Remembering Gracie: 1999 to 2011

Yesterday, our greatly beloved Bichon Frise, Gracie, died.  For my wife Nancy and me, it has been an absolutely excruciating 3 weeks.

Gracie was diagnosed with inoperable cancer on May 16th and passed on May 31st.

I want you to know about her and her magnificence.

  • Gracie wasn’t a dog—she was really more like a princess in puppy clothes.
  • Gracie took exceptionally good care of her brother, Hank—a cocker spaniel.  Except for rare vet appointments, there were inseparable for nearly 12 years. Most days, she would clean his eyes and ears and make sure he was standing tall.  Gracie was Hank’s puppy mom. Even though her life force was greatly diminished as we took that last ride to the vet, she cleaned him up one last time.  I know what a physical struggle it was for her to do that.
  • Hank and Gracie slept on the bed with us every night ever since Nancy and I first moved into a Reno home back in the summer of 2005.  The home had no air conditioning except for a window unit in the master bedroom.  The window air conditioner and ceiling fan allowed us and the puppies to sleep in 90+ degree evenings in the high desert of Nevada.
  • Nancy would occasionally suggest that it was time for the puppies to sleep in the other room, but, I wanted no part of it.  It just didn’t seem right to deny them something that was so important to them and brought them such joy.  Okay, it brought us a lot of joy, too! At times, it seemed that the bed was theirs and that we could have whatever space we could find.  Most nights, I’ve felt like I needed Velcro to secure my body to the bed as they made themselves comfortable.
  • Because the pups were on our elevated bed, we brought them water in bed each night in their special coffee cup.  Gracie insisted first on having her treat and then downing an entire cup of water each night before she would go to sleep. This was the process—no exceptions! Some nights, we’d get kissed by Gracie in the middle of the night to get her more water.  We gladly provided her with room service which was open 24 hours a day.
  • When Gracie would lie against your chest and look directly into your eyes, you could feel her love for you. She wasn’t merely looking at us—she was communicating with us. Those were really unforgettable moments for Nancy and me.

After she was diagnosed, I took such joy at the little things: her being excited to see us come home, her lying against me on the sofa or bed, being able to reach out and touch her and give her a kiss (which happened a lot even before she became ill).

Hank and Gracie are amongst the most loved puppies on planet earth.  That hasn’t changed today, not one iota.  Before Nancy and I married, Nancy predicted that Gracie would have me wrapped around her little paw immediately. Nancy was right.

For most of us who adopt and love a dog or cat, this is a most painful time.  While we are happy that she is in a better place, Nancy and I feel such a tremendous hole in our hearts that we wonder how on earth that hole will ever be filled.

I’m hurting, Nancy is hurting, my mother-in-law who lives with us is hurting, and, while he can’t tell us directly, Hank is hurting as well—we see his sorrow and feel his sense of loss as well.  We will all be better in time.  Gracie will always be deeply etched in our hearts.  She was extraordinary.

God–we miss her.  Please take good care of her until we reunite with her again.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

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10 Responses to Remembering Gracie: 1999 to 2011

  1. Linda Popky says:

    Hi Dave. What a beautiful tribute to Gracie! My thoughts are with you. Having been through this with my two older dogs, I know it’s never easy, even though you know it’s the right thing for them.

    Someone told me a story about a child who told her parents that she knew why dogs have such a short life compared to us: “It’s because they do such a good job of living while they’re here, that they get it all in in a much shorter time.” Sounds like that was Gracie.

    Take care of yourselves and Hank.

    regards,
    Linda

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  2. Dave Balch says:

    Hi Dave

    Your beautiful tribute tugged on my heartstrings as we are among the animal lovers you referenced. Our dogs are not dogs, they are our children. I am initimately familiar with every emotion and story that you told.

    Someone once asked if there were dogs in heaven. Some people don’t think so. Here’s what I say: of course there are dogs in heaven. It wouldn’t be heaven without them.

    Dave

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  3. Vickie Sullivan says:

    My heart and prayers are with you and Nancy. Your beautiful post here is a great example of the many forms love can take. May your good times with Gracie give you comfort.

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  4. danweedin says:

    Dave and Nancy,

    Our thoughts, prayers, and hearts go out to you. As owners of two dogs ourselves, we understand how much a part of our lives they are and that they are truly family. This was a beautiful tribute to Gracie. Having done them before for my dogs, I know this exercise actually has a great value in your grieving.

    We all know Gracie is over the Rainbow Bridge waiting and no longer suffering. It doesn’t make it easier today. Know that we are thinking of you.

    Dan & Barb Weedin (and Captain Jack and Bella, too)

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  5. Jason Wisdom says:

    Dave and Nancy,

    My condolances. You were blessed to have her in your lives for so many years. Give yourselves as much time and space as you need to heal.

    Jason

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  6. Dave says:

    We so appreciate all the kind responses here, emails and phone calls. I’m just so delighted to be able to share Gracie with those who never met her. Thank you.

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  7. Dave, so sorry to hear about Gracie 😦 It sounds like she was a wonderful dog and I enjoyed reading your stories about her. Reminds me to always love and appreciate our four-legged friends!

    Sarah

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  8. Cyndi Wilkinson says:

    Dear Dave and Nancy,

    I am greatly moved and touched by your beautiful and loving tribute to this precious animal, this beloved member of your family. What an absolutely beautiful and charming photo of her! These animals we love are truly God’s little creatures.

    It is never an easy decision, and although we know it is the right choice to make, it is still incredibly heartbreaking and emotionally wrenching. I have many memories of going through the same sad experience, and it will eventually feel better, but give yourselves lots of time. The lovely memories of Gracie will sustain you…….

    Sending you both and Hank my love and prayers as you navigate through this difficult time. Thinking of you all,

    Cyndi

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  9. Dave — you have such wonderful memories of Gracie and I’m grateful to you for sharing them (as you did also over the Cerebrate weekend).

    I know how much my own dog, Buffy, means to me — as you say, when they look into our eyes there’s something so much more than words can ever express. Can’t imagine how this it feels for you to lose such a dear loved one. I hope it’s a very, very long time before I experience the same with the love of my life.

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  10. Helen Cooke says:

    Oh Dave – I am so sorry for you and your family. What a horrendous loss! Princess Gracie is in heaven and looking down lovingly on all of you. That always brings me comfort – to know our tears are for our own loss – because our loved one is in an even better place. Beth and I so relate to your stories of needing to Velcro in to not fall off the bed! The things we do for our family members… Sorry to only learn of your loss now. I know it’s still raw for you and hope my words provide some bit of comfort. I really hope Hank is doing okay. Sending a hug. Helen

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