Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ever Since I met you…… Just the start of Gert's Story

I was asked by my dog to make a noble decision for her last week. She told me that she had enjoyed a wonderful time with me, and that together we had taught children the value of the softest brown ears in the world, mothers that it is okay to feed Thanksgiving turkey from the table, squirrels that they shouldn't be digging in my ferns, birds that they should still keep a watchful eye when bathing in the big park fountain, and cats though they might make a stand and swat at her nose, that she simply wouldn't stop teasing them. She apologized for the gash in my chin that required stitches just two weeks ago (we didn’t mention the gash in the hand, the black eye or the dislocated fingers from previous years) and agreed with me that if any of the rugs were too dirty and couldn't be cleaned she'd be okay if I bought some new ones or had the old ones cleaned.

These were just a few of our thoughts as we sat in the Arboretum last Friday and enjoyed an unusually warm fall day sitting on a grassy hill. Gert had a bad heart. No, she had a great heart, but in the past 8 months her heart had decided that it just wouldn't work hard enough to keep her lungs full of good oxygen. She wouldn't accept that. As a matter of fact, she tried to commit suicide shortly after we discovered her heart condition. She ate a two month supply of meat flavored doggy Motrin that was prescribed for my roommate's 15 year old dog. The vet said that there was nothing to do and that she wouldn't make it through the weekend. Though she did nearly die, she struggled back with the help of Gatorade, honey, and sweet potato. That was seven months ago in May. But I digress.

Since May each day has been a gift; some I said should have been re-wrapped and re-gifted, but they were ours and everybody's. Gert liked to make the story and I liked to tell it. Some might say embellish, but I don't think there was too much of that as I couldn't make facts bigger than Gert.

Everybody has the pretties, smartest, and most wonderful dog, and so did I. She lives in my heart now. But Gert, like me, always took everything the extra inch, foot, yard, mile, and beyond. She was handsome, smart, persnickety, precocious, stubborn, smart, manipulative, loving, tender, courageous, trustworthy, and had a few but wonderfully rich group of friends. I’m not sure if I am the two legged embodiment of her, or if she is the four legged embodiment of me.

We had a dialogue. Whether it was in English, English with a German accent, an eye to eye look, or a loud repeated name calling, we knew how to communicate. She often ignored all of that if she happened to come across a pile of rice in the park, a cupcake wrapper in the street, a pizza crust just out of her reach on the other side of a fence, or bread thrown out for birds in the winter. I often thought there must be a few birds that didn’t make it through the cold winter because Gert found and ate all the nibbles so kindly strewn across the ground for them.

Gert was a rescue – her name was Misty when I got her and that name was changed as soon as I decided she could stay. I thought I was just fostering her until I found a home for her, but she would have none of it and outlasted me – yes, determined was yet another of her characteristics.

A friend of mine sent a beautiful green gardenia, waxy green in its freshness and pregnant with blossoms ready to release their heavy perfume. The accompanying note read “You rescued ole’ Gertie and gave her a great life. You were her sun, moon, and stars… She loved you always and unconditionally which is why she held onto life so long even when she was really sick. Hugs, Ditty”. My vet wrote “She was like a cat with 9 lives – what a strong will to live. But then, she probably thought why go to heaven, when I already have heaven on earth?”

Grabbing a seat on the one ride we get on this carousel of life is not a choice. We don’t get to decide where we sit or how fast the ride is going to be. And, it can be a struggle to hold on. But we must do the best we can to enjoy and find the beauty in it all; it is not easy as we all know. Grab the most brass rings, smile at everyone that goes by, and share joy however you are able.

I said goodbye to my friend on our terms in her space in our living room. Peaceful and strong – that was both of us. I trust someday that mankind can be as kind to their own.



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