In Memory of Gidgee
There are few things in one’s life, and especially mine, of 75 years that leave a very deep and lasting impression. The first was meeting and then losing my sweet and beautiful wife of 30 years. The second was losing our little friend Gidget, a 15 pound black miniature poodle.
Gidget, affectionately known to the family as “Gidgee”, has been in the Galliano household since the age of 3 months. She was born in Jan of 1997 and spent the next 12 years in the family until November 1st of 2009. She was not the only pet throughout my life, but she turned out to be a very special and important little standout creature.
Gidgee was a very social little dog, never demanding, who wanted nothing more than to just be with us. She was not a yipper, nor bothersome. She was also not a lap type dog, but would rather just lie on the floor in the same room with her family. She was also comfortable, tucked in close at our side on a chair, sofa, or in the car.
On a Sunday morning on April 9th of 2006, I lost my wife Dawn to cancer. Her wish was to remain at home, in the house she loved, until the end.
During this time, Gidgee sensed that her Mom was sick and for the last week until the moment of her death, wanted to be at the foot of her bed. All of our family, 5 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and special friends were also at her bedside as she took her last breath. At the moment of Dawn’s last breath, we all noted that Gidgee seemed to look up to the ceiling, immediately stood up and wanted off of the bed. This will remain in our memories forever.
I understand that many non-dog lovers probably wonder why humans refer to themselves as “Moms and Dads” to their loved pets. Those that have never owned a pet have missed out on one of the truest forms of love and non-fault finding devotion that exists within the human world, and strangely from a non-human.
When my wife was healthy and active, Gidgee would sit on the back rest of the sofa facing the window that looked out at the street. Each and every time my wife would return from shopping, etc., she would jump off of the sofa, and with an excited bark, head for the garage door to greet her Mom with her short tail wagging vigorously. After her Mom’s passing, Gidgee continued her daily vigil on the couch watching. Every time any tan colored car entered our cul-de-sac, she would excitedly jump down from the sofa and head to the garage entry door expecting to see her Mom.
After about three months, she gave this up. During the next three years this special little dog provided a great amount of comfort to me. She was always at either door when I returned home from errands, with that little pompom tail wagging.
She provided a presence for me in a house that, since Dawns passing, was now very quiet. Gidgee always slept on the bed when my wife was alive, but since preferred to lie on her little mattress near the foot of our bed. I was always comforted during the night, by her little soft snoring and wheezing.
In September of this year I noticed that Gidgee was developing a lameness in her back end. When I took her to the vet, they also discovered a very loud heart murmur and x-rays showed an enlarged heart. We put her on a heart medication, and some pain meds. Shortly after, she began to withdraw and would hide behind doors etc. This was so unlike her usually vibrant personality. About a week later she became totally immobile, could not stand or move. I had to carry her out to go potty. She had never ever gone in the house and I knew she had to be outside in the yard she was familiar with in order to go. On Saturday, Halloween day, when I took her out she could not even stand up. I decided then and there that I could not let her go any further and lose her dignity. I made the hard decision that she would depart in the home where she was loved, was comfortable, and had spent her entire life. I mulled over my decision throughout all of Saturday night.
At 1 am on Sunday morning November 1st, I sent an email to Lori Gibson at Compassionate Care and explained the situation. I expected to hear from her the next morning. Surprisingly I got an instant return email from Lori. She was very kind and comforting and said she was available early afternoon on Sunday. I explained to Lori that I could not wait that long, as I was not willing to let Gidgee go through the ordeal of even one more potty experience. She understood and said that she could come over prior to her other appointments and be here at 9 am.
I called my son and wife who lived close, and who Gidgee enjoyed visiting so very much. They had been over daily and had noticed Gidgee’s degradation the last few days. They agreed that I had made the correct decision. Sunday morning they arrived at about 7:30 am. My sweet widowed lady friend Erika, also called to see how Gidgee was doing. She said she would like to be here with me and Gidgee. Prior to meeting me and Gidgee, Erika was not a dog person. However since becoming acquainted with me, this little dog had won her over. She always greeted Erika with a wagging tale and a gift in her little mouth.
Gidgee was still very alert Sunday morning and her last day, but I somehow felt she was ready. Even though she was prone in the bedroom on a towel and could not stand, she gave me that certain look that meant, “Where is my food, Dad”. One begins to know from their expressions what they want. I went to the kitchen and prepared her food. I placed it on wax paper, laid it in front of her. She ate it all while in a prone position and actually wanted and got a second helping.
Just prior to Lori’s, arrival all of us present sat, or laid on the floor around her taking turns patting her little head and saying endearing things to her. While petting her, she licked my hand over and over, which was unusual for her. It was her way of saying “I understand Dad, don’t grieve, I am ready”
Lori arrived at 9 am. She was led into the bedroom. Gidgee who never met a stranger, would normally grab a gift, such as a toy or a milk bone and greet the newcomer. She went through the motions when she saw Lori, but was unable to rise. She was only able to wag that little tail. Lori immediately got onto the floor with all of us and began to pet Gidgee’s head. Gidgee looked so pleased. After Gidgee had settled back down and was comfortable, I told Lori we were ready. Lori administered a sedating injection into the loose skin on her back and Gidgee showed no pain. Within a few minutes Gidgee became drowsy and laid her little head on her front paws, closed her eyes and began to snore loudly. It was a special sound of comfort to me, as I realized I had not heard it the last few nights. I knew then that she was out of pain and resting comfortably. I motioned to Lori that it was okay now to let her go. Lori proceeded to administer the last shot. Gidgee did not give one indication of movement or pain. In less than 2 minutes Lori checked for a heart beat with her stethoscope and announced quietly, “She is gone”.
We all kissed her goodbye on her still little warm head, and wrapped her in a blue towel. Lori delivered her to Dignified Pet Services for cremation. Her remains will remain with me in the bedroom until I am gone. I have left instructions that her ashes will be buried in the family plot in The Dalles, Oregon with Mom and I, at my passing.
I feel blessed that we were so lucky to have as part of our family, such a special little dog as Gidgee. Even though I am 75 years old, and she was only with us for 12 years, she has left this family with many loved memories. To me it is wonderful and amazing that only 15 lbs. of a sweet puppy named “Gidget” that was only with us for a short 12 years, was able to leave such a huge impression and footprint in our lives. Not only while here, but now that she has gone.
There was a sense of relief that again on a Sunday morning, nearly at the same time as her Mom, she had passed on so comfortably.
I was filled with a sad grief that my little friend was now the second one gone from my life. As she was dying, I said without realizing it that “Mom and her would be so happy to be together again Gidgee”.
The house will now seem very empty. I will miss them both very much, until we can be together again.
Eternal Peace now to you Sweet Gidgee and Mom. Love you both very much. Dad
PS. I want to thank Lori for providing such a needed humane “in house service”. Also want to mention Dignified Pet Services who handled Gidget’s cremation in such a caring way.
- Bruno Galliano, Vancouver, WA