Winding Down a Long Road

Dec 05, 2023 by Gayle M Irwin

Life can be like a winding road, difficult to navigate and seems never-ending. Photo from

In 1970, the Beatles released several songs, including “The Long and Winding Road.” The first stanza goes, “The long and winding road, That leads to your door, Will never disappear, I've seen that road before; It always leads me here, Lead me to your door.”

This year seems like a long and winding road. My family and I have traveled through a lot of stress and heartbreak, including the recent passing of our sweet springer spaniel, Sadie. The vet diagnosed her with a rare cancer last spring, and in early May, she went through surgery. Like most canine cancers, Sadie’s returned, and last week we said goodbye to this special girl.

Sadie, our happy springer spaniel. Photo by G. Irwin

We adopted Sadie in September 2019; she was eight years old. Her former family had left her in the backyard with very little interaction for nearly four years. When taken in by English Springer Spaniel Rescue in early 2019, the foster family worked with her to help her regain trust of people and to give her the love, attention, and exercise she needed. Sadie and my husband bonded immediately. They spent hours together in the home office as well as taking walks in the neighborhood, along the North Platte River that runs through town, and up at our mountain cabin surrounded by lodgepole forest. Our backyard also became a place of fun, allowing Sadie to run and bark with all the joy she felt. We christened her “The Smiling Spaniel,” and in the fall I crafted a children’s book titled “Sadie The Smiling Spaniel: Finding Joy in the Little Things of Life.” That is who she was, and the is the lesson, and the legacy, she leaves – reminding us all to find joy in the little things and to smile with all our hearts.

Find the book on Amazon; it will make a delightful Christmas gift for young readers in your life – or even for you as a dog lover. Plenty of photos of our beloved smiling spaniel! Here is the link:


Sadie is pet #3 we lost this year. Additionally, two human family members passed, and both our mothers have gone through many health struggles. We moved my parents from Montana to Wyoming in early October so they now live closer to us, which is a blessing. However, moving is never easy, and when one factors in two 80+year-old people, it’s a greater challenge. We all look forward to celebrating Christmas together for the first time in years – weather often prevented travel during the holiday season … during winter in general since we were 500 miles apart and now we are only 30 miles from one another.

In several of my pet rescue books, my characters go through various challenges, including passing of loved ones. Rhiann, the primary female character in the first few books, enjoys a deep and loving relationship with her grandmother. The series’ prequel, “Rhiann’s Rescue,” delves into that connection, and my short story, “Gram’s Legacy,” also reflects that bond. If you haven’t already read these two stories, you can get them for free via these links:

“Rhiann’s Rescue:”

“Gram’s Legacy:”


Aging and the challenges of life aren’t easy, but I’m thankful for the delightful memories of my pets and family members who no longer walk this earth. I’m thankful my parents are nearby and that we have some time to make more memories because distance isn’t a big factor anymore. I’m grateful for friends who encourage and care for me, and I’m thankful for the writing work I’ve been honored to do this year, including additional freelance articles about nature that I so deeply enjoy.

As the long road of 2023 concludes, I look ahead to the new path of 2024 with excitement. I plan a few new books, I already have some freelance writing assignments scheduled, and I anticipate spending more time with my parents and my husband. We never know what lies around the bend in the road of life, so I hope to live the rest of my days as our beloved Sadie did – with big smiles and deep joy!