Once upon a time I dated a guy who had a dog. That dog ended up knocked up with nine puppies, and I watched their birth on the evening of October 8th, 2005… the fall of my first semester in college. Those births were amazing and disgusting and breathtaking all in one.
One of the puppies was Gracie. She was third born and the first of only two girls, and as soon as I laid eyes on her I knew she was the puppy for me. We bonded immediately, and my love for her has only grown every day since then.
That ex boyfriend and I had two favorite puppies: Gracie and a little guy named Max. Max was the sweetest and funniest puppy of all time, and while we gave away all of the other puppies, we couldn’t seem to give away Gracie, Max, or the sickly little runt of the litter we named Chance.
So even though I wasn’t allowed to bring Gracie home with me (still lived with my Mom at the time), and even though the ex really couldn’t have any more dogs, we held onto these three puppies longer than we should have. And Gracie was the first to get sick.It was New Year’s Day of 2006 when I took Gracie to the doggy emergency room and found out she had Parvo—because I didn’t get her shots soon enough. The vets told me Parvo is a deadly disease for dogs, and she probably wouldn’t make it even if they did everything they could to save her. Then the vet asked me if she had littermates, and I told him about Max and Chance. I learned that any un-vaccinated littermates would have the disease by now as well, even if they weren’t showing signs yet.
I was devastated.
Essentially, I had to choose which puppy to save. My ex was broke as a joke and I only had several thousand dollars of waiting tables money saved. I couldn’t save all three, but a big chunk of my savings and 5 days of hospitalization later, Gracie survived.
Max and Chance passed before Gracie even came home from the hospital. And every time I think of them I cry.
I could spend a lot more time describing just how horrible it was to lose those two sweet little ones, but this is meant to be a happy story, not a sad one.
So Gracie returned home at a mere 12 pounds—skin and bones, really, but she was alive! And she continued to live with my ex while I still lived at home. The mom dog had to be given away because she got really aggressive towards Gracie and other dogs in general (Gracie has a big scar between her eyes from where her mom bit her).
As time passed, though, Gracie became more and more neurotic when left alone. She had severe separation anxiety, so whenever my ex or I left her, she would destroy everything in sight. We decided to get her a “friend” in hopes this might help, and so began the search for the perfect addition to the pack.
About six animal shelters and a few days later, we wound up at one particular shelter after having looked at many dogs that didn’t seem like the right match for Gracie. She is pretty dominant and we needed the perfect friend that wouldn’t try to be “alpha dog.” So the ex and I were walking through the kennel, looking into the cages at the dogs, when suddenly I noticed that one of the kennel doors wasn’t shut all the way and the dog inside it was out and about to walk towards us!
Nervously, I pointed to the dog and let the worker with us know that the dog was escaping! You just never know what the temperaments of these dogs are, and I didn’t feel like getting attacked.
The worker put the dog back in his kennel and locked it securely, and we carried on looking at the dogs. None of them stood out to me, though—except that one that got out.
“Can we seem him?” I asked, pointing to “Kodak,” the black and white guy that nearly escaped when we arrived.
So the shelter worker put him on a leash and we followed her to the front. She handed the leash to me, and I immediately sat down on the floor beside “Kodak” and began to pet him.
Instant love. I knew immediately he was the one. He literally collapsed into my lap as I pet him, like it was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
“We’ll take him!” I said.
And a week later, after he was neutered, we did. We also found out he was 11 months old—the same exact age as Gracie. “Kodak” became “Cooper,” and we always commented about how much he looked like Max—such similar markings and close to how we thought Max would have looked when he grew up. Plus, he and Gracie got along amazingly well. They acted like old pals, and that was a pretty big deal since Gracie didn’t like most other dogs.
One day I was looking at pictures of all the puppies, and I commented to my ex that Cooper looked a whole lot like one of the other brothers we had named Oreo, but gave away fairly quickly. “The markings all look so similar! Do you think this could somehow be the same dog?!” I asked.
My ex said no. He noticed that the ears were different colors than Cooper’s ears now, so we never really studied other markings. Regardless, Cooper became one of the most loved dogs in the world, and Gracie’s best friend. It wasn’t until four years later that I discovered the truth.
Fast forward to 2010. Matthew and I were just married, and I was showing him pictures of all of Gracie’s brothers and sisters after they were born. “Look how much this puppy looks like Cooper! It’s how I imagine he would have looked when he was a puppy!” I told Matthew.
He squinted at the screen and said, “Oh my gosh… are you sure that ISN’T Cooper? He looks identical!”
“Nope… can’t be. Look—the ears are different.”
“Well look at Gracie when she was a puppy! She had a white spot almost between her eyes, but when her head grew it ended up on the back of her neck! His ears could have changed!” And then we studied the rest of the markings—something I’d never done before.
Every single one matched up, besides the ears. Impossible! It HAD to be the same dog!
So all along, Cooper was Oreo, and Gracie's brother. Now it makes perfect sense. God sent me Cooper to replace my sweet boy Max, and to be the friend that Gracie needed. I'm not sure how his previous owners could have possibly given him up, but their loss is my gain. I adore him, and Gracie too. Words can't even express how much--they've been with me through so much, and are always the brightest little spots in my life.
Funny how fate works out sometimes, eh? Here's a little tribute to Gracie and Cooper. Hope this love story made you smile! It is 100% true. :)