A week ago today, one of the biggest influencers in my life, my grandmother, passed away.

While it is true that she lived a full and rich life, that doesn’t change the fact that this witty, opinionated, smart, caring and funny woman is gone. She was a one-of-a-kind.

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Jeanne Ahlquist raised 8 wonderful children, was a civic leader and lobbied to bring a vet school and emergency animal hospital to her hometown.

Since I was a little kid, my grandmother A.K.A. “Grammy” has been constantly in the picture of my life.

I can literally attest to this as I spent some time this past weekend sorting through old photos in her apartment showing her and my grandfather present at all my life milestones.

However, when there weren’t any cameras present for the typical growing up milestones, is when my Grammy was really there.

Her best work was done when I least expected it.

Whether it was showing up at my tennis matches, taking in a sunset together or her listening to me fall to pieces after breaking off my engagement three years ago, she was ALWAYS there.

Yesterday at her funeral it hit me like a ton of bricks that she didn’t hold a figurehead grandmother position, but instead was responsible for making me who I am.

I wouldn’t be sitting here today writing this blog, growing Paws to Talk as “Life Support For Dog Lovers” without my fiery grandmother’s influence.

There is no doubt that Bella, DiDi and Toby have imprinted paw prints on my heart that will forever be there.

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Bella (L), Toby (on chair), me and DiDi (laying on ground)

Before any of them were around, it was my grandmother’s love for animals that was contagious. She welcomed stray dogs into her home and would almost always welcome every dog who approached her with hugs and kisses.

My parents love dogs but for years that love was hidden because their beloved dog Chivis was hit by a car when I was about one-year-old. The pain of losing Chivis was immense for both of my parents and got in the way of our family getting another dog for about 10 years.

So going to Grammy’s house to see the dogs, stands out as a huge highlight of my young years. I remember the pure joy on her face as she watched me interact with her dogs.

Moreover, I remember how much she loved Bella and DiDi (my fur sisters) and no matter what ailment she was battling she would give as much energy as possible to hug, kiss and play with them.

When I adopted Toby (my fur son) in August of 2012, he was underweight, frightened to be around anyone and just generally traumatized from his shelter stay.

She didn’t have to say a word about his condition as it was all explained by the look on her face. Grammy was concerned about this little guy and saw that he had a long journey in order be his best self.

Last Monday when I learned that Grammy was in her last hours, Toby and I jumped in the car and drove the 40 minutes to Grammy’s apartment to say goodbye.

We walked into her apartment which was stagnant with sadness and anticipation.

Toby and I made our way to her bedroom and Grammy expressed how happy she was to see us.

Toby adored Grammy and was excited to see her.

She asked for me to put him on the bed so she could cuddle with him.

Given her incredibly frail and sensitive state, I just sat on the edge of the bed with Toby in my arms so she could get kisses and pet him.

Grammy knew this was our last visit. I did too.

As she typically did, she asked me how Paws to Talk was going and how my love life was (she always asked questions and wanted the latest information).

Then she said something that touched my heart in a way that no one else has.

She said to Toby, “Margot did a great job with you. She’s given you a lot of love. You were a scared and scraggly dog and now you are handsome and confident.”

Toby’s tail was wagging rapidly as tears spilled from my eyes.

My grandmother will always be with me because she helped to form my character.

I am lucky to have had such an incredible woman impact my life and show me the joy dogs bring to the world.

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Me getting the word out about Paws to Talk products and services at a rescue dog fundraiser. My Grammy taught me to follow my dreams, do something I love and help others along the way.

My heart is broken but in true Grammy fashion, I am “back at it” today and resuming my work on all the new Paws to Talk features which will be debuting in September.

I love you Grammy. Thank you being a great inspiration in my life.

-Margot

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