Gracie after a haircutI love my dog. There’s no two ways about it, when I work from my home office, I get to spend the entire day with Gracie and I can’t describe the joy she bring me. Throughout the day, she’s my little shadow as I work, eat, and relax. I didn’t realize just how much being around her means to me until I had a particularly long day away from the house.

After a long day at work, Holly had a function with an organization she belongs to, so it was almost 10pm when we got home. After going through the usual routines of sorting the mail and shrugging off the gear from the day, I plopped down in the chair to catch the end of ER. Holly made the comment, “You want me to let Gracie out of her crate?” My mother had come by the house around 7pm to tape “Friends” for us and to walk Gracie, so I said “Sure.”

All dogs have quirks and Gracie is no exception. One of her quirks is that when you open her crate, you have to pet her belly before she’ll leave it. She gives you this dog eyed look that says, “Why did you leave me in this cage? Don’t you love me? Prove it to me by rubbing my belly.” Sometimes she’s so ready to get out, all it takes is a quick pass; however some days you could be rubbing that tummy for a good minute before she’s ready.

On this particular night, Holly didn’t have to do anything. She opened the door and BAM – Gracie was out like a shot and immediately jumped into my chair and was all over my face. It was as if she were made out of springs as just bounced all over me. I had to take off my glasses so she wouldn’t scratch them up as she jumped around and pawed at my face. When I’m away, she’s always happy to see me, but she’s never been THIS excited. With this “Where have you been?” expression and excitement, we tussled in the chair until she was calm enough that I could rub her belly and we could relax once again. Clearly she missed our usual routine when I work from home. So what is our usual routine? Well, it’s nothing fancy, but it goes something like this…

Our bedroom is upstairs, so I come downstairs and take Gracie out for a quick walk so that she can pee. I leave her on the leash and hook it to a chair that she has claimed as her own. It has a beach towel in the seat, so as not to stain the cloth cushion underneath, and as soon as we walk back inside, she hops in “her” chair. I fill her bowl with water and food and then proceed to make breakfast. As I cook for Holly and I, Gracie normally eats her food and then settles back into her chair.

With breakfast served, I sit down at the kitchen table next to Gracie and eat my breakfast. When I used to eat less healthy and larger portioned breakfasts, I would share some of my food with her. Now that I’m on South Beach, I don’t eat as much as I did, so I tend to eat everything and I don’t share as much with her. So Gracie will stand up in her chair a little bit and tap her foot as if to say “Awww come on. That smells good. Share a little why don’t cha?” With my breakfast eaten, I now put down the plate in her chair and let her lick up what remains. She licks the plate clean and then settles back and relaxes. I usually write a little bit on my weblog via an AlphaSmart Dana Wireless (like I’m doing right now) and Gracie chews on a bone, or just sleeps.

Next I take Gracie for another walk. This time it’s a little bit longer so that she will do here “No. 2”. We usually walk down the hill a bit in our backyard and after she’s done, we’ll race as fast as we can up to the back door. I’m usually out of breath, but she’s just getting started. Once inside, I take off her leash and she sprints for the upstairs to see if Tumini is out from her room. She never is, so she hops downstairs to see what’s keeping me. By this time I’ve grabbed my Dana, my French Press coffee pot and coffee mug and I’m making my way upstairs. Gracie beats me to the top of the stairs and runs into my office. I drop off the load I’m carrying and then put up a child’s gate and the end of the short hallway, so that she doesn’t have full run of the house.

At this point, I usually settle in and begin working. Gracie likes to lay at my feet under my desk while I work – that is until Tumini starts making a ruckus. Tumini, our youngest cat, hasn’t been integrated with the rest of the pack just yet. So she’s taken over the guest bedroom which is right next to my office. When she hears Gracie and I in the office, she begins meowing and pawing at the door. Eventually I break down and let Tumini out and shut the door so that Gracie can’t get in and make a mess.

As soon as Tumini’s head is out the door, Gracie is all over her like white on rice. Those two roll around and tussle on the floor until Tumini decides that she’s had enough and hops over the baby gate. All Gracie can do is stare at Tumini on the other side, so she walks back into my office and lays down on the floor with her eyes on the gate waiting for Tumini’s return. Throughout the day, Tumini hops back and forth and the two play incessantly. Occasionally they rest and just sleep next to each other, but that only accounts for about 10% of their time together.

I work at my desk non-stop until my stomach convinces me it’s time to eat lunch. This can range from between 1pm and 3pm, but there’s been days where I work straight through. When I do eat, Tumini and Gracie run around downstairs while I eat a quick bite of lunch. When lunch is over, I make my way upstairs and everyone follows up without asking. I put up the gate and get back to work.

When Holly gets home, that’s usually the “work whistle” to let me know that my work day is over. I lift up the child’s gate and we all run downstairs to greet Holly. I usually say something like “Mommy’s home!” or “Go get Holly!” and we bound down the stairs. With my wife home, it’s time to start fixing dinner, so I take Gracie for a quick walk and then repeat the process of leashing her to the chair while she eats her dinner and I fix ours. Just before I’m done cooking, Gracie is ready for her second walk of the night. With that out of the way, we sit down to eat and watch a little TV.

Gracie sits in the big chair with me, usually chewing on a rawhide bone, while I watch TV and/or work on my laptop. With Holly sitting on the couch just next to me on the right and Gracie sleeping next to me in the chair on my left it feels like a little slice of heaven. If I’m lucky, I’ll nod off and drift to sleep and it’s some of the most relaxing sleep you can imagine. Eventually it’s time for bed and I’ll put Gracie in her crate and she’ll reluctantly go and curl up on her doggie bed. Holly and I pad upstairs and call it a night.

Being with Gracie for the day is a lot of fun. She makes the time past so quickly and she’s always ready for a quick tummy rub, or a roll on the floor. Sometimes I just break down and leave my desk and crawl on the floor with her for a few minutes before I’m tugged by deadlines back to the keyboard. I’ve always believed the saying that a dog is man’s best friend, but until this past summer, I never really understood it’s meaning. Gracie is like my best friend and those days where I’m able to stay at home with her are some of my happiest. Man, I love my dog.