When I was in middle school, my family went home to North Carolina during Thanksgiving break. Like always, my Mama and Papa were sitting at the dinner table reading the newspaper when my Mama saw an ad for Aussie puppies that were for sale. Our family had a Scotty, Piper, that died of cancer when I was in elementary school and my parents were starting to think about getting another dog.
We went to the lady's house that had the puppies and we met a few different baby Aussies and their parents. All of the dogs were so sweet, but one stood out to my parents the most. She was six weeks old, tiny, gave puppy kisses, and overall had a great personality. I climbed back into our explorer and the lady handed me a blue box with my new puppy inside to hold until we got back home to Papa and Mema's house.
Needless to say, while everyone else was out shopping for Christmas presents during Black Friday sales, my family and I got a new dog that would forever be a part of our family.
Her name was Gracie.
Katherine Elizabeth Hill
Gracie grew up learning different sports and flying through agility courses. She could play soccer, baseball, Frisbee, and anything she could chase across the yard. We taught her to play tag, hide-and-go-seek, and would even help me during tennis practice by bringing back all of the balls I hit across the court.
Her favorite food was fig-newtons and she knew exactly where she was going once we crossed a certain bridge to go to the river for the weekend. Gracie loved chasing the geese off of her yard but hated to get her paws wet. If her ball landed in the water, then she would make someone else go get it for her because she was not stepping into the river.
On Saturday mornings, if she thought that I was sleeping in too long then she would quickly change my status by jumping up on my bed and getting me up. I would come home from school just to pick Gracie up and take her to McDonald's, so she could get some french-fries as a snack. She loved fries and car rides.
Gracie came back home to North Carolina with us when we moved after I graduated from high school. She quickly adapted to our tiny house (which she was not crazy about) and then to our new house (which she was loved a lot more) that had a large field for her to run in.
When it snowed, she was able to run across our field then run some more once she got to our cousin's land. Everyone who met Gracie loved her and she would play with anyone, even if it meant a lizard that was crossing the porch.
One year, Gracie became very sick, so we had to take her to the Vet's office to find out what was going on. They could not figure out exactly what was going on with her, but gave her fluids through an I.V. After a week, she came back around to her old self.
Unfortunately, almost a year later the same symptoms returned. She would not eat or drink anything. If you gave her any of her toys, then she would turn away from them. We knew something was not right, so we took her back to the hospital where they gave her the same treatments for another week. Gracie came back home and actually wanted to eat something. At this point, we would give her anything that she wanted just as long as she ate something. We had steaks on the grill that night and so did Gracie, along with a tiny taste of Mardi Gras cake.
That night, I was so excited that Gracie was home with us and finally eating. I got ready for bed and went to sleep pretty quick. I did not realize until later that I forgot to tell Gracie that I loved her before I went to sleep like I normally would have done.
Gracie had a stroke a little after midnight and yelped out in pain. My parents woke up and went to her immediately. When I got to her… she was already gone. She crossed that rainbow bridge to be with God and Jesus. I will forever regret not telling her that I loved her that night.
My Uncle Elwood came over to our house the next day to help my Dad dig a grave for my sweet dog. I sat by her body crying my eyes out not wanting to believe what had happened the night before. I could see the hurt in my Daddy's eyes even though he did not cry in front of me. Mama had a broken heart over the whole situation. Everyone in our family just hurt, sick to their stomachs, and no one thought we would ever fully heal from this. Not for a long time.
Katherine Elizabeth Hill
Fast forward sometime later to when my parents started to look at dogs again. I was dead set on not having another dog; I never wanted to feel that kind of pain again... until I met Jacob.
Jacob was rescued by the Aussie Rescue where he and his brother had entered the organization just a little bit before my parents started looking. Jacob and his brother, Gus, are twins and my parents would have loved to have both of the boys, but we were only able to adopt one due to the other brother being adopted by another family around the same time.
Jacob was listed to be an energetic dog who loved to play with toys much like Gracie and basically any other Aussie's personality. He was trained both in obedience and house trained so my parents thought he would be a great fit for our family.
My parents met Jacob's foster parents in South Carolina to pick him up and bring him to our small town, Deep Run. I was spending some time at my grandparents' house while they were gone. I was actually a little nervous about meeting Jacob for the first time. Not because I was scared of dogs or anything, I had been around dogs my whole life, but because I was afraid I would not be able to love him like I did Gracie.
I remember driving up our dirt driveway, stopping halfway, and just stare at a creature that was standing in the doorway to our house. He was HUGE compared to Gracie. I got out of the car and went up to him slowly so I wouldn't scare him. Sometimes after dogs have been in rescue programs they are a little timid.
But the second I reached my hand out and he put his head into my hand was when I realized that I could love him as much as I loved Gracie.
Katherine Elizabeth Hill
The Aussie rescue told us about Jacob and Gus' past which ended up being similar to my family's story. Their owners were an older couple. One became so sick that she went to be with Jesus while the other one was too old to stay by himself, so he had to go to a home to be taken care of. You could see in Jacob's eyes how much he missed his family, especially his brother. It took time for Jacob's heart to heal from the loss that he felt, but together we coped with our pain and ended up with each other. Gus ended up being adopted as well and now stays with his new family in Raleigh, NC.
Over the years, Jacob and I have had many adventures together and have grown very close to one another. We have traveled to D.C. to see my brother and sister-in-law where Jacob learned that not everywhere you go has real grass (that took him some getting used to at the dog park). We have also gone to different beaches, mountains, and just had fun together in our small town. Once I am home from work, then he is typically by my side or close by.
Jacob is also featured in our church's directory where all of the young kids get a kick out of seeing my pup with me in our picture for our church membership picture. He also went to work every day until my Mama retired at a pharmacy where everyone there loved and fed Jacob while teaching him new tricks like how to roll over. For Halloween at work, Jake would dress up in khakis and a red polo to be Jake from State Farm.
Tina B. Hill
By the way, Jacob's personality was nothing like what we expected. He loves being lazy, watching T.V., and sleeping in. Jacob loves checking on his chickens out in the barn and making sure that they stay in their pin like they are supposed to. He loves peanut butter, blueberries, and finishing Dad's sandwiches (even if Dad just got up to get something out of the other room and has not even touched his sandwich yet).
In the mornings, Jacob will walk me out when I go to work and he will meet me on the porch when I return that evening. If there is a thunderstorm, he will wake me up to let me know so I can put on his thunder-shirt and wait with him until the storm passes by.
Jacob recently has turned ten years old and he is the sweetest, laid-back, cuddling dog that I have ever met. Although we still miss our Gracie every day just as Jacob misses his family, we have formed a new family together and are very blessed to have Jacob be a part of our lives. He loves going to see his cousin-dog, Lillie, and hanging out with his best friend, Smokie (our barn cat).
As long as there are no fireworks or thunderstorms then Jacob is one happy pup!
Katherine Elizabeth Hill
So, if you have ever felt the loss of a pet and are thinking about maybe getting another pet, just know that it is okay to move on. You will never forget your pet because they were and forever will remain a part of your family. Animal rescues not only give you the comfort you need to move on with your life but also will give the same comfort to an animal that might need the same healing in his/her life.
The love an animal can give is like no other. So, please consider rescuing, adopting or even fostering an animal that needs a good and loving home. You never know. That animal might just be what you need in life.
Jacob and GracieKatherine Elizabeth Hill