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Success Story "Gracie"

Success Story "Gracie"

a perfect story for the holidays to remind us of the little things that make life special for our furry family members.

thanks to russell for sharing the story of a little senior lady named Gracie:

this is gracie’s story. the story of a most ordinary dog living an extraordinary life. the story of despair and fear turned to joy – and a little less fear. and this story has the ending that every dog’s tale should have… a happy one.

today, gracie is my dog. her life is extraordinary. she gives love and gets love – and in case i’ve forgotten, she reminds me that nothing else matters. she writes blogs for other old dogs, she poses for pictures and shares her deep thoughts online. with her compassion and experience, she helps our Muttville foster dogs adjust to their new lives and prepare for forever homes. she enjoys daily adventures with senior small club – sniffing more than walking, but this is how old dogs get their exercise!

on the weekends she joins us for long hikes along the beach, riding on my back in a backpack, watching the scenery, and eventually being lulled to sleep by the rhythm of my footsteps. and when she is with me she feels safe.

being loved by gracie changed my life. i didn’t expect it. i thought she would be like most of the dogs we foster at small club – in need of a little extra care before being ready for a forever home. emotionally, physically, spiritually neglected, these dogs open up and slowly transform into beings who can trust and love again. then they meet the right person, get adopted and live happily ever after. gracie progressed slowly. after 3 weeks she chose to come out of her crate. after 3 months she decided it was safe to hang out on the couch. patiently we gave her space to grow; tenaciously we posted pictures, blogs and videos of this secretly hilarious girl. despite our efforts – and the popularity of her videos – no adoption applications arrived with gracie’s name on them. ever. not one.

we began to call her “one of a million,” because she appeared to be the most ordinary muttville dog: an overlooked 10-12 year old mutt, brown, with a cherry eye and no teeth. this is usually no obstacle to finding a perfect home, since each of these truly unique dogs is meant to go on to enrich the life of a lucky person. turns out that for gracie, i was that person.

over time, gracie learned to connect with me while struggling to feel comfortable around any other humans, even ones she saw every day. she let me carry her, she let me take her to cautious canine class, and she learned that she could kind of trust me. for many dogs, trusting their foster is just a step on the way to trusting people in general. and we had foster dogs in the past who had lived with us for more than 6 months before the right person came along. so i was reluctant to adopt gracie… i already had a dog who needs a lot of time. and if i kept gracie, i might be giving up a spot in our home reserved for the next homeless dog in need. it was the words of muttville executive director sherri franklin that changed my mind. after inquiring about the other foster dogs,“how’s lady? and prince william?” she smiled, laughed and asked, “…and how’s gracie?” i gave her the usual update: “a little bit better.” she looked me straight in the eyes and said, “russell, why don’t you just give her what she wants?”

i thought about it: gracie doesn’t ask for much… all she wants is to rest on her corner of the couch, eat as often as possible, and look forward to me coming through the door at the end of the day. she wants to stay where she feels safe, and she wants to be with me.

so gracie will spend her golden years here. every day she forgets a little more of her past, replacing her sad memories with dreams and deep thoughts created while snoozing the day away in a warm bed. she needed someone to love, but had never had the chance. almost 2 years ago she was delivered from some hellish backyard in bakersfield – now she loves not just 1 person but 2 people, 2 dogs, and all our foster dogs. she wouldn’t admit it, but she needed someone to love her. someone like me, who will challenge her but never ask her to be anything other than who she is… my touchstone, my philosopher, my laughter, my ordinary old dog.

If you adopted a Muttville dog, we would love to feature you in an upcoming ‘Success Story’. Please contact success_stories@muttville.org with the Subject line ‘Success Story’

You can help create many more new beginnings!
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mariem3 | 12.26.12

Russell, this is the best story and so wonderfully written. Thanks for sharing it. And for being Gracie’s dad.

carol | 12.26.12 01:28pm

love our little gracie!!!

mariem3 | 12.27.12 04:20am

a really lovely story. thanks for sharing it, russell.

lpw | 12.27.12 07:25am

This story always makes me cry. Gracie is such a wonderful dog and so lucky to have found you :).

SDFig | 02.14.13 12:28pm

Oh Russell, what a wonderful post and perfect for today! It’s so wonderful when we connect with our perfect four legged one!

nlm1k9 | 02.14.13 07:53pm

Russell: Gracie is indeed blessed to have you for her special dad. You and Marie are both neat people, and your love of Gracie shows how wonderful you both are…Congrats to Gracie, and congrats to you Russell.

dturren | 02.14.13 07:57pm

Thank you, Muttville, for rescuing our girl Grace Lee 6 years ago. At age “at least 18,” Gracie passed away exactly how she wanted – at home with me, while all the other dogs slept and Marie had run out to the store. No vet, no attention, just us. Gracie always got what she wanted in the end 🙂.

We are full of gratitude for the time we shared with her, and can say without question that we made the most of it. There is a quiet place in my heart that will hold our nonsocial low-rider forever, and hole in our lives that once was filled with homemade food prep, supplement distribution, daily supervised marches on the patio, slow motion exploration of the yard, ride-or-die stroller adventures… and a daily load of laundry. Maybe two loads.

As you senior dog folks know, the art of caring for a dog becomes part of who you are as much as your dog becomes a part of your family. I find the free time – & savings on the water bill – a poor substitute for life with our very ordinary brown dog. I hope she really did feel safe and happy, and that we challenged her, just enough. She did as much for us.

Gracie’s 3 tips for senior mutts seeking longevity: Remember, you made it this far because you are strong. Eat fresh food. And, you should remove all your teeth. Seriously.

PS passing away unassisted is rare. Of the multitude of dogs we have taken to the bridge, 98% needed us to make the right decision to bring in a vet. Please do not hesitate to give your dog this gift when it is time.

russell | 02.10.17 03:07am

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