It was five years ago this week when I drove through a snowstorm to meet Grandma Greta, a soon to be 11 year old chi-doxie mix.
She was signed up for a holiday event with the local rescue group.
I’d noticed her image on the masthead for the group’s website. Those jet black airplane ears taking half of the width of the page definitely caught my attention.
I was about to retire from short term fostering at the time.
My husband Richard’s rapidly declining memory loss had made conducting home visits and attending meet and greets with foster dogs unrealistic.
I’d been thinking instead about becoming a permanent foster of a hard to place black senior dog.
I had no particular interest in 4 pound yippee pocket dogs, but there was something about Greta’s gray muzzle and those big black ears. And also her life story. She’s spent the first 10 years on the road with a trucker who was ill, then a family with young children who terrified her.
After dropping off my husband at his adult day care center, I finally arrived at the busy pet warehouse that chilly Saturday.
I wandered inside, past the line for Santa to the back of the store, where I immediately recognized little Greta.
Instantly, I was smitten. I knew she was going home with me.
Against my better judgement, I decided to bring her over to Santa for a picture. The challenges of my husband’s dementia had been bringing me down and I thought a photo would put me in the holiday spirit.
Greta wasn’t exactly thrilled as I placed her in Santa’s lap. One photo was taken and she jumped on down, slipping and sliding forth on rows of shiny linoleum and underneath ceiling high shelf units.
A store employee and I finally trapped her.
Santa never even got Greta’s list.
But I still bought Greta an extra small snowflake sweater and rawhide, even though I was thinking she probably deserved coal in her stocking.
The first couple of weeks, Greta was very icy towards me. I saw those tiny teeth a few more times than I would have liked.
Yet she seemed to warm up to Richard.
I would place her in his lap each night. Though he no longer spoke more than a few words, Richard would always instinctively stroke her back and Greta would peacefully doze off.
As Greta loved food, I was finally able to bribe my way into her heart as well.
Not long after Greta moved in, it was necessary to transition my husband to a group home. Greta loved it there and would twirl in her 25 cent garage sale tutu for the residents.
And she’d continue to nap in my husband’s lap on visits until he passed away two years ago this Christmas.
Yet afterwards Greta reinvented herself again.
She was now my lap dog.
And she was also my social butterfly. Greta loved to go to dog friendly coffee shops and bookstores. She’d be in her glory on long road trips or even short jaunts to McDonalds. And she was a big fan of pet friendly church services, where she’d always try and steal my communion bread and wine.
Greta also finally found she was no longer afraid of young children in the area, who all believed she was still a puppy at sixteen because of her tiny size
I like to think she was flattered, as she was a little diva after all.
Yesterday, I wrapped up my little diva in her favorite red velveteen blanket from the couch.
And we took a drive in a snowstorm.
This time it was to the vet, as she hadn’t been feeling well.
The vet told me it was time for Greta to move on once again.
Crying some, I agreed. And I let her go.
Afterwards, I bought another red velveteen blanket at the store. And last night, my dogs Tucker, Maddie and I watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV, sitting on Greta’s favorite couch.
I dozed off a bit, and awakened later to the sound of a train whistle from the tracks that run by the depot where my husband’s memorial service was held.
I smiled, thinking Greta was helped up to that holiday train and found her way back to my husband’s lap, wherever he may be.
The thought gave me great comfort, and I slept like a baby.
And Grandma Greta, I hope you are as well.