In 2015, I was preparing to leave for Bocas. At that time, I was living with three dogs: Fanny, a Goldendoodle that belonged to my roommate and great friend Michel, BarrBra and Gus. Michel had found an apartment but could not take Fanny with him. The problem was that I was in love with Fanny and Gus, but not with the bitch... oops, BarrBra. So I decided to go to Panama with Fanny and Gus, and find a home for Barbara, which quickly happened. I spent a day with a wonderful family introducing them to BarrBra. She was funny, playful and loving. In short, she was up to the situation and made me feel bad for wanting to give it a second time. They obviously fell under her spell and decided to adopt her. Despite my best efforts, I found myself at a dead end. The promise I made to myself to never give up dogs haunted me and tore my soul. I knew that if I didn't keep that promise, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I couldn't betray the trust and love my dogs had given me. It was impossible. So I called the family back to tell them that it would not happen because I was unable to do so. Eventually, Fanny was the one that became their companion dog.
Even today, I still miss Fanny.
BarrBra and Gus joined me two months after I arrived in Bocas. By the time I had found a house with a large garden in the middle of Solarte Island. Gus was getting old, he was already 11 years old. I was agonizing for months thinking about if he would make it through this journey.
I blamed myself so much for getting him involved in this story. But Gus was my love, my faithful companion, my shadow. Impossible to leave without him.
It's January 2016, and I've been in Bocas since September 20, 2015. Life is not easy here, and there are many challenges. I arrived in a sorry state due to my years of hard work, and I am in full burnout.
At the end of December 2015, Chantal visited me. I'm out of breath, she knows it, and she's coming to support me. One afternoon, I'm in the garden with Gus, and we're playing ball. Suddenly, he falls to his side and will never walk again. I yell at Chantal: "Chantal, Gus is going to die!" We had to wait three days for the vet to come and relieve Gus. We laid Gus on a mattress in the living room and spent three nights and three days taking care of him. BarrBra was always respectful of him and his space, as if she understood what was going on.
We finally managed to reach the vet. Back then, the Internet and mobile phones were not as efficient as they are today. The vet had to take a boat and go right in the middle of the island. Gus left slowly on January 6, 2016, taking a part of me with him. I never imagined that I would have to dig a hole for my dogs' final resting place. Never. Here we are, Chantal and I, in the sun, digging a hole for Gus, among sobs and sometimes... screams.
I don't believe in God, but sometimes suffering pushes us to our limits. Chantal and I placed a coconut on Gus's grave and said, "Gus, grow this coconut, make it a tree worthy of your name. Embellish this beautiful garden where you rest.
Chantal finally returned to Montreal.
I spent almost two months alone with BarrBra on Solarte. Every day we visited Gus. We sat on the grass in silence, while the ants devoured our legs. BarrBra was no longer chasing the ball. We were grieving.
A few days after Gus died, I found a house in Saigon. We moved on the first of March 2016.
Before leaving Solarte, the coconut we had placed on Gus opened to let a small shoot emerge. I like to think Gus had something to do with it. He still lives in me through that palm tree I brought here. You can see him swaying in the wind at the very end of the terrace on the right, greet him from me.
So we arrived at our new home, BarrBra and I. I had no time to lose. I had to open the hotel quickly to have an income, but I still needed a name for legal papers, etc.
I do not believe in eternal life, nor do I speak to those who have left us by rolling their eyes. But I keep them in me. I have always believed that we live as long as we are in the memory of a human being. I looked at BarrBra and said, "BarrBra, you're going to live a long time. My business will bear your name in your honor and that of all the dogs I have had and will have in my life. Your name will echo in the memories of people on every continent... You will survive your departure. Believe me!”
It was over the months that followed that the true nature of BarrBra was revealed. By receiving people at home, she became this adorable, warm and sweet dog. She had finally found a meaning to her life: taking care of people. She was where she always needed to be.
Loulou came into our lives a few years later, always with the idea in mind to find a life companion for BarrBra. You can imagine that BarrBra was quite annoying and unpleasant for a few weeks before falling in love with Loulou, who was also a little plague when she was a baby. Her nickname at the time was "Tornado".
BarrBra is still present in me today. She was an extraordinary companion, both for work and for everyday life. She charmed every guest, even the most reluctant. I still remember the time we had guests who had an excruciating fear of dogs.
I would look at BarrBra and say, "It's up to you." On two occasions, I found these same customers lying on the floor with BarrBra, playing with her and cuddling her. She had managed to charm again. We were a great team.
She passed away in September 2022 at the age of 15. She will have planted so much love and sweetness in people's hearts. She was not sick for long, only 4 days. She refused to eat pizza. At that moment, I knew the end was near. I called my friends and we organized a day at Playa Estrella, BarrBra’s favorite beach. Tired and without much energy, she was sitting next to me looking at the sea. She knew it was the last time she would see it.
Two days later, the vet came to the house to relieve BarrBra. She was lying at the entrance of the house and I was sitting next to her, her head resting on my thighs while I scratched the back of her ears, Loulou withdrawn and respectful. She was good, with her two best friends by her side. BarrBra left us peacefully.
My friends Clément and Camille have a wonderful hotel in San Cristobal. In reality, I dream of ending my days in this place. I love it. I asked them if I could have a space in their huge garden for BarrBra.
We were all prepared, so a few minutes after BarrBra passed away, Rene, my captain and friend, came to pick us up for BarrBra's last boat ride. You can imagine that I wasn't able to do much. Luckily, my friends Pierre, Geneviève, and Marjorie all took matters into their own hands. I have few memories of those few hours.
Once we arrived in San Cristobal, we found a beautiful place to be BarrBra's final resting place: a mound under a huge tree with a stunning sea view. We brought a chair for Gen to sit with her guitar and accompany us with her beautiful voice throughout the funeral. Camille had also prepared a huge bouquet of flowers.
A huge thank you!
As I greeted my lover for the last time, I said to myself: "Marco, how many people have the privilege of leaving this planet surrounded by the people they love, in the sweetness of a hug, in such a beautiful place?" Very little! I was in peace. Rest in peace beautiful lover. I haven't cried BarrBra since she left, except now. on 4/13/2023 at 3:46pm.
Thank you for reading. I have the privilege of being surrounded by extraordinary people in my life.
A huge thank you to my family and friends.
I love you.
Several important people who are part of this story are not mentioned in this text simply to make it more accessible to people who do not know me personally.
You acknowledge yourself, thank you so much!!
I think of you and thank you from the bottom of my heart because without you, none of what I am experiencing at the moment would be possible. For it is true that it takes a village to raise a child, and it takes extraordinary people around oneself to achieve one's dreams.