Gennaker passed away on December 11. She was 15 years old.
We’ve been though a lot of grief this year, first with some very private matters and then with Mattie passing away (not too gently) this summer. Gennaker came as a shock, although it wasn’t unforeseen; she was elderly, nearly deaf and a tad forgetful.
I picked Nen out of a litter of puppies slated for a “pregnancy spay”. Her mother was a white shepherd mix from the pound and the new owners didn’t feel that they could handle so many little burdens. The mother went into labor the night before her surgery and the spay drop off appointment became a newborn pup check. I told the woman I would adopt one of the pups in eight weeks.
Nen was the only “shepherd colored” pup of the mix and she was the runt. She had the most intelligent eyes I’d ever seen in a dog. Better Half wanted one of the really furry black and tan ones. No, it was the shepherd one, and that was final. We named her Gennaker after a sail and Leah for some odd reason. Ann sounded good at the end.
Our friend, Miss, once remarked that someone must have taken a sharpie marker and traced around Nen’s ears. She had beautiful coloration. She was love on four legs, always polite and quick to train.
We had Samantha Jane at the time, a cinnamon red chow (please don’t think of a typical chow chow. Groomers heralded Samantha as “the world’s most friendliest chow”. She was my shadow.) Nen took to Sam quickly and they became buds. Six months after Nen was born, we added Waltzing Matilda to the mix. They, too, got on splendidly.
Nen was, as I said, intelligent. We would joke that she was the reincarnation of J. Robert Oppenheimer. If it moved, she would nudge it with her nose. She never pushed hard enough to knock it over, but it seemed as though she were testing to see just how hard she could nudge before it would fall over. Tap, tap, tap and the bottle stayed upright. Nudge, nudge, nudge and the book would reach the very end of the table but would remain there. She enjoyed motion or perhaps she was into physics. Who are we to say?
My Mum babysat her when she was small. I don’t really remember Nen misbehaving for her Nonna but it was apparent that Nen was her favorite. The day before Nen passed away, my Mum told me to tell her she was still beautiful.
There are the funny memories (especially with a dog that seemed dedicated to being the goofball omega.) We had gone to visit our friends Rich and Miss, bringing our dogs along. We let them into the backyard so they could do their business and a squirrel darted down the tree and up a fence. Samantha Jane went after fast as lightening and Gennaker, scared to death by the sudden movement, jumped sideways into the screen door. It didn’t hurt her a bit, but it was the source of chuckles for ages.
Nen also jumped sideways into one of the shop doors in downtown Colorado Springs. That really has no bearing on memories except to say that she honestly thought that she could go into the shop.
We forever talked about her fear of thunderstorms. We were going to visit friends (yes, the dogs were tagging along) and it was pouring rain. Better Half ran out to the car with her in his arms, unceremoniously dumped her into the back seat, and came running back in white-faced. I asked him what had happened and he replied that lightening struck only a few feet from him. I asked where the dog was and his reply was that she was still in the car. Nice. By time the rain let up enough for us to run to the car (I was fuming at him the whole time) Nen had done what any petrified dog would do: she expressed herself. The car reeked for a while after that.
She was one of our Manitou dogs. We’d get a plain vanilla ice cream scoop and allow her to lick it. We brought her along when we visited The Spice of Life and she was happy to sit outside with me and share my love of people watching.
We had a consummate babysitter. Friends would drop in with a baby in tow, and we’d set up a playpen for the baby. Nen guarded the children. She would wander down the hall and let someone know if the baby needed changing or had woken up. My deepest regret is that we never had a child of our own during Nen’s time; we had always spoke about what a good thing it would be to have a devoted dog helping us keep watch on our baby.
There really are too many memories to write down. It would be easier to say that she was a comforter, a companion, an inspiration, a therapist (you could talk to her about anything and she’d never gossip behind your back), a therapy dog for any who needed a smile, and a member of our family.
Her passing was mercifully painless. We had gone shopping in Robinson and, thanks to the snow, had to go slow to get back home. Better Half went downstairs to let the dogs out and I was sweeping the sidewalk free of snow. I heard him call me, and there was urgency to his voice. I ran back inside and found him laying in the dining room with Nen, who was on her side.
Better Half was panicking and I began to order him to do things (I feel badly about that, but an animal can pick up on those things.) We covered her with a blanket and added my heating pad for good measure. She didn’t have any reaction to stimulus when I pinched the folds of skin between her paws, and she could not stand upright. She had other indications of a stroke as well.
We allowed her to lie down and (very loudly, as she was almost deaf) we told her that we loved her, and that she was a good dog who had earned the right to go be with God. Yes there are animals in Heaven. John talks about it in the bible, for Heaven’s sake.
She passed shortly after that. It seemed to us that she had purposely waited to die, waited for us to return so that we could say goodbye. She was considerate in that way. That was “Nen”.
I am grateful that we arrived home and did not run to the vet (they were closed) because had we done that Nen certainly would have died that night all alone. The thought of that upsets me to no end.
We have lost dogs in a variety of ways. We had a puppy die at home from Coronavirus (the vet misdiagnosed it.) We lost our Samantha Jane at an emergency center (the vet didn’t diagnose the collapsed lung in time.) We lost Baron to a stroke. Mattie, as you know, died a rough death. Gennaker’s passing was as gentle as her nature. I can’t think of a more fitting end to a beautiful life than to be surrounded by your people and pack as you ease out of this world.
Gennaker passed away on December 11. She was 15 years old.