It was a Wednesday morning like many before it – Kelly and I met our friend at McDonald’s for coffee. Well, my friend and I had coffee and Kelly settled in to enjoy her usual attention from the other customers. The men gathered for coffee at another table always ask about Kelly if I arrive without her and they understand some of her mobility problems.
The hour of visiting had passed, and we were headed toward the door. Kelly was wearing her therapy dog identification vest and caught the attention of another man seated in a booth. “We had a therapy dog, too. They are great helpers.” And the conversation was started.
He told me about the black golden retriever their family had had. I told him the first dog I had in foster care was a black golden – an intentional cross between a black Labrador and a golden retriever.
“Oh! Gracie?” he asked.
Some of you who have followed this column for several years may remember Gracie. She had the long, silky coat of the golden retriever but every hair was black. I searched and searched but could never find a light-colored hair on that beautiful animal.
This gentleman and I compared notes.
When Gracie left me for placement with a client I could see the match wouldn’t work, and within six weeks, I got a phone call asking if Gracie could come home. Her next placement was with a family who had two autistic sons. Gracie worked her magic for the boys for several years. I don’t remember what happened but once again I received the call, “Can Gracie come home?”
Then, she became a school therapy dog. The counselor who had the care and keeping of her both in and out of school had a challenged child of her own. Gracie worked at school and then went home to another place she was needed.
When she was retired from school work, the counselor and her family adopted her, and there was not another placement.
Yes, this was the same Gracie. The gentleman comparing notes with me said she got cancer and had passed about a year and a half ago. He was delighted to share his Gracie with me and showed me pictures of her on his phone. I sent my greetings to his wife, as I had been somewhat acquainted with her when Gracie was re-training for school work.
Gracie was a loving, caring individual, and they still miss her. I think the reminiscing was good for both of us, and probably for his wife as well.
You see, like some of us, it took a lifetime for Gracie to fulfill the task she was meant for.
While some of us settled into a lifelong calling, others have worked in many different realms. There is nothing wrong with either one. With us, the only important thing was (and is) to seek God’s leading, to walk and work in the path He has determined and to show His love to others through the life we live.
Then, when we leave this world as Gracie did, we will know we fulfilled the task that was set before us – no matter how many placements we have had.