It’s been a year since Baby Grey’s best friend Gracie passed away, but the cat still shows up for their scheduled playdates.
Like clockwork, Baby Grey will wander into the yard and stand at the sliding door, seemingly hopeful that her friend will come running to meet her at the glass. There, she waits, sometimes for 20 minutes, sometimes longer.
Gracie’s owner, Shea Belew Brennaman, a fourth-grade teacher in Decatur, Alabama, first noticed the mysterious cat visiting her yard two and a half years ago. “I think it lives two cul-de-sacs over from us and I don’t know its name,” Brennaman told The Dodo. “Me and my family just refer to it as Baby Grey.”
When Baby Grey first climbed into Brennaman’s fenced-in backyard, she was greeted by Gracie, a guard dog more interested in making friends than scaring off intruders.
“Gracie was an American Eskimo and stayed outside almost all the time,” Brennaman said. “She loved nature and, while she was a protector of our house, she loved all other animals and they loved her.”
Gracie was friends with everyone on her property, from the chipmunks and rabbits to even the hawks, and she was eager to learn more about the newest visitor.
“Gracie accepted her into our yard immediately and the two became fast friends,” Brennaman said.
Over time, Baby Grey’s visits became more frequent. Gracie was always a generous host when her cat friend popped over — and it seemed the two animals had found in each other a kindred spirit.
“We would leave Gracie tomatoes on our porch, as they were her favorite treat, and she would share them with the cat,” Brennaman said, “which was a huge deal because Gracie was very particular about sharing food.”
“When Baby Grey started coming over frequently the two of them shared tomatoes and sunbathed together,” she said. “Sunbathing was their absolute favorite activity.”
While Brennaman marveled at the animals’ close relationship, it seemed in keeping with the dog’s personality. Gracie would do anything for her friends and family — including saving Brennaman from a water moccasin attack when she was just an 8-month-old puppy.
“She had a sweet personality,” Brennaman noted. “[She] was a friend to all and was very motherly, especially to our Yorkie.”
In late October 2017, just after Gracie’s 12th birthday, Brennaman noticed the pup slowing down dramatically. A trip to the vet and numerous tests and X-rays revealed the cause: Gracie had aggressive lymphoma.
“Gracie spent most of her remaining days on the cold porch,” Brennaman said. “I think part of it gave her relief but, in reality, she was saying goodbye to her territory and to all of her friends in her yard.”
And, sure enough, Baby Grey was there.
“Baby Grey came to see her several times in her last days and, while there was no tomato eating, the two just laid there to be with each other,” she added. “They had that kind of connection where nothing needed to be said or done. They just wanted to be with each other.”
Gracie passed away in November 2017, less than a month after being diagnosed with cancer. And while the little dog’s death has been hard on everyone, Baby Grey seems to be dealing with her grief by holding a special kind of vigil for her friend.
That, or she refuses to believe that the little dog is really gone.
“Since Gracie’s death, several times a week, Baby Grey will come to our porch,” Brennaman said. “She will first come right up to the door and look in for Gracie. I don’t know how long she waits, sometimes she’ll wait for 20 minutes and then she will walk away to the porch where she will sit a while before she eventually lays down and sunbathes.”
Brennaman has come to expect Baby Grey’s continued visits, and though she hates to see the little cat suffering, it inspires some uplifting feelings as well.
“It breaks my heart to see Baby Grey still looking for Gracie,” Brennaman added, “but at the same time it gives me so much hope that these two animals had such a strong bond.”