Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Seven Year Bitch

Dateline- Brewster, N.Y. November 17, 2002... An expectant Golden Retriever paces and paws in a classic nesting fashion, and when the moment is right, she settles down for the blessed event. Hours of exhaustion, elation, and suspense bring a healthy and beautiful litter of pups. Mom kicks back while the kids begin to nurse; it's been quite a day.

Happy Birthday, Gracie.

Seven years old, the canine equivalent of my fifty, she remains svelte and sassy. This is in no part due to the practice of moderation, mind you. Ms. G. is the ultimate party girl and has no concept of when to stop. There are never too many tennis balls, no frisbee game is long enough, and petting sessions should last until the cows come home and go back out again. She does her time on the couch until the rustling of a coat or the turn of a knob promise a new adventure and propels her toward the front door. The destination has no bearing on her level of excitement- the Vanderbilt mansion, Petco, the front yard. She is the ultimate optimist. Or her closeted marijuana habit has taken its toll on her judgement and short term memory; I'll let you know if we catch her in the act.

I look at Gracie and I see a timeline of years that have passed so quickly. She has helped me through the mundane and the monumental. At times her sense of humor makes it possible to hold on to my own. Few things can bring you out of a funk like a dog parading through your father's kitchen with a thong in her mouth. Or a bra. Or a box of tampons. Her inappropriateness has no boundaries- she accompanied me to meet with the pastor scheduled to speak at Dad's funeral, and managed to steal a donut off the desk of one of the women in the office. My embarrassment was momentary, as the ladies, all dog lovers, burst into laughter and invited her to drop by anytime for another donut. She may not have been an obedience school valedictorian, but she was, and is, the class clown with honors.

My first Golden Retriever, Emma, was not yet five when I lost her to liver cancer. Within two days of her passing, I had an eight week old Gracie in my arms. My parents, saddened by Emma's death, had helped me pay for her medical expenses. Feeling a little guilty that I had turned around and spent more money on another dog, I didn't tell them right away- a fine example of a middle-aged woman resorting to teenage white lies.

About a week passed before I decided to take Gracie home to Pennsylvania to meet the grandparents. Bonnie, the notorious Scotty/Jack Russell mix still lived with me, so I told them I was bringing her along for a visit. I turned onto my folks' street and imagined my father telling me what an idiot I was to take on a puppy and the subsequent bills. Instead, when I walked into the dining room where Dad sat in his lazy boy, he took one look and my golden ball of fluff and yelled to my mom, "Rose, take a look at this."

With respect to the wall-to wall carpet in the rest of the house , we barricaded Gracie in the kitchen, and laughed out loud as she went through her repertoire of puppy antics. As I smiled and let go of any concern for my parents' assessment of my sanity, my father turned to me and said, "Honey, it was the best thing you could have done."

Thanks, Dad.

1 comment:

  1. awwwwwwwhhh....you got me all teary eyed! I'm not sure if its puppy Grace or your dad's voice - maybe both. really liked it Joan :)