Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The post about Grace

In my post about the wedding and honeymoon, I mentioned that we came back with a second dog, and promised to blog about her soon. Unfortunately, I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to do so. Today, however, I need some "creative warm-up time" before I get started on work, so I decided to go ahead and blog about Grace.

As you can see, Grace is absolutely beautiful. She looks like she is American white shepherd, which is (I was surprised to learn) a distinct breed. Her ears are huge compared to her face, which gives her a slightly comical look, and to make her even more endearing, she has a habit of cocking her head to the side when you talk to her.

Michael's brother rescued Grace last summer, after seeing a sign offering her to a good home. She had been chained up underneath her previous owner's trailer, abandoned, and left for dead. The neighbor started feeding her, and put a sign up when she realized Grace's owners weren't coming back. Grace therefore came into the family in terrible condition: dirty, skinny, and infested with fleas.

We wanted Grace from the very beginning, but Michael's sister-in-law didn't want to give her up. However, in the last few months there have been some issues in the marriage, and she was moving around a lot -- with the dog. Grace doesn't eat well when she's nervous, so she lost weight again -- and because she probably never got to her full weight in the first place, she's now so emaciated she looks like a holocaust survivor.

I often joke about our other dog, Emma's neuroses, but Grace has some more serious ones, all stemming from abuses in her past I'm sure. In fact, I see a lot of symptoms in her that would be taken for PTSD in a human. She has violent bad dreams on a nightly basis; she startles at loud noises and becomes terrified by certain stimuli (such as rainstorms); she paces a lot, especially during rainstorms or other stimuli, and with an intensity uncommon in dogs (which could be interpreted as an inability to get certain thoughts out of her mind). She also has other little quirks, such as being afraid to go outside.

Grace is in rough shape physically, too. Besides being way too skinny, she has a limp or lameness in her back right leg, which Michael's brother noticed shortly after getting her last summer. Michael and I noticed right away that it was still there, and that long walks made it worse. We thought it was hip dysplasia, which is fairly common in large breed dogs, but the vet at the vaccination clinic thought it could also be a torn ACL. We're going to make an appointment and get it checked out in the next week or so. In the meantime, we have her on buffered aspirin and glucosamine/chondroitin, as per the vet's recommendation.

Despite all of her little issues, Grace is a sweet dog, and my heart goes out to her for what she must have endured at the hands of her previous owners. She's a bit timid, but affectionate, and attached to us very quickly. She's extremely eager to please, and as a result quickly modifies her behavior whenever she realizes she is displeasing us. She has done well with our other dog, quickly taking the role of subordinate dog (although Emma is certainly lording that over Grace). She does have an unfortunate proclivity for chasing cats, but she is realizing that we don't like her doing that, and has backed off considerably.

I got a new camera last night (mainly because I was so disappointed in how pixelated my honeymoon pictures were), so of course I immediately tried it out on Grace. I took a rather amusing video of Emma pushing Grace around:

In this video, you can see more of Grace's cute little head tip:

She is whining because I mentioned the word "walk" when I was getting her to tip her head for an earlier video. Grace is really smart, and understands an astonishing amount of what we say. We've taken to spelling certain words and talking in code, just as parents do with small children.

Anyway, my work is calling me, so I had better get to it. I hope you have enjoyed meeting Gracie!

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