Monday, January 12, 2015



It isn’t always easy living with a PBGV.  Nor did it take long to realize it is impossible not to fall in love with one.  Their delight in the smallest detail of life can turn a bad situation into a tender moment.

Gracie can demolish five rolls of toilet tissue, retrieve the Kleenex off of the night stand, and drag the sofa pillows to the yard before you know it.  But when she puts one paw on my knee, slides up beside me on the sofa and then turns over onto her back, I became putty in her paws.  She has been a treasure, a delight, a blessing, a trouble maker and a clown all in one. But most of all she has been an inspiration to hundreds of others.

She has made me smile when I don’t feel like it.  And she manages to chase the blues right out of the door.  Her sheer delight in watching me open the back door, just for her, is such a joy.  Bouncing up and down, ears flying, feet elevated from the floor by at least five inches, she tears out the door on some clandestine mission of grandiose importance known only to her. 

It became abundantly clear from the time she was 10 weeks old that she was to become an angel, as she worked with stroke survivors, cancer patients, seriously ill children, and America’s wounded warriors returning with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries and Military Sexual Trauma. 

Mark Twain wrote that “Every great poem begins with a lump in your throat.” This is how it began with Gracie.

Gracie has taught me repeatedly that life is a spiritual journey, and sometimes all you have to do is show up and have a little faith that something completely amazing is possible that day.  Then when it does,  you are no more in control than a feather in the wind.  Gracie’s journey began with a single step to a place where she has the power to change a life.  To give a moment that will be cherished and remembered forever.  The simple and honest act of taking Gracie to work with our wounded warriors brought meaning, depth and poetry to hundreds who needed it more than they ever realized.

Gracie’s story spread to the wife of a warrior.  She shared Gracie’s work with a friend whose husband had just been killed in Iraq.  She was severely depressed and had spoken of suicide.  The more she learned about Gracie and ultimately met her, her life turned around.  She rescued a yellow lab and now takes him to visit the wounded warriors. A single huge step had been taken.

A friend of mine had asked to see photos of Gracie with the warriors.  I sent her an assortment.  She wrote back thanking me and the next day wrote back again to tell me how they had touched her deeply and that she couldn’t get them out of her mind.

I understand this!  To be witness to Gracie’s intentional motivation of loving and being loved, it isn’t difficult to understand why people respond to her as they do.  The responses of the courageous young men and women to Gracie are overpowering.  These are young men and women who laid their lives on the line, took the bullets and fought the fight and paid the price.  Yet in the presence of this twenty eight pound dog, they turn into children with their first puppy.  They hold her head gently in both of their hands and look into her sightless eyes with love, a deep and special love.  They may never see her again, but for that moment they connected to something greater than themselves.  For that single moment, that cannot be explained, they felt loved back, totally and completely. They may have lost limbs, vision, eyes, and more but at that time and place they feel love.

Gracie, as should we all, sees past the outward appearances of people. She touches hearts in a way that defies all logical explanation.  And yet somehow it is explained clearly.  This intense and unconditional love is what we should all strive for but seldom do.

Tom Davis in “Why Dogs Do That’, says, “There are no strings attached, no riders, or special stipulations; there’s no fine print, no expiration date, no statute of limitations. They (dogs) love to a depth and degree that few of us, I fear, reciprocate.”
I find myself remembering Gracie’s and my time with the soldiers in snapshot like moments.  Struggles, tears, fears, courage, and smiles are often too powerful to fully comprehend.  But they come back to me, much like the photographs did to my friend.  They are forceful, strong, intense, turbulent and ardent.  Never to be forgotten or taken for granted.

None of us remember days.  What we do remember are those moments, those snapshots that cause that lump in our throats to surface and the tears to come.  The gasping moments, when we unexpectedly see the face, or hear the voice of a loved one or see a flower blooming on the side of a cliff that literally takes our breath away.  A wise and cherished friend once told me that every one of us has that sad place deep inside of us.  It is from that place that hope and peace and grace surface.  And for me it is compassion.  For, as my friend told me, out of compassion passion emerges.


“Let’s not make such a habit of hurry and work that when we leave this world, we will feel impelled to hurry through the spaces of the universe using our wings for feather dusters to clean away the star dust.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

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