|Dear family and friends of 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
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
Amelia Courthouse, VA
June 16, 2010