Genni by Bob and Linda Kaliski / Daddy

Will there ever be a day when I can look back on that awful, awful, Friday when I had to let her go? I hope I can be like those old war veterans that talk about grievous wounds suffered in a casual voice. While the world sees an old man talking in a normal voice, deep down, inside a young man still screams and cries out in agony. The days are getting better, the sun does seem a bit brighter and the winds less chilling, but still something is missing in my heart. I no longer choke up and cry at the simplest procession of my little gray dog. Standing before the door, doesn’t fill me with grief, missing those eyes beaming up at me, torn between the joy of seeing her master home and pleading
to go outside after a long day.

It will get better, but fade to the point where it’s just a vague feeling like an old scar from childhood? I doubt it. My little gray Schnauzer Genni touched too many people too deeply beside myself to ever be relegated to the dusty shelves of dim memory.

Was it that long ago that the neighbors told us your Father had sired, a bunch pups? Four sisters and one brother, born white and stillborn. Linda and I had wanted a dog, now that we owned a house and didn’t have to worry about anyone telling us that we would have to give a family member because “no dogs allowed”! I had vowed to never go through that misery again.

As a child we were forced to give up our family dog. The colonel was almost adult when we rescued him from the pound. His attitude, faults and strengths had already been fixed when we got him. We had him for only a short time when a jealous grandchild of our landlord complained. Her mom didn’t want her to have a dog, so why should anyone else?
Out he had to go!

Genni, I got to pick out as a pup. I chose her because of two things. First there were the white markings on her eyebrow and chest. Her three other sisters were so identical that they could have been triplets. The second thing that I remember was an attitude. She came right up and wanted to get into the action and play. The others were more interested in rumbling and tumbling with each other. Genni wanted to explore and check us out. It was on the second floor of the house next door in the kitchen that a love affair started.

The plan had been for her breeder, the sister of our neighbor to bring the puppies down about a week later after picking one out on a Tuesday. Things fell through however and they had to go now. We got a call that the puppies were upstairs right now and we could look at them. Off we went, and inspected the pups.

Her father, with the elegant name of Sparkey Spudmaster Hurley was a bit bewildered and didn’t know just what to make of these little furry things milling about and trying to chew on him and anything else. Having no clue except gut feeling, Linda and I chose one. Wrapped up in a blanket we took her home. Home to hopefully
a loving and caring and long life.

How on earth were we going to take care of a puppy, let along a dog? Neither one of us had a clue how to raise one now that we were committed. Imagine instead of 9 months of preparation for raising a baby, you got a week to go out and get all you needed and to learn the care and feeding. Of a puppy. A quick trip up to Wolfe Road and the pet store and we had at least the physical items that we would use to feed, bathe and groom a pup. Excitement alternated with dread as we both feared that we would fail and Genni would be
miserable with two hapless owners.

Genni. The name came from the story Camelot. Linda loved the King Arthur stories and around that time, Richard Harris was doing Camelot the stage play. Her love of Arthurian myth was passed on to me, and the character of Guennivere always intrigued me. Strong, self-reliant but with a gentle friendly heart. Little did I know that the miniature schnauzer is very much like that. Of course she had to be Queen Guenievere! Linda came up with Natasha, Christmas Child. Genni was to be a very early Christmas present. One of the finest and precious gifts of all time.

The problem came when we tried to put all the names we wanted to on the American Kennel Club registration. We diddled and played around with names but were still constrained by the limitation of the AKC. Finally, we settled on Queen Genevieve Natasha Kaliski. In the play, Arthur lovingly refers to his queen as Genni,
so Genni became her call name.

Genni established early one thing. Genni performed only to Genni’s schedule. A small black and white bundle of energy, she bounced around the house, gleefully exploring every nook and cranny. One moment going a thousand miles and hour, the next dead asleep wherever she happened to be. Puppies are full of life and energy and never fail to give you a smile when you see them. Your first though, that is such a joy! You spoil it rotten, you dote on it. Every little whimper and sneeze is cause for alarm. So much life, and so much responsibility.

How could anyone fail to fall in love with this little darling who didn’t run but bunny hopped? Watching her fly across the yard, ears flopping up and down, totally concentrated on her prey. Then, those eyes, those big brown wonderful expressionful eyes. When they looked into yours, there was nothing you wouldn’t do for Genni.

I can remember like it was yesterday the exact moment I fell totally head over heels, madly in love with my little gray dog. She was still an infant, and in the mist of being housebroken. It was such a warm sunny afternoon and we needed to pick up some toys from Wal-Mart for her. The ones we got originally for her were vinyl. Genni being a terrier tore through vinyl like fire through ice. Okay, gotta get something a bit more substantial. Linda went into the store while I had her on the other seat on an old blanket. Then, she started to give signs that it might be a good idea to take her out for a short walk. A small strip of grass in the parking lot and my lady was in business.

Ah, happiness and all those smells. Her little nose was either buried in the grass discovering the world, or trying to see how far she could stretch out the tiny leash she was clipped to. She let it be know that in addition to operating only according to her timetable, she wanted to go where she wanted. If you didn’t agree, well too bad! Once she finally had decided to do what we originally set out to do, I took her back to the car and sat her in my lap.

Checking out the smells of the summer grass, and warm sun, not to mention the endless messages left on the trees by other animals, had taken its toll on her. Genni curled up and started to go to sleep. Before she did, she looked up at me as if to say” Thanks Dad, I really enjoyed that! Can we do it again? And again and again?” Dark deep brown eyes looked straight into my soul, seized my heart and never let it go since.

I fell deeply, madly, truly in love with my gal, perhaps even more than I had with any person. For what flowed out from Genni was love, without reservation or limits. She snuggled up on my lap, and then fell asleep, not awaking until Linda opened the door. As I was sitting there, a Roger Whittaker song kept going through my mind. “The first time that we said hello, began our last goodbye.” I wanted to freeze that moment forever. At the time, I knew we had years and years ahead of us, but still dreading the day when she would have to slip out of this world and go back. My eyes probably filled with tears, like they are doing now. I wasn’t ashamed. Nobody should be ashamed of total honest emotion.

I put the dread of what was then, far off in the dim future and got down to the mind-twisting task of trying to raise a good canine citizen.


Aways Love and Hope,
Bob and Linda Kaliski