Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Amazing Gracie: A Deaf Senior Dog Touches Lives

It's always heartwarming to learn how pets, particularly those with physical limitations, enrich the lives of their human companions. This touching "happy tail" from www.petfinder.com is a beautiful demonstration of animal sensitivity, and it's perfectly timed since Deaf Animal Awareness Week is celebrated at the end of September each year.

Happy Tail: A Deaf Senior Helps Three Grieving Girls
by Joan, Happy Tails editor

Special-needs pets often have trouble finding homes, and the challenge is even greater for pets with special needs who are no longer young. So when Sheltie Shack Rescue in Riley, KS, took in Gracie, an 11-year-old Sheltie, they knew her chances of being adopted were slim: A retired breeder, Gracie was not only old, she was also totally deaf.

She had been in another home for a year and was then relinquished because the family said she didn't fit into their lifestyle. Sheltie Shack's volunteers knew they needed to cast a wide net to find a special person for this special dog, so they listed her on Petfinder.

That special person was Beth Arnold of Gurnee, IL. When she saw the pooch on Petfinder, it was love at first sight. "My husband and I hesitated to bring another dog into our home, as we already had three, but there was something telling us to do it," Beth says.

Their gut feeling wasn't wrong. Gracie has fit into the Arnolds' household without a hitch, and her deafness has not been an impediment. What has been amazing for the Arnolds to discover is Gracie's sensitivity to people's emotional needs. A case in point: A few weeks ago, Beth's niece passed away at age 31, leaving three young girls motherless. Beth went to Michigan for a week to be with the family, taking Gracie along.

Usually Gracie sticks to Beth like glue, but in Michigan, "Gracie never left those little girls' sides," Beth says. "Carina especially needed her." It's not an isolated case. "I don't know how Gracie senses it, but she always gravitates to the ones who need her most," Beth says. "She always goes to the people who are hurting."

Though the Arnolds rescued Gracie, to Beth, Gracie herself is the rescuer. She's the family's amazing Gracie.

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