Narrated Audio Blog
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.
On the 10th of September 2014, in the small town of El Callao, Venezuela, our hearts broke as we said goodbye to The Pack Track's most popular member. Skyla lost her long fight with cancer.
Skyla fought hard to the end. 10 days earlier she was wiggling in the grass and chasing her ball as she had always done. Then over night she fell ill and required daily visits to the vet for intravenous fluids and vitamins, surgery to remove a couple of lumps and a late night blood transfusion.
The vet in El Callao, Alicia, went above and beyond to help Skyla. She treated Skyla morning and night for three weeks, made late night visits to our hotel to check on her and always had time to receive our phone calls and meet us at our hotel or clinic when required.
Being the only white people in the small community of El Callao, our presence was quickly noticed and people learnt that we were staying in town due to our sick dog. Alicia mentioned that people in town were asking after Skyla and her progress; how the 'Gringo Dog' was doing. This meant a lot to us.
During this time there were political protests in El Callao and an influx of military and police personnel. Despite the obvious tension in town we felt safe and many members of the community empathised with our situation and wanted to look out for us. Our motorbikes are always a target for thieves and we were told that if someone tried to steal them we were to hand them over, the community would know who had taken them and assist us with returning the bikes. Other guests at our hotel would ask us daily about Skyla and how they could help, one guest told us to knock on her door any time of the day or night if we needed help and was genuinely concerned every time she saw Skyla, who got weaker and weaker with each day.
The 5 days before Skyla passed Stuart had been at the Brazil border trying to organise vehicle permits for the two bikes. Janell stayed in El Callao caring for Skyla tirelessly by herself, waking every hour during the night to feed her food and water through a syringe, take her to the toilet and reassure her with cuddles. Of course Janell had her on the bed with her, only leaving her for short periods to get food and check emails. During the nights Skyla would wake her with a little whimper and Janell would jump out of bed to get her what ever it was she thought Skyla needed.
Stu returned in the evening of the 09 September and that night Skyla passed away; it seemed Skyla held out as long as she could so we could all be together again one last time. That night the three of us went to bed with Skyla in the middle being cuddled by Janell and resting her head on Stuarts arm. Around midnight she was moved to the single bed, half a meter from Janell, as her temperature was up. Janell continued to wake hourly to feed Skyla but at this stage she was no longer interested in anything we had to offer. Moments before she passed, Janell was tending to Skyla and woke Stuart to assist so both sat holding her tight as she drifted peacefully away.
Alicia described a place we could bury Skyla and organised everything for us in the morning, even coming with us. Skyla was buried in a beautiful field surrounded by mountains and wrapped in the Australian flag. We covered her grave with rocks and Alicia broke one for us so we always had a piece of where Skyla lay to rest.
We will always remember our little furry angel and we will always hold dear the country of Venezuela, in particular the small community of El Callao.
Rest in peace sweet Skyla,
In foreign land, 'near field of green,
Dream of countries visited,
And all the many sights you've seen,
Think of all the friends you made,
And people that you met,
So many laughed as you rode by,
And they will ne'er forget,
Take with you the Ozzie flag,
Remember those you knew,
And most of all, the ones you loved,
For they both loved you too.
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