Maureen Larkin Wright - Welcome to My Little Corner of Virginia

AN ODE TO GRETCHEN

Dear family and friends of Gretchen,

Gretchen and Caitlin are now reunited. Gretchen, a beautiful, long silky- haired purebred sweetheart dog of mixed parentage, entered my life as a 2 year old foundling 14 1/2 years ago, and refused to leave. She had several health problems...severe mange, bilateral upper and lower eyelid inversion which required surgery to prevent blindness, she needed to be spayed, etc. I did not want this mangy critter! After all, I had the perfect standard German shepherd and Wolfgang was all the dog I wanted.

But Gretchen needed help, and while I had no plans to keep this mangy dog who scratched herself every ten seconds and sat with her eyes closed, she needed help. Okay, I'll get the Vet to fix her up and then find her a home. Our veterinarian, Dr Edda Eliasson, undertook the task of restoring this dog to health. She did a remarkable job! And finally, Gretchen was beautiful! She had beautiful hazel eyes that had been hidden under the inverted eyelids.

Uh-huh, I thought, Caitlin needs a dog but doesn't know it yet. Caitlin lived alone at the time and had a large fenced in back yard. After meeting Gretchen a few times with her sweet personality, it wasn't too difficult to convince my daughter that she needed this dog. The understanding was that I would keep Gretchen whenever Caitlin needed to be out of town, which turned out to be quite often...but not a problem for me.

So Gretchen grew up with two mothers and we loved her equally well. But as my shepherd, Wolfgang, became an older gentleman and slow to move around, I asked to keep Gretchen for awhile as a companion for the older dog. And after Wolfgang died, I asked to keep Gretchen for awhile longer to fill the huge void. As most of you know, after Caitlin got married, I told them that they had to get their own dog...that Gretchen was mine.

And so it was that Gretchen lived the rest of her life out here in the country where there are no fences. A few years later she was joined by another foundling, a purebred white German shepherd that I named Votan. Votan was another dog that I did not want....he would tie me down. Gretchen was welcome everywhere we went. She was welcomed into everyone's home. Everyone was charmed by her sweet disposition, gentleness and loving manner. Even the saints envied her disposition!

Votan is a big, bumbly 96 pound adolescent-behaving shepherd. He is not welcome in everyone's home. But that's another story.

This Sunday, our Gretchen had a major seizure which laid her low. She could barely get up from the floor. She stopped eating. She wouldn't drink. On Monday she had another major seizure from which she would not recover.

She was having a really difficult time, so yesterday, Dr Eliasson came to my house to help Gretchen with the death experience. It was hard to let go of Gretchen but it was the only choice. She had had a wonderful life. Everyone loved her and she had reciprocated. She had had two mothers who loved her. She had a multitude of admirers. She had a beautiful, irristible smile and the most engaging manner imaginable. In reflection, I think she was an angel.

When Gretchen's heart and respirations ceased yesterday, Dr Eliasson went to her van on some pretext in order to allow me some alone time to emote freely. When she came back into the house, she said that she felt a bit weary and did I have any tea and did I drink tea and would I make her a cup of herbal tea and perhaps I could boil a pot of tea that we could share.

And while I prepared the tea, she arranged Gretchen in the body bag as if it were a sleeping bag. Gretchen's upper torso was uncovered and her forelegs arranged at the same angle that she usually slept. She looked beautiful, so very peaceful. And for the next hour, Dr Eliasson sat with me at my kitchen table while we sipped our tea, and allowed, nay, encouraged me to talk about Gretchen...or anything.

You can only imagine how therapeutic that hour was in adjusting to the loss of my sweetheart dog. I am eternally grateful to Dr Eliasson for that gift.

This is a rather long winded announcement of Gretchen's transition, but I needed to write it out, to share it.

Most of you know that Caitlin died nearly seven years ago. She 'talks' to me periodically...I talk to her a lot. This morning Caitlin told me that she had overseen Gretchen's arrival and adjustment, that Gretchen was quite confused but that she'd be okay in a short time. Caitlin added, "By the way, Mom, Gretchen finally had that BM." (I thought that Gretchen was constipated when she left this world, that it was distressing to her and that concerned me.)

No sympathy, please. I'm looking for comfort, support and whatever memories you may have of this magnificent dog.

Love to all, Maureen/ Aunt Maureen

Aunt Maureen
Amelia Courthouse, VA
June 16, 2010

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