Sarah Beth Photography Blog

Saying Goodbye to the Best Dog in the World

Dear Gracie,

Picking you up from the cremation place was so hard. So final. But on the way there, I remembered the first trip home with you, curled up on my lap with the too-big collar Dustin and I picked out on the way. (I don’t know how big a puppy is?) Such a sweet memory of the day we met. It felt like we were destined to be together. We both knew from the photo that YOU were the one for us. The only one of the litter who was a different color. A spark of intelligence and mischief in your eyes, looking right at us, calling out to us. It feels like only yesterday that we brought you home in that blizzard, but it’s been a whole lifetime of joy and love and so much fun. 

We got to be together for almost 12 years, and I’m forever grateful. You made our little family complete. You always had a tail wag when we came home, you were so happy to see us. Popping your head up in the window when you’d hear the car. Grumbling and wiggling, you just couldn’t contain your excitement! We miss that so much. We miss everything. We miss you. There will never be another dog quite like you, our once-in-a-lifetime girl. 

When we drove you home that first night, I wasn’t thinking about ever having to say goodbye, I was thinking about all the love I already had for you, and we’d only just met. I was thinking about what kind of food and toys you might like, and what Simon would think of our bouncy new addition. 

You were so smart, and such a good girl. The first thing you did when we got out of the car was go potty outside. “She’s a genius!” You learned all your commands after just a few tries. You loved every person you met, and couldn’t understand why not everyone on the street wanted to pet you. People rolled down their car windows to shout, “I like your dog!” You were the scruffiest, most perfect, bestest puppy on the planet, and you were ours. 

Everyone who met you fell in love with you, too. How could they not? The beautiful, bouncy, floppy-eared, toe-licking, bundle of happiness. Even people who said they didn’t like schnauzers loved you so much.

Such a great little road trip buddy, you were so good in the car. You’d always wait until I said “ok” to jump out. When we’d stop for food or gas, you’d inevitably end up in the drivers seat. You loved sticking your head out the car window to feel the wind in your beard.

Curled up against me in your little schnauzer-ball on the couch, or on your bed, or even on our bed – to which I initially declared, “no dogs on the bed,” but of course that barely lasted the first night. 

You were always a great model for me, happy to oblige as long as there were treats.

You even got to do some professional modeling for national brands.

You were so impressionable. You laid on the back of the couch because you saw Simon do it. You peed as high up on trees as you could reach, because one time you saw a bigger dog do it higher. You had never barked out the window until we dog-sat for a neighbor and he barked out the window. Your friend Stella liked to dig a nest on her bed, so you decided you did too.

You loved your walks, sniffing all there was to sniff. Pulling ahead on the leash, eager to experience all the things. But you were arguably your happiest at your favorite place in the world: grandma’s farm. Oh, the freedom! You could go anywhere, as fast as you wanted, and you took full advantage. So many sniffs! So much fun! You’d run way up ahead and look back as if to say, “what’s the holdup, guys?” Then you’d run back to us at full speed with a huge smile, then back up ahead because there was so much more to explore. That time a deer jumped across the path in front of you, you stopped in your tracks and looked back at us: “Did you guys see that??” You were determined to get all the squirrels and buns, but I’m convinced you just wanted to be best friends with them. Your energy was endless, but when it was time to go inside, you happily crashed in a sunbeam on the floor until the next adventure.

One thing I’ll miss the most is your taps. The gentle tap of a paw to let us know it’s time to get up or go outside, or “can I please come up on the couch.” I’ll miss teasing you, pretending I didn’t notice, so the taps got more and more insistent. I’d pull the covers over my head and you’d grumble and dig until you found me. 

The sound of you crunching apples or carrots was delightful. If any dogs or kids were being too fast or loud, you were the “fun police,” keeping everyone in line. You didn’t want the cats touching you, but I think you secretly liked it sometimes.

When you suddenly went blind last year, it felt like the end of an era. You were confused and depressed and we were so sad that your personality had changed. You weren’t the same Gracie. But, as the summer went on and some of your vision returned, you became more confident again. You pulled ahead on walks like before and had that familiar bounce in your step. You ran around at the farm with your big Gracie smile (albeit a little slower), and you were mostly “you” again.

Your pinball-ing around the house became less sad and more comical. (Why did you insist on going under the table and chairs every time, when you could just go around?) I got better at driving on our walks and steered you around trees and poles and other hazards to “watch out!” for. Dustin and I would call to you at the park, and you’d follow our voices. You trusted that there was a clear path between us, and happily trotted back and forth. We were a team again.

We don’t know why your body suddenly failed you, but, in the end, does it even matter? We all did the best we could to figure things out and fix it, but you’ve always done things your own way. Such a terrier. A lesser dog whose organs were “incompatible with life” wouldn’t have made it nearly as long as you did. Doctor Dustin was very brave and gave you fluids every day, even though he hated that he had to poke you. We would never want to hurt you, so I hope you know the pokes were important, and the reason we got to stay together this summer. 

I’m so sorry we couldn’t save you, but of course we all have to go sometime. You could have left us back in June, but you knew we needed more time. You fought hard, and we fought hard, and you were the Comeback Kid for 3 whole months. Three GOOD months, with walks to the park, snuggles on the couch, “looking” out the window, and even doing the stairs by yourself. It’s ok that you had to go out every few hours. Yes, it could be frustrating sometimes, but we were a team. We were happy to do it, because it meant you were still here. It’s so surreal that we can’t do that anymore. Caring for you when you needed it most, after all you’d given us for the past 11 years, was an honor and a privilege.

That first night I said to Dustin, with slow realization of what we were getting into, “We’re going to have this dog when we’re 40!” Thank you so much for hanging on through Dustin’s birthday. I know you couldn’t make it to mine, but we’re so grateful you were there for his.

Dustin and I drove home yesterday with you on my lap again. Our journey has come full circle, and your last ride was so much like your first: resting silently on my legs, my hands wrapped around you, keeping you safe. Our big smiles and plans for the future replaced by tears and happy memories.

Now that you’re gone, everything feels just a bit slower, more empty, less vibrant. They say the pain of your grief is equal to the depth of your love for what you’ve lost. You were a huge part of my life, and I know the schnauzer-shaped hole you left is going to hurt for a long time.

Thank you for being the best dog ever. You made our lives so joyful and fun, and we’re both better people for having known you. You’ve set the bar pretty high for any future dogs that come our way; I hope you’ll guide us in finding them when the time is right.

Goodnight, sweet girl. I’ll love you forever.

About

Hi! I'm Sarah, but feel free to call me Sarah Beth. I've been a professional photographer for over 13 years, and I've been an animal lover and an artist my entire life. Read More . . .

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