8-19-15 Gracie

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July 23, 2008 – August 18, 2015.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Gracie, the brains of the Great Pyrenees duo who have kept our chickens safe for the past 6 1/2 years. You can see the details in Fred’s post on Facebook, or below where I’ve cut and pasted it.

I am so so tired of this.


She was fine on Sunday. That’s what keeps going through my head. I went out to the back forty to do my chores and decided Gracie could do with a little grooming. Her coat had some mats, and a few muddy spots needed to be cleaned and broken up. That simple decision is what set everything in motion.

The first thing I noticed when I began to work on her was that she’d lost weight. Not a huge amount, but enough that I felt her hip bones right away. When the coat is that thick it’s hard to tell where fur ends and dog begins unless you’re running your hands over them. She acted fine, but a lot of things suddenly clicked into place: weight loss; mud on her bib from where she drank water and then laid in the dust; mud in the fur near her nethers where she urinated and then laid in the dust. The steroids she’d been on because of immune issues she had with her nose.
She was diabetic, I was certain. It made perfect sense.

I called the vet yesterday as soon as they opened and made an appointment and we got her up there in the afternoon. He was concerned about the loss of muscle mass, but her bloodwork showed almost everything normal except for a couple of highly elevated liver enzymes. Meaning she didn’t have diabetes. He wasn’t sure exactly what it could be, not then, and gave us two options.
One, we could take her to Nashville for an ultrasound and liver biopsy and find out if she had cancer or some other liver problem. Two, we could take her home and start controlling her caloric intake for a month to see if she would gain weight. He felt pretty confident that the elevated liver enzymes were due to the steroids she’d been on, and thought that weaning her off those would most likely get that back to normal so we could look for some other underlying problem that had caused the weight loss. The steroids were probably what caused her to drink and urinate more, too.

On the way home we stopped at the grocery store for wet food, and she happily wolfed down the two cans I gave her. When I left her she was grinning her doggy grin, enjoying the late afternoon under her favorite tree.

I went out with more food this morning around four. Gracie was lying near the coop with George, panting raggedly with mud under her snout where she’d been drooling. I put the bowl down beside her and she sniffed it once, then started to retch and gag. She was struggling to stand so I helped her, and she threw up a thin brown gruel before taking a couple of steps and flopping down again.

For the second time I called the vet when they opened, and they told me to bring her right away. When I got to the coop to put her in the carrier, I found she had crawled underneath it. She wouldn’t raise her head no matter how much I sweet talked her. I had to drag her out into the mud and rain and shit, whimpering, and set her on her feet so she could stumble two steps into the carrier, only to collapse. She was drooling and wheezing and there was thick white mucus coming out of her nose. We got her into the back of the truck and to the clinic for him to work her in between surgeries.

He called about an hour later with a diagnosis based on her current symptoms and a plethora of x-rays: megaesophagus, which develops when the esophagus stops doing its job of pushing food into the stomach and instead lets it just sit there until it’s regurgitated. People usually notice their dog is throwing up, but in a working dog you never know something like that is happening, because they’re out in a field all day keeping their flock safe. But regurgitation isn’t the only thing that happens to food trapped in the megaesophagus.

Sometimes it’s aspirated.

That’s what had happened to the two big cans of dog food she’d so happily eaten yesterday evening. They sat in her esophagus until I was gone and then she breathed them into her lungs. She was effectively drowning, either already in a condition called aspiration pneumonia or on the way to it (he said her white blood cell count had been normal yesterday, so it doesn’t sound like there was an actual infection then, but he also said that it could have changed dramatically overnight, too). He could see the fluid buildup in her lungs, slowly choking her.

I asked him what he would do if it were his Great Pyr (he has one), and he told me he would euthanize because she was so far gone. There’s not a cure for megaesophagus, only a symptom treatment that he didn’t think was feasible in a field dog. I told him to put the catheter in, and that I’d be there in a few minutes to be with her. Robyn was at a different vet right then, getting foster kittens combo-tested (all negative, thank goodness). I tried to call her to tell her what was happening, but she was in a dead zone in rural Tennessee. I knew what her response would be, of course; we’d already talked about this as a possible outcome earlier in the truck when we were taking Gracie and knew how fast she was declining.

When I arrived, he met me at the door with red eyes, and in a shaky voice he told me that Gracie had gone into agonal breathing after we hung up. He tried all our numbers but couldn’t get either of us, so he put her down because she was suffering and about to die and he knew that’s what I would want. She was in the back, lying on a steel table under a bright white light, muddy and smelly and lifeless, and I wouldn’t wish that kind of end on my worst enemy, much less a friend who lived only to please.

F*ck you, 2015.


If you’re interested in making a donation in Gracie’s memory, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue in Nashville is a wonderful rescue that specializes in the rescue of giant breed working dogs, and they are always taking on some truly heartbreaking cases. You can see them on Facebook, and see many of the big, sweet dogs they’ve rescued. Their donation page is here.


I hope y’all understand that I need to take a few days away from the internet; I’m going to take the rest of the week off from blogging. I’ll be back on Sunday with a tribute post for Gracie, and then as usual on Monday.

I’ll check in on Facebook once or twice a day, and will check my email pretty regularly. Also, if I know me, I’ll post pictures on Instagram (which will post to the L&H Facebook page and Twitter and Flickr too) pretty regularly.


2014: Then when he saw that it was just me, he gave me the blinkity-blink Eyes of Love, and went back to sleep.
2013: I don’t know what got Norbie all perturbed, but his expression is cracking me UP.
2012: No entry.
2011: “This platform is too smaaaaaall, and everyone keeps trying to cram themselves on the platform wiiiiiiith me, and I don’t liiiiiike it!”
2010: Comfy, are we, Marty?
2009: “HI lady. You got snacks for me?”
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: We came back ten minutes later, and this is what we saw.



8-19-15 Gracie — 114 Comments

  1. Oh no… Gracie darling, rest in peace. You were a beautiful girl, and a joy to see and read about.

    Robyn, Fred and George – yeah, 2015 sucks ass alright. But again, you know that kind and loving thoughts that are coming your way. Please take comfort in that…

    Brigitte, Atticus and Malcolm in Toronto

  2. RIP, beautiful Gracie. I’m so sorry, Robyn and Fred and George. And Universe, perhaps you’re mistaking the Andersons for some very bad types who go by the same name, but these two exemplify kindness and generosity. Cease and desist. Lay off. Enough is quite enough.

    • I wish we could send a petition to the universe to lay off Robyn & Fred. They do only good and they do NOT deserve this much heartache so quickly right after another.

  3. Robyn, I’m so very sorry. How I loved to read of George’s and Gracie’s adventures. Thinking of you and Fred and all the critters at Crooked Acres.

  4. of course we understand. Our hearts are broken with yours. We’ll be here when you come back.

  5. Robyn and Fred, I am so sorry for your loss. Gracie was such a sweet girl, and NOBODY deserves that. So very sorry.

  6. Take all the time you need, we’ll be here when you get back. Continuing to send hugs, prayers, and positive thoughts your way.

  7. I’m commenting here too, just because, i feel like you need all the love you can get right now. Hugs from me, and of course you need to take some time away. Love to you both xo

  8. I’m in tears for you, Fred, and Gracie. Fuck 2015 indeed oh my. I am so devastated for you. Shit.

    • sorry SORRY about my language — my sincere apologies – this is just really upsetting. I am SO sad for you all.

  9. I think this year has invoked more curses, prayers, sorrows and tears than ever before. May God have mercy….

  10. Oh, my God. I’m saying that far too frakking often lately. This is beyond horrifying. Rest in peace, sweet fluffy Gracie.

    And 2015? Knock it off already. You’ve evidently got the wrong and3rson family or something, stop bedeviling them.

  11. Words fail me ….. I usually read your updates with smiles and happy tears moistening my eyes as I smile at all the wonderful Crooked Acres menagerie … but this is too much. My heart is heavy as another Anderson furbaby takes it place on the Rainbow Bridge. Much love and sympathy to you and Fred and hugs for George and Stinkerbelle, who are going to miss their pals so, so much, as we will. 2015 – move along please.

  12. I saw the Facebook post yesterday and decided to read your post at home before I got ready for work. I’m glad, because I’m crying all over again. This is all just so completely effed up, I don’t even know what to say anymore. Much as I love the cats, I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a dog person at heart, and I am SO CRAZY about those wonderful pups of yours. The only comfort I find in all this is that Gracie had about as perfect a life as any Great Pyr could ever want, full of love and treats and snacks and important things to protect.

    As with Stinkerbelle, please do keep us posted on George. I worry about them both.

    Do take that much needed time off, snuggle with all the furry folk, and know that all our love goes to you and Fred.

  13. I’m not trying to hijack the post, but I suddenly lost my sister on Sunday. I can feel what Fred is saying with “F*ck You, 2015” all too well. I am so, so sorry for all of the losses that you and Fred have suffered.

    • Oh Neolegy, I am so sorry about you losing your sister. God be with you and your family. May he lighten your heart and ease your pain. I am sending you tons of hugs.

    • My deepest sympathies for your loss. Prayers and good thougths to you and your family.

      Know that you have people who care about you and hold you in their hearts.

    • Noelegy, so sorry for your loss. Robyn and Fred, I am just devastated for y’all. This is a horrible year. Dear Universe: Stop it. Just stop it. Please??

  14. I’ve spent years following love and hisses and as much as I love the kittehs, George and Gracie held a special place in my heart. I am so sorry for your terrible loss. George must be lost without his sidekick. hugs to all.

  15. Well, shit. No more losses for the L&H crew in 2015-16….OK world???

    I am SO sorry. My heart aches for you. Once you get home to the kittens…lie on the floor and let them climb all over you as you consume mass quantities of kleenex for their playing pleasure.

  16. Adding a comment even though it has all been said…and words are not enough. I hope you and Fred can feel the love from all of us…although I know that doesn’t fill all the holes that have been ripped in your life this year. Take good care of yourselves. Lots of kitten therapy. Extra hugs to George, left on solo duty. And love to all.

  17. I don’t even know what to say any more. You guys have been through so much of this. I know life isn’t fair, but damn, enough already. I lost a pet this year, and I can’t even begin to wrap my head around doing it 5 times. Take all the time you need. Goodbye sweet Gracie. Hugs to you both.

  18. This is all so unbelievably unbelievable. And it just sucks. You and Fred have done so much for animals and I don’t understand how this can be happening to y’all. And poor Georgie! Give extra hugs to all the Permanent Residents and to the kittens, too, and know that we are all thinking of you.

  19. Dear Robyn and Fred,
    I am so sorry to hear of yet another loss. I simply can’t believe it. I know we’ve never met, but you’re in my thoughts.

  20. Please everyone, be sure that each day to take a little extra time to tell those you love that you do. Hug your babies a little more and a little longer. Keep your hearts tender toward all. Time is always too short.

  21. Robyn:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I just can’t imagine what you and Fred are going through. There are no words to express the loss of a beloved pet and you’ve had more than your share this year. My thoughts and prayers go out to the both of you during this most difficult time.

  22. So very sorry – Gracie was such a good girl – and as you said, the brains of the operation. I wept when I read Fred’s post yesterday. I know it gutted you that you were not able to comfort her in her last moments, but at least she was in the gentle and caring hands of a vet with a Great Pyr of his own, a vet who wept at the loss of your beautiful girl. And the love you have given Gracie over the past 6 and a half years was infused in every one of her cells, and carried by her spirit. Hugs to you both, and to George.

    • “And the love you have given Gracie over the past 6 and a half years was infused in every one of her cells, and carried by her spirit.” – YES!!

  23. That is just too darn much to deal with all at once. I am so sorry for your losses. I have a Great Pyr (and cats of course) and so enjoyed your stories and photos of your two. I can’t say anything that will help ease your pain except my heart goes out to you. Here’s hoping things get better for you guys real soon. Hugs to George too, hope he’s not too lonely.

  24. Oh my god. I absolutely could not be more stunned. Bless your vet’s heart for his caring and compassion. Love and thoughts to you all from Georgia. And f*uck 2015 indeed.

  25. “But don’t they understand?” said God
    “That you’ll never leave them?”
    “That your souls are intertwined, for all eternity, that nothing is created or destroyed, it is just….forever and ever and ever?”
    “Eventually they will understand” replied the 4 cats and the dog
    “For we will ‘whisper’ in their hearts – that we are always with them,
    We just are…..forever and ever and ever!”

    Love u Gracie and Tommy and Sugarbutt and Miz Poo and Corbie….forever and ever and ever.

  26. Damn it. I loved seeing her smiling face on your Crooked Acre posts. I know it’s no great comfort when the grief is raw, but she looked like a dog who liked her job and knew she was loved, and that’s a good life.

    I had a stretch around 2010 like you’re having now, lost one long term resident after another without a damned thing I could do about it, and to such a variety of illnesses that there was nothing to blame. I felt like someone had snuck into my house in the dark and rearranged the furniture, and I was to walk through it in the dark- this familiar place was suddenly impossible to navigate, nothing was where it should be, and I was banging up painfully against things that should have been normal. I can’t know exactly what you’re feeling; I didn’t know them like you did and can’t know what you’ve lost, but for what it’s worth, you have my deepest sympathies. Be gentle with yourself, and I hope your family finds comfort and peace soon.

    • Bless you too, Abigail. So sorry you went through that. It doesn’t matter how many you have…just losing even one leaves a giant hole in the household. I just can’t imagine multiples. You wouldn’t even know where you were…. Hugs.

  27. This is just awful. I don’t even have the words to convey how much I wish none of these recent events happened to you. I just hope that things get better as fast as possible, and that no more tragedy visits itself upon you all.

    You have my sincerest, deepest sympathies.

  28. Robyn and Fred,

    I am so sorry for your loss(es). I have no words. My heart breaks for you both. I hope the rest of 2015 is kinder to your hearts. Big hugs!!

  29. Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. My cat as a kitten got aspiration pneumonia from (I think) me trying to give him liquid antibiotics. It was so sad and scary, and I felt so guilty although my vet kept telling me it wasn’t my fault. Luckily he was saved, but he had to be hospitalized in an oxygen incubator for about a week with IVs hooked up. Gracie was such a beautiful dog, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  30. Whatever is most comforting to you, whatever soothes and nourishes you, take time for those things. Tend to each other and to yourselves. You and Fred are held in such esteem and affection, and I hope you can feel the accumulated good will and sympathy from your readers.

  31. All words are failing me with this latest sh*tty news except to echo F*ck you, 2015 and I’m so sick of this.

    Biggest hugs to all of you!

  32. It’s been difficult for me to read your blog lately. I’m so so sorry for your loss. You’re such strong people. If it were me, I wouldn’t be able to even write anything.

    -And I’m sorry for my broken English-

    Miss you already.

  33. So very, very sorry. My heart aches for you, Fred and Crooked Acres 🙁 Donated, wish it could be more.

  34. So so sorry!! Can’t believe this happened again!! Tears running down my eyes as I type this! Huge hugsssss to you both!!!!

  35. So incredibly sorry to hear about Gracie. Hugs to George and you guys. This HAS been a horrible year. Sorry for all of your losses. They will be missed. FU 2015. Enough already. And of course, take whatever time you need for yourself. We’ll be here when you return.

  36. Saying sorry just doesn’t do it. I know that your arms are aching to put them around her neck. A big dog gets big love from their families. I know I that my arms still ache for my Simon. I am crying as I write this. Please don;t close the shop. You people are so giving and wonderful.

  37. I’m heartbroken and sick to my stomach at all this… I can’t even imagine how you both are dealing with this.

    I’m so sorry. My heart is with you.

  38. I am SO sorry. it’s hard to grieve each individual when it must feel like a groundhog Day from Hades. 🙁 Hugs.

  39. Robyn and Fred…

    I no longer have any words. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    Please know you guys are in my prayers…

    Ann, Rich, Izzy, Bill, Red & Georgie

  40. I am so glad that you have the Swimmers and the Squashies right now…their little demands will help keep you occupied and their snuggles will hopefully provide some healing for the deep wounds to your hearts right now! Hugs and purrs….

  41. Beautiful Gracie-girl. You’re at peace now. Take care of Tommy and Miz Pooh and all the residents who have gone before you. Robyn and Fred and George will see you when they get there. Again, I’m so very sorry, Robyn and Fred. My heart hurts, thinking about the sadness you must be enduring.

  42. I can’t believe this is happening to you and Fred. I have no words that could possibly help. I can’t imagine going through all the heartache you’ve had in such a short period of time. It is my sincere hope that this is the last one for a very long time.

    Run free at the Bridge dear Gracie.

    • Dangit Connie, that needed a warning label. I hate to cry at work.

      Seriously, very sweet even if very sad.

  43. My jaw literally dropped when I came to check today’s post, I can’t believe this is happening to you and it’s so unfair! I’m so so sorry for all your losses, no one deserves that, especially not you who do so much good everyday. Sending good thoughts, hugs and purrs from my kitties your way.

    Ramika + Zork, Tesla and Maya

  44. I am at a loss for words. My jaw dropped and I teared up at my desk. I’m am sending much love and big hugs to both of you.

  45. There are no words to say how truly sorry I am for everything you both have been through this summer. It’s just so sad and my heart breaks for you both! You’re in my thoughts!

  46. Robyn and Fred, I have no words….To say I’m sorry doesn’t cover what you’re going through. It’s just…too much for you guys. Hugs to you both and to all your fur babies…

  47. Ah, Robyn, I am so so sorry. This is just too much for one family. Sending hugs to you, I hope this is the end of it now for a long while.

  48. I’m so sorry, Robyn. I’ve spent the morning crying over Grace and for you and Fred. I think 2015 needs to ease up a little on you both. Good vibes and healing thoughts coming out your way.

  49. I saw this last night on my FB feed. I had thought a few days ago, after Tommy, this must feel like a scab that keeps getting torn off the skin. Jeez, no today it’s like rubbing salt on that open wound. My guess is that you and Fred, trudge along bottle feeding babies like zombies. Please take the time you need, rest assured we interlopers that you so graciously allow into your life have you in our thoughts.

  50. This must all feel like a nightmare to you-I am so sorry about Gracie. That sweet girl. All I can say is all my good thoughts go out to Crooked Acres, and my heart goes out to you and Fred.

  51. It’s just too much. Too many losses; I can’t imagine your agony. I am so very very sorry, and send you and Fred all my love.

  52. Robyn and Fred. I’m so sorry for your loss, again. Take all the time you need to heal your broken heart from all this loss. I loved all your pictures of Gracie with that big ol smile. Sending gentle headbutts and purr your way along with loads of prayers to help you through the pain of another loss.

  53. Oh Robyn, I am so sorry that y’all are having such a sucky time of it. Poor, sweet Gracie. I will miss seeing that sweet face. Hugs to you and Fred.

  54. I didn’t want to believe it when I saw the title. Sigh. Not sure what can we do for you & Fred, your blog give us so much joys in reading about the kittens and dogs and all.

    sending hugs and prayers all the way from here

  55. Oh, dear god, not again. I will keep you and Fred and George and the kitties in my thoughts and pray for your strength and healing.

  56. Totally unbelievable. When I saw Grasie’s picture at the top of the blog, I thought, “oh no, please not again”. I feel so badly for the two,of you. My eyes are red and teary. Condolences also to her brother Pyrenees.

  57. No, No, NO! Robyn, I am so sorry you and Fred have to deal with yet another painful loss. This is beyond horrid. Poor, poor Gracie, and poor George who must miss her just terribly. Please take extra good care of yourselves and know that all of your readers are holding you up in thought and prayer. Many, many hugs to both of you, all the residents of Crooked Acres and especially to George.

    Rest in Peace, Gracie-girl. I know you will keep an eye on all the And3rson kitties that have gone before you.

  58. I commented on the Facebook post but I’ll say the same thing here…f*** 2015. For the cats you’ve lost, since Mr. Boogers, I’ve sent what I could to Challengers House. Gracie’s been on my mind since she left us, and I kept thinking, I need to do more, after this sh!tstorm of a year. So I went to the high-kill shelter here and brought home a black kitten (breaking my rule of only one cat per human) and named her Sadie Grace. It won’t bring Gracie back, but maybe saved a life or created a place for another life to be saved. I hope that there are no more tragedies in 2015, only happy bottle babies and many adoptions.

  59. I loved this sweet doggy. There are no words for how awful these losses must be for you both. Give George a big hug for me. I’m sure he’s missing his little sister.


  60. I’m a long time reader who pops in every now and again and binge reads and today I’m so sad because I see what an asshole this year has been to you guys. The bright side, as I KNOW you know – is that you guys love your pets in a way that radiates from the computer screens & you’ve given them absolute best possible lives. Wishing you guys peace and an easier rest of this year because you deserve it.

  61. Crooked Acres family, I am so so so very sorry for your loss. 2015 has been an awful year and my heart breaks for you and the other readers here that have had a tough year too. My family sends you warm hugs, love, and many purrs.

  62. Robyn and Fred and rest of Crooked Acres gang,
    I am so sorry to hear of another loss. My husband wrote a better message but it did not go through. He is much better than I. Even though I don’t know you all physically my heart is so much like ours.
    We will continue to think of you all,
    Debbie, Charlie, Sam, Red and Tuffy

  63. Oh my god oh my god oh my god. I go on a brief hiatus from the world for a couple of weeks and all this happens. Oh my god. I am so sorry. This has been a horrible year for y’all. I love reading about your fosters and permanent residents alike, but I had grown especially fond of Gracie (weirdly, since I am more of a cat person and dogs, while I adore them, often confuse me…like I expect them to purr when they’re happy)…sorry, focus. Well, shit, Robyn. I have been reading your blog since Miz Poo was a kitten. My heart breaks for you and Fred. What a crappy year. Y’all are in my thoughts and my heart. Sending love.