Thursday, October 8, 2009

In Memory of...

I have been dreading this post for a while. In mid-September, my Old Mer passed away. She had been battling health issues for a long time and she just became very ill. She was ready to go, I just wish I was a little more ready to let her. In the end, I knew that I did not want her to suffer so we had to let her pass. Three days later, our cat, Holly, also passed away. Thus, it has been a pretty crappy month.


I don't even know where to begin talking about her. Everyone that does pit bull rescue has their dog... the one that changed their perception of the breed. A dog so good that they were forced to try to convince the rest of the world that they are wrong about pit bulls. Gracie was my dog.

I never wanted a pit bull dog, it just sort of happened. She was my best friend and truly one of the most remarkable dogs I have ever known. She was crazy smart and could pick-up behaviors with limited repetitions. She had the kind of smarts I generally only see in herding dogs. She learned to open up the fridge and fetch drinks in two weeks. If she was sick, she would vomit in the toilet... she would simply wake me up and then walk into the bathroom and wait for me to lift the lid. (She went through a puppy phase where she ate a lot of grass and threw-up a lot). She retained the names of all of her dog friends. She knew left from right... but not always right from wrong. She used her intellect to get into trouble when she was a pup. There was "the incident" when my old roommate Brett (yes that Brett) went to the grocery store. Gracie got into the groceries and had quite a feast. She ate half of loaf of pumpernickel bread, opened a box of Fruit Loops and helped herself to half the box, bit off the top of a V-8 container and consumed a bit of juice, and then she apparently was running about the kitchen with a gallon container of white grape juice. It was thrown into the corner of the stove. I found the kitchen in disarray, opened boxes, food bits everywhere, white grape juice slowly emptying onto the floor, and a small yellow dog who had put herself in the bathroom for a well-deserved time out. She was pooping purple for two days.

She also knew how to make me late for work. She often stole another dog's toy just as we were leaving the park and then played keep away. I either had to wait her out (chasing her only added to the fun) or give her a king's ransom to bring it back. On one occasion, as I was dressing for work, she actually took my dress shoes and hid them under a blanket in her crate. I actually had to change suits so I could wear different shoes. I found the shoes the next day. They still have tiny teeth marks in them from her needley puppy teeth.

Not only was she smart, but she was strong, agile, and determined. She had brains and brawn. When I was younger, I used to take her mountain biking. She would run just behind my bike for hours and not get tired. Most of the time, I started to fade before she did. She would start pulling away from me after 30 miles or so. She would stop and look back over her shoulder, a bit annoyed that we were not going faster. I paced her at 29 mph once on a slight hill and I'm pretty certain that she could have gone faster... I could not at that point.

On top of all of this, she was one of the kindest most maternal dogs I've known. When I was a foppish dandy, living in the city, we spent hours at our local dog park. Gracie ruled the park with an iron paw. She was competative and played quite rough, but it was always good natured play. She never was really involved in a dog fight. There was one occasion when a German Shephard dog we had never seen before was attacking other dogs in the park. That dog was crazy, in a bad way. The park was a mess of flying fur as dogs ran every which way. Gracie marched over, knocked the dog to the ground, stood over it, and growled in a very serious manner. Before I could even get to her, she walked away and the Shephard was left laying on the ground dazed. It would not the last time she broke up a dog fight. She frequently threw herself between combative dogs and would bark at them, throwing her head from side to side with each bark for emphasis. She was a fierce defender of "her" puppies. If there was a squeal or yipe, Gracie was at the scene, either reprimanding the offending dog or playing "nurse-Gracie." She was a fantastic foster mom and probably taught most of our foster dogs as much as I ever did. She was a dog that made my life easier.

Unfortunately, her maternal instincts were not limited to puppies. She liked nothing more than to sit with children and she simply loved little girls. That posed a problem when Gracie would decide to jump the fence which divided the park from the children's playground. (She could clear a 4 foot fence from a stand still). I still have a clear image of Gracie clearing the fence while new mothers frantically ran about grabbing their children. The large red-nose pit bull dog eventually turned attitudes around. There were a few children that were afraid of dogs but were happy to see Gracie. She would just lay down and children would pet her or even beat on her like a drum. She didn't care one bit, as long as children were paying attention to her.

Best of all, I got to reap the benefits of her mothering. If I was sick, upset, angry, whatever, Gracie was there to make me feel better. She would not leave my side. I was the apple of her eye and vice versa. I wish I could be as good of a person as she was a dog. I really miss her.

Holly Cat

My wife brought Holly into our relationship. She was a pretty ideal cat. She never scratched the furniture, she was a good mouser, and she was not only entertaining, but emotionally supportive. She always had a good sense of when someone needed cheering up. She would simply come over and put a friendly paw on your arm and give you a look. I know she offered my wife a lot of solice and her passing has been difficult on both of us.
I know things will get better as time passes, but some things will just never be the same.

1 comment:

Vegan Burnout said...

Jim and I send our love, and wish we could say something to make it better. Lucy sends lots of slobbery kisses and full-body wags (her specialties, as you know).