Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Open Thank You Note to Gertie

On Monday - March 16, 2009 my toy Pomeranian Gertie had died in my arms. Most of my life I had wanted a dog, but having escalated over the years to 550 lbs. I could not walk myself let alone a dog.

After receiving gastric bypass surgery and losing a tremendous amount of weight, I had gone to visit a childhood friend I had shut out of my life for many years due to the embarrassment I felt over my weight. That night at her house the most beautiful creature on the face of the earth walked out from another room, it was Gertie. My friend and her husband looked at me and the dog with a weird expression on their faces. Guess what? I went home with Gertie that night! They had seen I was fully mobile and knew I was ready for a dog. It turned out that they had to find a home for their dog. They had been recently married and the condo they lived in did not allow dogs, as well as her husband being allergic. Gertie was seven years old and became depressed leaving her home. I had taken her from a house with a backyard and ducks to a 12th floor apartment in Manhattan.

My friend had given her to me on a Friday and said if it did not work out she would come into the city and pick her up the following Monday. Saturday night I called to tell her to come Monday because the dog was not happy and I couldn’t bear to see a dog that way. But then something happened on Sunday night. Gertie was on my bed and nearly fell off. I had caught her just in time. From that moment on we started an unbreakable bond. By Monday morning we were a team.

I had started this brand new life with mobility. I took Gertie everywhere with me. We went to all the places I never got to see due to my past obesity. I was now seeing everything for the first time with Gertie. I even sold jewelry at the flea markets on weekends and Gertie was in the booth drawing people to my table. Gertie was not only stunning to the eye, but had a heart of gold. I needed to keep walking as I recovered from all the surgeries after weight loss. Gertie made sure I did just that. She sat on my bed through all my recoveries of eleven surgeries and made sure that even on my most depressed days I knew I had to deal with her and take her out.

Some people feel Manhattan is this large city where you can get lost and become anonymous. Gertie introduced me to everyone on my street and suddenly they all knew us by name. I went on dates with men who felt free to approach me because Gertie was an icebreaker. I would joke with people and say Gertie will find me my husband. Gertie even came to Chicago to be on the Oprah set with me. She loved the hotel and would sneak out into the hall to take food off the trays left in front of people’s doors. I remember her having a whole loaf of French bread in that little mouth. The six years I spent with Gertie will always be remembered as the happiest times of my life. She showed me how to let people into my life and how to appreciate the little things. There has not been a day in six years she has not made me laugh.

Gertie got very sick and was in pain. Making the decision to let her go nearly killed me. I held her in my arms until she took her last breath. While she was still alive I thanked her over and over as I kissed her little nose that looked like a Spanish olive. “Thank you Gertie, thank you! You are for sure the best thing that ever happened to me and your paw prints will be forever embedded deep within my heart!”