Having a dog in our lives is a rewarding experience. We get to feel so much love and comfort with our furry friends by our sides. But that also means lots of heartbreak when we finally have to say goodbye.
For J.P. Groeninger from Pearland, Texas, the goodbye was too much to handle. His black Lab named Gracie had been his rock through many difficult times. So, when he knew it was time to let her go, he couldn’t contain his emotions. Little did he know, this is a feeling that all dog lovers can understand.
Groeninger received Gracie as a gift to celebrate a year of sobriety. He quickly fell in love with her and spent 13 amazing years by her side. She was there to comfort him through many ups and downs in life, including a divorce and a battle with cancer. After those horrific events, he and Gracie moved to Pearland for a fresh start.
“I came here a broken man — physically, spiritually, and emotionally,” said Groeninger. “I came here with two things I love the most: my best friend, my beloved black Lab Gracie; and my Harley Davidson.”
Gracie started getting weaker only a few months after they moved to their new home. She lost control of her bowels and she struggled to walk. Groeninger knew that she was telling him it was time. As heartbreaking as it was, he knew it was the right thing to do.
So, Groeninger brought Gracie to the Houston Humane Society to put an end to her suffering. It was even harder than he could’ve imagined.
After losing Gracie, Groeninger sobbed in the parking lot. Gracie had been there for every important moment in his life, and now he was scared to continue life without her.
“I barely made it to my truck before I was overwhelmed with grief. I sat in my truck sobbing uncontrollably,” Groeninger said. “Now, bear in mind, I am a 6’1′, 230-pound, tattooed biker with a rough look, to say the least.”
An Angel in Disguise
A woman in the humane society parking lot noticed Groeninger’s pain. She stopped and approached him, and what she did next was life-changing for him. It happened almost a year ago, but he still can’t get it out of his head.
“I feel a hand on my forearm, I look into the face of a stranger, a woman who had heard my sobs and saw my tears and just walked up to the window of my truck and placed a hand on my arm — nothing more. Not a word was spoken between us,” Groeninger said. “I let the grief release and flow. After about 10 minutes of this, I regained my composure, I looked at her with gratitude. She gave a small, compassionate smile and patted my arm and just walked away.”
It was such a small gesture of kindness, but it had such a huge impact on Groeninger. She helped him heal after such a heartbreaking event, and he wants to make sure she knows the effect she had on him. So, he shared his story in the Talk of Pearland Facebook group in hopes that he can find her and give her a proper thank you.
“It is my hope and prayer that she reads this and can know she touched my heart that day, and if you are reading this, I say an overwhelming ‘thank you’. You were my angel on that day, and I will hold you in my heart with love forever,” Groeninger wrote.
Groeninger has since returned to the humane society to welcome a new dog into his home. He adopted a black Lab puppy named Gigi. Gigi will never replace Gracie, but she will be loved and cared for just as much. Not only did Groeninger rescue her, but she rescued him too.