by Vlou, the traveling Beagle
“Hey, Nougat, you know what? I’m flying back to Europe. My folks are taking me with on their flight from Johannesburg to Lyon in France next Tuesday!”
“Wow, Vlou, are you not scared?” “No, I had it once already, when I flew with my human, Marcelle, from Zurich, Switzerland, to South Africa three years ago. It was a night flight, so I slept most of the time in the belly of the airplane. The light was dim and there were other cages with animals, which I could smell, but not see. I kept myself busy by guessing, what animals I smelt till I fell asleep. There were other dogs, probably German shepherd puppies, as I heard some German babbling. And there was the smell of an adult husky with that distinctive wild wolves scent. He will be in trouble with his thick fur in the South African summer. He’d rather have stayed in Alaska, ha-ha! Otherwise I could not exactly make out, what other animals might have been on the plane. But I was thinking of some reptiles maybe, quite exciting as I’d never smelt that odour so strongly before.
“I will miss you so much,” Nougat whispered sadly, staring down on his little Jack Russell paws, blinking a tear away. “Your visits here were so much fun as Zack an Diesel don’t bother much about me and do mostly their own thing. I don’t blame them as they are brothers and being Labrador-mixed-breeds they are so much stronger and bigger than I am. I enjoyed having you around, especially in the chilly nights in wintertime, when we kept each other warm.” All of a sudden he looked straight at me with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you remember, when we caught that huge mouse? We hid it away from Diesel and Zack, who knew we had been successful, but didn’t manage to figure out our secret place in the old anteaters den. We laughed our lungs out, as they gave up their search all frustrated making their way back to the house.” Nougat’s smile had come back on his funny little face and I had to grin to myself by the thought. Getting serious again, Nougat added: “You are my best friend, Vlou. Don’t forget about me, even if you will be halfway around the world away from me! You’ve been good to me, although you sometimes ate my food, when I didn’t manage to eat as fast as you do. I’ll forgive you for that,” he added, nodding his head determinately to make a statement. Only yesterday he had been seriously pissed, when I had put may head into his bowl next to him to grab the last scraps. “That’s very kind of you, Nougat. I love you, too, my friend. Don’t be sad now, buddy, we’ll find a way to stay in touch. OK?” I gave him a encouraging bump and a lick on his ear. “Yuck! Vlou! Shut up, man!” He laughed and we had a quick run into the field.
Tuesday. My humans, George and Marcelle, were packing the car. It was time to say farewell to my friends, Zack, Diesel and of course Nougat. I found Diesel next to the food bowls comfortably stretched out on the floor. He lifted his head pointing his warm brown eyes on me. His black fur was shining in the early morning sun. He was still a beautiful dog, although starting to feel his age. “It was great to have you here, Vlou. Be safe on your trip to Europe.” Zack approached from the front yard, where he used to warm himself up every morning in front of the brick wall during sunrise. “So you really mean it, that you will leave us for good?” he asked gaily putting his big left paw on my shoulder. “I’ll miss you guys. We had a great time together,” I said, trying meanwhile to get away from Zack’s hug. “No hugging – no kissing!” I chuckled and leaped away. “Hey, guys, just do me a favour. Please look after Nougat well. He is my best friend and needs some special attention, when I’m not here. Otherwise he will be very lonely. Please allow him also to be a full member in your pack, although he is so tiny. Keep him warm in the winter by allowing him to curl up with you, ok? I know, it’s a big favour I’m asking, but please! He isn’t as tough as you are and really struggles in the cold winters here in the Highveld of Johannesburg.
Zack and Diesel looked embarrassingly at each other and then at the tip of their paws. Diesel found his voice first and said: “OK, buddy, we know, he’s different and a bit of a wimp in the cold. We’ll try to include him more as a member of the pack, so he won’t get lonesome.” Zack added: “Don’t worry, Vlou. Will take care of him.” Happy that I could drop my worries about Nougat, I gave them a high five and jogged to our secret place to search for Nougat. As I had thought, he lay next to it. He frowned, when he saw me. “Time to say farewell, buddy!” I tried to say in a happy voice, but it just sounded flat. We rubbed noses and didn’t say much. “All will be good, Nougat. Don’t be sad.” Abruptly I turned to hide my feelings and called: “See you, somehow, somewhere, buddy. You’re my best friend!” Tears were burning in my eyes, when I leapt into the car as we drove off to the airport. All will be good, I told myself now also, trying to focus on my unknown, but exciting next travel adventure to Europe.