Saving Grace is Saving Me

You’ve read about Phoebe, the sweet, loveable, deaf pit bull who stole our hearts the moment we saw her. She brought so much energy and joy to us that it was hard to imagine life before Phoebe. Sadly, through the split between Ken and I, we decided the best place for her would be with her Dad. That decision was beyond difficult for me, but it was at my suggestion. We tried a week with me and a week with Ken for about a month, and it was too hard for me emotionally, and I think for Phoebe as well. I miss her terribly, but I am thankful I was in her life for a year and a half, and know she is in a wonderful home and will be cared for and loved for the rest of her life. She is in a good place, and she will always be in my heart.

Phoebe is loving life!

Prior to Phoebe, there was Sweet Baby Chubs – my kitty of 17 years. He passed away a couple of years ago, and it was sad to say goodbye. It was six months before I was open to having another pet. It took a while to grieve through the loss of Chubs, and I still miss him, which is why it came as a surprise to me when I was ready to adopt another dog only weeks after losing Phoebe.

Part of it may be that I’ve experienced way too much loss over the past few years and simply need the comfort of a pet, a furry family member, to be by my side. What also eased the sadness of saying goodbye to Phoebe was knowing that my home was now “open” and I would be able to save another dog’s life. And it just hit me – I’ve lived with a person or a pet for the past 25 years. Even with my friends being so wonderfully there for me during this transition – dinners, lunches, movies, theater, the Fur Ball, the Handmade Market, walks, and talks with my Bestie who is long-distance, this is the first time I’ve truly been alone in a silent home. Hmph.

So I began searching online at the local shelter: Wake County Animal Center; and some of the local rescue groups: SPCA of Wake CountyFugee’s Rescue; and Saving Grace. Folks, there are SO MANY animals out there who need homes. It is overwhelming and it is heartbreaking. If you have it in your heart and the space in your home to adopt a pet, please do. And spread the word about these wonderful groups while you’re at it!

One night I saw that a stray had just come in at the Wake County Animal Center. She was a petite little pit bull type dog, and she was emaciated. They estimated she should weigh 45 pounds, but she was a mere 22 pounds that first day. Her face was precious and she looked terrified. It’s odd to think that you can feel a connection based on a photo, but that is exactly what I felt. Because of her condition, she was not yet available for adoption; she needed to go to a foster home until healthy. And she needed to get out of the shelter quickly as her immune system was likely compromised by her weight and whatever disease(s) she may have come in with.

First day at the shelter

Gloria (they gave her a name that was way too big for her) went to a foster home within a couple of days. I contacted the foster coordinator at WCAC, one of their volunteers who I met because of Phoebe, and Gloria’s foster mom. Yep, I was in “crazy lady wanting to rescue this dog” mode! Even in my state of panic, everyone was so kind and helpful, and I made arrangements with foster mom to meet Gloria. When I say this little dog melted my heart, that doesn’t even scratch the surface. I didn’t actually cry, but I had that lump in my throat feeling and all I wanted was to hold her. And all she wanted was to be held.

I named her Grace.

After spending about an hour with her, I couldn’t go home without this sweet girl. Except I was traveling the next week. Foster mom was so nice and said she would keep her until I returned. She kept me posted on her progress while I was away, which was above and beyond the call of duty. Grace was gaining weight, was learning to potty outside, and was getting along with her foster siblings (dog and cat). Foster mom even sent me pictures of Grace in a Halloween costume – she was the cutest little dog-spider ever!

The day I met Grace – sweet girl!

November 1 is when I officially adopted Grace, and that will forever be her birthday. The vet estimates her to be around 3 years old. After having a closer look, I can see too many scars on her face and head, her chest and her legs. There is no way to know her history, but people can be monsters, and I shudder to think what she’s been through. It’s obvious that she had been used for breeding as well. She is a little afraid of grass and would prefer to potty on cement if you let her, which tells me she may have been kept on concrete and not in a yard and certainly not in a home.

What amazes me is her gentle demeanor, her sweet disposition, and her ability to bond with humans. This little girl likely has quite a story, one which she can never tell us, yet she will walk into your open arms, wait for a pat on the head and give you the warmest hug and tiniest of kisses. She is sweet as sugar.

First night at her forever home.
I think she likes it here.

It’s been three weeks since she landed at the shelter, and in that time she has been spayed and has been treated for whipworm, and now is being treated for a skin allergy, exposure to tick-borne ehrlichiosis, and heartworm disease. And still that tail wags when I come home and that sweet face smiles when it’s time for a walk. She loves to work on her “tricks,” and also loves to snuggle on the sofa. There is something so comforting about having a pet, about caring for a pet, about loving a pet. She’s my responsibility, my buddy, my baby.

I’ve heard people say that not only do you save two animals when you adopt (the one you adopted and the one who gets their space at the shelter), but that they save you right back with their unconditional love. Color me cheesy, but right now, this little girl is my saving Grace.