Monday, August 23, 2010

What Gracie Taught Me

On Saturday, August 21, 2010 I had to put down my beloved doggie girl, Gracie.

On August 1, I euthanized Lucy Lou, my wonderful dog. Lucy Lou was an older girl (see previous post) and in ill health. I had been expecting this day and while it came a few months sooner than I had hoped, it came never the less.

Two weeks later I adopted Sam, my goof ball, 1-year old pup from the local shelter. Gracie hadn't been eating and had been very lethargic since Lucy Lou died. I thought another dog might cheer both of us up. I also knew Gracie was over 10 years old and while she looked and acted like a pup, I figured she still had 4-6 years left. If I got another younger dog now, when Gracie died at a ripe old age, I would still have the other dog. Sam's charm took a few days, but in less than a week, Gracie was returning to her own self and eating again.

They had just started to play together. Sniffing each other and doing some little chasing of each other. While at my sister's house, having a wonderful early birthday celebration, I had both dogs out. While I am still now quite sure what happened, they either collided while running together or Sam jumped on Gracie in play, but whatever happened, Gracie's back was broken.

I knew immediately that she was seriously hurt. Hysterical and crying, I scooped my Gracie-girl up in my arms and ran into the house. Sue called the emergency vet clinic and Marlon and I drove. I knew it was bad. I had heard of this happening with two dogs playing. My worst nightmare came true. They could operate and she might be OK after a long recuperation. The cost would be well over $4,000 and there were no guarantees. So, wrapped in a little blanket, in the same room I had put Lucy Lou down less then 3 weeks earlier, Gracie crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I held her and the vet sat on the floor so she could die sitting in my lap. She pressed her head on my chest, looked up at me and licked my arm right before the injection. My sweet little Gracie was gone.

I won't go into how devastated I am. The sense of "why me?" with losing Phil in May and then two my dogs in less then 3 weeks. That is all my own personal pain. What I do want to write about is all that Gracie taught me.

Gracie was spoiled rotten, pampered, adored and loved.

Gracie was a smart, loving dog. She was half poodle (her smarts) and half Lhasa Apso (her protectiveness). While she could appear very aggressive when first meeting people, within 5 minutes she would be on their lap wanting their undivided attention and devotion. She could do darling tricks and I was still teaching her new tricks. She followed me around into every room and slept in my bed, curled up next to me.

But, what Gracie gave me - what she taught me - goes far beyond tricks.

Never having children, Gracie taught me how to really care for another little life, other than my own. For the first time in my life I had a little soul that depended completely on me. It changed my life for ever and for the good. Gracie taught me to put someone else before my self - a concept I knew and had done before, but now I lived every day. She depended on me. She taught me to be less self absorbed, less selfish.
Gracie's needs came before my own. This was a new concept for me. I couldn't be selfish with her. She needed to be fed, let out, groomed, played with, taught and loved. My life changed. I had to go directly home after work. I walked her, I played with her. I bought her food and treats. She sat next to me on my chair when I watched TV. Gracie taught me responsibility.

When I first got Gracie, I went bonkers. I had little outfits for her, I had winter coats made for her, she had Halloween costumes. She was the "child" I never had. Poor dog. She tolerated all of it. In fact, she knew how adorable she was and the dog clothes and coats made her feel even more like the princess she was becoming. Gracie taught me how to care for another being. She taught me tolerance.

Besides teaching her many tricks, Gracie knew probably between 40-50 words. Play, go get it, sit, stay, dance, bye bye, walk, car, night night, squirrel (her nemesis) to name a few. Plus she knew names of people such as Auntie Susie, David, Daddy, Auntie Mary Sue and momma. Although, I have to admit, Gracie learned fast and was so smart, this all took time. Gracie taught me patience.

Then there is the unconditional love. Gracie and I adored each other. As I walked in my house every night there she was - her little tail wagging so hard she could hardly stand. I talked to her like she was a person and on some level, she understood. She stayed closed to me though much laughter, many tears, my joys and my sorrows - she was always there, never judgemental, always understanding - always seeming to say, "I know, Momma, I know. And, I love you no matter what." Gracie taught me to be kinder, to listen better, to give my love more freely. She taught me not to judge others too harshly.

Pre-Lucy Lou, Gracie went every where with me. She loved riding in the car and visiting people. I joked, "Gracie is here to spread her love and to be adored!" And, she was. Gracie spread her love throughout my family. We are all grieving her untimely death. My friends, too, are shocked and saddened, both for little Gracie and for me, too, knowing how much I loved her. We all did.

I do need to mention what Lucy Lou taught me. Lucy Lou was completely deaf the last 2 years of her life. Yet, it didn't slow her down. She loved her walks, she played and she loved her belly rubs. She still gave great hugs. She adapted. She learned hand gestures and relied on facial expressions. She lived her life. She loved to sniff everything she possibly could and really enjoyed sitting in the yard enjoying the outdoors. Lucy Lou taught me perseverance and how to over come obstacles.

I loved Lucy Lou and now Sam, too (he makes it very difficult not to love him!). They are great dogs and enrich(ed) my life immensely. But, no matter how many dogs come in and out of my life, they will never be my little Gracie.

There is a little stepping stone with engraving outside my front door that I will always strive to live up to. It reads, "May I always be the person my dog thinks I am." When I purchased it I thought of Gracie and how much she gives me and asks for so little in return.

Thank you, Gracie, for all that you gave me and all that you taught me, for all the love and for all of your crazy antics (and for putting up with mine). I know you are with Uncle Billy, Grandma and Grandpa and Phil and they are all giving you belly rubs and telling you just how adorable you are. I know Lucy Lou was waiting to welcome you and while she is sniffing, you are chasing squirrels around doggie heaven to your little heart's content.

I also know when it my time to pass the first spirit I long to see will be you. You, waiting at the door, your little tail wagging and wagging. We will take long walks together, snuggle like crazy and I will give you belly rubs as long as you like, forever and ever.

I love you and I miss you, my sweet little dog.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Last Friday I had the privilege of meeting my blogging friend, Misti. Click here to visit her awesome blog. She took me to a beautiful garden and home decor store called Scottsdale. We enjoyed coffee while drooling over all of the beautiful items for sale as well as the plants outside. The best part was knowing that I now have another new friend "live and in person!"

I had noticed a plant in my neighbor, Shane's, yard that really attracted butterflies. It peeks just over the fence and I would see 6 or 7 butterflies at a time. I saw this plant while with Misti and she told me it was called lantana. Over the weekend I saw Shane and told him how much I was enjoying his lantana and the butterflies and he surprised me by giving me a HUGE pot with two HUGE lantana plants that he did have the time or room to plant in his yard.

While it still isn't in the ground, I have been watering the plant and as soon as the ground is soft enough to dig (please, let us get some rain) it will go under my bedroom window. I will be able to enjoy it from my bedroom and while sitting in my porch. As soon as it was placed, the butterflies started coming to visit.I love this picture that highlights not only a beautiful butterfly and the lantana, but also the dragonfly stained glass pieces I have in my bedroom window.

Today I snapped some shots of the butterflies. However, they were scared off by a furious creature that snuck into my yard. As Misti would say, "RAWWWRRRRR!"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Julie Ann -vs- Crab Grass

It's war.

Me against the crab grass that took over my yard.

I've won in the back yard, but there is a huge battle going on in the front yard. I think I am starting to win the battle, but, boy, it ain't easy.

I'm use to my lush, beautiful grass in Wisconsin. Grass down here is different, but it can look beautiful. My neighbors have great lawns and they, too, have to work at it.

So, I sit on the ground or sidewalk and pull, pull, pull. After the crab grass is pulled, the lawn looks scares. Big, brown, dirt spots. Well - the grass better hurry up and start to fill in. Otherwise - it's next!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Meet Sam, the newest member of my household!

OK, OK - I know I said I would wait a couple of months before I adopted another dog. I know I said I would never have a "boy" dog. I know I said I would never have another dog that sheds (although he won't shed nearly as much as Lucy Lou).


Who can resist this face? I am such a sucker for a handsome face
(George Clooney, move over)

I had been to the Cherokee County Shelter once before and went today on a lark. Took one look at old Mr. Mellow (his stupid shelter name) and fell in love. Brought Gracie back to meet him, got my nephew Paul's blessing, and we are all home.

Sam's "tough guy" look. It doesn't work. He is a mush.

Sam is a terrier mix (where did those ears come from?), about 17 lbs. (needs a few more pounds) and a real love. Sam appears to be completely housebroken and knows how to "sit." He is goofy, lovable and quite a happy fellow. He is approximately 1 1/2 years old.

Gracie doesn't seem so depressed and is starting to eat her kibble again (just in case Sam eats it first). I think we will all be OK.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Doggie Spa Morning

Gracie is feeling a little depressed lately. Well, to be truthful, we both are. It's been a lot lately for us - the death of someone special in my life, the move, driving to and from Wisconsin several times, finally driving down for good, adjusting to retirement, Sally and Amy's visit (a very good thing) and then Lucy Lou's death. Whew! I am surprised we are both able to get out of bed in the morning.

Gracie was looking a little raggy and matted so I called around and got her into the groomers for a complete make over. I wanted her fur cut very short because of the high temps down here lately.

She came back looking (and smelling) lovely. The bows only lasted a short time, but long enough for me to get these pictures.

Even after a spa morning, Gracie still looks sad. She misses her doggie sister, Lucy Lou.

We are both adjusting. We miss those who have passed. Gracie still isn't eating like she should, but we are both doing better. I'm looking into adopting another rescue dog to keep us both company. Life goes on.

But, truthfully, what girl doesn't feel better after a day at the spa? Hmmm, where are the yellow pages? I think I find a day spa and book time for myself - but at a spa for humans!

Gal Pal Visit

On July 25, one day after I finally arrived in Canton and in my new home for good, Sally and Amy arrived for a visit!

Sally & Amy on my porch

We all had a good visit, but we all agree it was very strange.

First, Sally and Amy stopped at a restaurant on the drive down for breakfast and both got food poisoning. So, they were both under the weather for a couple of days. Sally got a UTI on top of the poisoning and we spent a couple of hours at the hospital ER so she could be meds.

It was so hot that the girls, recovering, really didn't handle the heat well. Truthfully, none of us did. Amy spent one night with her sister in Anderson, NC and on Friday left for Nashville to visit another friend. Sally and I just hung out. This included Sally treating me to a pedicure! Something we both love.

Sally getting a pedicure

Unfortunately, Lucy Lou (my doggie girl) started failing on Thursday. On Sunday after dropping Sally off at a midway point between here and Nashville to meet up with Amy, I had to put Lucy Lou down. (A story to painful to write about now.)

But, we had fun including wonderful Armenian dinner at Sue and Marlon's house, Sally cooking a great Puerto Rican meal here, a trip to Helen, GA and many laughs and great conversation. We ate well! It didn't matter what was going on around us, as along as we were together. That is what friendship is all about.

Amy and Sally assured me they would come again, but never in July or August! I'm hoping for Thanksgiving!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Lucy Lou

The Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of the woods, at the foot of a hill
is a lush green meadow where time stands still
Where friends of man and woman do run
when their time on earth is over and done.

For here between this world and the next
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land they wait and play
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness
For here they are whole, their life full of gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care
Until one day they stop, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forwards, eyes dart front and back
Then all of a sudden, one darts from the pack.

For just at the instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt when they were apart
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever
Then side by side they cross over . . . together.

1998 Steve and Diane Bodofsky

Lucy Lou

Unknown - August 1, 2010