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A eulogy for my beloved dog

Jake Quatt/The Round Table

Jake Quatt/The Round Table

This past Tuesday, my family was forced to make the decision that so many pet owners dread. It was time to say goodbye to our dog, a 13-year-old beagle named Grace.

This ball of joy came into our lives on Christmas Day in 2003. Coming down the creaky wood stairs of my family’s home in Pittsburgh, Pa., my sisters and I were overcome with excitement when we saw the beaming little eyes of a gorgeous little puppy looking up at us. She was stumbling around the living room floor, taking small and cautious steps with her small little legs. A little sign placed nearby gave us her name: Grace.

As she rolled around in my older sister’s lap later that morning, Grace threw up and then smiled. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Over the years, Grace became an integral part of our day-to-day lives. When I would leave for school and I would come home, Grace would be there to provide (and request) some affection.

In fact, Grace oftentimes acted more like a cat. She adopted a blue-and-white striped chair in our living room as her throne and, when visitors would come over, she would merely roll over in her chair and await a belly rub. One would always come.

Visitors to our house were always taken with her beauty. Her eyes were dark but full of life. She was like a magnet, drawing the attention of entire rooms without ever leaving her throne. Grace was holding court and we were all her subjects.

But as the years went on, Grace’s eyes got a little more weary, her dark fur more worn and her short legs just a bit weaker. But her love for people, for fun and for a good trot through the yard did not cease.

As Grace’s age became even more advanced, the question of her longevity began to crop into all our heads. But when my parents followed through on a dream and got a little piece of property in rural Pennsylvania with some open expanses, it was as though Grace had found a renewed lease on life.

Life away from Pittsburgh was ideal for Grace. She would meander about the yard, enjoy succulent meals (my mom always felt like spoiling her out in the country) and, on one occasion, Grace even chased away a bear despite not being much taller than about my mid-calf. She feared nobody and nothing.

In 2013, when my little sister got another dog, a rowdy labradoodle named Hamish, Grace did not take offense. But she didn’t take any shit either. When Hamish would overstep his boundaries, Grace would snarl and hiss. Despite being only a fraction of his size, Grace helped put Hamish in his place. Today, he’s a sweet, polite and affectionate dog, but only because of Grace’s guidance.

And so, when the news came down that Grace’s body was failing her and the best way to keep her from hurting would be for her to be put down, it was not easy. Thirteen years of my life have been occupied by this glorious presence. To say goodbye to her, especially from afar, was remarkably difficult. My little sister facilitated a FaceTime session so I could see Grace one last time and say goodbye. I could see her damp little nose and her age-worn cheeks. And while I wish I could have given her one last pet and a kiss, I was happy I got to see her at all.

Grace Tomer has moved onto the great unknown and the void left in our family can already be felt. But this is the cost of having such a sweet and loving presence. My girlfriend said to me as I was crying about this that the reason dogs come and go so quickly is that they enter this world with a purity that they do not need to discover like people do. They just live their lives with the maximum amount of pure love they can muster.

Losing Grace hurts more than I can express, but all the memories of her will endure. I love you, Gracie.

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