04 February 2018

Time to move on.

It's been just over a week since we lost our dear Gabby.  The passage of time is surreal, as in some ways, it feels so long ago and in others, I can still hardly believe she's gone.
Throughout the week, we've had to experience many firsts; the first morning I wouldn't be letting her out; the first time she wouldn't need to be fed; the first time she wouldn't be greeting us at the door when we came home; the first time she wouldn't barrel toward the door when Terry would come through after work; the first breakfast involving bacon that didn't have her sniffing and begging for even a crumb.  Then there were other things...like how I frantically was searching the ground to see her fresh paw prints in the snow before the next round of snow wiped them away forever.  Or how I had no idea that new snow had arrived until I went to start my car before work one morning, because I hadn't been outside at 5 am to check the weather with her.  

When I look back on this week years from now, what I will most remember is the kindness.  The kindness of friends expressing their sorrow; from those who were lucky enough to have met the Gabby during her lifetime with us and from those who had never met her but knew of our devotion to her.  From Tyla, who made this sweet print for me that now rests on my desk at work so that I can look at it every day and remember this goofy, loving, silly pup:


From Alicia, who left me some Hershey kisses and a sweet note on my desk at work; from Susan, who just hugged me as I sobbed in the break room as I told her what we'd be doing the next day; from Kerry, who had just lost her cat of 18 years the day before, and who was patient with me as I couldn't keep it together all day at work in light of our decision and who graciously brought Madeleine home to us that Friday afternoon so I wouldn't have to make the trip back to Lewiston; from Annie, who knew and loved Gabby as much as we did, and who stopped by that night to bring me flowers and wine and dark chocolate salted almonds which I'm now addicted to, and treats for the kids, and for checking up on me throughout the week and for crying with me; from Meg, who checked in on me almost immediately after it happened, and throughout the weekend; to Amber, who I know more than anyone feels our pain, but gently reminded me that the sting will lessen every day; from all my coworkers and friends who read my tribute to her or posted loving thoughts or who I saw out and about, and asked how I was doing; from my sister, who let me know she was thinking of me; from friends near and far who have sent cards or texts or let me know we're in their thoughts; from Androscoggin Animal Hospital, who created a loving keepsake for us to always remember and cherish her by.  

To all of you, thank you. Thank you for your kindness, your thoughtfulness, your tears, your smiles, your wishes, your friendship.  We miss Gabby every day, but the sting is lessening.  Time heals all wounds, but love endures. We'll move on...but we won't forget.


28 January 2018

A Tribute to Gabby. 06.08.06 - 01.26.18


On Friday, we lost a fixture that has been in our lives for nearly 12 years. At approximately 2:15 pm, January 26th, Gabrielle Lucinda Keegan took her last breath. On Saturday morning, I woke up at 5 am, like I do everyday, to let her out. The mind is a funny thing. In the sleepy haze of early morning dawn, I momentarily forgot she wouldn't be waiting for me. I waited to hear the click tappity click of her toenails on the kitchen floor but the sound never came. Instead, I stood in the inky darkness of the living room and cried. 

In the days leading up to her last, my mind's eye has been flooded with memories. Memories of adventures, places, people~~all who were connected by the special dog Gabby was. I reread a post I wrote 7 years ago, when Gabby had turned 5 and Garrett had newly entered our world, called "A Love Letter to the Dog". It served as a reminder that even though we now had a very vocal, very mobile, very time consuming other little being, we had not forgotten our 1st baby.  Rereading how she came to be ours reminded me of how firmly planted she herself in our lives then and every day since. 

Gabby Keegan, age 11.5, died Friday after a courageous battle of old age (and likely cancer), in the arms of her person, Alison. Gabby came to the Keegan-Prescott household in the late summer of 2007 as an exuberant, untrained, beautiful rottweiler with jet black fur and deep mahogany markings. 

Her humans, Alison and Terry, had recently decided they wanted to find a rottie to adopt and soon after just putting it out there in the universe, friends directed them to a craigslist ad in Portland for a 14 month old purebred rot pup looking for a new home. Soon after meeting her, her humans knew they had found what they'd been looking for and she was Miss Personality from day one.

In the early years, Gabby loved long walks around Portland's West End and daily 6 am trips to the Valley Street dog park. Soon her humans realized that city living was not suitable for this 80 lb. love and the family moved to Topsham. Gabby cohabited with four cats, three who were indifferent and one who decided it was his life mission to terrorize her. The only thing Gabby ever was afraid of was a 20 lb cat named Franklin.  Alpha ruled the roost.

Gabby soon had her own pack of playtime pals--Henry, Tucker, Cooper...but it was Buckley who stole her heart. Buckley the big chocolate lab and Gabby have spent countless hours playing ball, going swimming, running the fields, hiking the hills, chasing snowballs, chasing tennis balls (Gabby was a bit of a ball hog), wrestling, and snuggling together. In the prime of their youth, there was no stopping their play. When they grew older, they were simply content to just lay down next to one another...like a sweet old couple.

Buckley and Gabby, Cox Pinnacle

Buckley and Gabby, Wolfe's Neck Farm

Gabby and her other chocolate lab beau, Henry

More Buckley.

Loves. (Still a ball hog)
Gabby turned heads wherever she went. She was a gorgeous, sleek dog with a heart of gold. Upon meeting someone new, she'd nearly knock them down from the force of her lean. She was a leaner and a licker.  

Gabby's hobbies and favorite things included: hiking, camping, chasing the ball, riding in the car, swimming, going to the beach, being buried in the sand, sneaking snacks off the counter, sleeping, exploring, eating bacon, pizza crusts, dressing up for Halloween, visiting Santa, drinking water, finishing a Dairy Queen ice cream cup, peanut butter, cheese, and going places with her humans. She was excellent off-leash and would come when called.  She had been skunked only once in her life, a legendary tale that lives on today for Garrett. 

She had her moments.  She wasn't a fan of little dogs and sometimes didn't realize the extent of her larger size. She's eaten sticks of butter, bowls of drained fat, loaves of bread, and basically anything her humans were foolish enough to leave within mouth-reach. She had a deftness in removing something wrapped in foil and leaving the foil behind. She had sensitive paws and had cut them up more than once on sharp rocks or jagged patches of ground.  She was gentle and let her humans tend to her, always ready to thank them with a lick.

Gabby was a protector. She knew the moment a strange car pulled into the driveway and somehow knew the difference when it was one of her people. She has probably given a UPS man or 2 many a heart palpitation when they approach the house with a package. Always on guard. Knocks and doorbells set her off. Low rumbles of warning at first, then deep throaty barks and growls.  But in the end, Gabby was a lover. 

It was unknown how Gabby would react when the family started to grow, first with Garrett, then with Madeleine.  It was clear from the beginning that these tiny humans were hers to watch over, love, and share in the adventures.  Especially Garrett. When Garrett was born, she was instantly Nurse Gabby.  Fretting and always around, wanting so badly to help. She was always near him. She picked up soggy cheerios that were tossed from the high chair and learned to share the backseat with him.

Instant protector of baby Garrett.

Maddy and Gabs

Gabby loved her people and made friends with anyone she met. At one point in her young life, she was a certified pet therapy dog. She proudly wore the badge and brought joy and smiles to many, often reciprocated by treats and belly rubs.

Gabby loved a lot of places but her favorite was Bar Harbor. She loved walking the town, sipping the fountains, and being fawned over by people who may or may not have had a rottie connection. There's something immensely special about these dogs and those we've met along the way just get it.  

Gabby was a companion, a friend. In dark moments, she was a comfort and seemed to know just when her love was needed. She was a snorer. She'd fart and then look back at her own behind as if surprised that the sound and smell was coming from her.  She burped. A lot. She was Gabby, Gabs, Mad Gabs, Flabs, Gabby Lu, and Old Sow (inside joke between the humans). Her warm chocolate eyes were easy to get lost in.  She was wise and an old soul.  She loved the beach, she loved the water.  She was patient. She was stubborn.  She was gentle. She simply was so much fun and she made going places so much fun. 

Gabby is survived by her 4 humans and 2 feline siblings. For those who knew and loved her, she will forever be remembered for her loyalty, her intelligence, and her ability to endear herself to anyone who didn't mind getting sloppy licks and kisses.

RIP dear Gabby.  We will love you and miss you forever. June 8, 2006 - January 26, 2018