When Good Dogs Go Bad: The Gracie Story

on Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gracie is a Labrador Retriever and our first daughter. She will be 5 years old in January. We love her. This is her story.

I've always loved dogs. I grew up with some fabulous mutts, so has my husband. We both wanted a puppy.

We'd been married a year, just bought a house and were expecting our first baby. I was in the throws of the nausea, exhaustion and pure terror that only the first trimester of your first pregnancy can bring. So, good idea, lets introduce a puppy into the mix. We had visited the pound, checked the penny saver and finally found a breeder near our home who had some Lab puppies. We walked into this den of frolicking pups set on finding a *golden* lab when Gracie approached us, leaned on Eric's leg, and gazed at us. WE FELL IN LOVE, but were undecided. As we walked to the car, my sweetie and I looked at each other and voiced what we were both feeling. A puppy was adding a little too much to an already full plate. Phewww! We were on the same page: We just couldn't get the dog now. We were both a little quiet and disappointed on our drive home but by the time I woke up the next morning, I was convinced we'd made the right decision.
Apparently, my sweetie didn't get the sleeping memo.

He came home from work the next day with a leash in his back pocket and a little black lab puppy with enormous paws in his back seat.
I was thrilled.
I was annoyed.
I was pregnant!

Here she was, Gracie..., 6 weeks old and peeing on our new hard word floors. And she started growing at an alarming pace. She started gnawing on her stuffed toys that were roughly the size of a newborn infant. (insert scream here) I started having nightmares about a dingo eating my baby. I was beside myself. I was also home all day working full time telecommuting with a little puppy at my side. I had plenty of time to mentally stress. So I did what any other resourceful pregnant woman would do who grew up watching PBS reality self help TV shows. I called Uncle Matty, the dog trainer. I called Uncle Matty and cried. Here's how the call went:

(brrrring) <---ringing phone

Other Line: Hello, thank you for calling Uncle Matty's Training Center, this is Matty Margolis, how can I help you?

Me: (mid sob) Unnncccle Matty?

Uncle Matty: Yes. How can I help you?

Me: (sniffling) The real Uncle Matty?

Uncle Matty: Yes. It's me. What is your name Dear?

(at this point I'm having an out of body experience! My PBS hero is on the phone with me!)

Me: (actively crying now) Uncle Matty, My name is (Me), and my husband
brought home a big dog, and I'm pregnant and she won't listen (blowing nose),
and, and (stuttering on tears) and the dog is going to eat my newborn baby. What
am I going to do?

Uncle Matty: Ohhh, Me. It's OK. Do you know my wife's name is Me? Are you Italian?

Me: (trying to collect myself) Yes.

Uncle Matty: How nice. Me, your little puppy is not going to eat your baby
because we are going to teach your puppy how to behave and listen. OK. Take a deep breath. You are going to be fine, Me. How wonderful that you have given your child a friend.

Me: But you don't understand, Uncle Matty. My, (sob), husband agreed we shouldn't and brought home a dog anyway and now I'm home all the time and I'm so tired and , and I'm exhausted and, she won't listen and he won't listen and the baby is going to be here and, and...

Uncle Matty: Me, Me...it's OK. We are going to take that wonderful little puppy and teach her how to be your baby's best friend. We are going to teach you the tools to do that..... AND IT'S ONLY GOING TO COST YOU A BAZILLION DOLLARS! (he didn't really say that)

Me: OK. That sounds fine. I'm sure my husband will be happy to pay anything (to get me to stop crying!)

(I KNOW...I KNOW....I'm a whiner...but I was pregnant...and a dog was about to eat my newborn!!!)

So, Uncle Matty sent my new best friend to our house. Let's call her, Deb, because that's her name. Deb walked in and an hour later had Gracie sitting on command, peeing on the grass on command and had given us tips on keeping our baby safe and our dog safe from baby.

Can you hear the angel chorus now? Listen....there it is. Ahhhh.

Through those following months, Gracie became the most beloved, well behaved, exuberant, loving piece of work dog you can imagine. Through the following few years, she has become a best friend to both of my children and an absolute treasure of a dog. We feel so blessed to have her.

About two months ago, the angels chorus came to an abrupt halt. Grrrr.
We started noticing that food left on the table was missing. A piece of bread here... a plate full of breakfast left on the table in a vacant kitchen....now clean.
We've started noticing morning bathroom wastebasket raid remnants on the master bedroom floor.
How did this happen?!??!
How did a beautifully trained Lady turn into a Tramp!?!?!
Do you think Uncle Matty will remember me when I call for my refund?
You know what's funny? Five years ago my brain was hemorrhaging dealing with the peccadilloes of this little puppy. Now, a missing meal here....some ripped up trash there....annoying yes...a deal breaker??? A resounding NO.
Gracie is the first thing my daughter thinks of in the morning and last one she kisses good night. Gracie is the pillow on the floor for our kids during movies and a loving warm footstool for any of us who scratch her ears. She's my constant companion as I work at my computer and my fellow gardener when we are out in the yard. She is teaching my children joy, loyalty and that boundless enthusiasm is contagious.
Who knew good dogs going bad were my style?


jori-o said...

She IS an adorable pup! You have a great writing style!

The Me/ The Wife/ The Mom said...

Thank you Jori-o! I appreciate the feedback!

How cool are we that we get to post our thoughts and rants and the world hears us???

Tracy said...

Ohhhh such a beautiful story.
Beautiful dog.

Our dog "Abby" has been missing a little over a week now, we miss her so much!

The Me/ The Wife/ The Mom said...

I'm so sorry Abby is missing Tracy. I hope she gets back to you somehow!

*~*Lis*~* said...

Gotta love a good bad dog! :)