Gracie was one of the cutest Golden Retriever puppies you could imagine. Unfortunately, she was born with a condition called ectopic ureters that caused her to leak urine and also affected her kidneys. Her tail had been misshaped at birth and her breeder had cut most of it off. Later, the breeder realized he could not find a buyer for a tail-less Golden who also had major urinary problems and took Gracie to the Vet to be euthanized. The Vet staff knew after one look at Gracie that this was a girl who deserved a chance at life. Her name described her well. She had a charming ease and complete disregard for her infirmities. She just threw herself into life, almost as if she had some inclination she might have a limited time to grab the gusto.
Gracie won an exciting photo contest in the Fall of 2008, where she pulled out a last second victory thanks to lots of late night work by many Gracie supporters both inside and outside SEVA GRREAT. This photo contest win allowed the rescue to fund the surgery and care Gracie needed at North Carolina State University Vet School (NCSU).
In December 2008, Gracie went to NCSU for surgery to correct her ectopic ureters. The surgery was successful, but Gracie was still incontinent. In March 2009, Gracie's surgeons implanted an artificial sphincter to her bladder sphincter. For a short time, Gracie was totally dry and we were all celebrating. Then Gracie started leaking urine again, but not enough to require a diaper. Gracie's surgeons adjusted the pressure in Gracie's artificial sphincter several times but never could find just the right balance to achieve continence, but still allow Gracie to pass urine when she needed.
Gracie's near constant incontinence caused her to have many urinary tract infections which eventually caused a kidney infection. If all this was not enough, Gracie was also diagnosed with chronic kidney disease during one of her visits at NCSU. On February 2, 2010 Gracie went back to NCSU for a follow up exam. All Gracie's vets thought she was doing fine, except for chronic kidney disease. It looked like Gracie's kidney infection had been cured. While there, her surgeons also removed some pressure in her artificial sphincter, and after two days the chronic kidney disease showed signs of improvement.
On February 7, 2010, Gracie had a play session on the living room floor with her foster family; which included lots of hugs and tummy rubs. Everything seemed normal. After we finished, Gracie went into the kitchen, stole her brother's bed from him and took a nap. Gracie never woke up. Gracie looked so peaceful lying there with her head resting on a big stuffed animal. We have no idea what happened.
Through all Gracie's medical problems she never complained once. She was an absolute trooper. To say she was courageous in the face of all she suffered is trite. She charmed everyone she met and made friends wherever she went. She simply accepted it all as it came, and continued on to amplify and return the love. Every dog has something to teach us; but the patience, tolerance, unconditional acceptance and - grace - of this girl are life lessons we all can use.
Our heartfelt thanks to the entire SEVA GRREAT community for their unwavering support for Gracie. We are especially grateful to her foster family, The Donaldsons, who loved her as their own. Thank you to the Pitini, Graham, and Neal families also for caring for Gracie. SHE WILL BE GREATLY MISSED, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN. We invite you to view a small video tribute to Gracie we have put together, available in our Download area.
To honor Gracie's life, we would like to introduce THE GRACIE FUND. If you would like to donate in Gracie's memory, your support will help SEVA GRREAT to provide quality medical care to other Golden Retrievers with exceptional medical needs. To donate, please visit us at www.adoptagolden.com and donate via our Paypal link (please note "The Gracie Fund" in the memo) or send your check to:
SEVA GRREAT, PO Box 8014, Yorktown, VA 23693.