Gracie was a fiery, determined rescued Schnauzer who made us smile.
But her determination— some would say bull headed nature— got her into serious trouble.
Gracie had been abused for the first year of her life when my wife, Nancy, found her through a rescue organization and brought her home.
Over eight years she became companion to a retriever-chow mix named Daisy who is 10 years Gracie’s senior. Gracie loved to sleep snuggled next to her mom who was the best person on earth — in Gracie’s eyes.
Any number of other family members would find Gracie in their laps for a belly rub.
If she wanted to get on the bed – which she always wanted if she was in the room –she would not stop asking until she achieved her goal.
This column has in the past related my surprise at coming home on a Monday after helping bake 12 dozen Christmas cookies on a Sunday to find Gracie eating the gifts my family had baked for the neighbors.
The Christmas cookies were plated, wrapped in plastic wrap inside a closed cardboard box and sitting on the kitchen table.
When I opened the kitchen door that Monday, Gracie stuck her head out of the box and realized her mistake. Busted!
She realized it further the rest of the night but finally quit barfing sometime the next morning.
Gracie loved to eat and could pack away some food for an 18 pound dog. Every morning at breakfast, she would dance for the meal.
Gracie disappeared one time for about two weeks, causing the whole family great distress and sadness. When she did show up, she showed signs of having eaten for the entire time. A rounded belly indicated she perhaps had a regular route of cat food stops.
We managed to keep a closer eye on her since then, demanding that she stay in the yard.
Something went terribly wrong two weeks ago, however.
Gracie became sluggish and had trouble eating suddenly. Later that night she developed trouble breathing and we noticed a seriously swollen throat.
A visit to the vet led to the conclusion she had tangled with a spider or a bee and she would need a heavy dose of Benadryl and a steroid.
When that did not help, a second trip to the vet revealed her blood had lost ability to clot. She developed internal bleeding in the throat and that caused the swelling and breathing problems.
The vet believed Gracie had likely found some rat poison somewhere and that led to the problem. The poisoning had gone too far for any practical remedy, so she was put to sleep to end her gasping for air and continued worsening condition.
We kept and eye on her as best we could, we believe. She stayed inside most of the time and no longer roamed the neighborhood. But we didn’t watch her every minute. We don’t keep rat poison around the house.
My hope in writing this is that you can understand that dogs will be dogs and you need to watch your pet carefully and take efforts to protect them from themselves.
Hopefully those who use rat poison, other poisons, insecticides, and medications will be more careful where those things are placed to avoid such tragedy for a true and faithful friend.