To my sweet, sweet Gracie girl. We knew this day was coming. We knew it was coming because accepting that our pets live shorter lives than we do is part of the deal going-in. “Feed me, walk me, love me, and know that eventually you’re going to have to make the hard decision to let me go.” We knew this day was coming in a more real, specific way when you started to limp last June.
You come into our lives Easter weekend 2008. We drove 12 hours down and back to the Little Victories shelter in West Virginia to pick you up. Daddy was determined to get there before you spent one more night not knowing if you were wanted. Saying that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into understates the truth. Meeting you that evening though, we felt that intense, instantaneous click that makes “love at first sight” the lovely cliché that it is. This match was meant to be. You were strong, focused, gorgeous, and completely terrified to get into the back of the car but you trusted us. And so we went.
Months later we drove back to retrieve your sister. While you two had a tough time getting along for a while, we were all committed to working it out and eventually settled into a rhythm. Some of my best memories—that seem long ago now—were the hours we spent running on the trail together. I felt so zen (whatever that is, really) for the 2 seconds each morning when we were all moving in sync. The rest of the time we were a hot mess of maniacal barking, muzzled growls, and tangled leashes- understandably causing concern through the neighborhood. And so we went.
You designated yourself as our protector and made us your full-time job. You were always working. You never fetched a thing for fun or dug into the bin of unchewed dog toys by the back door. One by one, you welcomed three babies into your pack. Your idea of a good time was when we were all together. Safe. Add a belly rub and a couple stray goldfish crackers and you were in heaven. And so we went.
Shortly after Linc arrived, we noticed that you were favoring that back left leg. Our worries were confirmed in our vet's tiny exam room. The sharp edges of the stainless steel exam table started to blur. She walked that fine line of delivering news that was clear but not crushing. As we suspected, there was nothing we could do to stop the deterioration of your spine and they couldn’t tell us how long we had. Instead, we agreed to make every day as good as possible. I like to think you agreed to that pact. And so we went.
Other people assured us that when the time had come, we’d know. In the last week, there was no denying the look in your eyes. While this is hard, we know it’s the right thing to do. For more than seven years now, you’ve breathed a huge sigh from your bed in our room when I turned out the light. The house is quiet, the day is done and you relax because we’re all tucked in for the night. I looked forward to hearing that sigh and will miss it as I will miss so many things about you. And so we go to say goodbye.
Until we meet again, thank you sweet, sweet Gracie girl. Go in peace.