On Sunday, May 26, the other shoe fell. After receiving a clean bill of health from her vet just three days earlier, our beloved Gracie suddenly crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She was lethargic, slept most of the day, and began bleeding in the late afternoon. Dot rushed her to an emergency vet, but she died on the way. It was doubly unexpected — Gracie, our retired champion who had just turned 15, came from a strong lifeline.
We’ve decided that Gracie was the victim of an undetectable colon or intestinal cancer. Such a condition is not unknown. Recognizing a cause, however, did very little to salve the uncontrollable grief that Dot felt – and I shared. Gracie was the closest to the center of Dot’s heart. Willie also died quite unexpectedly in 2010; the pair joined our family within a couple of months of each other in 2007, and they constituted Dot’s team, while Ted and Allie were my team.
Dot was dangerously depressed. Without letting her know, I sent an urgent plea to six of my closest Schipperke “resources” – rescuers and breeders alike. Within 48 hours, I was blessed with an offer of another champion in search of a retirement home. Melody – CH Sheradin’s Summer Rhapsody – was a month short of seven. She was infertile, and Diane Harris, her breeder, felt she would be much happier in a smaller Schip environment.
There were more surprises:
Tanner was a very successful champion from Tom and Carol Luke’s kennel in Illinois. Tanner was Gracie’s father — and Melody’s great- grandfather!
Diane’s beloved Thumper was a renowned champion until his death at 18 in 2010. Thumper was Gracie’s step-brother – and Melody’s grandfather!
So you can see why we had extra hope that Melody could significantly ease Dot’s pain. On June 9, she drove to Tennessee to bring Melody to her new home. They bonded quickly and have continued to do so.
We continue to openly adore Gracie and all the others who’ve gone before us. She is aboard on our bedroom dresser — along with Barnacle, Teddy, Serena and Willie — in their tiny boxes, each topped with a Schip angel.
Shortly before we left Churchton for “winter quarters” in Florida, we received notice that a young Schip, rescued by Jan McAfee in central Georgia, was being adopted by our dear friend Fran Lindstrom in Sarasota. We quickly agreed to alter our course to a route further inland to provide transportation for the little guy. And what a reward it provided.
Midnight had just sacrificed an un-savable leg at Jan’s clinic, but he acted as though he had always been a tripod. He and Schip-Dude immediately hit it off; they played and played until both were exhausted. Midnight was also had a charming licking/kissing repertoire that immediately endeared him to us. In fact, we wished we could keep him. Except for a little carsickness on the first day, he was a wonderful traveling companion. Soon after our arrival at Sandy Oaks, we met Fran in Homosassa Springs at the home of another abundant rescuer, Karen Myles. Midnight was suddenly confronted by an additional 7 friendly faces. Fran trains all of her rescue Schips as therapy dogs and also specializes in agility and obedience. Midnight is no exception; we get frequent progress reports. Because obedience is controlled by hand signals, Fran is especially welcome in deaf groups, where the children delight in their ability to participate.
We let him go only on the promise that I was officially his godfather. And so it is. We’ve seen Midnight once since, at a SchipNic in Valdosta Georgia, and he remembered us with his typical enthusiasm.