Kobi card circles

This time last year Kobi was very ill. It all started on Saturday 12th April 2014. I noticed a huge lump that filled my hand on his right shoulder. I could not believe that I had not noticed it before. He had been at swimming rehab for a treatment and massage the day before and this lump was not there. Mandy would have felt and noticed. He saw Mandy twice a week. I had a bad feeling. This was not good. We were due to be away for a few weeks with Sharon and her 2 dogs at Kenton. I had been speaking to the vet for weeks making sure Kobi would manage and be ok for our holiday. He was 11 and half years old at the time. He had a history of hip dysplasia and arthritis but had been well-managed from an early age.

The tests results came back and confirmed the worst. Aggressive bone cancer. The trip was cancelled. We started treatment. Surgery was not an option – not with his history. Homeopathic treatment was our only option. Dr Barry Hindmarch is the most incredible vet. Kobi was always felt so comfortable seeing him. We went regularly with the aim of managing his condition with homeopathic and allopathic medicine as required. Barry suggested ozone treatment, alkaline powder and Sutherlandia tablets (cancer bush). Our only hope was to slow down this aggressive cancer and manage his pain as this disease developed.

Remarkably the growth shrunk after the first six weeks. I had also manage to locate some CO at this stage. But after a while the bone started developing a hard protrusion and Kobi’s movement was negatively affected. It was becoming more difficult for him to get around. He lost weight. His little waist got so thin. He did not want to venture out as much as before. Our lives became home based and very small.We were in a holding pattern.

His lymph system was struggling. His front legs were getting swollen. I had to bandage them at night to help drain the fluid that was building up during the day. Gradually this got more difficult to manage. I was emotionally drained. This was something I could not fix.

We got to a point where something had to give. He was taking so many pills and it was hard to hide them in his food without him spitting them out. He wasn’t enjoying his food as much anyhow. This was so unusual for him. He was a Labrador after all! I chatted to Barry and said I was done. Tired of fighting to get tablets down. We made a decision to stop giving him the Sutherlandia tablets and the thyroid tablets. He was not very active at this stage. Within a week this growth went ballistic. It grew at such a rate it was hard to believe. I had no idea how much these Sutherlandia tablets were helping to contain this cancerous growth and keep us in a holding pattern.

But the end was inevitable and it was very hard. He was so much part of my life. He had been at my side for almost 12 years. We had such an incredible bond. We had come a long way together.

Kobi came to Brian and I in 2003. I had resigned from the corporate world of marketing and media. I had wanted a dog for a while. We had been thinking about a family. I just could not work out how I would have a family and manage my job. It involved many after hours functions. If the truth be known I was unhappy in my role in the organisation. I kept thinking I would fall pregnant and then I could resign. It just was not happening. It then dawned on me that I could not expect a baby to change my life. I had to make some fundamental changes.

I was very interested in healing modalities. I resigned and started to study various courses. After a year out of the corporate world I felt ready to take on the responsibility of a dog. A Labrador was an obvious choice. I had one as a child – Rastus was his name.

At the same time I was trying to fall pregnant and nothing was happening. I was frustrated and searching for answers. I went to see a median and she kept telling me a yellow dog is coming your way. I had put my name down for a puppy with a breeder. So yes – I was going to get a puppy! Not rocket science. She mentioned nothing about a child. Just the yellow dog.

As fate would have it, I did get a yellow Labrador. But it was not the puppy I imagined. I subsequently got hold of another breeder through my friend Sharon. She had no puppy for me, but took my details none the less. Weeks went by and I got a call from the second breeder. She did have a puppy for me after all. So one Saturday afternoon Brian and I went to collect Kobi. He, together with 3 other puppies, had been driven down from Kestell in the Free State He has a red piece of cotton tied around his front paw. He was ours. We came home and put him on the lawn. The phone rang. It was the first breeder. She had bad news. Her bitch had a phantom pregnancy. There were no puppies. Not to worry I said – I have just walked in with my new puppy. We named him Kobi.

Kobi was 1 year old. We started fertility treatment. After a few disappointments I fell pregnant. Then at 11 weeks the wheels fell off. I was diagnosed as being high risk for Downs. Brian went as white as a sheet. He could not breathe, felt faint and had to leave the room. He heard on that day that we were having a Downs child not that we were high risk – 1 in 34 chance. We elected to have an amnio at 17 weeks. To make a decision one needs the facts. The amnio confirmed a Downs pregnancy. We chose to terminate. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Others may have chosen differently. Ironically most Downs children are born to mothers who are not regarded as high risk (over 35 years) and therefore not screened. Of those screened 9 out of 10 choose to terminate.

What was incredible during this dark time was Kobi’s love and devotion. During the waiting period between risk assessment and amnio he would crawl onto my lap and cover my tummy with his body as if to say to me – I am your baby. There were dark days indeed post this termination. I was consumed by loss and grief. But on the other hand I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I felt I had been let out of jail. The thought of a life with a Downs child was overwhelming for me.

Kobi’s love helped me though a very difficult period in my life and for that I will be forever grateful.

Kobi – Born 5 Dec 2002 – Died 8 July 2014 – RIP


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I asked Gill to bless me and my pack before my departure. She, more than me, knew what was in store for me!

Thank you Gill for this glorious card but mostly for your thoughtful message. As I read the last bit my eyes welled with tears.

“I wish you everything that you are hoping for and some of the unexpected too! May your feet be sure, your back strong and your journey safe.

Buen Camino.”

Camino Community

Yesterday I experienced the Camino Community for the very first time. I was sorting out my transfer from Biarritz to St Jean Pied de Port and realised that the train times did not work with my flight details. I was landing post the last train out. I then started looking at other options including road transfer. I made enquiries with one operator and was told the fee was 120 Euro! Now bear in mind the train trip is about 13 Euro! So after a gulp – yes 1 Euro = R14 – I thought I needed to find people to share the trip or to join another group.

So I posted my first request on the Camino de Santiago Forum website and got more information about another transfer company. I made contact with the second operator – EXPRESS BOURRICOT transport bagages, pèlerins, séjours culturels.

I got a prompt reply from Caroline confirming that I had a seat on the bus at a cost of 18 Euro! Felt much happier as more appropriate for my budget!

This forum in an incredible resource for anyone planning to walk the Camino.

Take a stone from home

One of the traditions is to take a stone from home and place it at the foot of the Iron Cross – Cruz Ferro – and pray for your loved ones and those friends or family who wanted to make the journey but for whatever reason could not.

This Camino is my 50th birthday present to myself. But I will also be walking with Kobi’s spirit. He loved an adventure and this sure is going to be one! I have two little stones that I will carry with me. Both are from Kobi’s favourite pools – one from the river down the road and the other from Newlands forest. Jane and I took a detour the other morning to look for a little stone. I took a while to find the right one – it is shaped like a heart.

El Camino de Santiago – The Way of St James – Camino Frances


The Camino has existed for over 1000 years and dates back to the 8th Century. St James preached the Gospel in present day Galicia and on his return to Jerusalem he was beheaded by King Herod in 44AD. Legend has it that St. James’ body was taken to Galicia by boat from Jerusalem and carried inland to where Santiago de Compostela is now located. His remains lay undiscovered until 813. This led to the creation of a religious shrine and marks the beginning of the Camino de Santiago.

In 997 the first shrine of St James was destroyed by the Moorish army of Al-Mansur. By the 12th Century the Cathedral of Santiago had been rebuilt and was attracting pilgrims from all over Europe.

It was considered one of three pilgrimages on which all sins could be forgiven – the others being the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The Camino de Santiago was considered the most renowned medieval pilgrimage. It was custom for those who completed the pilgrimage to bring back with them a scallop shell from Galicia as proof of their journey. Gradually this custom extended to other pilgrimages too.

Prior to its existence as a Catholic pilgrimage, the route is believed to have had significance for the ancient pagan peoples of the Iberian peninsula, among them the Celts, and later the Romans who conquered Spain. The site of Santiago de Compostela itself may have been a Roman shrine. Pagan influences can still be seen along the Way. Some modern day pilgrims are attracted more to the pagan legends associated with the Way rather than the Christian.

Its popularity began to decline in the 16th Century with the Protestant Reformation in Northern Europe. There was a further decline in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries with European wars and revolutions. For most of the 20th Century the pilgrimage was restricted to the Iberian Peninsula due to the First and Second World Wars and the Spanish Civil War.

It was only in the 1980’s that the Camino was ‘re-discovered’. Don Elias Valina Sanpedro, a parish priest and academic, dedicated the last 10 years of his life to the Camino Frances marking The Way.

The Camino has become very popular since this time and more than 100 000 people on average walk the Camino. In Holy Years this increases dramatically. Whenever St. James’s day (25 July) falls on a Sunday, the cathedral declares a Holy Year. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004 and 2010. In 2010 there were 270 000 pilgrims that reached Santiago. The next will be 2021, 2027 and 2032. I am glad I won’t be walking in a Holy Year! A bit busy for my liking!

Some pilgrims continue on from Santiago de Compostela (field of stars) to the Atlantic coast to finish their pilgrimage at Cape Finisterre (Galician: Fisterra). The Romans called it Finisterrae (literally the end of the world in Latin). I hope to get this far. I have time. I have set aside 40 days. The Camino can be completed in 31 days although I am told 35 days is comfortable. My plan is to get to the coast – even if that means on a bus from Santiago.

Confraternity of St James South Africa

This is a local organisation and was founded in Cape Town in 2006. This organisation assists pilgrims with information, issues your pilgrim passport and gives you a letter which you attach to your visa application confirming that you are a registered pilgrim and will be walking the Camino on given dates. This is very useful as normally when applying for a Schengen visa one needs to have all your accommodation booked. Being a pilgrim you will not have accommodation booked as you sleep where you find yourself at the end of each days walking.

Right from the start Gill told me to become a member and register as a pilgrim. This was great advice. They also held a workshop in Cape Town at the beginning of March and discussed everything to do with your kit, travel arrangements, visa etc.