On Aug. 27, what I thought was a minor medical problem for terrier Gracie turned into an emergency. In a matter of minutes, I was forced to let my precious girl go after tests and X-rays revealed a dire and untreatable condition.
But it isn’t Gracie’s death I want to focus on — it’s her incredible life. Gracie was fulltilt terrier, a comic, a tyrant, a love bug.
For nearly 13 years, she was my shadow. If I went into the kitchen, Gracie followed. Ditto the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room. If I walked out to the car to get something, she waited anxiously at the door and greeted me as if I’d been gone 100 years. She either enjoyed the pleasure of my company or didn’t trust me out of her sight because I was, after all, a hapless human being.
Gracie, a rambunctious puppy, ruled the roost after she reached adulthood. Holling, who had been Alpha dog and was three times her size, acquiesced to Gracie. Perhaps acquiesce isn’t the correct word, because it implies some control over the matter. Gracie became “she who must be obeyed.”
But oh, how we loved that dog.
Gracie would have done well in the circus. She liked to balance on things — benches, curbs, the back of the sofa. She was as agile as a cat in her younger years. If she and Holling were both on leashes, Gracie liked to take his leash and lead him around the fencedin back yard.
True to her terrier nature, Gracie was always into something. Once I had to rush her to the vet at 2 a.m. (back when they would meet you at the office) because she’d gotten into caffeine-laced migraine medicine. But first I had to catch her. She streaked out the back door when I opened it and took off down the street. A caffeinated terrier is like an Olympic sprinter on speed.
Gracie survived that episode beautifully. She also survived eating Christmas ornaments and two torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
She blew the first ACL after she jerked the leash out of my hand and tore off after something in the woods behind our house. She came back a few minutes later, tail wagging, a look of pure joy on her face and one back leg held off the ground.
The second ACL, on the other back leg, got the same treatment a couple of years later. We went to visit friends across the street. They have a large fenced-in yard so Gracie, Sadie and their Lab Sally could play. Instead of playing, Gracie took off after our hosts’ cat. Again, she came back grinning, running on three legs.
Six weeks later, when the vet had released her for “normal” activity, Gracie, Sadie, my sister and I went for a walk in the woods. High on a hill above us, deer grazed. Gracie took off like a bullet, tore up the hill and chased the deer away. She was beside herself with happiness. At night, right before bedtime, Gracie liked to get in the bed, and roll on her back while she snorted and growled. It was her way of expressing her delight at being alive. I would sit in the living room and listen; her bedtime antics made me feel I must be doing something right if I had such a happy dog. Gracie lived her life all in. She was a source of joy, amusement and an overflowing fount of doggie love. I miss her and will go on missing her until we meet again. Oh, how I hope the story about the Rainbow Bridge is true.