In memoriam: Miss Gab. July 4, 2008 – September 26, 2014
Our world is made up of many things--special times, prayers, phases, people, schools, skies, places, music, mountains, meals, oceans, books, travels, and, for me, dogs. If you’ve read this blog long, you’ll know the dogs often figure prominently in the stories and cooking adventures at our house; they always have.
(Below: May, 2009: Fiona, our first female golden, with puppy Miss Gab on top of her and then Miss Gab and Tucker with friend Newman)
(Below: puppy Tucker with Britta, under Miss Gab, and his own grown-up happy self)
And while I don’t often enough chronicle loss and pain here in a what appears to be a cooking blog, I can’t move on, cook, or write without a tribute to our Gab–so long part of the Two-Dog Kitchen. Maybe I just need to get it down so that I can see it here, maybe make some sense of it. But there’s no sense to this story. You’ve guessed this isn’t a happy tale.
Last Friday morning, Gab didn’t want her breakfast. When I tried to feed her later, her legs began giving way. She couldn’t stand. I yelled for Dave; I thought she might be having a stroke. (Do dogs have strokes? I guess they do.) He called the vet right away and got an appointment for later that afternoon. The wait was forever because in the meantime Gab was violently ill over and over, lost her sight, and collapsed repeatedly. When we got her to Dr. Bill’s, he immediately said she’d been poisoned. Perhaps a toxic mushroom, but it looked like drugs. (DRUGS?) He would put her on an IV and see how she did in 24 hours; he just didn’t know. He offered a ray of light, no more. He’d check on her overnight and call if we needed to come.
By morning, he hadn’t phoned; we held out a little hope. But at 8, he called and carefully said she wasn’t going to make it. He would have to “let her go.” We could hear the pain in his voice because he’d taken care of her for years. He didn’t want to say the words. It looked like she might have gotten hold of some meth; he knew all the signs because he’d seen it many times. (MANY TIMES? Had I been living under a bush?) I can hardly write this because it’s not something I want to believe. I wanted Gab until she was an old, crotchety golden lady with creaky hips, leaky eyes, and an oh-so-white face. And I wanted Gab in the new kitchen. I wanted Gab on all my morning walks and at my feet while I read, watched tv, or chopped vegetables. I wanted Gab to bring me the ball for the millionth time each day. I wanted Gab to play with Tucker, the Wuss. I wanted Gab next to my bed as I slept. I just wanted Gab. When we got to the vet’s office — just a few minutes down the road– and while I thought we were going there to “put her down,” she was already gone when we walked in the door. Her eyes were closed, she’d been bathed, and she was covered with a soft blanket. And she wasn’t there. A confirmation of our faith, of the reality of a soul, a life-force—whatever you might say. Gab had gone.
The following couple of days passed in a rush of foggy pain with neighbors arriving with casseroles. They brought treats and offers of playdates for Tucker. Dave and I did what had to be done while I also battled a nasty cold and missed work.
On Sunday I baked apple crostatas for our wine group dinner, a loving activity that happens every other month or so. Our group is entirely made up of animal lovers and nearly all of us have dogs. I knew they would be good to be with and it was healthy to have something to do. Tucker, in mourning himself, simply laid around or moped. I’m not sure who’s worse off–Dave, Tuck, or me.
The kitchen, definitely not ready for primetime, at least had a functioning range and fridge.
No counters. No sink. No backsplash. I rolled the pastry and mixed the filling in the basement on an old kitchen table we had set up in the basement family room. (Here at the middle of the room while a new stairway railing was being installed.) Carried the trays of pies upstairs, cautiously navigating pulled up carpet and half-done stair rails.
And as I baked the sweet free form pies I bake each fall as the apples and pears ripen, I knew these desserts were the first things to come out of the new oven and that Gab was missing that event…and also all those pies to come. I wouldn’t have to hide baked goods from her (Gab was a cookie snatcher) and she would never again wait in the doorway for me to finish cooking and take her outside to play.
She’d forever be in the beautiful blue yonder where all treats are bacon treats. Where tennis balls never wear out and are thrown at every-20-second intervals. Where Mom has time for a walk anytime and Gab’s closest friends (everyone) were always coming through the door. Where the ground is never wet from rain or snow. Perhaps where reindeer antlers needn’t be worn at Christmas time and the groomer or shot-wielding vet tech were forever-gone foes.
Today the counters go in my kitchen. Tomorrow the sinks arrive and on Wednesday the tile goes up. But it doesn’t seem to matter very much right now if our Miss Gab isn’t in it waiting for grated cheese to fall or for an egg-yolk omelet to appear. I don’t swear on the blog, but oh shit.
I’m a grateful person for the most part. It is my constant spiritual practice to see what there is to be thankful for; it is one of the best and most positive portions of my liberal and progressive Christian faith. So I’ll be #*#*@^% grateful. I will. I promise. But it’s not easy. I’m angry and fearful and my feet can’t find their way without my girl at my side. I’ve had a lot of dogs and I know it’ll pass. Just not now.
Run in peace, my Gab. You were so loved.
Sing a new song ( I never said they’d all be happy songs),