My grandmother became a widow in 1970. Shortly after that, we went to the
animal shelter to pick out a puppy to keep her company. Grandma decided on
a little terrier that had a reddish-brown spot above each eye. Because of
these spots, the dog was promptly named Penny.
Grandma and Penny quickly became very attached to each other, but that
attachment grew much stronger about three years later when Grandma had a
stroke. Grandma could no longer work, so when she came home from the
hospital, she and Penny were constant companions.
After her stroke, it became a real problem for Grandma to let Penny in and
out because the door was at the bottom of a flight of stairs. So a mechanism
using a rope and pulley was installed from the back door to a handle at the
top of the stairs. Grandma just had to pull the handle to open and close
the door. If the store was out of Penny's favorite dog food, Grandma would
make one of us cook Penny browned beef with diced potatoes in it. I can
remember teasing my grandmother that she loved that dog better than she
loved her family.
As the years passed, Grandma and Penny became inseparable. Grandma's old house
could be filled to the brim with people, but if Grandma went to take her nap,
Penny walked along beside her and stayed by her side until she awoke. As Penny
aged, she could no longer jump up on the bed to lie next to Grandma, so she lay
on the rug beside the bed. If Grandma went into the bathroom, Penny would
hobble along beside her, wait outside the door and accompany her back to the
bed or chair. Grandma never went anywhere without her faithful companion by her side.
The time came when both my grandmother and Penny's health were failing fast. Penny
couldn't get around very well, and Grandma had been hospitalized several times.
My uncle and I lived with Grandma, so Penny was never left alone, even when Grandma
was in the hospital. During these times, Penny sat at the window looking out for
the car-bringing Grandma home and would excitedly wait at the door when Grandma
came through it. Each homecoming was a grand reunion between the two.
On Christmas Day in 1985, Grandma was again taken to the hospital. Penny, as usual,
sat watching out the window for the car-bringing Grandma home. Two mornings later
when the dog woke up, she couldn't seem to work out the stiffness in her hips as
she usually did. The same morning, she began having seizures. At age fifteen, we
knew it was time. My mother and aunt took her to the veterinarian and stayed with
her until the end.
Now the big dilemma was whether to tell Grandma while she was still in the hospital
or wait. The decision was made to tell her while she was in the hospital because
when we pulled up at the house, the first thing Grandma would look for was her
beloved Penny watching out the window and then happily greeting her at the door.
Grandma shed some tears but said she knew that it had to be done so Penny wouldn't suffer.
That night while still in the hospital, Grandma had a massive heart attack. The
doctors frantically worked on her but could not revive her. After fifteen years
of loving companionship, Grandma and Penny passed away within a few hours of each
other. God had it all worked out - Penny was waiting at the door when Grandma came Home.
By Barbara J. Crocker