Downeast Dog News

Furry words

By Sara Moore | Mar 01, 2018

For this edition of Furry Words, I have a personal story to share with you. My mom died suddenly in 2001, and not long after, my dad started dating a woman named Fran. Apparently, a lot of people thought I should dislike her simply because she wasn’t my mom. Well, that’s not how I roll. I met her, I liked her, and because she was the polar opposite of my mother, it was even easier! Fran had a huge black horse that I got to ride, and three years later, she adopted a tan colored Mastiff named Gracie. I am going to tell you about how Gracie evolved into one of the sweetest dogs I’ve known.

Gracie came from a rescue and had questionable manners and was unsure of people; huge and contrary to her name, she was quite ungraceful. I smile as I say that, but even Fran and my dad would agree! My son was only 4 years old at the time, and I had the dog safety talk with him for most of our two and a half hour drive leading to our first introduction. In theory, I did everything right. We had no idea how Gracie would respond to us newcomers, but Fran was familiar with the breed and is a super vigilant dog owner. We agreed that she would take the lead, and Zachary and I would be very respectful of whatever happened.

Our plan was for Z and me to get to dad’s, settle in, and then have Gracie and Fran show up. That way she wouldn’t feel the need to defend her territory, and the meeting would be on neutral ground. This worked out great. She came in still on leash and gave us a good once over. If we moved quickly, she jumped, and because she was so huge and wet (Mastiffs are drooly!), my son really didn’t want much to do with her. She felt the same until he got up to get a glass of water. She was instantly on high alert, and his quick movement made her want to chase. I got the feeling that this could lead to something disastrous, but my child thought it was funny. The more I told him to WALK, not run, he suddenly needed to keep getting up and testing me. Since the dog had better manners than my son, the dog got to relax on the floor, and my Zachary was given stern orders to say on the couch.

When my boy went to bed and Gracie was sprawled on the floor, I laid down next to her in front of the television. She seemed so peaceful that for a second, I forgot that she was still unpredictable. All was good until I put my arm over her side, and she made a chaotic movement combined with springing up, lunging, and standing all at the same time. Her awkwardness was the only thing that worked to my advantage, and I had just enough time to stand up just as Fran grabbed her collar. Sigh. I was one of those parents who didn’t listen to what they had preached to their child. I assure you I never made that mistake again, and I never will!

Fast forward 7 years. Gracie had grown into a spectacular (and still drooly) dog. She had personality, spunk, and you could see joy in her face. She had actually learned to smile and had become a gentle giant. On our visit this summer, I actually had to work to keep her from hauling her huge body on to the couch in an attempt to snuggle! We shared a lot of “remember when” stories every time we visited, but Fran and my dad had done a spectacular job helping her become a wonderful companion for both of them. Gracie was living the dream and had found the perfect family.

Well, Gracie died a month ago. It was the first big death my dad has had to process since my mom died, and I know it brought up many emotions that he may not have even realized were buried deep in his subconscious. This is the beauty of animals. They teach us something; they give us an opportunity to heal. When an animal dies, it is one of the hardest things for us to go through. Everyone understands the sadness. When I told my now twelve year old son, he was sad, and as we prepare for an upcoming visit, we both agree it just won’t be the same without Gracie.

The day after she passed, my dad called me to ask me how Gracie was doing on the other side. WHAT? My dad, who is a believer (but not really), asked me to check in with her just to make sure she was ok and had made it safely to the other side. Turns out the dog was loving having her mobility back and was running and showing me how free she felt when she was back as pure spirit. She said she’d be letting them both know she was around, but thanked them for letting her go. It was a teary conversation with my dad, but I think that they both knew they had done the right thing. I feel blessed to have known this gentle giant and will continue to check in with her anytime they ask.

Sara Moore is a psychic for people and pets who offers private and group readings, workshops and fundraisers. Go to FMI and to schedule a reading.