In case you missed Wednesday’s post, we said goodbye to Gracie on Tuesday. This post is my tribute to her.
We adopted George and Gracie in December of 2008. Fred had recently built a big coop in the back forty, and we’d started losing chickens to hawks. We wanted dogs – a couple of them – to keep watch over the flock. The problem was that the rescues we contacted wanted something like $300 a dog, and also our assurance that they’d live in the house and be pampered forever. That wasn’t going to work for us, obviously, since if a dog was sacked out on the kitchen floor waiting for food to come their way, they wouldn’t be out protecting the flock.
I happened to pick up one of those free community newspapers at the grocery store one Sunday, and was looking through the ads when I spotted someone selling Great Pyrenees puppies. Fred called and talked to the guy – who was in Tennessee – and found that he was desperate to find a home for these puppies. They were eating him out of house and home!
It took very little discussion for us to decide that we wanted two of the puppies, and we arranged to meet the guy (and the puppies) in Tennessee.
And that’s how we came to have George and Gracie.
They’d been raised around kids and around chickens, and they were sweet and friendly, and immediately wanted to be friends. They especially thought Fred was AWESOME.
We’d only had them for a couple of days, and I was out at the coop gathering eggs. A man walked up to the fence, and I didn’t hear him until he said something. I jumped and gasped, and George and Gracie immediately got between me and the fence and barked their heads off at the guy (who only wanted to know if we’d sell him some chickens). They were protecting me, and they wouldn’t stop barking until the guy left.
It became clear pretty quickly that Gracie was the brains of the operation. She was always the first to notice a threat to her flock, to bark away any intruders, to spot and chase the planes and hot air balloons that flew overhead until they were no longer over the back forty, and no longer a threat.
She was so smart and had such a good heart. Every now and then she’d figure out how to get out of the back forty. She didn’t go far, because she wouldn’t leave George. We’d find her laying by the fence with George on the other side, and she’d happily go back in with her brother. It wasn’t that she wanted to be out of the back forty, I always figured, she just wanted to let us know that she could get out if she wanted.
At first, the pigs freaked her out a little. But once she got used to their presence, she considered them part of her flock as well, even though the pigs were closed in their own yard. I suspect that, given the chance, she would have loved to play with those pigs.
She loved to be petted, and she loved the occasional kiss on her snout. It was easy to get her to run with me – all I had to do was start running and yell “Come on, Gracie!”, and she’d race right by me, then stop short and grin at me while she waited for me to catch up.
What she loved the most, though, was harassing George. She’d get up in his space, dance around him, nip at his tail, and eventually he’d give in and chase her.
The few times we had a significant amount of snow (and yes, a “significant” amount of snow in Alabama is only a foot or two. People don’t move to Alabama because they’re hoping it’ll snow), Gracie was THRILLED. She loved to run through the snow, roll around in it, and sit with her nose buried in the snow like a polar bear.
She was just so GOOD – protected her flock, loved her brother and her humans and her treats. Everything she did, she did wholeheartedly. It’s so wrong to look out there and not see her so full of life and joy, bouncing around in greeting or racing across the field to check on a potential threat or something of interest. She was always so happy to see us coming, whether we had a treat for her or not.
She did her job incredibly well, and she loved it.
We had her cremated, and have ordered a stone with her name on it. Fred will lay the stone in the spot near the coop where she loved to sit and watch over her flock.
Good girl, Gracie. Good girl.
There’s an album of pictures of Gracie and her brother over at Flickr if you’d like to see them.
George seems to be dealing with Gracie’s absence okay. I think that the animals sense what’s going on long before the humans do, so perhaps her leaving us wasn’t a surprise to him. I know he must miss her in his own way, but we’re spending a lot of time with him, spoiling him rotten. I’ve suggested to Archie (who often accompanies us out to the back forty) that he befriend George. He doesn’t seem inclined to do that, but if I mention it often enough, maybe he’ll decide it’s a good idea. Stranger things have happened.
2014: No entry.
2013: Sweet rumpled little monkey girl.
2012: “POLLY, HE IN MY BASKET.”
2011: “Wush up, guysh?”
2010: I guess that toy knows who the boss is now!
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.