Sunday, October 09, 2005

But for the Grace of God

Isn't she a doll? Ok, I'm fine if you don't think so. I wasn't much of a dog person until Gracie came into our lives. I "found" her on a bulletin board at work. It stated she was a 6-month stray who had been found walking along the highway. He brought her home (named her Babe - gag me!) and she drank and drank water and fell asleep for 3 days. Oddly enough, her life is about the same today. We have guessed she is 1/2 lab, 1/2 German shepherd. (My older daughter swears she is a Carolina. I'm not so sure she is pure anything.) Unfortunately, the lab in her wants you to come visit and be her friend, and the German shepherd in her wants you to go away as she protects her family. She's a little bi-polar.

That was (Can you believe it?) 10 years ago. She has not grown one inch or gained 1 pound since we brought her home. We did have a vet (veterinarian, not war veteran) friend check her out, kick her tires, take her for a spin, you know, what you would do if you were buying a used (pre-owned) car. As a dog lover, he was able to say she was in excellent health and was trained and well behaved. Fooled him, didn't ya Gracie? Seriously, in 10 years she has only had 2 "big" accidents, and they were both our fault. Her pee accident was marking her territory when she got downstairs, and we can't really blame her for that one either. Not bad. She came to us knowing "sit," "paw," "other paw," "down," and "heel." Who abandons a dog who is that well trained? Ok, her former family (she had a chip) might have taken her when they moved, and she might have run away and gotten lost.

As a former person who was lukewarm about dogs (and hated how their noses are always crotch high), I have learned many things since we adopted Gracie. (Oh, come on, I couldn't have a dog named after a pig.) She is not the "model" dog for a family with little kids or for a family who is unsure of dogs. I have learned that if you put off an air that you like dogs and understand dogs, she will be put in her place and lie down and sit down or whatever it is she needs to do to get your attention but not hurt you. But if you give off any aura that you are scared or unsure of the situation, she will have you backed into a corner with her teeth bared. The worst thing about her is she is unpredictable. I have seen her be the sweetest dog one minute and then get the freaky feeling that you are afraid and she will growl. I have stuck my arm in her mouth to avoid a bad scene more than once. When little kids come up and say, "Lady, can I pet your dog?" I have to say, "No, she's afraid of little children." Sometimes (and I am no pet psychologist) I think that faces in her face scare her. Can't blame her, but I can't explain to her that they are harmless. We do not need a law suit on our hands. The little girl that my daughters have babysat for has a command in her voice when she says "Sit Gracie," making her the only child Gracie will tolerate.

Her other quirk is she is a water dog afraid of water. The week we got her we also went to pick up Mabel from camp and ended up by the Meramec River. Gracie jumped in and had a ball. So we know she loves water. But turn on the faucet to water the grass, and she freaks. We think her other family disciplined her with the hose. She hates the sound of water which means we have to take her to PetsMart for her baths. She also has abandonment issues. I can appreciate that, since I, too, have them, but I don't sob when people leave. One time we took her on a mini-vacation to a farm so she could run around and enjoy the wind in her face and the freedom. She loves getting into the car, and this experience was no different. Halfway down the road, she realized there were only 2 reasons she would be in the car: bath or vaccinations. She started to whimper. When we turned on the highway, she was quite relieved that she was going to neither. As we passed 6 Flags, she just knew we were dumping her along the side of the road and cried, no, SOBBED, for the entire trip. Cried so loud that our ears were bleeding by the time we got to the farm. (We didn't bring Dramamine because never get car sick, but we should have!) We opened the van door and told her "Run Gracie Run," and she just stood by our side. For FOUR days, sobbing. When we put our packed bags on the porch while the Hub took the trash to the dumpster down the road, she panicked and raced after the van at 30 mph. I'm not making this up. We never took her on a vacation again.

And finally, if you have never seen a dog jump a fence with all the beauty of a racehorse, come to our house and watch Gracie. There isn't a fence that can keep her. She can fly. I've seen the look on people's faces as they face our backyard while we talk in the front. I can see by the wonder in their eyes that Gracie has just flown over the fence. In her defense, she doesn't dig under the fence although there are some holes back there in search of rabbits. She sees things in the night that we cannot see and would gladly sacrifice her life as she ran in front of an 18-wheeler to catch a squirrel or a rabbit. (She has caught only 2 since she had lived here, but both times I think I saw a look of pride on her face that I have never seen on my kids when they got a "A.") I can't walk her at night because if she sees what I cannot see, she will rip my arm out of its socket. I have talked to neighbors on their walks who say, "Oh, she's the one who can jump fences," and I say, "How do you know?" and they say, "Because I have watched her jump over and then back again." Yikes So I guess we're not always sure where she has been when we call her back inside. Odd for a dog with abandonment issues, huh?

And finally, she is the only dog I know who can tip toe. Do you see what's in her picture? A lamb's fur rug (from New Zealand) and a dog pillow. She also has a chair with a sheet for her comfort, and 95% of the time she uses one of those for her naps. But every once in a while, when we're not looking and when our guard is down (and when we haven't barracaded the couch), she can lift the pillows off the couch with her teeth, throw them on the floor, and deposit her weary (my ass) body there for a nap, head on the armrest. And when she senses that we are near, I have watched her TIP TOE off the coach so her clicky toenails (the ones she won't let us clip) do not touch the hardwood floors. Because, in her mind, if we don't hear her, then she wasn't up there.

I have been home for 2 1/2 years freelancing, and she sleeps 23 hours a day. I've watched her. When will she start doing her share of the housework? Please bring Prozac!


At 7:49 AM, Blogger The Anti-Wife said...

What a wonderful posting. And yes, Gracie is nothing short of gorgeous. I see you feel the same way I feel about my little Beavis (who is a freak of nature).

I hope you're doing well!

At 8:18 AM, Blogger greekchickie said...

Oh she is just BEAUTIFUL!

I want one.... sighhh...


At 9:26 AM, Blogger Leesa said...

Great post. Brock is the same way with the couch and the bed. He slinks off quietly like I didn't now he was there. Of course, a 100# dog always leaves evidence.

At 3:08 PM, Blogger Redhead Editor said...

How much does it cost to mail a bi-polar sheading beast to Texas or Montana??

At 7:26 AM, Blogger Angela said...

Ah, you don't have to mail her so far away. Just bring her on up to Maryland Heights! It will be fun to see if she remembers the nights we spent smoking cigarettes on the back porch while we stared at the moon...

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Redhead Editor said...

Take it back. My Gracie never smoked cigarettes. I'm sure she howled at the moon and sang while you played the piano.


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