I entered this piece in a contest for A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II (without pic) it didn't win to be entered in the book but I thought I would share anyway.
Gracie walked into the room for the third time and angrily puffed her breath through her nose and shook the overgrown multi-shade of brown bangs from in front of her eyes to show just how irritated she had become. I could tell she was at the end of her tether this time because I had heard her nails tapping on the wood floor like the clicking of an angry woman’s three inch heels. She stood looking at me in frustration and whined softly. Gracie needed to go out. Each of the three times I’d heard her ringing the bells that were hanging from the front door’s knob, I had told myself I was much too busy and just couldn’t stop what I was doing. This time her puff and whine was my undoing, everyone in the house knew that once Gracie did the little drama act someone was going to have to clean the floor.
Gracie is our double-terrier. Double because she is part Silky and Yorkie. She has been in the family for over seven years, I call her d-o-g, my middle daughter sarcastically calls her ‘another sibling’ and my youngest just loves her unconditionally, the same way Gracie loves her. We can’t even call Mhia’s name from the other room without Gracie standing at attention and barking as if to say ‘leave my Mhia alone’. She will stand in protection mode between anyone and Mhia.
I have had many dogs in my life, but Gracie is the first for Mhia. I remember moving into our home and noticing how Mhia as the youngest seemed to be on the outside. Though all of the girls were home-schooled she seemed to always be the one by herself. I had my job and the other daughters were closer to each other in age. I had been praying on the idea of getting a pet. I wanted Mhia to have a dog that would be devoted to her, easy to train and cute. And then I met Gracie. Not the dog, but a little girl in the child care center where I worked. We started in the center on the same day and for some reason she chose me to cling to. I have worked with many children, but we just seemed to click. When her dog had puppies they gave me one and we now have our own Gracie.
No one who even remotely knows our family thinks of Gracie as a dog. She is so human. When she got her first ‘bad’ hair cut from a groomer she stayed in the bedroom and wouldn’t let anyone see her. She doesn’t jump on or sniff a person’s unmentionables. She refuses to eat off of the floor or your hand. You can put your plate of food on the table or the floor and she will back away. She is not a beggar. Gracie has taught my extended family that all dogs are not creatures to avoid. During the three week stay with my sister during the Hurricane Rita she taught twenty-three people in a two bedroom home how to accept inconveniences. She just loved on everyone and slept wherever there was an empty spot.
Gracie is so obedient that she never crosses the threshold to go outside without her leash. I wish children listened as well. Once, a young relative of mine turned off the flames to a space heater in the bathroom and no one knew. Gracie kept barking at the child and we kept correcting her behavior, but she wouldn’t back down. She walked around in circles she was so irritated. I finally asked the kid what he had done and as if on cue Grace went to the bathroom door and barked. The odor of gas was starting to spread. I guess you can say she saved our lives because she has done so in more ways than one. I believe that with the entrance of Gracie in our lives she has taught us many values. One is the value of waiting and loyalty to the one you love. She will sit in the foyer and wait for whichever family member that has not come home. Once that person is safely in the door, has received her welcoming smile, Gracie will go and lay under the couch.
Secondly she taught us the value of not judging others by what they look like. During the Rita hurricane we had to leave Gracie for three days with a family we did not know. These people said they would have to leave her outside because she was a dog and they were allergic. When we called to check on Gracie the first night they said she looked so sad they had to give her a bath and let her stay inside. By the time we went to get her they were raving on what a good girl she was and how much they had liked having her there.
I have never known a dog that can just use her attitude and body movements to let you know what she wants. She has a different way of moving when asked if she wants to eat, have a snack, go out, wants a bath, or wants water. People have told me that Terriers are really smart. Gracie is the first Terrier I have ever owned and with her being a double I feel that we have been twice blessed. She can tell if I will play with her just by the speed in which I walk. If I move my feet really slow she immediately crouches down, butt in the air and waits to pounce at my toes. If I swing my hand in front of her face she stands on her hind legs and tries to hit at me as if she is boxing. She is so funny.
Loving Gracie has taught me to pay more attention to people, to have enough care for a person to learn the little nuances in their character and habits and to take time to just sit quietly when being quiet is the greatest comfort you can give.