My last post was a reflection on the passing of my mother. This post, sadly, on the heels of that one, is about the passing of my most devoted dog of 9 years, Gracie. But talk about keeping it simple…what’s simpler and more special than the love of a dog?
I found Gracie on a blustery, cold day (much like this one) at the San Leandro animal shelter, nearly 9 years ago. She looked bedraggled, skinny, old, and filthy. Despite the rotten teeth and nasty dog breath, I had to have her! I told her she was my dog, her name was to be Gracie, and not to go home with anyone else (she had to have the required vet exam and a week’s time to see if anyone would claim her). Just after Christmas, I was invited to pick her up from the vet’s office; no one else had come forth to claim her; she was all mine.
When I arrived to take her home, they set her down on the floor, and I said, “Let’s go home, Gracie!”. I remember it like it was yesterday; she excitedly wagged her tail, immediately followed me out the door, and piled onto my lap, as if we’d been together forever, and had just been reunited. Why did she trust me so much, I wondered? When she came into our home, there was no transition period. It was as though she’d always been with us, with me, my little shadow, my little side-kick; my kindred spirit. (Note, I was never before a dog person; I’d always had cats, and Gracie was my first dog.)
Gracie’s only been gone six hours and already I’ve been brought to tears so many times. There was no barking as the UPS truck drove by the house this afternoon (I barked in her honor). She was not here to greet me when I arrived home from running Noel to the ferry this afternoon, nor was she riding in my car, squeezing her coughing self into my lap. I ran into our postal carrier at the grocery store, the woman who Gracie loved to hate, despite the delicious treats she tried to bribe her with (Gracie just hated anyone in uniform). I keep thinking that I see or hear her, but it is only other dogs, or a bird flitting by in the yard, or just my imagination.
Gracie was my longest and most successful relationship in life, aside from my son. Sad to say, but it’s the truth.
Gracie taught me much:
There’s just nothing like soft, processed American cheese for cheeking distasteful medication.
The best place in the world is to be resting on the lap of someone you love (or chest, or arms, or back of…)
Flies are a great form of entertainment (and nourishment).
Don’t mess with the (big) neighbor cats (or raccoons).
Laying in bed during the day is the best, most decadent thing ever.
If you need to be loved, petted, or held, then just demand it.
Routine is good.
Don’t follow the rules (salmon, wine and chocolate won’t, in fact, kill you; neither will two percocets).
Be excited when your loved one walks in the door. Act as if you haven’t seen them in months. Shower them with attention, kisses, and devotion.
Don’t nag; just look incredibly cute.
Feel gratitude for the small things in life.
I’ll miss her cuddled up against my back in the dead of night. She knew my spirit better than anyone else.
I love you, Gracie, and I’ll miss you so much.