This is the first installment of Barkzy’s Stories, a series devoted to the stories of dogs who’ve been rescued by the Barkzy community. To kick the series off, we’re putting the spotlight on Gracie (A.K.A. Gracie-Girl, Gigers, or GG by her loved ones), a 6-year-old Siberian Husky who was rescued by Barkzy co-founder, Tim Kennedy. Gracie loves long walks, playing with her toys, but most of all, her people. School drop-offs, trips to the store, you name it—Gracie is never one to miss an opportunity to bond with her pack. But, it wasn’t always like this. It took three years to build up Gracie’s self-confidence. With love, patience, and lots of attention, she blossomed into the dog she is today: smart, funny, playful, and unlike any dog Tim’s met. Read more about Gracie’s tale, as told by Tim, below.
After our dogs Oskar and Otto passed away, my family and I agreed we wouldn’t adopt another pet, at least not for a while. Losing not one, but two dogs was tough enough—and we weren’t ready to welcome a dog into our lives. But just when we thought we might never find another four-legged animal to love, we found Gracie.
My son first met Gracie on a field trip to an adoption shelter On the trip, they were required to “read to a rescue”—and the rescue he read to that day was Gracie. The activity was 15 minutes long, and in those 15 minutes, the meeting seemed to be predestined for the both of them. When my son stood up to leave, Gracie placed a paw on him and she refused to let go. It was a small but significant gesture that made a lasting impression. So much so, he told me about it immediately after the field trip, and the very next morning, we returned to that shelter to save Gracie.
When we asked to meet Gracie at the adoption shelter, the staff warned us that she was a runner and if the opportunity arose, it would be “the last time” if animal control found her. The staff wasn’t wrong: during our meeting, she was afraid to approach me or my son. Instead, she ran laps around the perimeter of the shelter’s indoor play yard. While most people might shy away from adopting a dog that didn’t seem like an immediate match—let alone, a dog with a past that was just as questionable as their personality—we knew first impressions didn’t always matter with pets that were abandoned.
So, we signed all the paperwork and took Gracie that same day. Apart from the fact that her birthday was on October 30th, the staff didn’t know much about Gracie: where she was born, whether someone loved her, or what she went through in the past. What we know for sure was that Gracie was full of love and just wanted to be loved in return. It would just take some—a lot of time.
Truth be told, the next few months with Gracie were difficult. While Gracie wasn’t aggressive or much trouble, she was scared. She was startled by sudden movements and loud noises. She ran when we tried approaching her. She refused pets and treats. And, in the first two days, she urinated all over the kitchen floor. (Which my family and I were admittedly thankful for, because she didn’t want to use the bathroom before the accident.) She wasn’t anything like the dog my son met at the shelter, but like most pets who are abandoned in shelters, probably underwent some trauma. It would take patience, persistence, love, and lots (and lots) of attention to prove to Gracie that she was safe.
Making Gracie feel safe became our priority. We purchased a large crate and a fluffy, purple blanket to lie on, which soon became her little sanctuary. She used it at night, when we were away, and any time she wanted alone time from our family—a time my wife, kids, and I respected, even though it was tempting to do anything but shower her with love and attention. In short, we let Gracie warm up to us slowly instead of forcing interactions. Sometimes we worried if Gracie would learn to ever see us as family, but we “trusted the process” so to speak, even if on some days, it was easy to give up.
The process was slow to start. Every time something good happened, though, it made the seemingly tiny victories seem much bigger. When Gracie approached us for a treat or shadowed us as we went about our days, we took it as a win. And when she began to sleep in my son’s room—first on the floor, then later on the bed—we knew we were making progress. Three months later, she finally warmed up to our whole family. She still liked retreating to her tiny sanctuary whenever there were visitors, but Gracie’s disposition was improving day by day, which was the only thing that really mattered to us.
It took well over a year for Gracie to blossom into the dog she is today, and she is unlike any dog we’ve owned or met. She is smart, funny, and in tune with our whole family. She knows what time school pick-up is and wakes us up in the mornings by jumping onto our beds and walking us through our routine from sun up to sun down. She understands phrases beyond “sit” or “shake,” and barks only when she wants to warn us of something out of the ordinary—which is sometimes as inconsequential as an inflatable toy in the pool—or to say, “I love you.”
She’s also adapted to our schedules and funnily enough, our food preferences. She loves Cheerios and the crust of our kids’ PB&J sandwiches or the occasional chicken or salmon filet as a treat. Gracie is incredibly playful too, and will play fetch with tennis balls for as long as we indulge her, loves anything that “squeaks,” and will walk (or run) up to 25 miles in a day when there is an opportunity for it. Mostly, though, we’ve learned that she now sees us as family. If not splayed out on the bed in our guest room, which she’s now claimed as her own, she is tailing one of our family members or snuggling up to us after a long day.
Today, it’s difficult to imagine our lives without Gracie by our side. She’s taught us to slow down when things are stressful, and indulge whenever possible, whether it’s taking a day off or polishing off our kids’ Cheerios or that tiny bit of leftover pasta. I also don’t think my wife, kids, and I would be as patient or as thoughtful if not for Gracie. In a way, it wasn’t just us that did the saving, Gracie also saved us.
Want to share your dog’s adoption story? Email us at email@example.com and tell us all about your four-legged family member and the impact they’ve made on you and your loved ones’ lives.