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