Grief is a hell of a motivator.

For seven and a half years we had adventures with Rina and I’d been recording them through her eyes. Some were sad, others disastrous, but most were happy, and funny. I expected the party to go on forever.

By September 2016 I’d completed 70,000 words of the Rina story and was working out how to finish it off. I wanted an uplifting, happy ending celebrating unconditional love. Rina was going on fourteen, healthy and we expected her to live for many more years.

October came and we went away for a four day break to Candi Dasa. Rina was keen to go and as usually sat on our bag while we packed ensuring she wasn’t left behind.

No sooner had we arrived in Candi Dasa, than we noticed a change. Her usual inquisitiveness was absent, she seemed lethargic and only nibbled at her food. Day two, she stopped eating completely and by day three, we were worried. We returned to Ubud and our vet. Tests were run and it was discovered she had blood parasites. The prognosis was not good, but we hoped medication and transfusions would work and our little girl would regain her health. I had a trip scheduled to the Cambodian Kampot Festival in late October, and cancelled it, wanting to stay around for Rina’s recovery.

For three weeks Sunset Vet became our second home. Drugs were tried and tests given, but without improvement. Her weight dropped, even though we force-fed her with syringes of food and water. Never did she resist. Her vision and hearing started to go and her weight plummeted, but I still expected her to recover. Denial was my companion.

On the 30th October, we took Rina to the vet, hoping to hear encouraging words, but none were uttered. Nursing Rina, Bayu drove us home on his motorbike and parked outside our house, but I didn’t move. “Go back to the vet,” I said. “I haven’t asked the right questions.” Returning to Dr Wulan, I mustered the words, “She’s not going to recover. Is she?” Hearing confirmation of my fears, I knew I was allowing her to suffer, this dog, who I loved more than life itself. We scheduled for the vet to visit us the following morning and euthanize out darling.

Tears flowed. The life left Rina’s body and we buried her body in our small garden. But her spirit remained, nagging at Bayu and I to remember all the good times we’d had together. Lying on our bed, we cried and reminisced for hours and I realised I had the final chapters of Rina’s book. An ending I had no desire for, but the one that was real, the one I had to write.

Sadness gripped us and I felt we needed time alone to grieve. “I want to finish Rina’s book,” I said, my eyes still leaking. “Will you come with me to Cambodia?”

Two days later we were in Phnom Penh and a couple of days later in Kampot. We took in sights, drank coffee and always chatted about Rina. In my spare moments I wrote. Grief propelled the words onto the page. I wondered who was writing, Rina, or me. As tears flowed from each of us we embraced, and ever so slowly we healed. After Kampot we took a tuktuk to Kep where we had two nights booked. On this trip, my flood gates opened as recollections of Rina flashed through my mind. I was processing the next section to be written. Arriving in Kep, I was still unable the stop the flow of tears so Bayu told our driver to return us to Kampot. Back in out Kampot hotel, I lay on the bed and wrote. Bayu massaged my back and from the sniffs I heard, I knew he too was crying. Grief was proving to be one hell of a motivator. By the time we stepped onto the plane for home, Rina’s manuscript was completed. Our grief was still strong, but a little more controllable.

Home in Bali we set up the Rina memorial garden, a further step in mourning and letting go. As my desk faced this garden, the photos on display were a constant reminder of our adventures and eight wonderful years together.

Sitting at my desk, photographic reminders of Rina in the garden before me, I moved the completed draft through the editorial process. Eventually, it was completed and in March 2020, the publication process began.

Using Publishizer, on the 4th April, 2020, I launched a crowd-funded book publishing deal. This campaign runs until the 4th May and at last Rina’s book will be published. If you wish to pre-order, “Abandoned, Rescued, Loved – a dog’s story, click on the link below.

Rina lives on in my heart and my memories. The grief I once felt has long gone replaced by joy and happiness. I know we were blessed to shave her in our lives for eight glorious years. Who could ask for more?

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