Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gigi and Me

I'm convinced that there has never been a sweeter dog than Gigi.

She came to us in the fall of 1998. I was 17 years old and a senior in high school. Since I am the youngest child and was heading off to college within a year, my mom felt the pull for a dog. Gigi was meant to be her dog. (I wasn't even allowed to name her!! My mom named her GG -- after my Grandma and Grandpa. At the time, I thought this was a dumb name. I probably wanted to name her after a band or something horribly teenage-tastic). But as much as she was supposed to be my mom's, a dog this sweet could never belong to just one person. Everyone who met her loved her. Instantly. She loved people. And people loved her. Gigi was so very easy to love.

She never jumped. She only barked when strangers came to the door. She followed obediently close. We all fell madly and deeply in love with her. She was our family. And if a dog could be a lady, Gigi was Jackie Onassis.

German Shorthaired Pointers are extremely energetic dogs. Our first Pointer was Molly. She would run from the minute she woke up until the the sun went down -- only slowing to leap fences. Molly could not be contained. She could hunt. She could play frisbee flawlessly for hours. And she could run. And eventually, she ran herself into a motorcycle and our hearts were broken. We took special measures to make sure that our new puppy would not meet the same kind of fate.

But Gigi was a calm and obedient girl from the start. We learned why soon enough. One day we found her unable to move. All of her muscles had contracted and shut down. She was stuck in her body. Gigi had Addison's Disease. My mom, who has an extra-soft soft spot for animals, couldn't bear that anything ever happen to our sweet girl. Addison's Disease can be fatal but it was not a death sentence for Gigi. My mom just wouldn't allow it. So, she, faithfully devoted to our Gigi, committed to 14 years of monthly steroid shots and all necessary (and expensive) medication to keep her healthy.

Today, after a long, wonderful life -- full of car rides, "playing ball", food (LOTS of food!), a big yard, and many, many people who loved her -- my sweet Gigi-girl was put down.

I can't bear the thought of it. I can't bear thinking of her not knowing what was going to happen to her. I can't bear thinking of how sad my mom must be. How horribly, horribly painful the decision must have been -- and how much pain Gigi must have been in for my mom to make it.

I can't bear the thought of going home and not being greeted by her happy wiggle.

I wanted to write this blog for my mom. And maybe, more honestly, for me. In searching my boxes of photos for shots of her, I came to realize that there was not a single roll of film that she wasn't on. Once we moved to digital, there was not a single visit to my parents without a picture of her. She was such a part of our lives that we posed with her. We included her. She is one of us.

I have found almost 14 years of pictures of me with her.I hope these photos and memories can describe her so that anyone who reads this can know how sweet and gentle and LOVELY our Gigi was.
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Gigi and I, we were a team. When I was young - and so was she - we loved to drive my Mom and Dad crazy. As a teenager, I used to insist that Gigi could sit at the table with us and "eat like a human". Then I'd feed her from a fork. My parents hated it. But Gigi and I, we thought it was great.

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Sometime in the year 2000, I taught Gigi to "shake". This was so easy for her. She was a smart dog. She knew lots of "signs" and could easily understand many words - "drop", "all done", "bark", etc - all from a move of one's hand.


Gigi was a snuggler. She loved to cuddle up on top or next you. It's almost as if she had no idea how big she was. All she ever wanted was to be close.
Gigi2001 Gigi2001-2 Gigi2002

When my husband and I became pregnant early in our marriage, Gigi was there - next to me - my support. I traveled home in October of 2003 to tell my parents our news -- and Gigi followed me everywhere I went. She climbed into bed with me every night. She protected me. She slept with me. She stood by me - somehow knowing and sensing that her guard duties had taken on a new level of importance. 106_0675

I have pictures of her snuggled up against me while I breastfed my Charlie, but chose not to post them. Gigi was ever close once Charlie arrived. She loved Charlie like she loved me. She took Charlie as her own. She watched over him like a mother.


As Charlie grew, Gigi and he found a friendship. Charlie loved learning to "play ball" with her, clapping "yay!!!" when she'd catch it. Gigi never found a soul she didn't love. And I can't think of a soul who didn't love her back.

Gigi2005 Gigi2005_2

Gigi2008 Gigi2009

When Henry and Gigi met in 2010, Henry - with his rebellious and mischievous sense of humor - loved Gigi in the way I had as a teenager. Henry found an accomplice - someone to eat the food he didn't like. We have a video of 7-month-old Henry giggling - belly laughing - as he fed every last bite of his meal to Gigi. Henry followed her, checked on her, asked about her, in the same way that Gigi used to check in on those she loved when she had the youth and strength to do so.

In the last year, Henry has referred to my parents house as "PapaGigi??".

Gigi2010 Gigi2011
I can't remember exactly when the visit was -- if it was Charlie's 8th birthday (April 2012) or the Christmas before it (Dec 11)? -- but Gigi was visiting us in Virginia. At this point, the arthritis in her bones was excruciating and her back hips just couldn't handle the stress of stairs. My mom and I had gone upstairs to my master bedroom and were just chatting mother-daughter chat when we heard a bark. Gigi had taken what strength she had left and climbed the steeps stairs just to be where we were -- but couldn't get past the baby gate at the top... She barked for help. She barked so we'd invite her in. She barked to be with us.

That bark is ingrained in me. I'll hear it until my mind fades into it's own age. The bark was the sound of love felt so greatly that pain means nothing. I'm convinced she was given the strength in that moment to climb those stairs to give me that memory.
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Last night, I face-timed with Gigi. I told her that I have loved her and will always love her and what a good girl she's always been. I hope that she knows how much we have all loved her and how much we desperately don't want to let her go.

Gigi, we will never let you go. You will live with us - in our hearts - forever. I hope that Miss Kitty is nicer to you in heaven -- but if she isn't, may you continue to live with that sweet grace of yours and take her taunting with the same elegance of your life and give in to her in your sweet way. Please give Grandma and Grandpa my love. And find my Nona. She will love you immensely.

photo-44 photo-45 Good bye, my sweet Gigi-girl.


  1. Aw, you made me cry. I might go hug my doggy now.

  2. Oh Jenn, I'm so sorry about Gigi. I'm crying for you; thinking of the pain you're in and knowing that my words can't really take any of it away. Just know I'm thinking of you and sending you hugs across the miles. Gigi knew you loved her. Remember that always- she knew you were one of her people. <3

  3. So sweet. Gigi slept with me the very first night I met your family. She was lovely.