You see, we weren't only going to be introduced to "Gretel" but two of her sister's also. Finally, we arrived at the farm house, then we were faced with navigated a winding road all the way up on a hill to the farm.
We were greeted by three jumping German Shepherd female puppies, all smoothering our faces with wet kisses, endlessly pawing and jumping for attention.
I looked at the kids, and asked, "Which one do you like?" "That one!" they cried, and I quickly selected the most hyper puppy as our final selection.
"Gretel" was scooped up to have her nails clipped by her breeder. She was absolutely beautiful, a black and tan face with a perfect diamond in the center of her forehead. After getting her food and care instructions, I wrote out my check for six-hundred and fifty dollars. A decent price for a German Shepherd puppy in 1993. It was done. She was officially ours.
As we made our way back through the winding road of the house, "Lexi" her champion mom, ran along side of our car, knowing that she had one less puppy in her care. "Lexi" followed us all the way to the highway road, trying to get one last look at the people who took one more of her pups away. It broke my heart, and I can still see her eyes as we drove away with Gretel; but I was so excited at the same time.
She too, was so excited that she threw up on the way back in our car. We didn't care, we had our own German Shepherd puppy to love and cherish. Once we took her out of the car, and into the house, my husband sneered at her from the couch. "Why did you get a FEMALE?, I wanted a MALE," he said.
She knew he was less than enthusiastic to have her in his home. She sat quietly at the garage entrance door with flat ears and sad, droopy eyes until he said the magical words: "come!." The rest is history, she instantly became the fifth member of the family.
Through good times and bad times, she was our constant companion and best friend. She sauntered from room to room at night, keeping close watch over her charges; never faultering on her love, devotion and endless protection.
We actually took her on a long car trip to Nevada. Oh, how we LOVED having her curl up in the bed at night, between our two children, a very unusual but steadfast "nanny."
I taught her all her manners at obedience school, and practiced with her in our local school playground on weekends. She was well worth every penny of her $650.00 and more.
After the children grew up and moved away, she got calmer and slower. No more did she pace back and forth through the rooms looking after her charges. It was clear she knew her mission was all but over.
In October of 2005, she developed a sore on her side that wouldn't heal. We thought she fought or caught on something in the yard. But it was the worst. She had a terminal cancer.
She was spoiled and catered to even more those last 6 months'. She wouldn't give up, she struggled to maintain her duties around our house. When the end came, she could hardly hold her head up. She stared at me as if to say "I'm ready." We called the vet to our house to keep her comfortable.
I whispered "love you Gret, and thank you." She struggled until her last breath. Somehow, I still feel her in the house, even though she is gone. I don't think I will ever have a best friend quite as unique as "Gretel."
I will miss her until I can join her; and will always think of her as my most devoted friend and companion.