Sometimes you become friends with someone who you instantly know is honest, fun and has a heart filled with goodness. This is the story of one such friend who I was lucky enough to meet on quite a few occasions, and who I will never ever forget. If I may indulge you in some reminiscences, I would be grateful for a small amount of your time.
Raffa was the friend I started woofing with soon after I joined Twitter in 2013. After we had been talking on Twitter for some time and finally decided that, as my parents were taking me for a holiday to Patterdale in the Lake District, Raffa and her mum would join us to have some walks and chat in person. We were all really excited as we got the impression from our Twitter talks that Raffa was happy and fun and always exploring. We met in the White Lion in Patterdale on 30th August 2016 and our friendship was sealed in the first few moments when Raffa walked into the pub and nose bumped me whilst I was asleep. I had been walking for miles and was very tired.
The very next day we all walked out on a long trail that was stony in many places. Raffa had her chariot as she wasn’t able to walk as far as she would want to. However she seemed to stride out and I looked on in awe at her. We managed to arooo very loudly at some sheep and generally had a lovely time.
On our return to the holiday house, I escorted her along the road in her chariot as she was a little tired after the days exertions. The next day she went home, however the friendship was set.
In December 2016 we arrived unannounced at a meet up near Sheffield in Yorkshire. We had been plotting with Charley Beagles mum to surprise everyone, and it worked. We walked along a lovely path around a reservoir with many pals. Raffa had her mum push her in the chariot as, again, the terrain was rocky and she couldn’t walk too far. But she still managed to trot happily along for a fair distance which made everyone happy.
We met up with Raffa and her mum again in April 2017 for another expedition to the Western Lake District. This time we explored Eskdale, Wasdale and Ravenglass. We greeted each other with our usual cheeriness and proceeded to explore for the next three days, always with smiles on our faces.
We then had a couple of days with Raffa and her mum, again in Eskdale, in early September 2017. We walked, woofed and had a wonderful time.
Next we all met up at the Beagle World Record in Macclesfield in April 2018. I was fortunate to meet up with Raffa, Bryher, Tean, Charley and 1,024 other beagles who all became record breakers that day. We all finished the course, creating history with every step. As followers will know Charley Beagle went to the Rainbow Bridge in September 2018.
We met at Dunstable Downs in October 2018 and then a hush hush visit to Charley’s mum & dad in November 2018 followed.
When we took Lenny to the World Record Beagle Walk celebration in September 2019 Raffa was still running around when she could, and retiring to her chariot when she was tired.
We topped the year off by having the honour and privilege of showing Raffa and her mum around a few parts of London. I covered this in a previous blog but make no apologies for mentioning it again. We had a wonderful day, we saw so many things, there was laughter and happiness through the entire time and much sadness when we departed.
Sadly, Raffa took the longest journey on 4th February 2020. She was 13 years old. She lived a life full of fun, adventure and exploration. She was loved, she gave love and she smiled and enjoyed her life. She was, and is, a beacon of what I would hope to be. Happy, fulfilled, loved and wholly content with her life. She may be gone from our sights however she will remain in our hearts forever. Run free sweet Raffa it is a privilege and honour to know you, to meet you and to be your friend. We had many adventures which I will never forget. May the everlasting sun shine upon your fur and keep you warm. Until we meet again, for we surely shall, I say farewell but never goodbye.
21st July 2006 – 4th February 2020. Thirteen and a half years of a life fully lived. I have sad ears because this is the most difficult blog I have ever had to write.