Gina Lollobrigida Viebrock, June ?, 2001-June 9, 2017
Yesterday our dog died. Yes, she was old. And no, it isn’t surprising. But the hole her passing has left in Susan’s heart and in mine doesn’t take into consideration that she was probably past her expiration date.
Regular readers of TIO may remember how often in my stories I’ve referred to “Gina the Dog” as a partner in our adventures. When we moved into our “new” house in 2005, Gina moved with us and has been here ever since. Until yesterday.
Gina could be considered a metaphor for life in Telluride? She arrived a scrawny young pup, we speculate abandoned by someone who stopped here for a few days and found her too much of a burden. She was a scrapper, unwilling to allow someone else (including me) to completely dominate her life. She was loyal, as loyal a friend as any I have made in Telluride. And she came to us as a result of the friendships, networks, and often strange logic of this very special place we call home: two friends saw her scavenging around town, one was able to corral her and get her to Second Chance, then later suggested that someone (we?) needed to foster her while she was recovering from being neutered. I resisted, as I was still in mourning, having just lost our beloved German Shepherd, Willie. I resisted, but Susan insisted, and Gina wormed her way into our hearts.
And ran our house for 15 years. She made it almost to the top of Wilson Peak in the early years, and at age 12 climbed Ballard Peak with Vanessa Hoff and me. Though our walks grew shorter in the past couple of years, and though it’s been a few seasons since she was comfortable going biking with me, Gina still enjoyed a walk out to Society Turn on the bike path, and even a walk up Mill Creek Road from time to time.
Susan and I just returned from a family visit in Seattle, during which Gina was vacationing at Ted and Vanessa Hoff’s Cottonwood Ranch and Kennel for a week, her second home. Vanessa brought her to Montrose for us to pick up Thursday afternoon, and reported Gina had been energetic and playful the whole time. And when we got her home, she wanted to go for a walk. She trotted along, even loped for a few strides on our quick jaunt, came in, devoured her dinner and wanted to go back out. I took her on a shorter walk this time, and she was reluctant to climb the stairs up to the main level. She faded during the evening and Susan and I took turns sleeping with Gina in the living room- it was clear that some milestone had been crossed.
By mid-morning on Friday it was time to call the vet. Michelle Dally suggested meeting at the Park in Ridgway. An ultrasound check revealed bad news. We caravanned to Michelle’s property for the privacy, and with a beautiful view of the Cimarrons, on a sunny afternoon, Gina’s head in my lap, and with Susan hugging her, Gina was sent on her next journey.
I had a dream the night before, the details of which are hazy except for the part when someone asked me how to talk to someone who has just lost a loved one. The me observing the dream said to the me in the dream, “We don’t want platitudes, and each death is personal to the one experiencing it. All you can say is: ‘I’m sorry.'”
Gina, we had a good run, girl. You left a huge hole that will be awhile filling. I’ll keep an eye out for you at that special place along the river. There are sticks to throw…