June 23, 2014

What My Dog Taught Me About Life

Gracie with napkinOne Last Lesson From Coffee Dog

This is the third post I’ve done about Coffee Dog. The first was back in January, 2013. It was simply titled, Coffee Dog. The second one I wrote six months later. I called that one, A Lesson From Coffee Dog.

Each of those posts were difficult to write due to the circumstances. Today’s post was much worse. We lost our precious Coffee Dog. It wasn’t a surprise or a shock. We knew that this day was coming for a while, but we never knew just when it would happen.

Last week we got the first signs, and took her to the vet for tests. Her kidneys were failing. I won’t go through the emotions of those last minutes. Anyone who has been through it knows the feeling.

So Why Did I Write This Post?

To relate what my dog taught me about life. For a few days after Gracie was gone, my wife and I reflected on Gracie and what impact she had on our lives. We talked about how happy she was, and how we had done all we could. How we had given her a home for 12 years and taken care of her throughout her battle with diabetes. And the more we talked, the more we realized just how special Gracie was.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Gracie. She was playing with Slick. She had the spirit of a puppy until the day she died.

Gracie the coffee dog playing with Slick.

Of all the dogs that have been through our sanctuary, I believe Gracie was one of the few who knew her place from day one. She knew where she fit with the other animals, and with us.

  • Gracie didn’t demand attention.
  • She didn’t try to be the “big dog” like our Great Danes.
  • She never pretended to be the tough dog like Biscotti or Mollie.
  • She wasn’t a protector, like Mollie or Bear.
  • She didn’t sound alerts, like Freckles.
  • She knew her place with the pigs, and cats, and with Joe, the horse.

Gracie, our coffee dog, who taught me many lessonsGracie only did two things: She stole napkins from anyone’s lap at dinner time, and she demanded to go with me to the porch while I drank my morning coffee.

Oh, and she was friends with every person and every animal she met. Here’s a pic of her with the dreaded Freckles, who befriends no one.

What Did That Teach Me?

It sounds crazy to say I learned something new from Gracie, but I did. I mentioned in one of the other posts all the things I learned from Gracie as she struggled with diabetes. But now that I look back on her life, I’ve learned more.

Gracie knew exactly where she fit in this world, and she was happy with it. She knew who she was, and she didn’t try to be anything else. Gracie carved out her niche as Coffee Dog, and she was the absolute best coffee dog I could ever imagine.

As to me and what I learned. During the past few years I’ve struggled a few times with my writing—not writer’s block or self-doubts—but wondering if I should be writing something different. Something more popular. As I talked with my wife about Gracie, I realized that she left me with a bit of wisdom. I’m happy writing the way I do, and the stories I do, so that’s what I’m sticking with. I can’t change to please the market.

Bottom Line

Gracie had a level of self-awareness that made her happy. If more people could reach that level, we would all be far happier. I’m thankful she helped me reach mine.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

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