‘Darling, could you please let Grace in!!!”
This phrase is commonly exhorted by me in Monkey’s direction—when asking him to let our new dog in from the back yard. But I could just as easily yell this to the world right now—in exactly the same frustrated tone.
We live in troubling times. From U.S. elections to Brexit. Terrorist attacks to military coups. Cops shooting civilians. Civilians shooting cops. A world where a new app can dominate media headlines for over a week and immediately be used for ill.
WTF is going on? Where is the grace? The love? The “we are all in this together“-ness?
I don’t have the answer to this question, but I do have a story to share about letting Grace/grace in to our lives.
You will remember that my first love was Hector—the best dog ever. It’s true, you never forget your first (Lab) love. He will be in my heart forever. Deep in the mourning period that immediately ensued, my wonderful yoga teacher, Stephanie Snyder, said to me: “You two will meet again. He will come back into your life, somehow.” I chose to blindly believe her. You can’t ask ‘how’ in these matters.
In Hector’s honor, I rescued Tank, a big heap of drooling gigantic black Labradorness, with a list of ailments longer than your arm and vet bills longer than a roll of toilet paper. But he adored me, and the feeling was mutual. He gave us some wild escapades, a lot of worry and more insight to what real gratitude looks like than I’ve ever gotten from any human.
We were desperately sad when we unexpectedly lost him on Mother’s Day (of all days) this year. And I swore immediately that I wouldn’t get another dog. Two was too much to handle.
Just one week after his passing, I learned that a friend—Dana Sullivan, and the loving breeder of Hector and Electra (my 6 year old Lab)—had also passed away. My Lab world was rocked. It was too much. What’s more, I had missed a call from her just days before. She had reached out to comfort me about losing Tank. My grief compounded, I knew, that despite my promise to myself, there was only one thing to do: to offer a home to one of her older dogs.
Over the years I have met many of her dogs, followed their adventures on Facebook, admired their photographs and watched their videos. I knew many of their names. It was in fact, Dana, who inspired me to adopt Tank. After many years of carefully breeding and nurturing dogs, she had decided it was time to give back to the Lab community and adopted a senior Lab herself. As soon as she heard of Hector’s passing she started to share rescue dog profiles with me. She could be insistent that way.
I reached out to one of her close friends via Facebook, who confirmed, that yes, there were four to five older dogs who needed a home. She explained to me that these were the dogs Dana had been the most worried about being placed. One of the elders was Electra’s mom, a feisty 11 year old. Another black female had just turned 10. Monkey was worried that she would be too old, and all too soon we would be having to say a painful goodbye. I wanted to learn more.
I asked what her name was. “Grace” came the reply over Facebook Messenger.
I flipped through the dusty rolodex that is my brain these days, and started to recall a few details. I had no doubt met Grace when she was about one or two years old. I messaged Dana’s friend: “Was her mom Jade?” The response came back: “Yes.”
I couldn’t believe it.
Jade was Hector’s sister. From the same litter. They were practically identical twins. I’d seen Jade over the years and she always reminded me of my boy. She looked like him, acted like him. Made the same noises as him. I was incredulous. His niece was potentially going to come and live with us. A little piece of Hector was still in the world. And with a name like Grace, how could I deny letting her into our lives?
It took me about a minute to make the decision. She had to come and live with us. And so she did. It has been about two months now.
She is a complete and utter doll. She is so easy. So sweet. She is just like Hector. She carries toys around like he did and never destroys them. She drinks out of the hose like he used to. She is independent, but also so thrilled when we come home. She loves to swim. And makes us laugh with her goofiness. (She’s on the right in this video.)
We love her and just as all these dogs teach you something, with her we’ve learned what happens when you let grace in. There is a certain peace that comes with having her around. A loving spirit has shown up again and brightened our days. Just like Steph promised it would.
So, I have this message for the world. Open your heart to something, someone. Even if it’s not part of your plan. Let grace in and we will find a way to light up the world again—in a good way. Shut it out, and we will be in even more serious trouble.