November 9, 2012

Tribute to a Faithful Companion


Few days in a family’s life are as exciting as the day you bring a new puppy into the household. So it was for us in July 1998, when a little golden ball of fluff came to live with us. We named her Gracie. With her came new bowls, a new collar, new leash, new toys—and a new routine to our days.

Gracie quickly got used to family life. She became an expert at scratching up our floors, barking at dogs walking by and deer venturing into the yard, and gobbling up food left carelessly unattended on the coffee table. She assumed the job of greeting everyone who came to the door with unbridled enthusiasm. (I often told repairmen, “She thinks you came over just to see her.”) And she readily tolerated anything the kids and their friends wanted her to do. Being pushed around in a stroller? Wearing clothes out of the dress-up box? Happy to oblige. 


True to her retriever roots, Gracie loved the water. She would happily fetch a stick or ball we threw into the lake for her until we tired of the game. If we were lying peacefully on rafts, she wanted to be right there beside us, splashing away and trying to climb on. She may not have been the most graceful swimmer, but she certainly was the most eager.


But Gracie’s favorite time of year was winter. It was never too cold or too snowy for her. She loved to dig and roll in the snow, and the fact that she tracked half of it into the house with her didn’t bother her in the least.


Over the years, Gracie’s face turned whiter and her pace slowed. On walks, she’d start out at her usual near-run, tugging on her leash, but by the end she’d be dragging behind. As the kids grew up and left for college, one by one, she spent more time sleeping in her favorite spots. She became my constant companion, following me from room to room like a 70-pound shadow. Then, this summer, she was diagnosed with cancer, and the inevitable end drew near.


Gracie was a member of our family for 13 years. She never seemed to notice that she was a little furrier than the rest of us. Although pets don’t show up in our family trees, they hold an undisputed place in our family histories, and in our hearts.

--Shelley


24 comments:

  1. I don't know what to say other than I'm so sorry. I never thought about pets in our family trees but you're right, they hold a very special place in our family history.

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    1. Thank you, Debi, that's the perfect thing to say!

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  2. A lovely tribute to Gracie who was such an important aprt of your family. Over 35 years we have had (and lost) 3 cocker spanieals and everytime it leaves a huge gap. Have a look at http://scotsue-familyhistoryfun.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/pets-on-parade-sepia-saturday.html

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    1. Your post on your three cockers was neat too, Sue. What a big part of your family. Thanks for reading and sharing.

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  3. Shelley, my condolences to the entire family. Gracie, had the perfect name and she carried her name well. I'm sorry for the tears and sadness you'll all be experiencing, but I hope you can be strong for Gracie. When I saw your lovely photos, it makes me wish I had a dog (never had one), always have cats.

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    1. Much appreciated, Barbara. Cats are special, too. Ours is 15, and I don't think she misses the dog one bit :-)

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  4. Loved seeing these photos. We got Mabel from the shelter in 98, too. She is winding down. Outside today, she kept hanging around the garage door, and I decided to put her leash on to see if she would walk around the house. She looked at me, and laid down on the driveway, as if to say, "Are you kidding me? I am 91." CK

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    1. That's a great story, CK. Sounds like you've had a lot of good years with Mabel. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, Shelley. It is absolutely heart-rending when a pet passes away. They become best friends, with never an unkind thought or action. I know you and your family will miss her horribly. Blessings to all of you.

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    1. Thanks, Nancy, that's sweet of you to say. Every once in awhile I look around and still expect to see her.

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  6. Shelly,
    I am so sorry to hear of Gracie's passing. Golden's are just the best. Gracie reminds me so much of my Dusty who passed in 2006. He was with us for a very short 11 years. He was so loving and loyal. I miss him to this day. Gracie and Dusty look like they could have been brother and sister! I am thinking of you all and sending hugs.

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    1. That's so neat, Gini. I agree, goldens are great dogs. Gentle to the bone. One time the neighbor's toddler came over and was pulling on her ear, and all Gracie did was whimper under we rescued her. Sounds like Dusty was a wonderful part of your family. Thanks for the hugs!

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  7. Oh, Shelley, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your tribute about Gracie and the important part she played in your family's life is beautiful and touching.

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  8. Oh, simply delightful! The sentence I love? "She never seemed to notice that she was a little furrier than the rest of us." That utterly captures how close pets and owners can be. When she worked in MA, my sister had a golden retriever named Bailey, and he was the complete essence of friendliness and faithfulness, just like Gracie. He assumed he was my sister's best friend, and in a fundamental way he was. When she was a girl, the family had nine collies there (somehow!) and named them after the nine muses, Greek names like Calliope and Euterpe and so forth . . . still don't know how they managed -- that was long after I had left home. Thanks for reviving these lovely memories.

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    1. Wow, nine collies! That would about do me in, I think :-) Glad this brought back some good memories for you, Mariann.

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  9. I am so sorry for your loss. We lost our faithful canine companion to cancer earlier this year. When they go they leave a hole in your heart as well as in your home. Thankfully they leave many wonderful memories.

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  10. I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my sweet rottweiler, Savannah in February and vowed I would never get another dog. Recently, I decided it's time for another companion. I decided that my next dog would be a golden retriever; I would name her Lily Grace, but call her Gracie. Then today, I clicked this link to your blog and this beautiful tribute to your Gracie. This must be a sign. thanks for sharing these memories.

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    1. I hope you enjoy many, many happy years with your Gracie!! Thanks for reading, your comment made me smile!

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  11. What a beautiful tribute, and I am so sorry for your loss.

    ~C

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  12. Before I started blogging about family history, I was a dog blogger and one of my earliest posts expressed my regret that I couldn't add my dog to my family tree. This is a lovely tribute. I'm very sorry for your loss.

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    1. That's neat, Edie. Dogs are a special part of the family, that's for sure. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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