GradyThere is a huge hole in my heart and tears on my cheeks as Lori and I had to say good-bye to my best friend this week. Grady (aka the G-Bone) has been my constant companion for almost 12 years. His unrelenting love for life will never be forgotten. He got sick in early December and our world came to a complete halt–work, social, photography, everything came down to our love for him and his needs. Nothing else that mattered to us but taking care of him.

In the end, to him and to us, it didn’t matter what was wrong. What did matter is that we were spending our days and nights together. For Grady taking care of his flock (us and the cats) was his greatest joy. When we were all in the same room, he could relax knowing that his herding work was done. While each day brought us some hope, they also brought more realizations of just  how sick he was getting.

As he had always done, he made sure that I knew just how important it was to be happy and rejoice in the moments that life has to offer. Each trip out of the house was met with unbounded enthusiasm for the adventure that awaited. In some cases it was a trip to the park for a walk but in many cases it was a trip back to the vet as they ran test after test trying to figure out what was wrong. On one of his last days when I knew all he wanted to do was lay by the fire, he still rallied up the energy to get up as I walked through the door give me a big smile and bring me one of his favorite toys for us to play tug-of-war.

That was truly one of his greatest gifts. He always, I mean always, had his eyes, heart and mind on what matters. At the end of day, we can make all the money in the world, live in big houses, drive nice cars, but Grady knew that it was love, friendship and doing what you love each and every day that matter most. Going for a walk with friends, eating a good meal, laying on your back telling stories, playing games and snuggling up to watch a movie (even a bad one) are the ways to spend a day.

He never got angry at anyone or anything. Life was a path that he was on and he knew that was to be enjoyed and experienced. His reactions to the world never got in the way of his enjoyment of life. He reminded me (all of us actually) that life is in the moments we experience. He was present for each and every one of his moments. He didn’t worry about tomorrow or last week, he didn’t even worry about right now. He was always in right now. The sights, smells, sounds, and love of the present. It is in that experience that I will now try to be like him. Sydney taught me the power of unconditional love, Bonzai the joy of being who you are, and Grady showed me life in the moment.

This is the last picture I took of Grady. He was at the vet’s office getting some pain treatments for his back. The process involved a light/laser that works sort of like acupuncture. We had to wear goofy glasses and so did Grady. As we looked at each other and laughed at our “hip glasses,” Grady again reminded us that in the moment even goofy is awesome. I have often times been asked about my favorite photographs (this will be one of them). A lot of them are of family and friends that never see the light of day, they are memories of places, events and people, but in this case I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my deeply loved buddy than to celebrate his love of those moments.