May 5th, 2004 is the day I estimate that Gypsy was born. It was an easy date to remember about 9 weeks before she came to me. She came to me in the afternoon of July 12th, 2004 as part of a larger transport of dogs coming north through VA. I was living in Manassas, VA at the time and I agreed to look after her for a few days while her new family sorted themselves out.
That new family fell through and little Gypsy with her knowing looks and sassy ways forced her way into my heart and into my life. By the time 2005 had rolled around with the loss of my Grandmother and my first service dog Toby, Gypsy had made it clear that she was here to stay and that she was very much in charge of everything. She would force me to take her out and train her. She would NOT take no for an answer.
She went everywhere with me after Toby died, as I had gotten used to always having a dog with me. One day on my way home from work, I had an accident and flipped my car over. Gypsy, Boogie, and Dundee were all in the car. Everyone was okay, but the windows busted open so Gypsy and Boogie were able to get out of the car and run away. I managed to follow them and called out for Gypsy to ‘place’ which is her emergency stop/down cue. Gypsy laid right down on the double yellow line and looked back at me. She then recalled and let me put her on a leash. I was able to move her and Dundee off to the side of the road, and we did recover Boogie safely later that same night. Gypsy was completely unflappable. It took two days for her to recover from the fright of the car flipping and be okay with riding in the car again, but ever since they she insists on ridding in the car on the floorboards behind the drivers seat. I think because it kept her from sliding around.
She came along to work with me at the pet resort and spent her first several months playing in daycare while I worked. Everyone at work adored her, but sadly that wasn’t enough for me to keep my job there. Due to my general depression and my struggle with my mental health my work deteriorated and they were forced to let me go. I am endlessly lucky because I had Gypsy by my side, and my parents agreed to let me move back home.
I moved back to CT and Gypsy kept an eye on me. She forced me up to take her out several times a day, and she continually encouraged me to wait for the next dawn. I can honestly say if I did not have her in that time, there is no way in hell I would still be here today. She saw me at my darkest, and loved me with every fiber of her being. Never once did she ask me for explanations or excuses. She just kept loving me and encouraging me to put one foot in front of another.
In that time I kept working at her training and eventually I convinced my family to understand what she was to me. My parents took me on a few family vacations and Gypsy was by my side as a service dog the whole time. It took some work on my part to help them understand and to for myself to understand just what that meant. When my father came to understand, he told me in his own way just how proud he was of us for what we had accomplished. My mom, as always, was mildly baffled that her girl child acted as I do, but loved and supported and did her best to understand me all the same. She really is the best mother a girl could have, and the best Grandmother a dog could have, too.
Gypsy was her loving unflappable self the entire time.
A few years later Gypsy was found to have some arthritic changes to her knees that were concerning. We started her on Adequan and glucosamine and that made a big difference. Her vet (and orthopedic specialist) recommended that I reduce her workload, but continue to work her part time as long as she was willing and seemed to be pain free.
I talked with my family about what that would mean for Gypsy and for myself and they agreed that I could get a second dog with the stipulation that the second dog would be a service dog who could take some of the load off of Gypsy. I got a little aussie pup named Dusty who proved to be a lover and so super sensitive to my needs that he began plucking the fur from his front paws. Gypsy tolerated him and would sometimes bite him when he was being a jerk.
Next I found Billy, a 3 year old smooth collie who Gypsy told me was perfect. She met him and instead of snapping at him and being a grumpy old herding dog female (ahem no swearing) she flirted with him and gave him kisses. I’m not sure she ever really snapped at him, even when he took bones from her.
Gypsy settled into a wonderful life of only having to work when she wanted to and being treated like the queen she knew she always would be.
As Billy and Gypsy aged, I began to look for a successor dog and found Charlie who’s tale is told in these pages. Then it became clear that Billy no longer wanted to work. I couldn’t have two retired dogs kicking around in a house I’m still a guest in, so I reached out to his breeder who was so happy to have him come back after he did so much for me. So it was just Gypsy and me when I heard from Becky’s breeder and it was Gypsy that escorted me to go pick her up.
That was her last real working trip. Gypsy got to go on a few more trips without having to work after that, of course and she had a grand old time being fussed over by all of her fans. She was grudgingly coming to like Becky too and only put two small bite holes into her when she was being a bit too obnoxious for Gypsy’s tastes.
But now. Now Gypsy is 13 years old and her kidneys are failing and she’s slowly slipping away from me day by day. I am writing this story about her past so others can come to know what an amazing, wonderful, magical, perfect companion she has been to me over the years. Gypsy has touched many, many people in her long life. I want to invite all those who have loved her as I have loved her to come and say their last goodbyes now, while she can still enjoy them. Gypsy loves her fans and it would bring her joy to see those she has connected with again.
I will not let Gypsy suffer. I want her last weeks on this planet to be full of sunshine, love and all the treats she can eat. Please respect the pain her family is in knowing that she is not going to be around much longer. I have consulted with multiple vets and she is on pain meds and a special diet to help keep her as comfortable as possible. We have done all there is to do and we will continue to consult with her vets about her ongoing health to ensure that she is as comfortable as possible.