Chapter 8 – Gabby and Gram


Gabby and Gram on one of our Sunday rides

“What did you get him that dog for?  Now he is going to have more bills!”

Gram to my Mom, right after Mom bought me the puppy

“You have the whole world in that little dog!”  

Gram, one year later
In Gabby’s early years, my grandmother, who we always called Gram, was the most important human in Gabby’s life (other than me.) Gram lived near us in Pittsburgh, and Gram and Gabby really loved each other.


Gram and Pop

There are no words for how much my grandparents meant to me, how much I loved them and how influential they were to my life.

The look in Pop’s eyes tells you how much he loved his grandchildren.  As I write this I feel him with me, right now.  There is more about love and loss later on in our story, but some people (and dogs) leave you with so much, it is like they never leave you. Besides the psychological aspects, I strongly believe they are with us spiritually all the time.

Family members will enjoy seeing these old pictures.  I think I got my love of automobiles from my grandfather, who loved Mercedes-Benz automobiles. He started by buying used ones, taking good care of them, and trading for newer models over the years until he finally got his first new brand-new one.  They always had a front plate with “EEM” which stood for Ernie and Emma M (their last initial,)

He had three or four of them over his lifetime and his favorite was the yellow diesel coupe, above. They always wanted the convertible SL, but never quite got there as it was the most expensive model. He said he wanted it for the great resale value, but I think there was more to it than that!

My grandfather passed away in March 1996, about a year and a half before Gabby was born in 1997.  Reflecting on the fact that he passed in calendar year 1996 and she was born in calendar year 1997 made me come to realize what an advanced age she had reached for a dog.  Gram passed away in July of 2001 when Gabby was three years old. As you see from the quote above, Gram was a bit concerned when mom got me a puppy. She soon fell head-over-heels with Gabby, like we all did.

A visit with Gram

Almost every Sunday we would go and visit Gram.  In the morning I would say to Gabby, “Want to go for a ride?  Want to go see GRANDMA?” and she would start doing the happy dance and I would put on her leash and take her in the car.

Gram’s House

My grandfather built their house in the 1950s and they stayed there until they both passed away, save for their winter snowbird trips to Florida.  He built that house solid as a rock, and though it looks small outside it was surprisingly spacious inside.
When we got there, Gram would tell me what she was making me for dinner then she would say something like, “And for Gabby, I cooked a chicken breast for her last night.  This morning I cooked an egg and mixed it with it, along with a bit of milk, and I have some treats for her dessert… do you think that will be good enough?”
“Yes, Gram, I think that will be fine…” was all I could answer.  Good enough, indeed!

This was typical for Gram and she definitely knew how to take care of me and Gabby both. Looking closer at the picture above, this was the very day she made her the chicken and egg!  It’s kind of cool I had the exact picture for the little anecdote.

We always played in Gram’s backyard if the weather was nice.  At the end of the evening, when I got the keys and told Gabby it was time to go, Gabby would jump on Gram’s lap and snuggle her. 

Gram loved this.  She would say, “She knows you are leaving and she is saying goodbye to me!”


Visit on Gram’s Porch

Family members will enjoy this video.  There’s a bit of footage I recorded of Gabby playing in the front yard, and some footage my cousin Eric took of Gram and her sisters.
Early Christmas
One Sunday I left Gram’s to run an errand for her and when I got back, Gabby was waiting for me in the living room.  After I greeted her, she started going down the hall and looked behind to make sure I was following.  She led me to Gram’s bedroom and stopped by the bed.
When she looked up to see I was standing there, she went under the bed, then came out with a big rope toy in her mouth.  She put it down and looked up at me wagging her tail, showing what she found.  It was one of those near-human experiences I had with her… she waited until I was there to show me.  She was so pleased!
I took the toy and went into the den to see Gram.  “Did you buy this for Gabby?” I asked. Grandma’s mouth dropped open and she said, “That little sneak found her Christmas present, she wasn’t supposed to get it yet!”  We ended up playing with it anyway.  The cat was out of the bag!