talk about it more

a virtual baby book

When she was two, Fiona regularly said "Talk about it more!" to express her desire to know more about whatever we were discussing.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Say goodnight, Gracie

The girls and I headed to Grandma and Toot Toot's on Thursday night. We had a funeral to attend there on Friday afternoon, and didn't want to make two car trips in one day. Besides, an extra night with Grandma and Toot Toot is a treat all the way around.

As it turns out, we went home at just the right time for dear, devoted Grace Ann. Our sixteen-year-old dachshund, who has been living with Grandma and Toot Toot, basking in their love and attention and appreciating being let out frequently by my patient and retired father, had a miserable seizure near midnight that night. Afterwards she paced confusedly for half an hour before collapsing in sleep. This, in combination with other symptoms she'd been racking up, did not look good.

It seems like little Gracie has been in the winter of her life for a fairly long time. She was an old dog when she curled up in our first house under then-newborn Fiona's baby swing and came padding toward me whining whenever Fiona made sad peeps. She was old when Ian and I taught her to moonwalk. Fiona and Nora have never known any other Gracie besides the one who sleeps much of the day but definitely comes alive for mealtimes so she can get just underfoot to watch for mistakes falling from the table. She never begrudged those darling daughters!

But a trip to the vet revealed a diagnosis of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome-- a pet condition that appears to be a geriatric onset of gradual behavioral changes which are not entirely attributable to other general medical conditions. This, on top of her cataracts, near-deafness, and new penchant for soiling carpets daily, didn't leave her quality of life looking exceedingly rosy now or in the future either.

My abiding friend Helen came with me to the vet for the two hours we took to sort this out with the doctor. We put her to sleep. I dragged myself home. We told the family waiting at home about Gracie, and from the looks of those girls, you'd think I told them that the mail might arrive five minutes late. They were fine. They had been alerted to this possibility before we left the house, and had already kissed her goodbye.

I called home to ask Ian to gather some books at the library about pet loss for the girls ... but you know? They're actually for me. We've been gently preparing the girls for this moment in our old dog's life for so long, they simply weren't surprised. They know her, they love her, they will miss her, but they are OK! They are at peace.

Is it that they really don't understand, or do we actually lose sagacity as we grow? It's true that our girls did not have sixteen wonderful years with that beloved dog, but it seems that I have much more to learn from our children than I realized.


At 12:20 AM, Blogger Teresa said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Jen. My sister-in-law had a difficult time when her older dog died. Her children, not so much. They were very excited to get a puppy who would play.

At 3:19 AM, Blogger Deborah said...

Sorry about Gracie, Jen. I remember how you spoke so lovingly of her when we worked together.

This morning my brother's Australian Shepherd puppy somehow got out of their yard and ran into the street. Well, now he is gone.

We can only have our pets in our lives for a relatively short time, but they will never be forgotten.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger diannaburt said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Jen. My dear childhood dog, Wendy, lived 17 years. I still miss her. It's amazing how children somehow know and accept the cycle of life and that death is a part of it. We adults seem to have a harder time of it. Rest in peace, with a little yip, Gracie.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Jen said...

Deb, I'm so sorry to hear about your brother's puppy. My friend Janis told me that our pets love us in a deep, uncomplicated way; and we both love them back and also grieve for them in the same deep, uncomplicated fashion. I think it's true.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger library chicken said...

Goodnight, Gracie. I'm glad to have met you. I never knew you could moonwalk! A good girl, to be sure.

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Lisa Upchurch said...

I never had the pleasure of meeting Gracie, and kissing her little nose. But I know she made her people very happy.

Sleep well, little girl.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

e e cummings wrote,

children guessed(but only a few
& down they forgot as up they grew

(and only the snow can begin to
how children are apt to forget to
with up so floating many bells

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