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?