Gracie assumed the role of matriarch of our family right away and took her duties very seriously – cleaning ears, making sure work came before play (even play was a very serious and competitive endeavor), guarding entrances against intruders, training for Search and Rescue, breaking up behavior she considered too rambunctious. And she would challenge anyone who tried to usurp her authority – even Mom, sometimes! She has been known to head butt Mom on occasion when Mom leaned over to pick up something. BOL Gracie had a head like a sledgehammer, no kidding!
Gracie was an excellent nurse and was always there to offer licks when needed. Although she never had biological babies, Gracie was a mom to her core. She had lots of stuffie babies and loved them very much – sometimes to pieces J Her favorite stuffie of all time was Barney and she had many Barneys over the years. (Despite the head butts, Mom always searched out Barneys for Gracie.) When our brother Jake had gotten sick and couldn’t really get up on his own anymore, Gracie once picked up her Barney and walked purposefully over to the bed where Jake was laying and put her Barney down right next to Jake. Seriously, we had never seen her do anything like this before. Mom and Dad cried, it was so sweet.
Gracie and Jake were very close and loved each other right from the start – kind of like a married couple – and always welcomed newcomers to the family. Our brother Dusty joined Jake and Gracie a year later from a German Shepherd rescue in California. At the same time, Taz and Kayla joined Mom and Jett. In 2001, Aspen (the fifth and final Shepherd) joined the family and lived with Mom. Jake and Gracie acted as everyone’s parents when we all got together (7 dogs, 2 people, in case you lost count) – Gracie, of course, taking the role of disciplinarian while Jake taught everyone how to swim and fetch and generally have a good time.
We sometimes laughed that she was “one of the guys” ‘cause when she was younger and able, she could rival any of the boys in their peeing and marking contests, even lifting her leg sometimes!
Gracie especially loved the snow! Probably because she had the thickest coat and undercoat of any dog we’ve seen. If she couldn’t be in the snow, she would find the shadiest spot and dig a hole until she reached cool dirt and that’s where she would hang out.
She was an excellent and strong swimmer and loved competing in fetching games, in and out of the water, with her siblings.
Gracie loved a road trip and she certainly had her share of them. There were many road trips across the country when were a long-distance family – from wherever Dad was living to the East Coast where Mom was living. Gracie also loved flying. When she and Dad were training for search and rescue, she made many trips across the country to visit Mom. The flight attendants loved her and showered her with loads of attention. Gracie gave up search and rescue training, though, because Jake “washed out” of it and she just didn’t want to do it without him. But she still had many exciting adventures living and traveling all over the country. Gracie loved doing most anything – she just wanted to be where the action was.
We are especially thankful now that we got to go on our trip Out West last summer and that Gracie got to visit some new places and play in the snow again.
Gracie turned 15 this year and we would like to think she had a most excellent adventure and that she knows how much she is loved.