Monday, January 01, 2007

Sad News to Start the Year

<span style="font-weight:bold;">This has nothing to do with Venice, but I wanted to post it anyway.

Our house and our hearts are empty tonight. Gretel, the retired Seeing Eye dog who lived with us for the past two and a half years, died suddenly today (she would have been 12 next month). Last month, she passed her physical with flying colors. This morning, after her walk and morning treat, she collapsed. Never losing consciousness, she remained fully aware. We rushed her to the animal hospital and learned she had massive abdominal bleeding brought on by cancer. Instead of prolonging her life with painful treatments, we let nature take its course and, tearfully, let her go.

We didn’t have Gretel for long, but each moment was wonderful. She was a great ambassador for the Seeing Eye organization. She was a beautiful girl and strangers would often stop us to ask about her. When we told people about her working life as a Seeing Eye dog, people were fascinated.

At first, Gretel was serious, no doubt trying to figure out what her new “job” was supposed to be. Soon, she figured it out. Her job was to get petted whenever possible! She turned into a slightly goofy dog, who was always happy, always happy to see us.

True to her training, Gretel didn’t bark much–but she did quack! On her first day with us, my sister gave Gretel a stuffed, plush duck that quacked when you pressed it in the right place. Gretel soon used her ducks (her brood grew to six) to let us know she was happy. She ran around the house, duck in mouth, quacking at us. She’d also move her ducks around when we weren’t watching. Sometimes they’d be scattered around the house; sometimes they’d be in a pile; this week she had them in a semi-circle around her bed. I’ll remember Gretel quacking!

Gretel was a good girl, who really enjoyed her retirement. Thanks to the Seeing Eye Organization for giving us the opportunity to have Gretel become part of our lives. We hope to adopt another Seeing Eye dog as soon as possible.

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