Editors note: Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz wrote in December about losing his beloved Samoyed in a touching post titled, "Saying Goodbye to Sandy." It was published again yesterday as the first of a three-part series of essays Rutz has written about his dogs. Today Rutz writes about Gracie.

Editors note: Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz wrote in December about losing his beloved Samoyed in a touching post titled, “Saying Goodbye to Sandy.” It was published again yesterday as the first of a three-part series of essays Rutz has written about his dogs. Today Rutz writes about Gracie.

deangraciepawsUp.jpgA roll in the grass: Gracie had lived most of her life in a small concrete kennel, unable to move, run or play. So it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that when she finally got out she loved to roll in the grass and chase a toy. Photo by Karen Ducey

Dean_RUTZmug.jpgKaren and I were emotionally drained.

It had only been a few hours since Sandy had died as my wife and I sat together in our now too-quiet living room.

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Across the room on the couch beneath the window sat Dillon and Gracie. The latter was a big black Labrador/Great Dane mix whom we had come to foster just a few months earlier.

At first I didn’t notice. I was overwhelmed by the loss of my 15-year old Samoyed, and I wasn’t really paying attention. But at some point I saw that Gracie was looking straight up in the air.

After a few moments, I started doing that thing we all do: I started looking up at the ceiling with her. What is she looking at? She kept looking up, and I kept looking up, and then Karen started looking up too.

“Gracie?” I said. She didn’t respond.

After a few moments I walked over to the couch to see if I could tell what she was looking at. And as I looked into her eyes I was horrified to see that they had receded into her skull.

Gracie was blind. And the shock of Sandy’s death was replaced by something sudden and fearful.
graciesmile.jpg

Gracie was a rescue in the truest sense of the word.

One day in early 2010 a cable installer working on a North Tacoma home found the 90-pound dog chained inside of a 4-foot-square kennel, barely able to move. It was apparent to him this was her normal situation.

Big smile: In the early pictures of Gracie made in her kennel, there was little life or spark in her eyes. That all changed when she came to live with us. Photo by Karen Ducey

And looking inside her kennel the cable guy saw two bins of rancid hamburger buns — her apparent diet — and a five-gallon white bucket of algae-filled water.

Appalled, the repairman alerted the state chapter of the rescue Dogs Deserve Better (DDB). Ashley George with DDB verified Gracie’s living conditions and approached her owners about releasing the dog to her. They said they didn’t want her anymore, and Ashley left with Gracie.