A tribute to Gretchen the gentle German Shepherd

As I mentioned before, I was really touched by some of the stories that accompanied the photo entries for the Wayward Dogs Magnet Contest. Naturally, that’s because a lot of the dogs in the contest were rescues and formerly wayward dogs. Gretchen’s story truly brought tears to my eyes. Here it is, in her owner’s words:

I adopted Gretchen from a local rescue group. Her former master died of cancer and none of his family wanted her. She sat in a kennel for 3 months in Hiawatha, KS, and was so upset when she lost him that she had stopped eating. By the time I got her, she was a rack of bones. I agreed to foster her—while waiting for a little dog—but when I saw how beautiful she was and that her demeanor was the epitome of docile and peace, she had a home for the rest of her life. She was the kindest “person” I think I’ve ever met.

After I adopted Gretchen, I noticed she favored her hip a little, so I paid a vet check her out. Turned out in her x-ray, there was a very sophisticated pin and spring installation. The vet was very impressed with it. I know that operation had to have cost her former master a lot of money, which told me he had loved Gretchen with all his heart. I hope he knew after he died that Gretchen went on to be loved and lived a very good life.

We’d go walking all the time and if an aggressive dog came at her, she didn’t even bother looking at him; just kept walking; and she was a German Shepherd! Smart. She sure changed my perception of that breed. Even the cat I later brought home–skittish and scared of anything that moved–became friends with Gretchen. I have a very simple video of them sitting at the door soaking up some sun.

This photo shows her passion—water. She loved being in the water. I had Gretchen for about 8 years; then about a year ago on Labor Day, I woke up to find her on the floor in seizures. I was devastated and my heart broken in a thousand pieces….and that was her last day. I had to put her down at the local vet hospital. As she was fading, I told her to “Watch for King. See King? Run to him!” and then she was gone. Whether there is a Heaven for dogs or anyone for that matter, was not the point. I wanted her to see something something familiar and friendly… and maybe… because she saw him, it became true. What a great soul she was. As for King, he was a beautiful Golden Retriever—the life of every party—who died of cancer about a month and a half before Gretchen. King, my brother’s dog, was Gretchen’s best buddy. She’s playing with him now and both their graves are side by side in my sister’s beautiful floral garden.

I have another dog now—also rescued from having been passed through 5 homes before he was 3. He has a permanent home now. However, for this contest, I want people to know about Gretchen.

I wonder if Gretchen’s owner would consider her a once-in-a-lifetime dog, the kind whose memory will always stand a little above the rest. I have one of those in my house right now, and I am grateful to be sharing a fifth Thanksgiving with my little Scooby. Who is the canine love of your life?


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on November 22, 2011, in Dogs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. That is such a sweet story. Thank you for loving her so much!

  2. Great story…brought tears to my eyes too! I know we’re not supposed to play favorites with our kids, but I’d have to say that if I had to choose one of my loves to live forever, it would be Brutus. I adopted Brutus from the local animal control when he was just a puppy – maybe a couple months old. March 2011 will mark his 10th year with me. We’ve been through a lot together and he’s always been there for me – especially when I have food in hand! 🙂

  3. This is such a sweet story! Crying!

    I’m not sure I could pick just one love of my life, but I guess I would choose Turkey, not because I love him more, but because when I got him, he was skin and bones with a piece of his rib cage missing from having fallen (or being pushed) down the stairs. He had a UTI and worms and was languishing at the shelter. He was a tough case to bring home because he was wild (he was a stray on the streets when he was picked up) and due to the UTI, was unable to potty train at first. Once we got his UTI and worms taken care of, he calmed down and became this wonderful dog. He’s been with me for almost 5 years and I am just so thankful for him every day. He always knows how to make me smile! 🙂

  4. What a beautiful story! I love when fosters turn into family- that’s how we got our little Chelsea. My once-in-a-lifetime dog I also have now: Mini Schnauzer, Harley. He’s the first dog I got in college, who was 100% mine 🙂 He’s the smallest but the pack leader, he loves watching TV and snuggling and goes everywhere with me. I’m so thankful to have such a loving, amazing pup!!

  5. I love hearing stories of beloved dogs! Thank you all for sharing!

  6. Having had two children—now grown up—it is always a tricky issue to feel one is more favored than another. I loved them both for their individual personalities.

    Regarding Gretchen, she came to me during one of the darkest points of my life, and she saved me. Caring for her and walking her pulled me back from the brink. When I think of her, it feels like a memory of an old friend of many years, now gone, but always good feelings in my heart. She had her own self-being that made her an individual. There is another dog, Shortcake, who grew up with my children, and my horse, Sweetheart, who will always be in my heart right next to that Gretchy Girl. 😎

  1. Pingback: Another tribute to Gretchen the gentle German Shepherd « Wayward Dogs

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