September 2011 Pet of the Month: Gracie Dorrian

Gracie-DorrianWe were “just looking.” We had just lost our beloved Wheaton Terrier, Boomer, about a month before to a stroke at age 16. We were “definitely not ready for another dog.” However, we found ourselves at OKC shelter bright and early one Saturday morning last August. It was so loud, and so full of beautiful dogs who all wanted desperately to go home with someone. In the corner, was a wire pen containing 3 smaller dogs separated from the rest of the barking, baying hoard. A staff person stood in the pen holding a red, wild-haired “something” with big soft brown eyes; the dog was 8 months old, had just been spayed and tattooed the day before, and was probably pretty sore, but her eyes smiled, and her tail wagged furiously. The staff person held her out to my daughter, who then received an enthusiastic and quite thorough face wash. Each of us received the same sweet, kinda gross, greeting in turn. She must have come from a very loving home. Not so. Her records showed that she had been abandoned in a rental property, and was brought to the shelter by someone working on the property. On admission, she had been severely dehydrated and loaded with fleas. We were stunned. We were also determined that we would give this sweet, funny-looking tongue with a wildly hairy body attached, a great home. My daughter named her Gracie on the car ride home because she said that we had found each other by the grace of God. My husband insists on calling her “Inmate 30332” reflecting the huge tattoo bestowed upon her at the shelter; “she needs some street cred,” he says. For the first month or so she was at the vet at least weekly. She had an eye infection; her stitches became infected, and she ended up wearing a huge plastic cone on her head to prevent her from licking the stitches; she had to get subcu fluids to treat the dehydration; her dew claws were detached and had to be removed. We had discovered her breed, our $25 Pound Puppy had become a Money Pitt! It took several months, but she was finally 100% healthy, potty training was accomplished, and we were ready to teach her some tricks. However, she would cringe away from us whenever we said “sit.” We decided she must have been “trained” roughly in her previous “home,” so we trained with copious amounts of positive reinforcement. Slowly she learned to sit on command, and actually looked forward to practicing. Since then her repertoire has quickly grown to include “showing belly,” “shake,” “high five,” “speak,” “roll,” and most recently “sneeze!” Even the grandparents got in on the act and taught her how to play fetch, which she does with great abandon, all day, every day, nonstop, please stop, where is her off button?–Thanks mom! Gracie has not taken the place of Boomer, she has created her own place in our family. However, she has gone a long way toward filling the emptiness he left behind, and we know with sad certainty that one day, many years from now, she will leave just as big a hole in our hearts as he did, and we will show up at the shelter “just to look.”