The past two days have been a series of “firsts” for Gracie, starting with that moment when we walked her out the front entrance of Lollypop Farm into her next life. A lot of thought went into making sure that she would go to a home that would be perfect for her: could she have her own pack that included at least one dog playmate? And, in the best of all worlds? Could she keep one of her special humans as part of her forever home?
Sometimes you get a part of that perfection and sometimes, you get it all. Friday afternoon, when Gracie walked out of Lollypop Farm for the last time as a homeless dog, she left with both of those things. Our story starts with that. But before we write the first page, we want to tell you that, like a lot of other dogs that find themselves in some part of the local animal shelter system, Gracie is a wonderful example of how it “takes a village” to find that perfection. We can talk about the part of the system that introduced Gracie to us: all of the staff and the volunteers out at Lollypop Farm that rallied around this young pup when she found herself under their care back in January. Each one of you brought her closer to us. And for that, from the bottom of our hearts, we will be forever grateful. We thought you might enjoy a short list of “Gracie firsts” that catalog some of her experiences over the past 48 hours. So, Lollypop Farm, this blog post is for you.
A List of Gracie-Firsts
1. That first time you walk out of the animal shelter wearing your brand new pink collar and your brand new purple harness, taking your leave through the front door on a Friday afternoon, thinking you’re just going for another walk around the building.
2. That hesitation as you can’t quite figure out why you’re standing near the open door of a car, not sure what’s coming next until one of the shelter staff scoops up all 50 pounds of you, places you into the back seat and says, “Go home, Foxy.”
3. New smells, grass under your feet, the sun on your back. Another hesitation because there’s a different way to enter an unfamiliar place and once again, you get scooped up, all 50 pounds of you, and you find yourself in completely different surroundings.
4. Some things stay with you: your person, that guy with the reassuring voice and quiet energy who makes you happy, that new dog you got to play with a few times and two new humans that are similar but different from your own person; a smaller kennel area with brand new smells – you settle in and quietly watch this new world wrap around you. It’s really quiet here. That may take some getting used to.
5. That second time you go to that new outside place, you go down those three steps all by yourself, following closely on the heels of your person. You hear, “Good girl, Gracie,” as your nose fills up and starts cataloging new smells. That dog, the one you really like, wants to play with you but you tuck your tail and scoot in the opposite direction.
6. You eat in a different place but your food’s the same.
7. It’s really quiet here. Especially at night.
8. That second day, it gets busy really early. You and your person go down those stairs and outside again. There’s a place called the kitchen where you find yourself after you come back in to this new place. Still the same food with a slightly different smell to it. Back into your kennel where it’s still loudly quiet but you’re figuring out that you sleep better in this quiet.
9. The next time you are outside with the new dog, you’re feeling like it’s time to play in the new outside place.
10. You are more relaxed in your new kennel, still watching and figuring things out. This thing called quiet isn’t as loud. In fact, you are discovering that you like it.
11. There’s this place called the upstairs that has lots of the same smells that are in your new kennel area. You find a stuffed toy that you carefully take into your mouth and bring back down to the downstairs place. There’s a really big, squeaky toy that your person offers to you.
Gracie’s third day with us started up at 5AM which is the time that the cats decide it’s time for breakfast and Tessa and Josephine scramble out the back door for their first pee of the day. Gracie and her person leash up and head out into the back yard while her pack-mates eat in the kitchen. We “switch out” when Gracie comes back inside – Gracie comes into the kitchen, Josephine heads back outside and Tessa stands on the other side of the baby gate that closes the kitchen off from the rest of the house. Gracie eats breakfast, and she touches noses with Josephine (coming back inside and headed into the kitchen as Gracie is escorted back to her kennel.
It’s always a carefully orchestrated ballet when we introduce a new dog (or cat) into our family. Dog crates, baby gates, limited access to the house, leash-walks in the back yard – keeping some things the same (like Gracie’s food) while we ever so slowly ease her into our routine. For the moment, she is a “velcro -dog.” My son (her person) is her touchstone and safety net. We knew this when we brought her home; in fact, my husband and I knew that her relationship with our son would be her transition piece.
Tessa is Gracie’s second “transition piece:” – they got to meet for the first time about a week ago. Gracie got to meet both Tessa and Josephine as part of Lollypop Farm’s adoption process. Gracie likes dogs – what we had to find out was if Tessa & Josephine would like Gracie.
Tessa and Gracie play beautifully together! They both have that playful terrier attitude. Despite the difference in their physical sizes, Tessa’s 20 pounds to Gracie’s seemingly 50 pound advantage, they are both light on their feet, Tessa is a sturdy 20 pounds and they really like each other. Josephine? She’s 14 and her play style isn’t as rambunctious. She’ll play on the outskirts of the Tessa/Gracie road show without having to be a full player.
12. That the third day started exactly like the first two told you that there was a lot of comfortable routine woven into this very quiet place.
13. Something new to figure out is offered with really good treats. I wonder what happens next?
PS As always, when I blog about Lollypop Farm, the ideas and opinions I write about are my own, reflecting my thoughts and beliefs and are not intended to represent anyone who is employed by or who volunteers for Lollypop Farm.