His long journey had finally come to an end. Wayne Sobas left Florida about three weeks ago, driving his dark green Chevy Malibu with a new engine.
He was done with hospitals and chemo treatments. He wanted to go to the mountains before he died. Cancer had invaded his body, hiding in cracks and crevasses too widespread to conquer. Knowing he was dying he began the long trip to Colorado fighting fatigue, pain and difficulty breathing.
He had a blanket and pillow and slept in his car along the way. At one point he managed to contract a case of poison oak and his legs swelled making it difficult to walk more than a few yards, but he kept heading west. He had to do one thing before his journey was over.
Last Saturday, July 20, Nederland resident Kira Walton and her stepdaughter Lily Clark, 10, had just driven into the parking lot at the Nederland Community Library when they saw a small, fluffy white dog jump out of the window of a dark green car. Concerned for the dog’s safety, they went into the library and asked if someone had a white poodle type dog.
That’s when Sobas met Kira and Lily. Kira recognized that Sobas was sick and asked if she could do something to help him. He told her he had come to Colorado because he had always wanted to be in the mountains. He also told her that he was looking for a home for his dog Muttley, that, “Circumstances dictate that I can’t have him anymore.”
Muttley is a four-year-old cross poodle and bichon mix with bright button eyes and a pink tongue ready to lick anyone who gets close enough. He and Wayne have become best buddies, partners, family. Lily fell in love with the fluffy ball of energy instantly. Kira was cautious, saying she wanted to take Muttley home to meet her dog and cat before she made any decision.
While he waited, Sobas sat on the bridge outside of the library, too tired to move. He said he used to be a flooring man but then he became sick. He had a sister who sent him money and he had two children who he hadn’t talked to for a long time.
“Muttley is all I have,” he said, “and I want to make sure he’ll be taken care of when I’m gone. If this woman takes him, that will ease my mind and I can die at peace in the mountains. He is a good dog and he deserves a good home.”
For the past week, Sobas and Muttley have been camping on Magnolia Road, sleeping in the car and getting to know the other campers who grew concerned about him. They knew he was sick and did their best to share whatever they had with him. On the day Sobas met Kira, he had been waiting for money from his sister in Florida.
When Kira and Lily returned, Lily had Muttley in her arms and a huge smile lit up her face. It looked like a done deal. Kira told Wayne that the animals had all gotten along fine and if he was sure he wanted to do this, she would take Muttley.
With tears in her eyes, she told Wayne that it was a very brave thing he was doing and she admired him for making this difficult decision. He told her that he was sure and that he was grateful to know Muttley would be loved. He also told her that when it was his time to go and when they found him, that she was to have his car.
He kneeled on the ground and called his buddy over to him. Muttley sat at Wayne’s side, searching his face as if asking what was happening. Wayne hugged him and said, “You are my best buddy and we have had a lot of fun together, but it’s time to go our separate ways. I know these people will take good care of you.” Muttley licked Wayne’s face.
When asked again if there was anything he needed, Wayne said he would like a cigar and some iced tea. While he was collecting his money from Western Union in the Business Connection, Kira went to purchase these items. He gave Muttley another goodbye hug and said he was going back to Magnolia Road and then wasn’t sure where he was headed.
He left his sister’s phone number so she could be notified if anything happened and told Kira and Lily that Muttley loved Purina Puppy Chow and he drove away. Later that day, the campers on Magnolia Road said that Wayne never returned to the campsite.
Kira said that Muttley is doing great, but she is sure he misses the man who has been his family. “What a brave choice Wayne made, to give up his friend. I guess we were in the right place at the right time, like it was meant to happen. It’s sad, but it’s happy. Know what I mean?