Gracie, you always were a good girl, much better at being a good girl than I’ll ever be a good storyteller. But I’ll try to tell you just how good you were. Remember when we first met at the shelter? How you were scared and they said you were a Submissive Wetter? I thought to myself, Nonsense! I mean, who doesn’t feel like peeing when you get really nervous, right? You were fine, and became a very good girl.
You had a crate, and nice dog bed, too. But once you figured out it was OK for you to sit right next to one of us on the sofa, you decided that was even better. You could get lots of pets that way, clever dog! You were agreeable to most everything when treats were involved. You would lie in the sun even on the hottest days instead of finding a spot in the shade. You chased squirrels and birds until you finally called a truce as you got older. Years passed, and I started calling my arthritis “hip dysplasia”, but you were still a very healthy dog.
Then, one evening, you suddenly started limping. Something hurt a lot, and your eyes pleaded with me to fix it, please! The vet at the emergency clinic scared both of us when she talked about surgery, and your age, and complications. But the next day, our regular vet, Dr. C., saw you were feeling a little better with the meds, and he wrote “IVDD” in your chart. He said we didn’t have to rush into surgery, and that these issues could sometime resolve on their own if given a chance to heal. Pills, crate confinement, and no more jumping up on the sofa, but you were a very good girl, and got better.
In a few more years, your face had turned mostly white, and naps were important. I always said, “When a beagle doesn’t eat, rush her into the vet!” If I had been a good girl like you, I would have paid more attention to that. You didn’t always finish your dinner. Sometimes you would eat grass (a little too often, I thought). Dad did clean-up duty in the yard, and would sometime report ‘the poop’s a little loose’. You started looking a lot thinner than I remembered, so we took you to Dr. C.
The bloodwork showed low numbers for albumin, and we learned how that was bad. Dr. C wrote “IBD” in your chart, and we gave you different food. That helped your digestive system, but you really liked the special soft treats we hid your medicine in. We figured out the prescription dog food tasted bland to you, and added some special food that contained free-range duck. Gracie, you were eating healthier food than I was, but you felt much better, and gained back some weight you’d lost. What a very, very good girl!
By 2018, you were sleeping a lot during the day, your fur was getting very white by now, and even the black hair on your back had a salt-and-pepper look. I didn’t want to tell you, but I thought your once velvety soft coat was feeling a little coarse. Your eyes were starting to get just a little cloudy, and I know you couldn’t hear me when I spoke to you. But you knew our daily routine. You didn’t need me to tell you to sit for your treats. You knew to remind me when your dinner was 5 minutes late. You knew to bark when you wanted something, though to be honest, Gracie, a lot of the time I really didn’t know what you needed. I would pet you or scratch behind your ears and ask you what you wanted. I think you just wanted me to be near you. The next time we saw Dr. C., he wrote “CCD” in your chart.
It was the end of June when the bad thing happened. Dad and I wondered why you weren’t in the kitchen asking for your dinner. He found you in the living room, not in your usual spot. He said it looked like you couldn’t move. I went to see and you didn’t look right. I knelt down beside you, but you didn’t look at me. You just had a blank stare. That scared me, Gracie. We tried to get you to stand, but you couldn’t, or wouldn’t. Was this what a dog stroke looked like?
I didn’t think you were in pain, but you looked very tired. We offered you a little water, but you refused. I carried you outside to the back yard, and placed you down on the grass. You managed to stand, take a couple of steps, then piddled. You still looked pretty confused, so I carried you back inside and put you in your bed. We would call Dr. C in the morning.
We made an afternoon appointment. You took a few tentative steps that next day. Once outside, you managed to walk a little bit on the grass, then piddled again, and slowly walked across the patio toward the door. About halfway to the door, you stopped and raised your head to sniff the air. Do you remember what a beautiful day it was, Gracie? Your beagle nose took in all the fresh smells of a warm summer day, and then you looked at me, like you were saying, “Isn’t it all wonderful?” You stood there so still, head raised and eyes closed, looking very contented. I knew just what you were feeling. It really was all wonderful. We put you into the car for the short ride to the vet.
Dr. C was very gentle with you, and put a rug and soft blanket on the exam table so it wouldn’t feel cold for you. He listened to your heart for a long time, his expression becoming more and more concerned. He explained what he was hearing, and told us an x-ray would tell him much more. When he brought you back to the room, I did my best to be brave. I always tried to be brave for you. Dr. C said he was very sorry, and told us about two large masses in your chest. That one had ruptured, and there was a lot of internal bleeding. That nothing could be done for you, but to help you across the bridge. His voice was gentle and quiet when he asked if we wanted to stay. I wouldn’t leave you, Gracie, you knew that. Dr. C nodded in understanding, and tenderly placed his hand on your tired body. He said, “Gracie was a very good girl”.
In Loving Memory of Gracie, 2003 – 2018♥
Written by Diane Raymond, Gracie’s mom.