Cupcake was a little black dog with tan highlights who weighed seven kilos and who changed my life.
When I came to live in Figueres, I didn’t know a soul. I adopted Cupcake when he was nine years old, after I had been here for two years. After about two weeks, I took him to the dog park so he could socialize, and within a short time we both had friends.
Cupcake was a stoic dog, probably a Tibetan Spaniel. Tibetan Spaniels were bred to guard Buddhist temples. They are Zen. Cupcake was Zen.
We started walking on a country path that goes from Figueres to the nearby village of Vilabertran, about an hour’s walk away. Small senior that he was, he walked for two hours and still didn’t want to come home.
Two of the men from the dog park also did that walk and they invited me to join them and their dogs. The six of us soon became a regular thing. Josep and Keti the border collie, Jaume and Pluto the schnauzer, and me and Cupcake the Buddhist monk.
Eventually our group fell apart, but Cupcake and I continued. Summer was too hot for him, but we did it the rest of the year and as he got older and walking was more difficult, I would drive to a closer starting point.
In 2019, when he was about 13, he started to have back, shoulder, and joint pain. Medication helped, but there are side effects to the ongoing use of painkillers, so I took him to an acupuncturist.
During his last two years we kept doing abbreviated walks where he could go off leash: along the Muga River, to the beach, and most often, the Vilabertran walks. That path is one branch of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Cupcake loved walking out there; he was my little pilgrim.
Cupcake developed congenital heart disease, dementia, and suffered the ongoing back and joint pain. Towards the end, the acupuncture no longer seemed to help and neither did those homeopathic medicines. He still wanted to go out, but once out, he had a hard time and no longer even sniffed much.
Finally the survey form I had been using for measuring his quality of life came out poor. I knew he could still go on, but at what price? I had made a promise to myself that when the time came, I would let him go, and not hold on too long for my own sake.
Cupcake brought me more joy than I can say. He was beautiful. I took thousands of photos; we took thousands of walks. He was my best pal and the perfect dog for me.
I still can’t believe how much I miss him. I buried part of his ashes near the Vilabertran path that he loved; the rest I have here at home. I imagine his spirit is out there somewhere taking lovely walks and being Zen.