Wednesday, March 14, 2012


"Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really." 
~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Amidst the chaos last week, I lost a friend.  I am not writing this to bring sadness, but to celebrate a life that changed my own infinitely.  Gretta found a way to burrow herself snug against our hearts, and when we lost her, that part of our heart left with her.  Its painful, it sucks, I feel like my heart has split in two...and I wouldn't trade my time with her for anything.

Gretta was with me for 9 1/2 years.  She was the constant in my life for just shy of a decade and for the better part of my adult life.  Me and this girl, we had some adventures. 

Gretta loved to be outdoors more than anything in the world (besides me...mmmm, actually I think she liked being outside more).  Gretta was a dog of few "words", but one of the times she would become vocal was when we headed up the road to some of our favorite hiking spots.  She knew, even though we were miles from the trailhead, that when the car turned up Pattee Canyon she was going to get some freedom.  She would dance around the car running from window to window, give us a quick lick on the face, and then let out a long low bark.  Pure joy.

Gretta was my sole companion on a 10,000-mile road trip around the country.  We had some long days in the car.  Each morning after she realized we were not, in fact, going hiking - she'd settle herself on the front seat and lay her head in my lap.  We'd drive for hours this way, me stroking her head and her sleeping soundly.  She kept me company and kept me sane on those long days.

Gretta was a 100% total bad ass.  We thought that she had run away one day and spent hours searching the neighborhood for her.  When we finally found her, she was sitting at the base of a tree.  Staring up at a mountain lion she had treed.  No shit.  Another time we were backpacking through the Bitterroots and she chased a bear that came across our path.  No Shit.  Yeah 100% bad ass.

Gretta also had some moments that weren't so bad ass.  Gretta loved sticks.  She was borderline obsessed; when she saw a stick that was all she saw.  It didn't even matter if it was attached to someone's hand.  On one occasion she snagged a stick right out of a small child's hand and started dancing happily around him while he cried, and I frantically chased her in circles apologizing profusely to the mother.  Another time, we were hiking on top of a mountain and came across a group of Tibetan Monks (really).  Gretta jovially snatched a (4 foot long) hiking stick from one of the monks and bounded through the woods in bliss.  The same circus ensued, me chasing Gretta and the monks staring blankly at me.  I think they found some humor in it, maybe not.  I know I did.  As inappropriate fits of laughter escaped my mouth in both situations, I realized she must have a sense of humor in their somewhere too.

Gretta was never an overly affectionate dog. Affection was always on her terms, and when she gave it, oh was it sweet.  Which is why I knew Mace was "the one" at the beginning of our first date.  When he came to pick me up, he sat down on the couch and Gretta climbed up on the couch and laid herself square on his lap.  That was maybe the third time I'd ever seen her do that, the previous two times it had been my lap.  I recounted that story to her during the last few moments of her life.  I thanked her for choosing Mace, for giving me the "ok" to bring someone else into our lives. From that day on, there was no question, it was always the three of us.  If we left her behind, it was only because it was a "no fur coats allowed" kind of place.

When Anna joined our family it was a hard transition for Gretta.  She was a pound puppy and ended up there because her previous owners had a baby and decided they couldn't keep Gretta.  When we brought Anna home Gretta started shaking from tail to toe, it took days for me to convince her that she was still an important part of our family.  And, while she never appeared to take any interest in Anna, she tolerated her. Somewhere deep down, I know she loved her.

Gretta had her peculiarities, and one was that she hated having her picture taken.  If you look at all of these pics, she is refusing to look at the camera...except this one where I am bodily forcing her to look up.  Gretta was patient, and constantly put up with my nonsense.  She didn't like it...but she loved me. So, she put up with it.

I had no idea how in-tune my body was to Gretta's presence until she was gone.  I still find myself stepping over her in the kitchen.  I find myself getting ready for bed and heading downstairs to let her out one more time for the night.  I find myself checking the space where her water and food used to be to make sure there is enough.  I hear noises in the house that sound like Gretta moving around, and I believe it for about 2 seconds before reality hits.  We're planning a trip out of town next week and Mace caught himself almost asking if we could bring Gretta with.  Anna blows kisses to the spot where Gretta's bed used to lay.  Our house doesn't feel the same.  Her absence is felt in so many crevices of our lives.

Our Girl, our Noona Berra, our Heart, our Gretta.  I know you're prancing in the mountains in heaven, where you can run again, you can hear again, you can see again.  You are whole again.

We miss you so much every day.

Our lives never would have been the same without you.

Our lives will never be the same without you.


  1. I loved her too! It's amazing isn't it?

    Who saved who? The question of rescue pets. Or any pet at all.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. But what amazing memories you have of her!

  3. Oh May, what a beautiful tribute to an incredible dog. Gretta was so loving and kind and funny. She was a comedian at heart, truly. That monk story- what a riot! One goal I had with Gretta was to get a picture with her looking at the camera. I never succeeded. I just posted the closest I got on my FB page. Love that dog. Maggie, she was so blessed to have you and Mace as her people. You loved her so completely. We all miss you Gretta!

  4. I'm very sorry for your loss. Your tribute is beautiful and brought some tears to my life...not because it's sad, but because I know exactly what you were saying.


  5. Oh Maggie, I am so sorry. She was such a good dog and I know how much you loved her. My favorite memories were when we would go for hikes and she would be with us the whole time until we started getting close to the end and then she would mysteriously disappear. We would spend forever looking for her and calling her name. Then randomly she would appear out of nowhere. Clearly she was calling the shots of when the hike was going to end. I am sure that she was just sitting in the bushes watching us look for her and laughing to herself. She will be missed. Love You - Leisha

  6. I'm so sorry. We lost our dog on Valentines Day of 09 and my husband and I still haven't recovered. It was SO much harder than I ever imagined it would be and I knew that non-dog people had no clue what I was going through. I'm so sorry and hope you find some support from the dog lovers in your life!

  7. I'm so short to here this. Gretta was amaZing I didn't get to know her til her last year or so but dog sitting is one of my favorite things ever and when it was Gretta it was even better she would hang out right on Zachs feet the whole time whata doll!

  8. I am so sorry hun! I dread the day we lose one of our puppies! Such an amazing love you had for Gretta and special memories!

  9. So sorry for your loss. Sounds like she was a great member of the family!

  10. My friend I am very sorry for your loss :(
    Your love and bond seems very strong and I am sure she will stay with you through your wonderful memories together
    Be strong like you are

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. Oh my. I am SO sorry for your loss. I know what true joy a little pup can bring to the family. Your post was absolutely beautiful though - what a wonderful tribute.

  12. Maggie, this was such a beautiful entry (made me cry). Gretta was a perfect example of my theory of dogs - they're just a piece of God's spirit right here on earth. I will always remember watching her and Merlyn walking side by side (almost like a mobile "spooning") on top of Mount Jumbo. They seemed to be having even more fun than you and I were that day. I'm sorry for your loss and will remember Miss Gretta very fondly.

  13. Maggie... I am so sorry to hear about your Gretta. They really are like family members. Lots of hugs your way.

  14. Thank you for writing this. I miss her so much and your writing really is perfect in describing her and Gretta's relationship in our family. She is immortal in our thoughts.
    With all of the love.

  15. I'm so sorry you lost her. Our pets are like family members and itis hard to say goodbye. I'll be thinking of you. Blessings...Mary


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