Dog: Grady Oliver Hopson (Terrier Mix) – Grovetown, GA
Jan 30, 2004 – May 23, 2019)
Little is known about Grady’s early life. He was a small man of mystery found wandering down Country Club Road in Statesboro, Georgia in the early Winter of 2008. Rescued by a passerby and handed over to the Statesboro/Bulloch County Humane Society, Grady quickly became a favored pup to his Foster Mother, Linda Stockton. ‘
His cute photo was placed on PetFinder, where a cancer patient (that’s me) on her second round of chemotherapy first laid eyes upon him. And God whispered, “You need him”. I just had no idea how badly I needed him. Just like that, a true love was born.
When rescued he was just over 9lbs and 2lbs shy of a healthy weight. He appeared to be 4 years old. Having never been fully trained in the fine art of peeing outside, he wore pants (aka: a belly band) the majority of his adult life. He was a dapper fellow with a Mohawk, a bow tie and a gentle spirit. He participated in Pet Therapy for a couple of years. He had favorite patients in a local nursing home and brought lots of smiles, laughter and joy to everyone that he met there.
In the eleven years that Grady was a member of my family, he survived the loss of his dear friends Dusty Rose, a yellow lab mix, who succumbed to cancer; Abbey Gayle, a terrier mix who was built round and was a bit of an escape artist; and Harrie Nathaniel who is credited with being very handsome and a “best boy”.
In Grady’s final days, his siblings Mayrose Claire (the sweetest Chihuahua, ever) and Robert Bowen (a rambunctious and raucous mix of fur and bones) covered him in love. He spent those final days curled up either in his bean bag, on his oversized dog bed, or in my bed cuddled up to me and surrounded by his sibs.
He had an ongoing crush on his veterinarian, Dr. Diane Gaffigan of Blanchard Woods Animal Hospital in Evans, Georgia. He let Dr. Gaffigan play with his Mohawk, and she often expressed a desire to put him in her pocket and take him home with her. For Christmas 2018, he gave her a tree ornament with his picture on it. He didn’t want his siblings in the picture. I had it made to his specifications.
He also enjoyed his quarterly visits to the salon at Petco to see Ms. Heidi. He seemed fragile on his last few visits, but she held him closely and comforted him while he was groomed. I always asked them to “please be gentle”, but I never really needed to. Heidi and her staff loved him and always kept his Mohawk coiffed and his coat soft.
He had a favorite neighbor, Ms. Ellen. He always lit up when he saw her. Like Grady, she is pure joy and has an ‘open heart’ policy. He might move slowly on our walks, but whenever we passed Ms. Ellen’s house, his back was a little straighter and his head a little higher. He loved to visit with Ms. Ellen.
Grady’s favorite game was actually a hands-on, sing-song round of “Chicken Legs and Sugar Sticks”. It was widely believed that his tender spirit came from being mostly ‘chicken’. Also, his back legs looked a lot like chicken leg quarters. His skinny little front legs were obviously his Sugar Sticks. So, back and forth between the two, we sang “Chicken legs aaannnddd SUGAR STICKS!!!” He loved it!
Grady’s love was immense and mostly immeasurable. Volumes and volumes of love sonnets could have been written about the way that he so freely loved everyone.
He passed away, peacefully, on May 23rd, 2019. He has met his true Master in Heaven and waits for me there. And until that day, my life will remain incomplete. My heart, sad. Yet I will remain forever grateful to have known and been loved by the best little dog in the world.