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Farewell to a Friend

| Updated Jul 23, 2015

“How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to.” – Anonymous

I write this with tears steaming down my face. Our noble friend and companion, Tai, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge – that sappy, mythical but nevertheless comforting place where much-loved pets go to await their masters. He would have been 12 this December.

I debated whether I should do a blog post about this. But Tai was so well known by the Roadtreking community that he was a celebrity in and of himself, often being recognized as we camped across North America. People would come up to meet him and get that awesome Elkhound wag of the tail in return. He even got regular fan mail here.

So it's fitting that I tell the Roadtreking community.

We first learned that Tai had serious health issues about two weeks ago when he was found panting and having great difficulty breathing one morning. Rushed to an emergency vet clinic, a huge tumor was found around his aortic valve. It was inoperable. His heart sac was filling with blood and he was very near death. The fluid was drained, the tumor measured and a terminal diagnosis was given.

We haven't shared that publicly but our hope was for a few more months. That wasn't to be. He began having seizures last night and, though he seemed to rally, they continued today. It was obvious his heart sac was again filling up. Tai took his last ride in the Roadtrek about 1:50 pm today (July 23, 2015). Jennifer and I were both by his side as he peacefully drifted off.

Now, we are in a house that seems so empty.

I drove home in the Roadtrek without him, a few tufts of his thick beautiful grey and black coat on the floor still between the two front seats where he loved to sit and be petted as we drove across the country. Unashamedly, I admit to crying the whole way home. His spirit and our Roadtreking lifestyle are so intertwined it's absolutely gut-wrenching to realize he won't be with us anymore.

To those who never had a dog, I'm sure all this grief seems misplaced. But to those who have been blessed to have a dog, you know how we feel.

Tai loved Roadtreking. When we were home, he'd sit next to it in the driveway, anxiously awaiting the next adventure.

tai1 (1 of 1)

And adventure he had. I have hundreds of photos of him. Hiking riverbanks and forests, mountain tops and canyons, beaches and meadows. He barked at bison, sniffed bears, chased elk and deer, mixed it up with raccoons, got sprayed by a skunk and made friends across the country.

He had a good, full life. But now ours is so empty.

Like our house. Like the Roadtrek.

This will pass. Tai was our third dog, all of them Elkhounds. We've been through this before.

Some say the only way to get over the loss of a dog is to get a new one. That may happen. But not for a while. That new one wouldn't be Tai.

I thought you should know.

I want to end this with another quote, sent me by a reader:

“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them.

And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart.

If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog,

and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”

– Anonymous




Mike Wendland

Published on 2015-07-23

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

42 Responses to “Farewell to a Friend”

August 25, 2015at11:23 am, judyt2012 said:

So Sorry for your loss

July 28, 2015at5:53 pm, NYOB said:

I’m sorry you lost your lovely Tai… I’ve never known a day with out a dog in my life since the day I was born… the hardest part of loving dogs is that they can’t stay with us long enough. Tai is gone but a part of him stays with you living in your hearts and memories.

July 28, 2015at12:42 pm, Cyndia Montgomery said:

Tears are falling here as I read your posting. It was less than a year ago that our sweet golden retriever Sophie left us. It was a fast-growing untreatable cancer. Whenever I think of her, I remember what a puppy she still was at 10 years of age. How overjoyed she was to see us, even if we had just been gone for a minute. I know your pain is fresh now, and it will feel so for a very long time. It’s ok. Our furbabies are our dear friends. They deserve to be mourned, and mourned well.
I am so very sorry for your loss.

July 27, 2015at10:46 pm, Karen Abbo said:

I’m so sorry to hear of your loss of Tai. It is so difficult to lose your best friend and a member of the family. I’ve lost 3 dogs in the past 5 years. All were heart-wrenching losses. I do believe that they all guided me to the next dog. I now have the sweetest miniature Poodle-mix named Cocoa. She is my constant companion and although we don’t have a Roadtrek yet, she loves to accompany me on roadtrips in our Class C RV. I wish you peace and love at this sad time.

July 27, 2015at7:42 pm, Steve Kaylor said:

You brought me to tears also. We recently lost our girl after 13 years. She was our constant companion and source of so much joy. Her ‘brother’ lives and was one of the main reasons that we bought our van. We love spending time with him and he finds such joy in going places with us.

Jennifer and Mike, I’m sure you provided Tai with an incredible life; one that most dogs do not get to experience. As well, he fill filled your lives with joy. I hope that you can find some peace in this time of sorrow.

Thank you Tai and all of the other pets in this world for all that you do for us.

Rest in peace my friend.

July 27, 2015at6:18 pm, Dave said:

So sorry for your loss, we have been there also. God bless you and your wife.

July 27, 2015at5:51 pm, Kira Carolan said:

So sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved Tai. I hope that in time you will decide if you can open your heart to another traveling friend. I wish both of you the best.
On another note, I love to follow your blog. It has been inspirational and informative. We bought a class A diesel pusher less than a year ago and are amaze how much we love RVing. Yesterday on the NJ Turnpike, we pulled into fill up and a Roadtreck 2500 pulled in next to us. We said hello and the lovely couple, previously from Basking Ridge NJ chatted with us on how they love their Roadtreck, which they had just purchased and travel with their 2 golden retreivers. I invited them aboard to see our larger RV. I just wanted to say, we have met the nicest people on our adventures. Thank you for sharing your adventures and tips.

July 27, 2015at5:51 pm, Kira Carolan said:

So sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved Tai. I hope that in time you will decide if you can open your heart to another traveling friend. I wish both of you the best.
On another note, I love to follow your blog. It has been inspirational and informative. We bought a class A diesel pusher less than a year ago and are amaze how much we love RVing. Yesterday on the NJ Turnpike, we pulled into fill up and a Roadtreck 2500 pulled in next to us. We said hello and the lovely couple, previously from Basking Ridge NJ chatted with us on how they love their Roadtreck, which they had just purchased and travel with their 2 golden retreivers. I invited them aboard to see our larger RV. I just wanted to say, we have met the nicest people on our adventures. Thank you for sharing your adventures and tips.

July 27, 2015at3:33 pm, Robert Dawson Sr. said:

So sorry for your loss, I know how much he ment to to both .God bless

July 27, 2015at1:17 pm, CarlosAPerez said:

My condolences on Tai’s passing. I don’t FT RV yet, but work from a home office, and my dear dog Carmel is with me throughout the day. Like other dogs before her, she’s a part of the family and the day we have to say goodbye will be hard. Great dogs are a blessing to us every day we have them, as no doubt you’ve found with Tai.

July 27, 2015at9:58 am, DuchessofDownton said:

We know how you feel because our precious baby left us in 2014. We were heartbroken then and we miss him today. Dogs and cats are God’s angels here on earth. I can’t imagine my life without them.

July 27, 2015at9:25 am, Zane Creamer said:

Sharing your tears as I understand your loss. With the passage of time may the grip of grief give way to laughter and delight in all of the wonderful memories with your noble companion.

July 27, 2015at9:21 am, Terry Cohoe said:

Of course I’m crying reading this. We have always had a dog or two in the house, sharing our lives with us, and each time we have had to say goodbye has been torturous. We know how it feels and are so sorry for your heartbreak.

July 27, 2015at9:10 am, mamomlip said:

Mike and Jennifer, our sympathy goes out to you in the loss of your beloved Tai. Only another dog lover who has loved and lost can truly understand the depth of your sorrow. Remember all the joys you shared. The empty place he left can only be lessened when the time is right and you choose a new companion. But, he will always remain in your hearts.

July 27, 2015at9:04 am, Carol Bradfield said:

I too am crying. We just bought a motor home, partly to be able to take our dogs with us. Our Gabby, a Bernese Mountain Dog, will be 12 in October and has not been doing well. Always looming in our minds is the thought that we to shall soon have to say goodbye. Yes, we too have had dogs always in our life and actually have a pet cemetary of most of our pets, but I agree that they take a piece of our hearts each time and like the idea that a new dog brings back a new piece. Yes Dog spelled backwards is God and God and Dog are Love!

July 27, 2015at8:48 am, Diane said:

Mike and Jennifer, my heart is breaking for your loss of Taj. Of course it was the right thing to do to share your grief with your Roadtreking family. May Taj now be at peace and may your grief be eased knowing your life was fulfilled with his presence.

July 27, 2015at8:32 am, Carolyn Barfield said:

So sorry to hear of Tai passing. I had to cry with you and for me as I also lost my beloved dog just 2 months ago and I do know what you are going through. My dog was 13 years old and had diabetes with cushings disease and knew we wouldn’t have him too many years but it was still very hard. Our dog loved to go camping and was always excited when he saw us loading up the camper. He was always so happy to be on the road. Ours was, as I am sure yours was, an integral part of our family and will be missed forever. Like you, I don’t plan on getting another dog right now, maybe someday.

July 27, 2015at6:56 am, Alexis Fell said:

Mike and Jennifer, please accept my heartfelt sympathy regarding Tai. He is such an integral part of your lives and of these posts. We do understand your loss…you have a heavy heart and a hole in your lives. Our best to you both for giving Tai a wonderful life!
Gary and Alexis Fell

July 26, 2015at1:17 pm, Scott Baker said:

Hearts are breaking everywhere. The loss of Tai is the loss of a friend and companion. Although part of life, it isn’t easy. Take some time to remember his joy and life he brought to everyone.

July 25, 2015at10:06 pm, Marty N Donnas Roadtrek said:

So hard to read this Mike. My heart breaks for you both. What a wonderful companion Tai was.
Thinking of you both

July 25, 2015at9:05 pm, Dogs59 said:

Crying as I write this…………..we have lost 3 dogs over the years and have 2 at the present time. We never forget them, they live in our hearts forever. I hope when you feel ready you can find another wonderful friend to share your trips with. And I truly know that all dogs go to heaven and will meet us one day when we get there, what a reunion we will all have !!

July 24, 2015at12:59 pm, Barb Mahoney said:

“Dogs aren’t our whole lives, but they make our lives whole” ~ Roger Caras

July 24, 2015at12:27 pm, Tanya Storti said:

I am so sorry for your loss, Tai was a beautiful dog. You gave him an amazing life and hopefully you will do the same for another, some day when you are ready. I have a Basset Hound that I adore and I can’t imagine the grief when her time comes.

July 24, 2015at9:29 am, Carol said:

Tai was part of your team–his loss seems so sudden and it is very sad. Thanks for sharing about him.

July 24, 2015at12:46 am, Rita Hartman said:

We share your loss. How difficult to say goodbye to such an amazing dog! Tai was a beauty to behold! Glad we got to see him at the Red Lodge Photo Safari. We enjoyed the countless tales you shared of him!

July 24, 2015at12:14 am, maryk2222 said:

My heart goes out to the two of you! RIP Tai, explore the land by the Bridge until it’s time for all of you to cross over.

July 24, 2015at12:05 am, Carrie Ervin said:

The Rainbow Bridge

inspired by a Norse legend

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,

Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

Where the friends of man and woman do run,

When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,

Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

On this golden land, they wait and they play,

Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,

For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.

Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,

Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,

Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.

All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;

Together again, both person and pet.

So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,

Has turned into joy once more in each heart.

They embrace with a love that will last forever,

And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

July 23, 2015at11:57 pm, Athena Keller said:

People are born so that they learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time being nice etc.”; “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.” This is a 6yr Olds reasoning. It helped when we lost our fur baby of 13 years. We have other fur baby’s but they are all unique and leave they’re own special imprint on us. So sorry for your loss and may you find another to love.

July 23, 2015at11:28 pm, Addie Lozano said:

I just lost my beloved Kishi (miniature poodle) a week ago, He would of been 15 years tomorrow. s I know your pain..May we meet with them in heaven. <3

July 23, 2015at10:33 pm, Jeff Bushnell said:

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It is a big blow and leaves an empty space in one’s heart as well as between the front seats. We have lost three dogs in the last ten years. One, Bob, was a Roadtreker. His replacement, Betty, loves the Roadtrek and sits in the same place you mentioned Tai liked. When Bob died we thought we would wait to get another. Lasted about two weeks and went to the shelter and found Betty.

July 23, 2015at9:25 pm, Harold said:

Mike and Jennifer,
I am so sorry to hear of your loss; our dogs are such special parts of out families that to lose one is to lose a part of your heart. We started RV’ing with three vizslas and are now down to one, Maddie, who is our very special camping pup. She started traveling with us as a puppy and is now 10. We know that someday she’ll be making her last trip and we know there is no way to prepare for that day. My wife and I followed Tai on your blog and he will live forever in our hearts as he will in yours. Sending warming rays of understanding and compassion your way. I’m giving Maddie a special big hug tonight with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

July 23, 2015at9:15 pm, Tina Schwarze Anderson said:

I think my heart stopped for a minute; and then, as I continued reading, I cried. How beautiful the thought of finishing his life here doing what he loved and then crossing over, waking up in the loving arms of his Creator. My prayers are with you and Jennifer through the difficult days ahead. (Matt.5:1-4)

July 23, 2015at8:22 pm, Elaine Schuster said:

I am so sorry for your loss. Really, we all loved Tai, too. It is so hard to lose such a devoted friend. I’m sure another dog will eventually need your love, that’s how it happens. I love the idea of getting to be more dog with every new dog we add to our lives.

July 23, 2015at8:03 pm, Crystal Abramson said:

My heart is breaking for you Mike and Jennifer. I am crying like a baby, so so sad for you I can’t even imagine losing my Luke. I’m glad you are taking this time to grieve and taking care of yourselves.

July 23, 2015at6:23 pm, Janet Arnold said:

I dont have a dog and have never had one but I have had cats and it is so hard to see them step on over before us. It breaks my heart to know you are both going through so much. I will send so many good thoughts and prayers your way. Wishing Tai good journeys on the other side. Hugs to you both.

July 23, 2015at6:20 pm, Francesca St James said:

So very sorry, I know how you feel, it is tough.

July 23, 2015at5:53 pm, Sharon Diehl said:

Camping in Perrot State Park, Wisconsin, along the Mississippi River.

July 23, 2015at5:51 pm, Heather Bayer said:

As we watch our lab grow older with each RV trip – no longer able to leap into the back seat of the truck with the abandon of a younger dog, but still lying beside the truck or RV every day in the hopes of a trip, we know this day will come for us too. Anyone who has ever had a fur companion leaning out of the window in complete joy as the miles roll past, will know the heart wrench of losing them. Tears are flowing as I write too and my heart goes out to you.

July 23, 2015at5:46 pm, Sharon Diehl said:

I’m sorry for your loss. I am on my third generation of dogs. It is during this third generation of dogs that I bought my Roadtrek. My malamute/husky, Calli, passed a year ago of cancer at 12 1/2, so I understand the grief you feel. But the Damnation Dalmatian and I still head out, and now we are joined by a Moonsong Malamute Rescue foster by name of Denali.

Safe travels…and I hope a rescue dog finds it’s way soon into your heart and into your Roadtrek.

July 23, 2015at5:22 pm, Katie Harville said:

I am crying with you and for you. I read Those first few words you wrote and I just said, not Tai. My heart goes out to you at your loss. My 15 yo passed a few months ago and I got another pup soon. He’s learning to travel right now. We named him Ryder. Love to you both.

July 23, 2015at5:14 pm, Ellen Darby said:

With tears in my eyes I write to tell you how sorry I am.

July 23, 2015at5:06 pm, Jean Boyle said:

So sorry to hear about Tai. I was first drawn to your Facebook page partly because of the RV content but partly because I was raised with a series of three Norwegian Elkhounds – all wonderful family members. I was one of Tai’s fans! We lost our older dog a couple months ago and although I have gone through the process before, it was heartbreaking to say good-bye to our fur child. You gave him an amazing life and the wonderful gift of being there at the end. You are in my thoughts.

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