This is no doubt the most difficult post I've had to write. A few days ago we lost Gracie. Gracie was not just our dog, she was also our baby, our friend, our support, our boss, our road trip partner, our confidante and our pain in the ass.
I met Gracie in 2009. She was a rescue and we think she was about two years old at the time. The first time I saw Gracie, she gave me a huge hug and I immediately feel in love with her. The first time visiting our house, Gracie jumped onto the bed and hovered over Leslie, staring directly into her eyes. It was our first experience with Gracie's complete disregard for people's personal space. There wasn't an open front door on someone's house that she wouldn't think was an open invitation for her to enter. We'd have to warn anyone coming into our home about Gracie's torpedo greeting.
Gracie was fluffy, with a huge tail, giant rear end, and was as ungraceful as can be. Did I mention stubborn as well? I took her to obedience class shortly after the start of our beautiful life together and I think even the instructor was frustrated by Gracie's strong will. I loved and laughed at Gracie's lack of respect for rules. Sure I'd get mad when she changed directions 5 or 6 times on a short walk around the block. Eventually she'd just sit down deciding she'd had enough.
She was so loving though. When I first got sick, I was really sick and Gracie knew it. She slowed down to my pace on walks, when I could barely make it down the street. She'd snuggle with me when I was feeling particularly crappy. She hated coughing though. If you coughed, she'd get up and leave the room. Then we'd have to beg her to come back.
Early on, I took her to the dog beach once and only once. She looked around and took off sprinting up the beach towards the parking lot. I sprinted after her but couldn't keep up. I lost sight of her. I was panicked and went to my car. And there she was sitting next to the car waiting for me.
Gracie's been kayaking, canoeing, swimming in Morro Bay and Lake Tahoe. She's seen the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Moab and last year she finally got to experience snow. She loved it. She didn't like squirrels and was luke warm on other dogs. She did like popcorn, bones and trying to jump our back wall to see the neighbor's dog.
A couple of months ago, Gracie started to change. She was no longer snuggling with us. She was anxious and pacing around a lot. She developed an insatiable appetite. There were times when I wasn't sure she recognized us. Tests showed that she had a large tumor on her liver, an enlarged spleen, cysts on her kidneys in addition to some neurological issues, perhaps she had something called Cushing's Disease. Things changed really rapidly. The last thing I would ever want is for Gracie to struggle or be in pain.
It's no exaggeration to say that saying goodbye to Gracie has been the most heartbreaking, guilt ridden, and emotionally painful thing I have ever experienced. She's been there for me and for us, through all of life's challenges and victories. As time goes by, I'll remember more of the good times. But for now, I'm struggling with the loss. My morning routine is particularly upended. I don't have her helping me roll the trash cans to the street on Tuesday mornings. We think we can still hear her clomping down the hallway. We both still have her toys and bones in our cars.
Rest in peace Gracie and hope you're loving running free and getting in everyone's business.