There are lots of dog stories in our family history.
Rushie was first, an overachieving poodle that won a blue ribbon in obedience class. Then Autumn, our “perfect” golden retriever. After that, we fostered Mitch, the tick infested mutt who made a dog parent look bad with his ferocious walking manners but kid friendly disposition. Then we fostered Isabelle, the sad looking basset hound with floppy ears. Next was Goldie, the not so kid friendly puppy we surrendered after Starla was born. And the girls all tease me about a multitude of strays that I’ve “rescued” presuming they were estranged from their owners only to find out they were neighbor dogs wandering beyond their borders. But on this day, we pay tribute to Gracie, the Golden we adopted for Lily and the sweet companionship between a girl and her dog and the family who lived and loved into this beautiful story.
We said goodbye to her today.
And frankly, goodbyes stink.
This morning I stepped over Gracie, laying near the back door, on my way outside to water the plants. Tonight, she’s out in the yard, not quite three feet under, with Starla’s hand picked daisy marking her grave. And the wound in our hearts is as fresh as the unpacked dirt lying on top of her.
Our family rhythms are disrupted. I didn’t hear the sound of dog food plinking against the metal bowl at dinner time or Lily saying, “Come on Gracie, Go Outside,” followed by the back door opening and closing again just before bedtime. When we played out in the yard tonight, she wasn’t sniffing around or laying in the shade of one our mature trees. And when I peeked in at Lily breathing methodically in her sleep, Gracie’s pillow in the corner of the room lay empty.
Never again will we she beg for our popcorn.
Or snore when she sleeps.
We won’t catch a whiff of her awful breath when she pants anxiously either.
And Brian and I will now take our late night walks unaccompanied.
Her quirky disposition was endearing.
A watchdog she wasn’t since she never met a human she didn’t adore.
And her table manners defied southern charm.
But her longsuffering when manhandled and her playful participation in the girls’ childish adventures, delighted them.
And her quintessential listening skills, riveted attention and physical presence comforted us all.
She was companion to Lily during the dark night of the soul.
And she was confidante to Brian and I over thousands of miles of walks. She heard all our secrets and was privy to our most private prayers.
So grief and gratitude intermingle in a puddle of tears.
Thank you Gracie for gifting our family with your presence.
Thank you God. All good gifts come from You.