Champions rise and fall, but all my good friend Graycee did was rise until, at three months shy of her fifteenth birthday, she rose to Rainbow Bridge.
Graycee lived not too far from me, on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal, which, in the summer, with only two bridges spanning the waterway, might as well have been the other side of the country.
We both became very well-known dogs, me through writing, and Graycee by being a championship pup, winning competitions. I never got a writer's ribbon, but Graycee had an entire wall of deserved championship rewards.
But, most of all, Graycee was a family dog, the leader of a pack of winners, and the apple of her mom's Joan's eye. Grace and her Aunt Joan practiced a lot, but neither minded because it was their time together. Graycee never won a ribbon because she strove to be the best, but because she knew it made her mom happy and proud.
Every dog is treated like a king when they pass over, but when a championship dog does, all the ribbons won suddenly appear in the trees. Other obedience dogs come to welcome their competitor.
There was a loud and moving howl of respect and sorrow when Graycee regally crossed over the Bridge. She did not break training as she slowly walked to the stairs, then climbed them, showing perfect form. It was not until I have Graycee the anget oath that she showed her emotions, which we caught between a laugh and a tear.
Once we completed the formalities, Graycee let her playful side shine through as she played with her family members, other competitors, and friends, both from the online world, and she met in person who preceded her to the Bridge. They ran freely around the river, up the mountains, and through the valley.
All those hours of training and competitions created an unbreakable bond between Graycee and her mom, and when the ties that bind are that strong, merely passing over the River of Life cannot break them. All moms see their angels in their dreams, as other animals, or out of the corner of their eyes, but because of the strong bond, I am sure her mom will feel Graycee's presence all the time, and it will never leave.
Championships and ribbons are all well and good because they symbolize a dog's brilliance. But nothing can trump the love and devotion between a mom and her dog or put asunder what Graycee and her mom feel for one another.