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Greta the Pup
A Tribute to our dearly departed puppy.
This is turning out to be a very sad summer. Saturday, June 24th, our beloved boo-boo corgi Greta passed into legend after a sudden bout with a cancerous tumor within her. We did all we could to try to have it removed but nothing could be done. It’s been 3 weeks since she departed and it still feels fresh, the empty house is a constant reminder to us of what we’re missing. Writing about her time with us has been helping so here’s a bit of what’s been on my mind.
Greta came to live with us this week in July of 2012. My wife (GF then) was ready for a new dog since it was about 6 months after her last loyal dog, Xena, passed away. She was already scrolling the Humane Society website, cruising for potential candidates and she came up with a few. It came down to a six-month old puppy who would be named Greta and another smaller puppy. When we got to the Humane Society, the smaller puppy was already visiting with another family, so we asked to see Greta. They brought us into a small room to say hello to one another. Although I’ve grown up with dogs, I’ve never been a dog person, so when it came time to meet Greta I was a bit awkward. My wife had no qualms about sitting on the floor and issuing hugs, meanwhile I was just looking down from my 5’11” perch.
“You have to get down to say hello, silly!” my wife says to me. I begin to ease down and Greta runs up to me and plants a lick on my right cheek.
“She likes you!” my wife says. From that meeting on, my wife was set; Greta would come home with us. We returned a few days later to pick her up (they spay and issue all the necessary shots before you take ’em), and we both cracked up laughing when they picked Greta up and scanned her implanted chip like they’re ringing up groceries. While she wasn’t too excited to ride home in the car, she was a bundle of energy when we got her home. She would run in circles out in the yard, what we called her Turbo Run, which we found endearing; because of her short legs she looked like a barrel gliding through the grass. Early on she even got a running start and leaped onto our very high bed barely clearing it like she was sliding into home.
Greta was very happy to live with us. Over the next few months she settled in and grew into her full size. Her little face, featuring a shorter snout than most dogs, earned her the various nicknames Puppiface, the Pup, Pewpy, and Pupation to name a few. She didn’t get too much bigger but she certainly did get girthier. And while she appeared chubby she was very much energetic and athletic. Because of her shape, height and her fur coloring we deduced she may be a corgi mix. When we started taking her to the groomers for regular haircuts it was clear that her fur made her look chubbier than she really was; when freshly cut you could see the muscle definition in her chest.
Indeed, she loved leaping onto the ottoman or the couch and sitting with us, or looking out the window to the neighborhood, what we called her TV. Her fur was soft and silky and not wiry like a lot of dogs' fur, so while she did smell like a dog it wasn’t an overwhelming dog smell. She was very pleasant to pet and touch.
Greta was a great dog, she loved every human she met. Other dogs not so much. She was never really into dog parks even though we took her to a few around town early on. The bigger dogs put her on edge, and she would bully the smaller dogs. Funny enough, the only dogs she got along with had her same size and coloring. And she would tolerate the dogs of friends and relatives usually by staying on the opposite end of the room.
Greta loved being outside. Her favorite time of day was whenever we would go out for a walk. For a time she kept the pace if you decided to run, and I even took her skateboarding a few times, she loved it. We loved taking her on trips to the Hill Country or even out to Big Bend territory, she loved the wilderness and was fascinated by all the wildlife she’d encounter. When sniffing around outside sometimes she would point; her little arm would fold up in the direction she was facing. When night time came and my wife went to sleep, she would come running out for her night shift. While I hung out and worked in my studio, I would let her hang out in the backyard. She would be out there content for up to an hour at a time unless a possum or a cat decided to walk along the fence.
She was a little soldier. Although she would sometimes cry or complain about the tiniest things (when she thinks someone is about to step on her tail, or when she thought her ball would smack her in the face, etc.), she was down to defend us and the house. One time she defended the backyard from 3 large dogs who snuck in, suffering only a single puncture wound from a stray tooth. She would often defend my wife when I came into the room and pretended to attack her, and sometimes vice versa if my wife pretended to squab me. But perhaps her most remarkable feat was when she was stricken with a sudden health scare about 7 years ago; she developed a lot of bruising on her belly. The vet ran some tests and discovered her blood platelet count was dangerously low for some reason (my wife thinks it was all the skateboarding I took her on) and it was possible she may not survive. But she rested and recovered and it wasn’t a thing since.
All that gave me a reason to hope for the best with her last situation. I kept telling my wife, “she got over that other thing, she'll get over this” or “They’re gonna go in and remove it and she’ll be totally healthy again.” I truly believed that, but nature had other plans.
Our house feels so quiet and empty now. There’s no pitter-patter of footsteps, no more begging to be let out anymore. We no longer have our Roomba patrolling the kitchen floor when we cook. When we pull up in the driveway we no longer see the sentry in the window awaiting our return. As I head to the studio at night nobody follows me, and my concentration occasionally breaks when I stand up but then realize nobody has to be let in from outside. I have to stop myself when I wake up in the morning, as I usually call out to Greta to go outside while I get ready for work. I’ve since retired her derpy little voice I used to do for her to make her seem like she was talking. I stop myself before I say her catch-phrases when puttering around the house, because I just don’t want to emphasize her absence. And that absence is already glaring.
We both thought we would have more time with her, that Greta would live to be 15 or even older. Xena lived to about 15. So, we’re still in shock and disbelief that she is no longer here. My wife even feels rage, like she’s been cheated out of something. These past 11 years simultaneously feel like a blink of an eye and a certain permanence that this is how time has always been. We have to constantly remind ourselves she had a good life with us, and she in turn enriched our lives in ways we’ve only started to understand in the past 3 weeks.
It certainly helps to write about it and post about it, although the pain still feels fresh. We’ll be feeling this pain for some time to come, but Greta is no longer in any pain. Fly free, Puppiface, we’ll always love you and have a place for you.
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