When I first started borg.com in June 2011, I wrote it in my basement on Saturdays, trying to prepare concept articles as much in advance as possible. At the time I planned on writing weekly, but the first day then became seven days which became a month and it kept on going until I wrote something at least every day for the next 1,421 days. In the background was the TV set, playing things that wouldn’t distract me like major league baseball, Lawrence Welk reruns and Antiques Roadshow, and even lame cable shows like reruns of My Fair Brady (yikes). And beside me every day was Gracie.
Gracie had her own couch, and sometimes preferred lying beside me on the floor near my chair. Sometimes I would give up on writing and move over and fall asleep next to her on her couch. Gracie had the bubbliest, vibrant soul and fun-loving spirit of anyone I ever met, human or otherwise. She coined the term “pie-eating grin” after I left a cherry pie on the counter on Thanksgiving that she very delicately and completely hollowed out with her tongue.
I don’t watch dog movies or read dog stories because they all end bad. The dogs always die. Dogs don’t live as long as humans and the only thing that can be said, to quote a great philosopher, is: It sucks. But Gracie’s life was awesome and she inspired others. About a year and a half after I started borg.com she got pneumonia, and fought her way back. Then she got diagnosed with lymphoma. What I feared was a death sentence ended up as a “life” sentence. Unlike with humans, chemotherapy with dogs does not typically produce the side effects humans encounter. Gracie made it through two rounds of chemo in more than two years and made it halfway through a third round. And she passed away Friday a little more than a day shy of her fourteenth birthday. That’s age 98 if you believe in that “dog years” stuff.
If anyone ever says “oh, I would never put my dog through that” either knock them upside the head for me or send them my way.
The doctor in the initial consultation informed us that without chemo she’d have been gone in 45 days. With it, he said, she may very well die of some other old age issue before the cancer gets her. And he was right. Her oncologist bought her 2.5 years. A bonus, and they became the best years of her life. That’s right, she enjoyed every day, never was in pain, and ended up dying of a failing, well-used, worn-out heart–a strange irony considering that girl was all heart.
My message to you is simple. Remember Gracie’s story if you or a friend ever hear a dog is diagnosed with cancer and they don’t want to go forward with treatment. Without it they are cutting the dog’s life unnecessarily short, or leaving their dog to die a painful death. Gracie’s sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly, visits made sure she was well-monitored, meaning she fought off infections that crept in that any dog might get, but were treated immediately with antibiotics. She never was in pain, from chemo or side effects, and her visits to the doctor became visits with her friends who cared about her. And she had a great, long life. As dog years go.
Gracie was also an awesome cosplayer. Some people don’t think dogs like cosplay, and some dogs don’t. But Gracie loved it. She even won a cosplay contest and got a medal. And she was pretty proud of it. She wore a pirate hat which was apt–she was the first of her pack to open her eyes–one eye, actually, and so we named her after Grace O’Malley, the famous Irish pirate queen. She enjoyed meeting people at the Renaissance Festival each year and would have attended Comic Cons if she could have. She was fun-loving and managed to squeeze the pulp out of each day–setting a good example for everyone.
We’ll miss our sweet girl here. Thanks, as always, for reading.