Sunday, April 26, 2015

All Dogs Go to Heaven

When I was a kid I wanted a chocolate lab so bad I couldn't stand it.  My parents wouldn't let me have one because they knew I'd never take care of it.  Well, when I was 17, right before Christmas, I got in the shower and when I got out there was the cutest black lab puppy sitting in a box in my room. (imagine a really cute picture of a black lab puppy)  I was smitten from the get go.  My aunt got her for me and my mom was less than thrilled.  I'm pretty sure I spent all my Christmas money that year on Gracie.  I was 17 and had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I don't remember much about her as a puppy.  I think she slept in a crate in my room.  I don't know what she did while I was at school.  I do know that she was always waiting on me when I got home from school.  In fact, when she was about 5 months old, she was so excited for us to get home from school she came barreling down the driveway at the same time as I was turning to go up the driveway and we collided.  I panicked.  She ran off wimpering.  I was hysterical.  I tried to call my mom on my cellphone from the driveway and luckily my little brother (who was around 11 at the time and had the most level head and handled the whole situation) was coming in the back door at the same time I called so my mom knew we were ok.  We took her to the vet.  Her leg was broken but because it was so close to her growth plate we had to see a specialist.  You can imagine how expensive that was.  She had a cast on her leg and I'd have to wrap a grocery sack around it every time I took her out. 
(I'm going to have to dig out some cute puppy pictures to add here)
My first year of college she had to stay home with my parents because I lived in the dorm.  I missed her.  She was always so happy to see me when I came home.
She came to live with me my sophomore year when I lived in a house.  The first tailgate party we hosted happened to fall around my aunt's birthday.  Gracie was never to be left in the house loose alone.  Well everyone got a ticket to the game last minute and the last person out left Gracie in the house.  When I got back there was cake and icing everywhere.  She had gotten the birthday cake off the table and had her own little party.  She was so bad.  She would get food off the counter all the time.  Once she got chicken fingers out of the toaster oven while they were cooking.  That's talent. 
She loved the lake.  She would swim out and try to get on your float with you.  Most people hated that.  When we would all go out to ski or tube, I never could go right in front of the house because she would swim out and chase me.  I think the lake was one of her favorite places. 
When Patrick and I got married she came with me to Morris.  Patrick already had Sam, his yellow lab and they were best buds from the beginning.  She had puppies that year too (they weren't Sam's, we don't know who the daddy was).  She was a good little mama. 
She was so proud of her babies. 
Last week she started moving slow.  We thought nothing of it.  She was almost 14 years old.  Well by Wednesday she wasn't eating.  Friday I had to go out in the yard and find her when I got home from work to get her in out of the rain.  She could only take 2 or 3 steps before she would fall and I'd have to pick her up again.  It was heartbreaking.  I got her in and she plopped down right in front of the door.  She was in the same place when Patrick got home 5 hours later.  We got her moved closer to her bed but she wouldn't eat or drink.  We decided we would take her to the vet Saturday morning.  When we got up Saturday morning Patrick went down to check on her and she was still in the same place we'd left her.  We got her loaded in the car and headed to the vet.  It was packed, Patrick stayed in the car with her while I went and told them we were there.  I broke down talking to the poor receptionist.  They came out to get us and we went back to the room.  The vet came in and examined her.  She said her liver was enlarged and that was probably what was causing her symptoms.  She gave us a few options.  She let us know that it could possibly be infection or something else causing her liver to struggle but most likely at her age it was probably just giving out.  She was so kind and told us she supported what ever we decided.  We decided that moving forward with treatment was not worth putting her through for maybe another week with her.  The vet was so kind and reassuring to us.  They let us hold her and say good bye.  As I was sitting there I was so mad at myself for not spending more time with her.  For not taking her to the lake again, not laying out in the yard on a blanket with her.  I was just so sad I took the time I thought we had for granted.  I know she was just a dog but that dog saw me through some of my life's biggest accomplishments.  She was there when I went to prom, graduated from high school, went off to college, moved in to the first place where I paid bills, when Patrick and I went on our first date, got engaged, when I finally graduated from college and got married.  She was there when we got home from our honeymoon and we moved in together.  She was there when we brought Barrett home and she was there for every day in between.  She was a food thief and an escape artist.  She got in the trash and was a little bit racist (which was odd since she was black).  She was the only reason I've ever had the police called on me.  She was the best bad dog I've even known and she will be greatly missed.

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