Greta came home today, but I don’t feel any better.
Friends and family have told Joey and me that we would feel better once our beloved pug’s ashes were with us, where they belong. The sealed wooden box containing her ashes, sanded smooth as silk and bearing her name etched on a brass plate, is a work of art.
But the living, breathing, loving Greta was more valuable to us than the Mona Lisa.
I — WE — are heartbroken and devastated over her sudden death Sept. 21. Neither Joey nor I are functioning much above just barely.
Yes, Greta was a dog. So what? She was as important to us as any human child. Don’t even think that we’re silly, shallow people. We both have master’s degrees. Joey won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing, and he was among the top three in that category two other times. We both have received numerous journalism writing awards for our efforts. We both teach composition and literature at our local universities.
We have been married 34 years. We are childless by choice. We also are social advocates by choice. In addition to our journalism advocacy, we served several years as Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and/or neglected children. We worked as volunteer literacy tutors. And we have worked with numerous animal rescues.
I tell my readers all of this as evidence that we care about our society. I also tell readers in an effort to help you understand that smart, informed, active people can deeply mourn their pets.
It just so happened that tonight also was the first of a monthly grief support group for pet owners at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. It’s called Dixie’s Group, named after a wonderful man who sought help to ease his pain last year after his beloved Dixie died. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t think it would help. I went for Joey.
I’m glad I did. I’ll probably write more about it in another post. But now, I want to tell you about Wind Valley Kennels’ Gypsy-Bull Gretchen Kennedy — Greta. Her daddy, Chicageau Bull was a champion pug — like his father before him, and his father before him. We joked that Greta had a better pedigree than Joey and I combined; it probably was more truth than joke.
Greta acted like a princess. In fact, we called her Greta I, Queen of Southside. The queen is dead; long live the queen. There will not be a Greta II; it would be impossible to find her.
The title of queen now rests on the capable shoulders of Lillian Mae. Why not? She has a blog named after her. It seems only fitting, especially since she has coveted the title since first coming to live at the Kennedy Compound.
Greta never, ever went farther than the top step on the porch of our 105-year-old home. She didn’t need to, and she knew it. Now, we have a gate keeping the other dogs on the porch. She went on several vacations with us to a beach; she loved running in the white foam.
She loved her food — what pug doesn’t — and she was overly protective of it. We told her many times that it was a good thing she wasn’t in a shelter because she would fail the food aggression test, and that would be the end for her.
Greta loved me. I was the one who bathed her; gave her medicine; and bought her collars, treats, and toys. We snuggled and played. But her Daddy Joey: Oh, my, how she worshiped him. She showered him with sloppy pug kisses, climbing on his chest and holding his head with her front paws so that she could cover every inch of his head and face. After five minutes of nonstop kisses, he would try to distract her. It never worked. Greta kissed him until she was finished, and he finally learned to accept it.
One of Joey’s favorite musical groups is a sister duo called The Nields. One of their songs is “Gotta Get Over Greta.” He liked that name, and that’s how Greta became Greta.
But neither of us will ever get over her.