Saturday, January 13, 2018

Look Who's Three!

Three years have passed since my bouncy baby, Gracie, wiggled her way into this world. Seems strange to realize that she has still lived most of her life without me, but we are changing that with every passing day.

You may recall that Gracie was born in Florida to a litter of eight - four girls and four boys. At a tender age, she and one of her sisters flew across the country to Oregon, where they settled into life with four other dogs and their mistress on a horse farm outside Portland. In many ways, life there was idyllic - and I know that because I've see the photos - but Gracie longed for more human companionship. So after about a year, she was sent off to live as the one-and-only dog of a man in the Seattle suburbs. Sadly, last summer he was diagnosed with cancer, and through a series of serendipitous connections, Gracie found her way to us.

To me. 

My fourth-born sent me this photo when I was away in South Korea for two weeks this fall. For all her blind devotion to me, Gracie thrived while I was gone and I'm proud of her resiliency. 

I didn't think I was ready for a new pup. My heart was still wrapped up in the lovely life I shared with my good dog, Ranger; still fragile from fighting the long shadows of death as they had slowly crept up and overtaken him. 

Still, I knew right away Gracie was meant to be mine. You should have seen her the first time she came into our house. Wanting to see how she would respond, I allowed her to nose through the front door, pulled off her leash, and turned her loose to explore. She sailed though every room in the house, upstairs and down, exploring every corner, her tail on maximum wag. Happy and excited, she bubbled with enthusiasm and joy.

I do love me a high-energy dog. 

My favorite (so far) photo of my dog on the run at Kalaloch Beach. 

A few fun facts about dates:

Gracie came to us on July 9, 2017. Exactly eight days after Ranger's birthday on July 1. 

And her birthday today, on January 12, is exactly eight days before the day that Ranger died, January 20, 2017.

You may call that coincidence, but I see those numbers as a lovely trail of bread crumbs laid out by God to remind me that life leads to death leads to life. 

Taken on our walk today, just after we passed the girls. 

Every day with my girl, Gracie, is an adventure in high spirits and infinite spunk. Here is a birthday story that shows exactly what I mean.

We were out on our walk this afternoon as the last light of day was fading from the sky. A damp drizzle fell quietly upon us as we strolled along the deserted sidewalks. Unfazed by the gloom, Gracie bounded up the drive from the high school practice fields, through the perimeter fence, and sprinted up the slope to see if there was any action on the soccer field today. 

It's been months since she was rewarded with the sight of humans kicking a ball around but she is an eternally optimistic girl.

I noticed two high school girls walking along the lane toward us, both wearing bulky backpacks and carrying clarinet cases. 

I watched them watch my dog putting on her little show, and even in the almost-dark, I saw smiles on their faces.
In a flash, Gracie realized the field was empty yet again, and giving up on that pursuit, came barreling back toward me. As she circled around, she finally noticed the two girls coming toward us, and in her usual instinctive way, she froze in her tracks to observe the girls. Wagging her whole body from her shoulders to the tip of her tail, Gracie beamed at them, radiating happiness and delight 

The girls noticed the effect. One of them called, "I love your dog!"

As we walked past each other, I added, "And I can see she loves you, too."

In the darkness, I once again saw their faces light up with smiles.

This is why I celebrate every day with Gracie, and I look forward to seeing what happens in her fourth year of life!

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