespan of its own that came to an end, and because the memories of the enormity of work have faded, I miss the sweetness of it all more now than ever.
Loss and discovery come in many forms; Spook lost his way but found a new “job” as our host, along with a new family; I lost my beloved husband, but discovered a new steadfast community that came to my rescue daily for two years afterwards. Countless precious gifts were resurrected from the ashes.
Finally, this year, a decade after the Ranch ceased its operations, I have happily memorialized it with a photo-story online, with the intention of thanking the people who were once part of that special community.
However, another magical gift is quietly taking shape — dozens of new people who never visited the Ranch have already “been there” by viewing the pictures, and have been touched by its miraculous beauty and effervescent energy.
The love lives on …
It’s likely the cycle of joy and grief will always be present throughout our lives. Little losses occur with each season. But come what may, it helps to remember Spook. He had so many strikes against him, yet he was fearlessly and endlessly in love with life, no matter what startling drama came his way. Each hour held new surprises, and he expected everything to be fun (in the end). He engaged fully moment-by-moment; greeted everyone with curiosity and blissful gaiety; and his sweet magic lives on in my heart.
When people and events come into your life for a SEASON, It is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you to do something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it … For it is real!
But, only for a season.
And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall,
The season eventually ends.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.” — unknown author
Many seasons have come and gone since those days at the Ranch. Hopefully all the needs of that time were met, and the lessons were learned … but certainly, the love borne among family and friends at Spirit River Ranch will never die