There’s a temptation to think the world is against me these days. So many losses so far this year; I’m not sure I can take much more. I feel like every time I decide to write a blog there’s another loss I must talk about with this most current loss one of the most difficult to share.
On June 10, 2014 my dearest Grandpaw passed away. I couldn’t be there with him, but luckily Nori was (a dog who worked at the Hospice facility).
This is a big loss for me because Grandpaw was a very special person in my person world. He loved me from the moment he saw me and every time I visited him, he had something special for me in his pocket. Even when Parkinson’s made it difficult for him to reach into his pocket or even hold the treat, he did it for me and I’d wait at his feet for the blessed snack.
Gretchen wrote all about Grandpaw HERE, but this is a human’s perspective and I think it’s only fitting to offer up a dog’s perspective and as his Dogson, I am taking it upon myself to let you know what a huge loss Grandpaw’s passing is not only for the humans in his life, but for the dogs, too.
Grandpaw Bob was born in Wisconsin in a town that sounds a lot like a place I might enjoy — Mill-walkie. He had dogs and goats and geese and chickens who lived with him and when Grandpaw Bob and I talked about his childhood, it was the Irish Setter of his childhood that he remembered most. I’ve never met an Irish Setter, but I do have to English Setter friends, Carter and Kali, and I think they’re pretty special so I imagine that Grandpaw’s Irish Setter was pretty special too.
Grandpaw Bob was a really smart guy. He read all the time and when his eyesight started to fail, it was really really hard on him not to be able to pick up one of his huge books and read it. I wish I had known how to read it to him because I would have, but alas, while I can write and I can understand what’s being said, it’s difficult for me to both hold a book and to read the words out loud to someone else.
But Grandpaw Bob understood that. Instead of reading, we’d talk and all the while he’d scratch my chin or stroke my head and I liked that very very much.
Well, until a squirrel raced by outside or their neighbor’s cat showed up on the doorstep. When that happened I got a wee bit distracted.
Still, Grandpaw Bob understood that barking at critters is what a dog was supposed to do and so he’d tolerate it pretty well. Of course, if I barked at my own reflection in the sliding glass door, he’d laugh, but most of the time, he’d understand my need to be the protector of the household.
Grandpaw Bob and I liked to watch TV together. At times we’d watch the Dog Shows that were on the TV especially around holidays. We’d each pick our winner and see how our choices stacked up against those the judges (in their funny, fancy outfits) picked. If there was an Irish Setter in the show, Grandpaw Bob always chose that one to win even if he knew that the Rottweiler or the Poodle or even the funny looking Affenpinscher looked better. He had a soft spot of those Setters.
He also had a soft spot for me. Whenever we’d call to talk with him, he always asked how I was doing. He read this blog too and offered up sage advice if he thought I was having a problem.
When we visited my Grandparents, I’d always sit next to Grandpaw Bob either by his favorite chair or under the dining room table. He liked that. I liked it too. Sometimes he’d even drop a piece of food for me or reach in his pocket and give me another treat when no one else was looking.
Grandpaw Bob loved to garden. It got really hard for him later in life and the last year or so, he really didn’t garden at all, but he’d push his walker outside while my moms would work planting something or digging up weeds and I always stood next to him while he inspected their work.
The best times (and there were many) were when we drove my grandparents down to Oregon to visit my Uncle Paul. We did this in the summer and then during every Christmas and that car ride down was one of my favorite adventures of my whole entire life. We’d take two cars — Grandma and Momma Ann in one car and Grandpaw and Gretchen in the other. I usually rode with Grandpaw because he liked that I was really good in the car and had a quiet presence so, if need be, Grandpaw could take a nap on the long ride down. We listened to music, talked politics, and shared snacks all the way to Oregon and Grandpaw would always tell me I was the best dog.
He was the best Grandpaw and I can’t really believe he is no longer with us. After his passing, I got to go visit Grandma to make sure she was doing okay. Grandpaw’s special chair was still in the living room and it was kind of odd seeing it there without Grandpaw in it. I sniffed it and though it still smelled like him, the smell was faint and that made me sad too. To hold onto that smell though, I laid down by his chair — just like I always did — and hoped that his scent would stay with me for just awhile longer.
I know humans see death as an end, but dogs have a different view. Sure, I know I won’t see Grandpaw like I used to — won’t be able to cheer on the Oregon Ducks or scowl at the political shenanigans of the government with him anymore — but Grandpaw is with me in a way that I don’t think humans ever really experience. It’s hard to explain and according to the Dog’s Code of Ethics I’m not supposed to explain it to humans, but let me just say this: I still feel as if I am lying by Grandpaw’s feet and in those moments when I miss him the most, I can still feel his gentle scratches on my chin and the soft pat on my head and yes, I can even taste the treat he hands me from his pocket.
I will miss you Grandpaw, but I feel very blessed to have known you, been loved by you, and to have been your faithful, funny Granddog for these past seven years.