Of all the great places we’ve seen, interesting people we have met and unforgettable experiences we have had, one chapter in our lives stands out as the most cherished, and it was the time when we owned a Golden Retriever named Sullivan “Sulli” Douglas Spencer. We picked Sulli up after Nadal won Wimbledon for the first time, we found an ad in the paper – there was a liter in Walterboro, SC (where in the world is Walterboro you may ask, and to be honest, I still have no idea!). Through forests, on dirt roads and “follow the power line”, we finally found Sulli. It was an easy pick…he was the one in the back of the pack.
We made the giant leap slash drive to Oregon, our new adventure and undertaking. Queue next chapter – OREGON. We loaded our belongings into 2 cars and 1 U-haul and drove for 4 days until we reached the other side of America – The West Coast. Sulli was there too. One year in Oregon, 4 of those months I was unemployed + 7 of those months it was raining – Sulli was my dog, yes, but he was also work out partner (motivating me to get out the house and take him for a run, while helping me to stay refreshed and in shape). He was a companion, while Arron was up early and home late teaching Oregon how to play tennis, Sulli was lying in bed next to me, or curled up on the couch reading books with me (ok, maybe not reading with me, but he was there). Most of all, Sulli was my friend – on the days when I had nobody, felt alone and wanted to give up on all of it…he pulled me through, never allowing me to be alone in a room and placing his head in my lap when tears seemed like the best solution. (and just so you know, Oregon was not always like this. I finally got a job, we moved around a little, the sun came out, andI was welcomed into Arron’s family as their own child and welcomed into his most amazing group of friends. I learned so much and saw a part of the world I will never forget.) So, you get the picture, Sulli was with us through it all. That was 2 years of marriage, and he had seen it all. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Not all good things come to an end, but unfortunately for this chapter, it did come to an end. Arron + I decided to leave Oregon, this time for an entirely new adventure in an entirely different country. Queue next chaper – AFRICA. We were moving to South Africa (to my parents farm) to help start a non-profit helping to feed AIDS orphans in the surrounding area of Queenstown, South Africa. Arron + his best friend worked for months and months over phone calls, Skype chats and e-mails until the decision was made – and so The Positive Change Project was born. This was a most beautiful time of our lives, we met some wonderful children and witnessed heart breaking circumstances. We really felt like we were apart of a most Positive Change. We didn’t stop there, we were so grateful to be apart of my parents new venture of wine making –Harrison Hope, the very first wine estate in the Eastern Cape. We got dirty, trained vines and Arron accepted the very gracious offer to make his very own wine – the 2011 Merlot. As I said, it was a most beautiful time of our lives. 8 months that we will never, ever forget.
Sulli was not there.
Sulli was staying with friends temporarily and, as planned, we would pick him up upon our return. Soon, our stay in Africa looked like it may be extended and his temporary home could no longer hold him for us, but they had found him a possible forever home in Tennessee with a wonderful and very loving family and a very large backyard. We were at a loss of what to do. It took many sleepless nights of discussions and tears until we had to make this decision. Around the boma, by a thornwood fire, under African skies we made the hardest decision of our lives thus far, Sulli needed a forever home. Sulli needed a new family. Sulli was no longer ours.
And just like that, a chapter was closed. Our chapter with the greatest Golden ever. The little, the brave, the sweet Sulli. Our dog, our companion, our dearest friend.