Dog arrived, left with grace

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Her name was Gracie. Well, that’s the name that popped into my head when she showed up one hot day, and so she became Gracie.

To say she looked pitiful is an understatement. What had once been a lovely animal was a scared dog with missing teeth and patches of bare skin instead of fur. Her joints looked swollen and she kind of hobbled when she walked. She also had a bladder control problem, which might be why someone dumped her.

She was an old dog. The veterinarian who gave her a rabies shot said she was at least 10, maybe older.

It would be untrue to say we were happy when Gracie came into our lives. We already had a deaf bulldog and her puppies that someone dumped. We also had a host of rescue cats.

“Not another dog,” I said to my husband. “We don’t need another dog.”

And we didn’t need another dog, but Gracie needed another home. She was hungry and I could not let her starve. So, she joined our herd and made herself right at home.

It was obvious she was once someone’s inside pet because she pranced herself in the door one day and lay down on the rug. “Oh no girl,” I told her as I put her out the door. “You can live here, but not inside.” She seemed to understand, accepted that her home was outside and never tried to come in again.

Since she was now ours, we did what we could to improve her health. Supplements for skin and joints soon had her looking and moving better. Thanks to hormones, the bladder problem mostly went away. Soon, she was like a new dog and she claimed her place with the other animals.

Gracie was collie, maybe mostly Border collie. That meant she loved to herd and chase things. Once she was feeling better, she decided it was her job to make sure the mail person got an escort.

She also was on alert for cats that might wander her way, and if a catfight broke out, Gracie was on it in a flash. The cats soon learned to avoid that brown dog sleeping in the driveway.

The other dogs made peace with having Gracie around. Mama Dog, the deaf one, hung out with her most.

She learned her name quickly and trotted up when I called her. She’d stand in front of me, looking up with eyes that showed their age, and wait patiently for a pat on the head. I think she was grateful for any small kindness after the great unkindness she suffered when she was abandoned.

When hot weather arrived this year, it seemed harder on Gracie than the previous summer. She still ran around, but her breathing was harder and she spent most of her time sleeping in a nice hole she dug in the sand.

Then a little more than a week ago, she stopped eating as much as she usually ate. Some days she hardly ate anything no matter how I coaxed her. I managed to get her to drink plenty of water, but she wasn’t interested in eating much.

She looked tired and I had a feeling she was slowly leaving us. Late one afternoon, I carried water to where she was laying, sat beside her as she drank and talked to her.

“You are a good dog Gracie,” I said. “I know you don’t feel good, but it’s going to be OK.”

As I rubbed her head, she looked at me and I could see how exhausted she was, how much she needed to rest. We think sometime that night Gracie lay down under a bush at the edge of the woods and went to sleep permanently.

I don’t think she was in pain. I think it was her time to go and so she slipped out of our lives as gracefully as she entered.