Gracie, a Royse City chiweenie, was among 36 dogs that donned festive Christmas outfits and visited with Santa Paws Sunday afternoon at the Royse City Animal Shelter. The event was sponsored by the animal shelter and Royse City Paws.

She’s back by popular demand.

Yes, I’m talking about Gracie, our beloved chiweenie.

Some of you have been a part of Gracie’s life from the beginning because you’ve read about her in this space from the time we rescued her from life on the streets of Greenville.

You remember the account of this young rescued dog giving birth to five male puppies six years ago and how she almost died of milk fever weeks later because those big boy puppies were literally sucking the calcium – and life - out of her body.

Of course, some of you remember me telling you about the time “stranger dog” in our neighborhood turned vicious and attacked Gracie, and how I’m the only one who bled and required medical treatment from this ordeal in the middle of Royse City’s Orchid Boulevard.

And some of you have faithfully followed as I told you about how Gracie would take me on twice-a- day walks, how we would multitask along the way by picking up litter, and how she – from her window to the world – would protect her castle from bumby rabbits, squirrels, cats, leaves, the wind and anything else that moved.

Gracie has become famous, but she hasn’t let fame go to her head. She’s still our precious little humble, human dog even though she is filled with quirkiness like her dad. By the way, dad would be me.

She makes her way back into this space today because it’s the Christmas season and Gracie recently visited Santa Claus – actually Santa Paws – for the very first time. She’s pictured here to mark this historic moment.

And, of course, when something exciting happens in your family, you want to share that moment with your friends. Yes, certainly, that would be you. Friends, indeed.

Actually, there’s not much to write about this historical moment at the Royse City Animal Shelter. She was out of her comfort zone in a room filled with some big dogs that probably reminded her of “stranger dog.”

Wife Becky and I agree, though, that the highlight of the event was the opportunity for Gracie to sit on Santa’s lap while dad snapped pictures. For the pictures, she was provided a Santa suit and hat to wear. What a big deal for her – and us.

But there was another big moment. She got to meet Ruthie, who, I suppose, is the First Dog of Royse City. She’s Mayor Janet Nichol’s beloved miniature Dachshund.

Where do we go from here?

Gracie is still the protector of her castle, and there’s a new villain that requires her attention. She gets very upset when she hears the growling engines of trucks. I wonder what she “sees” when she hears those loud growling sounds. Whatever, she can’t just bark from her window to the world. Something this big and bad requires her to go into the back yard and bark until the sound is gone

And when that happens, she’s always rewarded with, “Thank you, Gracie.”

She takes her job as protector seriously and we give her some serious gratitude.

Something else that’s new and different is that she’s awake and ready for breakfast at 2:32 a.m. – or thereabouts – almost every day. I think I started that because I get a start to my day way too early.

I’m usually already awake when I hear the jingle of her rabies tag on her collar when she bounces into the bedroom. And if I’m not awake, she will get my attention with a very gentle growl.

 Gracie is still leading us around the block. We live in a different neighborhood, but the walks are still an important part of our daily regimen.

There is something new about the walks, however. Becky accompanies Gracie some of the time and that is OK with me – and Gracie. Gracie gets a little extra spring to her step when Becky is her escort. And I can’t really blame her. Becky has that same effect on me.

Thank you for allowing me to have some fun today, giving you some new information about life with Gracie.

Even though I can’t find a graceful way to transition to my final point of the day, here it is – a Christmas wish from the Hardin family of three.

 “Join us in celebrating Jesus, the reason for the season. And let’s enter 2017 with great expectations that this will be an amazing year of health, happiness and prosperity.”

And, remember, the best is yet to come.


Jim Hardin may be reached at