How many ways can your Golden Retriever bring a smile to your face?Our boy Grady has a veritable arsenal of tricks that make us smile. His facial expressions, rituals and vocalizations bring joy to us daily. Catching Grady staring at me from around the door frame, his eyes wide open in curiosity and eagerness to please can make my entire day. Loping into the room like a ten month old puppy instead of a ten year old boy, Grady never fails to make me laugh. It’s all the more gratifying since when he came to live with us Grady was in less than ideal condition emotionally and physically.
At nine years of age, Grady had been a member of a happy home since he was a puppy, yet he had to be given up due to the allergies of one the children. The break was wrenching to both the family and to Grady. When EGRR received him they learned he suffered from allergies himself and had to be on a strict diet. He had food allergies, skin problems, arthritis, and thyroid issues. He previously had a toe amputated due to a squamous cell tumor. When I received the call about taking Grady, he was supposed to be a foster. We got all the background information, talked to our vet and decided we could take Grady as a “foster,” to help out. We took our EGRR alumnus, Plato, to meet Grady at Clint Moore and brought him home in November 2009.
To our dismay, Grady spent the first few weeks lying by the front door looking sad. On the positive side, he was housebroken and knew the command “sit.” He is very sweet so I could easily see his potential. However, his diet and digestive system was a real puzzle. Although hip displasia was ruled out, his energy level and arthritis were so problematic;he couldn’t get into the car by himself or jump up on the sofa for a cuddle session. Grady even had difficulty maintaining his balance whenever he got excited. Making matters worse, Grady’s skin is highly susceptible to hot spots; just one flea can cause a hot spot the size of a softball.
It was clear Grady needed us and we needed him. As we learned more about Grady, he gradually seemed to adjust. We became foster failures and adopted Grady on December 31, 2009. In January, Grady and I began a six week course of Obedience training, always the perfect way to bond with your dog. It was a challenge with Grady, who didn’t even know how to take a treat, but he learned quickly and I soon saw progress in his obedience. At the same time, Grady began getting regular injections of Adequan to promote joint health and ease his arthritis. Grady’s overall quality of life greatly improved. It became apparent to all that Grady was now becoming a very happy Golden.
To my delight, Grady passed a test to become a therapy dog with Share-A-Pet on February 14, 2010. Now he is not only a happy boy, Grady is a productive member of society! Every Saturday morning, Grady and Plato team up to visit three facilities. And they are a team, complimenting each other perfectly. Plato is the calm, mellow boy who can stand quietly forever while someone peacefully pets him. Grady is the direct opposite. He can’t sit still for a second, always playful and engaging. Most of the residents love his joyfulness. Grady charms everyone with his antics!
At EGRR’s EXPO, because of his obsession with tennis balls, Grady was appointed to select the winner of the tennis ball raffle. In May, we went to GRRITS on Cedar Key and Grady proved himself quite the swimmer. In June Grady spent a week on Sanibel Island with his new family. In July, he served as my model when I attended EGRR’s Grooming Seminar.
Now, a year after our first meeting, Grady seems quite different. He and Plato have bonded and are great buddies. Twice daily doses of Soloxine have solved his thyroid problem; and bi weekly injections of Adequan have gone a long way in mitigating if not solving his arthritis. Grady has a full luxurious coat, complete with fluffy tail and pants feathers. The result – a walking hair ball who sheds a halo of dog hair as he trots around the house tossing his favorite stuffed toy up in the air and talking to himself.
Today, Grady has a full and happy life and seems to have been a part of our family forever. He can get up on the sofa by himself, but will gladly make room for others who want to snuggle. Grady loves nothing better than a ride in the car and he can get into the back seat without assistance. As for Tom and I, we’re completely hooked. Laughter is a regular part of our day. Two dogs are better than one, seniors are the only way to go, and EGRR is the best place to get your new best friend.