In Memory of Gram Nystedt

IMG_20131109_165456Gram Nystedt
November 11, 2000 – February 15, 2013

Our dearest Gram, I have failed to write your life’s tribute since we said goodbye in February. However, it has not been because I forgot about you as that will never happen. The reason has been as I would read the notes I wrote about you shortly after your passing, I was unable to think about writing your tribute without extreme emotion and tears overcoming me. Though many months have passed, it is still hard to think about all of the things that you would do that made you “Gram”. I remember so many times a week our last moments together and the final words from Dr. Haber, “He’s gone”. Our last ride in the car together was to Dreamland as I held you on my lap stroking your chest – the softest part of your body. Saying goodbye was so very hard for us. Hopefully, we did not prolong your suffering for our own selfishness wanting to keep you longer. We did everything we could to keep you longer, but it just wasn’t enough. That stupid nasal cancer got you in the end as insidiously as it does your human counterparts.
We brought you to Dreamland for them to care for you and return you to us for eternity. As always, you are sitting near us in a place of honor where we can see you each and every day and visitors can remember you as well. I will forgo further lamenting about losing you as it will not bring you back, but it will let all who read this know how much you were truly loved. As your 13th birthday approaches this Monday, I am remembering so many of the little things you did that made you the dog you were to us and others.
In reality, Gram, you were our “grand dog”. You were Nathan’s birthday gift in 2001 from a couple of his friends. He had told them he wanted an “ankle biter”. He found advertisements for Chihuahuas in Dallas GA and went to look at them. What he saw were called “deer Chihuahuas” (whatever that was supposed to be!) At the same time, there was a smaller cage with much smaller Chihuahua puppies. His friends didn’t have the money necessary to by the smaller puppies. Grampa and I came out to view the choices. Indeed, I didn’t want one of the “deer Chihuahuas” either as it was much bigger. A couple of the puppies were already spoken for, but Nate chose you. As recommended, we took you to the vet to be checked out. Besides the naval hernia, there appeared to be some issue with at least one of your legs – perhaps just from being in a cage. The vet who examined you said you would need the hernia repaired but we would have to wait until you got bigger. However, her comment was “he may not get to four pounds”! Gee, if she only could have seen you later in life she would have been amazed. You were the size of Grampa’s size 8 ½ sneaker with room to spare! You had a “black racing stripe” right down the middle of your back and a great apple shaped head. You were fawn, blonde & the black racing stripe. We left your harness on most of the time so I actually thought the hair at your shoulders was blonde because it was always covered. However, as you aged we rarely used the harness when you went outside BUT your shoulders were still blonde colored! Once when we were traveling and stopped at a rest stop, someone asked us how we got a racing stripe on you! Though you were Nathan’s puppy, it didn’t take but a couple of days and you jumped out of his hands and hit your head on a table. He brought you up to our room and asked us to keep an eye on you overnight to make sure you were OK. Well, as I recall, from that point on you were ours and a “bed partner”, too! So, dear Gram, here are some of the memories we have of you over the years…
One of the funniest things you started doing immediately pertained to eating. We bought the smallest food bowls we could because you were so tiny. We put the bowl in the garage foyer for you to eat. However, as soon as we went to the family room, using your teeth you PICKED UP the entire bowl (which was almost bigger than you) and carried it into the family room!!! Then you proceeded to dump it on the floor and would bark at it. Only when this routine was finished did you begin to eat! No matter how many times we would move the bowl to the foyer, you would pick it up and put it right back in the Family Room – finally we just gave up! We also learned very quickly, not to mess with your food when you were eating as you were very food aggressive and remained that way until the end.
As you grew, we got you dog toys instead of the cat toys we originally had for you. One of your favorite things to do was play ball – by yourself! You had a purple toy that resembles a “jack” to us and a ball. With the purple jack in your teeth, you batted the ball across the room, running quickly to the other side off the room to “catch” the ball as it roll to that side. This would continue for quite a while until you wore yourself out. We swore one day we would get it on video and send it to Funniest Home Videos, but we were never able to catch it or forgot about it while we watched you play!

Your favorite place to sleep at night was all the way under the covers. There were many times we couldn’t get you to come out from under the covers so we just made the bed with you in it! There was just a big “lump” in the bed. Some days you stay on our bed in our room the entire day while we were at work – that was a very long day a lot of “sack” time.
You quickly house trained yourself. We would be gone from 5:30 am until about 4:30 pm every day for work. You had food and water available to you 24/7. You trained yourself not to eat or drink during the day and never had an accident UNTIL he started having stomach/gastrointestinal problems.
Gram, you were the best travel companion! You loved to go for rides. All Grampa had to do was whisper “go for ride” and you were there jumping up and ready to go. When we traveled (if possible) you went with us. Your favorite place to sit while riding was behind my head and the head rest in the van. Later we got you a sheepskin bed and put it in between the two front seats (inside the net which was there) and you would sleep there – all covered with blankets, of course. You hated the snow! When we went to Illinois, you would have to clear a spot in the yard so you had some grass to use. You looked so cute in your little corduroy “barn” coat and hood! The hood was not a favorite thought. The boots we bought didn’t work too well as you couldn’t walk with them. When we visited friends or relatives, you went with us. They would find pieces of your food “hidden” around their houses later after we left – sometimes months later – and they would remember Gram was here! It was so much fun watching you “bury” your food in the house. Your instincts kicked in and you would go through the process of covering it with “dirt” by pushing movements with your nose.
You loved to ride in the van, but you HATED 18 wheelers and motorcycles. You barked every single time a big truck or motorcycle came near the van!!! On one of our trips we stopped at a Flying J in Kentucky. A guy on a motorcycle pulled up and parked right next to us. When I opened my door, you literally flew out of the van and took out after the guy! You were right at his heels barking like crazy! You didn’t bite him, but he sure thought you were going to!
You were so protective of us – especially Grampa. Any service person who came in the house, you were right at their heels. You did actually nip a couple of them, too. There were certain people you knew who you didn’t like either and you would bite at their ankles and bark, too.
Yum, yum treats! Since we first got you, you had gotten frosted flakes because we didn’t have fruit loops to give you. The person from whom we bought you said that since you were so little you needed something sweet to keep your blood sugar up. Not wanting to give you a lot of frosted flakes, we moved on to other things. Initially, you ate dinner with us every night and ate what we had. Right down to eating salad! You preferred Romaine lettuce over iceberg lettuce. Steamed broccoli became one of your favorite treats. When we went to our favorite Japanese restaurant, Hamada, Amy (one of the owners) would make a separate order of steamed broccoli for us to bring home for you. Sometimes you were in the car when the weather was just right – not too hot and not too cold. One night we had leftovers and we decided to go to the Dollar Tree for a couple of minutes. We had completely forgotten about the leftovers and the fact they were on the floor in the back seat – exactly where you were! When we came out, there was not a single speck of Japanese leftovers in the container!!!! You had eaten every single morsel and apparently really enjoyed it!
After you were about 2 years old is when you started having IBS. Unfortunately, you had to start taking steroids. Of course, you gained a lot of weight ultimately getting up to 12.5 pounds! We did everything we could to try and get some weight off you including doggy diet medicine. Nothing helped. We were told to give you green beans. We tried canned green beans but you weren’t overly fond of those. Next we bought Organic Frozen Green Beans from Costco – these became another treat favorite! Not only did you love them, but so did Yazmin! You were, however, very, very picky about your green beans! One time we needed some and stopped at BJ’s and bought their organic frozen green beans…you refused to eat them!! You weren’t spoiled at all!! On one of our trips, we went to Pat and Cathy’s house – they had dogs also. They didn’t have any broccoli or frozen green beans for you, so we tried a baby carrot! Needless to say, you ate quite a few of them. The next time we tried broccoli and green beans on you, it didn’t work. We bought baby carrots and those became your daily treat until you went to the Rainbow Bridge. As time went by, you also became very fond of steamed cauliflower; so much so that every afternoon between 2 and 3 you would “ask” for steamed cauliflower. How did you ask, you barked at either Grampa or me. We’d ask “you want cauliflower” and you would begin “fast barking” a couple of times. Seriously, we never quite figured out how you could tell time but it was obvious to us you could. You also would start bothering us in the evening when it got close to your bedtime – you were relentless until one of us took you up to bed!
Some of our travels were to Pigeon Forge TN and Dollywood. We took you with us the last year dogs were allowed to go in the park. When we went in the park, the photographer thought you were so cute, she took a picture of just you and Grampa together!!! We still have it sitting next to you (your urn). Kids were not supposed to be running in the park and since you hated it when kids would run or move too fast, you barked every time a kid went running by you. It was amazing how quickly they stopped running!! You were a strong, little dog despite your size – even before you put on weight. One year (2001) we went to Pigeon Forge. I had foot surgery just before and was using a wheelchair to get around. We took you to Patriot’s Park so you could walk/run around for a while. Grampa gave me your leash to hold. Well, you got in front of the wheelchair and started running!!! You got the wheelchair going SO FAST that it ran off the track and tipped over!!!! It was so funny – we had no idea you were that strong for a year old pup! I was fine, no damage done.
When we went to Pigeon Forge, we kenneled you at a very nice, homey place. Every day we would come and get you and take you with us for a few hours. When we would arrive, you jumped off your crate and came running. Apparently, every morning you would jump on top of your crate and sit there and wait until we came! The owner asked if you ate while we had you with us because you never ate at the kennel. You knew we would have a little bowl of breakfast leftovers in the car for you!!!
There were just so many things you did that were so funny and yet just being you. One time when you were a puppy, Grampa took you in the shower to see what you would do. As the water showered down on you (he was holding you) you began to dog paddle!! In 2004 Grampa had to have heart surgery down at Crawford Long Hospital. He had to stay the weekend. Well, your anxiety kicked in and you refused to eat anything. Over the weekend, we talked to the doctor and asked if you could come down to see Grampa. The doctor said it would be OK for you to be in the courtyard outside. Dave and Cindy brought you down to the hospital. You could hardly contain yourself when you saw Grampa – they really had to keep a good grip on you. It was good medicine for you and Grampa! When you got back home, you still didn’t want to eat so Dave pretended like he was going to take your food – being food aggressive, this got you to eat some. Many mornings Grampa or I would wake up with your face facing us on our bed pillow with your four feet pointing out in front of you – just as though you were a little human! I have to admit, it was a bit weird!
Not only were you a fantastic watch dog (nothing got past you), but you were one heck of an alarm system helping divert at least one major disaster. One night you were just not settling in at all. Finally Grampa got up to take you out as he figured maybe you needed to do something. When he got to the main floor, he heard water running. It wasn’t running on the main floor so he went to the basement. Sure enough, the hose going to the tank on the commode had “jumped” out and was spewing water all over the place! If you had not been restless, our entire basement might have been flooded by morning!!!! You also alerted us to visitors in our attic! Once again, you were restless one night and just would not settle down to go to sleep. Ultimately, Grampa got up and it was at that point we heard something in the attic. As it turned out, there were squirrels in the attic again!! We had them before and thought we’d solved the problem but they came back.
As we prepared to say goodbye to you, we asked all of the people who were so important to you throughout your life: Dr. Toby, Dr. Haber – together they did everything possible to help you and let us keep you as long as we did – Monty who was your “adopted father” and took care of you when we couldn’t travel with you. He also nursed you back to health after both of your leg surgeries during the summer of 2009. Then there was Phyllis who just loved you to death and gave you veggie treats when you visited. Dr. Carmichael’s comment was that “there would never be another one like him (you)” and he was right. We already had Daisy who would push you around as you got weaker and try to steal your food and treats. She even ate and carrots because you did. Well, Daisy missed you a lot when you went to the bridge AND she no longer likes steamed cauliflower and really isn’t fond of baby carrots either! She can’t take your place that’s for sure, but she is a sweety. To keep Daisy company, we now have little Nichi. She’s a cutie and pretty darn small. She’s smart and sly but still no replacement for you.
You, Gram, were truly one of a kind and could not have been loved more than you were in our home. You were like one of our kids – even more so because you always were dependent upon us to take care of you.
We love you and we miss you – we’ll see again at the Rainbow Bridge. So until we meet again, know you are still loved and missed every day.

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