Yesterday morning I held my 20-week-old lab puppy, Gracie, tight to my chest. She was breathing heavily, and as our plane taxied to the runway for takeoff, she stretched her front legs like she was waking up, and stopped breathing. Just like that. No jerking, no gasping, just quiet. I felt her chest and put my hand in front of her nose to see if I could feel her breathe, but there was nothing. They were de-icing the plane so we could leave Aspen to fly home to Nashville to have Dr. Marc Bercovitch (the wonderful veterinarian internist who we met last week when she was hospitalized because of chronic kidney failure) try to figure out why she had taken such a quick turn for the worse, hoping that going to lower altitude would help. She was just a baby. But in the short time we were lucky enough to have her, she won us over with her big brown eyes, her spunk, her kisses, and her heart.
I knew she was dying. I think she knew she was dying. We didn’t want her to live like this, but we felt like if we didn’t just try to see if lower altitude would help her feel better, we would regret it. Neither of us was looking forward to making that call, but we knew that we would if we needed to. Our sweet, smart Amazing Grace helped us make that decision.
When she stopped breathing, it felt like my heart stopped. I took a couple of deep breaths and hugged her close. Then I told Jeff I thought she had stopped breathing. We tried shaking her and calling her name to see if I was mistaken, but she was gone. My heart is broken. But it was strangely peaceful. She wasn’t struggling to breathe. She was not alone.
I can’t explain, especially to non-dog people, how much we loved her. In her short little life, she entered the hearts of everyone who met her. She helped Sugar fill the hole left after we lost Rosie this summer. She was a spunky little fighter, who fought off an infection at 12 days old and lived another 18 weeks. She played hard, loved hard and opened our wounded hearts that were still closed after the loss of our sweet Rosie.
We will never forget her. We have zero regrets that we brought her into our lives. I just wish we could have helped her. It’s not fair that she was only here for such a short time.
Sweet Amazing Gracie…we love you sweet girl, and will miss you forever.