January 17, 2013
I had no idea what I was going to write about this week, then, as I was going through my morning ritual of fixing coffee, it suddenly hit me. I was going to write about Gracie, one of our less-demanding animals. I realized I had never even thought of doing a blog on her, and it was probably because she is so easy going. All of the animals on the sanctuary are unique, and all are special, but today I’m here to tell you about an unassuming girl, one who is very special. So without further delay, let me introduce you to…
There is nothing special about Gracie. She’s a little girl, and she tends to get lost in the crowd. She’s not remarkable in size, shape, or color, and has no distinguishing features. Gracie doesn’t do tricks. She doesn’t appear to be high on the intelligence charts. And she definitely has no special athletic skills.
Gracie isn’t “yappy” little like our Rat Terrier, who has a healthy dose of “bossy” in her also. Gracie is “little” in the sense you wouldn’t notice her among the other dogs. She can walk under Briella’s belly without ducking, and she’s beige/tan in color so she even blends in with the sofas and carpet.
The Great Danes demand attention, if not by their sheer size, then by their penchant for sitting on your lap while you watch TV, or blocking your view, or doing drive-bys on food carelessly left on the kitchen counter or table, or anywhere that a dog who stands almost three feet tall at the shoulders can reach—in other words, anywhere.
Gracie’s not a yapper, as I said. She doesn’t chew things. Doesn’t bark, or pee in the house, doesn’t fight with other animals, or try to bite the pizza-delivery man. In fact, the only thing Gracie does, and the only time she demands attention, is in the morning.
About the only time I get to myself, without duties and responsibilities, is early morning or late at night. I cherish the morning because that’s when I have that magnificent first cup of coffee. About twelve years ago Gracie decided to steal that time from me.
At our house we have a gate that separates the kitchen from what used to be my family room, and is now renamed the dog room. When I come out in the morning, Gracie is waiting at the gate.
She’s patient. She doesn’t say a word. Not when the ‘yapper’ starts her high-pitched keening, as if someone died. Not when the two Australian Shepherds throw their heads back and howl, like some primal urge seized them and turned them into wolves. And Gracie never says a word when the three Great Danes join the howl session and add their baritone voices to the festivities. No. Gracie just sits there, staring through the gate, her big eyes fixed on my every movement.
I fill the pot with water and put it on the stove, then I let all the dogs out, but Gracie stays. Then I go feed Dennis, my crazy wild boar. Afterwards, I swing around front and feed Joe the horse. Then I go back inside and scoop four large scoops of coffee into the French Press. Every now and then I glance over at Gracie, holding her position at the gate.
“How’re you doing, Gigi?” I ask.
She just stares. No bark. No wag of the tail.
When the water boils, I pour it into the French Press and wait. For four minutes, exactly, I wait, and then I press the coffee and pour it into my cup, a Bormioli, 11-ounce glass cup. And then I stir the coffee.
The minute I stir that coffee, Gracie goes nuts. She barks. She steps in place and wags her tail, and if I don’t hurry, she gets very vocal. So I quickly grab my pipe and lighter and my cup of coffee, and walk out back with Gracie. I take my seat on the side porch. She walks out onto the grass and does her business, then she comes back on the porch and lays next to my chair.
That’s it. She does nothing else. There is no play. No ball throwing, or walking. No pats on her head. No other attention, other than me talking to her while she sits beside my chair. She waits patiently, sometimes looking up at me when I talk to her, and I swear that she knows what I’m saying.
When I’m done my coffee and get up from the chair, she gets up and comes back into the house. She doesn’t bother with me for the rest of the day, never asks for any more attention, even when the other dogs demand it.
This is a magical time of the day for me, a few minutes when Gracie and I share something special. Nothing is said, obviously, but there is communication. We both understand that.
For the people who still think that every animal on this planet isn’t something unique, and special, all I can say is—they haven’t met Gracie.
Got any good animal stories to tell? Let’s hear about them.
Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,