Gracie the Survivor

Beautiful Gracie the Pit Bull
All she heard was a crack. Then excruciating pain coursed through her body as her teeth shattered from the shotgun blast. A malevolent person just blew off half her face, blinding her in one eye, and leaving her for dead.

And yet, she survived.

Let us back up. Gracie’s story began with a simple message to Destiny the Pibble, a dog known for second chances:

“Can you help?”

Destiny’s owner, “Mama” Sherry Stinson, replied yes, and a mission was born.

The message came from a rescuer in Canada. A few phone calls later and we found out Gracie was a stray down in Seguin, TX, over 600 miles away from us in Oklahoma. Animal control in Seguin said Gracie came up to them and laid her head in their lap. As most small town shelters, they were full. They couldn’t bear to put her down, yet knew the clock was ticking. They reached out to a local rescuer, Laurie Gaston-Marshall, who in turn reached out to her network of rescuers, one of which was Holly Eely, all the way up in Canada! Holly knew Destiny’s story, how she was a second chance dog helping others, and reached out. Holly also reached out to five other Facebook pages that day in hopes someone could help.

Gracie

Destiny answered the call.

After a short phone call to Laurie in Texas, Destiny’s Mama reached out to her good friend, Misty Bilby, who runs Amore Pit Bull Rescue in Mounds, OK. Not even three minutes into the conversation, Misty said, “I’ll take her!” With the wheels in motion, now all that remained was getting Gracie to Oklahoma.

A few days later, Misty, Sherry, and their good friend, “Aunt” Lisa Varshay piled into the Jeep and headed to Dallas, the halfway point to pick up Gracie. They decided to meet at Gilley’s, a bar made famous in Urban Cowboy, and fitting since it was a movie about redemption and second chances. We stepped out of the car and there she was – this tiny, battle-scarred Pit Bull, a little shy, but with a tail that never stopped wagging. Misty fell in love at first sight, and I watched as tears fell from everyone’s eyes.

Gracie’s Journey

After Gracie returned to Oklahoma, we created a Facebook page for her, detailing her road to recovery. Daily we received questions…

“What happened to her?”

“Was she a bait dog?”

“Who could do such a thing to her?”

We never had the answers. We knew Gracie was old and seen things no dog should see, had survived something horrific, but we didn’t know what. We knew she was ill. She was heartworm positive. Her mouth badly infected. Teeth horribly shattered. Underweight. And blind in one eye.

Yet that tail never stopped wagging.

It’s almost like Gracie was saying, “Hey, guys, it doesn’t matter what happened to me in the past because I’m here now.”

So Misty took her to a variety of doctors to treat all her ailments. The heartworms. To be spayed. To check out her eye. Then to the doggie dentist. The dentist, Dr. Russell with Small Animal Clinic of Tulsa, said the teeth had to come out because the infection was dangerous and the fragments were terribly painful to her. Still, we had no idea what had happened to shatter her teeth so badly and rip up her face.

The fateful day came for Gracie’s surgery. Dr. Russell was confident he could remove the teeth and create a flap for Gracie, so she’d no longer have a hole in the side of her mouth, which would also enable her to eat and drink without difficulty.

That’s when we learned of Gracie’s past. Dr. Russell did x-rays revealing shotgun pellets. As he began removing teeth and bone fragments, he found more shotgun pellets. He told Misty, in no uncertain terms, Gracie had been shot in the face with a shotgun.

Misty called me the moment she found out, her voice shaking with anger!

Gracie Post Op

Gracie Post Op

“How could someone do that?! Why would they harm such an innocent creature?!” as her voice broke. I had no answers. I couldn’t wrap my head around it either.

All any of us could do was seethe with anger. What kind of monster would do that?! How could anyone aim a gun at a dog, let alone unload a shotgun blast into their face, then leave them to die?

As Misty talked, I heard the pain in her voice, knowing Gracie had endured such abuse at the hands of mankind. She said, “After all that, and yet Gracie has such love for humans even though a human caused her the most horrific pain a dog can endure! Her tail never stops wagging! She’s always nudging me to pet her! She’s the most forgiving creature I’ve ever met. When I look at her, my heart and soul is full of love for this baby, and I thank God daily for bringing her to me. I feel like she was brought into my life for a reason and it gives me great joy to be her ‘Momma.’ Gracie has taught me so much about resilience, but most of all, about forgiveness.”

Forgiveness. A word so easy to say, yet so hard to do for us humans. For Gracie, it’s an afterthought to a past she’s let go of. It’s a remnant of a time gone by as she basks in the glow of today’s sunshine. For Gracie, her world is full of love and kindness, afternoon walks, and lazy Sundays. Right here. Right now.

With a tail that never stops wagging.

       
Anna Kilker - February 27, 2016 - 6:15 am

I am from Seguin, Texas. It breaks my heart knowing this pup endured so much pain, and there is probably another animal suffering at the hands of the monster who hurt Gracie. I will share this post. I hope this person someday has to face judgement Justice for Gracie.

Cheryl Mauney - February 26, 2016 - 9:28 pm

I read this with tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart. To be as forgiving as Gracie. That’s what we should all strive for. A beautiful girl with a heart full of love. Enjoy every minute of every day sweet girl. You deserve nothing but the best. <3

Cyndi McNutt - February 26, 2016 - 7:01 pm

Sherry is an angel. And the woman who never gives up. She gives her all to these babies! If I am only a half of the person she is, I will be proud. She deserves a special place in heaven for her work and tireless devotion to the downtrodden. God bless you, Sherry! Thank you for your generous devotion. I admire your spirit and soul!

Susan Graham Peterson - February 26, 2016 - 4:50 am

Mama Sherry is the best angel you can have on your shoulder. She never stops saving, loving, photographing and hugging them..She makes a huge difference is the dog rescue world! Everybody knows her, loves her and respects her so much…Gracie is going to be beautiful aagin and have a long an d happy life with monny and Aunt Sherry

Tamara Rothermel - February 26, 2016 - 3:16 am

Gracie looks fabulous!!! The vets that have worked on her have done wonders! She is a beautiful girl, and God Bless all of you, who have worked so hard to help her! Hugs & Prayers!

Naomi Sullivan - February 25, 2016 - 10:30 pm

It became harder to read, because of the tears welling up in my eyes. There truly are evil people in this world, and the person who shot her is one of them. I’m so glad she found caring people to take her in and save her life. Thank you doesn’t seem enough. But I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Lori Scheet - February 25, 2016 - 10:29 pm

This makes me cry while I read it. But I knew the first time I saw her that someone had shot her in the face. I dont know how or why. Maybe its from people being bad hunters, from where I grew up in the country; and having to put out of misery deer and other creatures that hunters had only wounded. But I new this was from a shotgun. There are at least two or three dogs on the rescue network, that are recovering from shotgun blasts, sometmes suffered at the hands of children. This is not an anti-gun rant, this is an anti-children having guns rant. I love Gracie she is so full of life, and not mad at humans like she should be. Please keep me posted on her recovery.

Linda Hager - February 25, 2016 - 10:05 pm

Thank you, thank you for loving her. She looks beautiful in the before picture and the after. From all the posts you so graciously share, we can see that whatever her past was, it will never affect her present and future life. She now knows love and kindess. Again thank you.

Darlene Welborn - February 25, 2016 - 9:55 pm

Perhaps, she has a story that you can help her tell-through the media, schools, anywhere! Gracie, you are remembered and loved in Seguin!

Tammy Kubik - February 25, 2016 - 9:10 pm

It’s people like u misty that makes me feel great and. I know how u feel I have rescued 4 dogs and 5 cats and it makes me feel good and u are so right on how forgiving they are one of my rescue dogs was abused and it took him 2 years to wag his tail and to really trust and now he’s my handsome and happy old man I watched him blossom into Avery loving boy and I’m happy I took him cause I love all my boys and girls and kongo my old man shows me so much love and let someone raise there voice to me in angry guess he’s right there to protect me my kongo we know he’s old but not sure how old he’s got teeth broken like they where kicked out and missing and all his legs broken and never set right but today u never would know I would do it all over again because my fur babies saved me instead of me saving them they fill my heart with so much love bless all that adopt and rescue animals it’s very full filling I know

Charlotte Bates - February 25, 2016 - 9:03 pm

I am in tears
Thank you everyone involved for helping Gracie!!!
Misty is a fabulous mom to this wonderful baby love ‼️❤️

Melanie Simpson - February 25, 2016 - 7:38 pm

I’m SO ANGRY for you Gracie, but I know your message is that with a story of love…. So I will look at your tragedy as an opportunity to learn, to set an example of what great community can do, and to be thankful to those who stepped forward in your time of need. My heart goes out to you Gracie. ❤️

Carman C Whitney - February 25, 2016 - 7:23 pm

Okay crying now how could someone, I’m glad she has a momma to take care of her now, she is a beautiful dog. Here’s to a speedy recovery and ice cream to heal it. Thank you for all that helped save this baby girl

Irina Semionov - February 25, 2016 - 6:49 pm

I am crying just reading this. How can any human be so inhumane to an innocent animal that didn’t do anything to them. She is a strong girl, and still waggin tail just says a lot… Sending love and hugs and thank you for taking her, showing her that not all humans are evil like she had to deal with… She is beautiful from the outside and inside…. Sending love and hugs and kisses….❤️❤️❤️

Kathi Nichols - February 25, 2016 - 6:39 pm

I have got to stop reading these at work. The tears are just streaming down my face. I am so proud of you Gracie, and even more proud of the village that rescued you. Enjoy your sunshine sweet girl. You deserve it.

Bonnie Wilson - February 25, 2016 - 6:39 pm

Your beautiful Gracie, both inside and now outside. Bless you sweetie and have a wonderful, love filled future.

Mandy Madrienne Stewart - February 25, 2016 - 6:04 pm

Sometimes it is so hard for me to understand — Gracie’s story is one, how anybody could do what they did to her. I’ve followed her story from day one and how Gracie can be so forgiving is amazing. God does make amazing creatures. Love you Sweet Girl.

Connie Woods Warrenfeltz - February 25, 2016 - 5:48 pm

Thankfully, Gracie now knows caring humans exist. Thank you to every hero who played a part in showing Gracie her life matters.

Monti Rio - February 25, 2016 - 5:42 pm

God bless ALL who took care of this Beutiuful dog – she is an angel -Thank you Village your are fantastic group of people

Julie Millard - February 25, 2016 - 5:34 pm

I’m at work on my lunch with a heaviness in my heart and tears trying to run down my cheek. I almost have lost faith in humans after reading so much of this sadness and horror. But then my faith in God and that he has a plan for her and I think if Gracie can forgive us humans who am I to hold onto anger for it was her whom they tortured. Gracie my sweet girl live happy live long and know each day when you awake that you will never know anything but bundles of love and affection from all who know you and know of you. Hugs kisses and love to you beautiful

Lisa Fumia - February 25, 2016 - 5:29 pm

I’m going to have to stop reading these posts during the work day…there are only so many times I can say my allergies are causing me to tear up.

Gracie, loved you before. Love you even more now.

Annette Ajayi - February 25, 2016 - 5:24 pm

Awful but with such trust in humans,maybe in her own way prayed that the best of of a human would come and save her for the rest of her days absolutely amazing. Xx love 2 her

Ann Mintz - February 25, 2016 - 5:07 pm

We have so much to learn from dogs about forgiveness. Gracie and Destiny inspire me, as do Mama Sherry, Misty and so many heroes of the rescue community.

Julie Mis - February 25, 2016 - 5:02 pm

Blessings to all who have helped Gracie throughout her recovery, she is the true definition of a survivor!❤️

Corliss Jarvis - February 25, 2016 - 4:57 pm

So glad that you have Gracie what a horrible way for someone to treat any animal and just leave them! She could teach us as humans so much about love and forgiveness just by hearing what a sweet soul this doggie has and how much fight she must have in her to endure so much pain and hurt. Thank you so much for giving her a second chance at life and for loving her and letting her know just how much she means to you and that she is important. She is truly amazing!

Cheryle R. Mosier - February 25, 2016 - 4:50 pm

I’m sending Love & Warm ((((Hugs)))) to the Lovely, Amazing Gracie <3

Janet Morrison Pigman - February 25, 2016 - 4:50 pm

Thank you for giving her a chance and thank you Seguin animal shelter for reaching out to find her a home. soneday I will be in a position to help more, right now I donate when I can.

Cathie Garrett - February 25, 2016 - 4:48 pm

Thank you for sharing this story! I have tears streaming!

Shawn Suriano-Wellden - February 25, 2016 - 4:46 pm

Been following from the start. LOVE her and the people that helped her. Would love to be a part of a team like that!

Teresa Woods - February 25, 2016 - 4:40 pm

I’m so happy that you this little girl and she’s beautiful , I wish that with her story on f.b. that whom ever did this to her finally comes forth and admits to his or her shame , but we also know that that so called human won’t so he will have to answer to the highest man why he would do such a crime to his loving creatures . thank you for all of you who has been in Gracys recovery God bless each of you ! Momma you have one girl that ardours you and will never have the love that you too share together !

Nicki Morin - February 25, 2016 - 4:38 pm

So thankful all of you pulled together to save her. I love reading her post every day and seeing how positive and happy she always is. Gracie you were beautiful before (inside and out) but even more so now with your new gorgeous face.

Pauline Johnson - February 25, 2016 - 4:34 pm

Omg thanks to everybody involved in her safety n health I’m wiping tears away n they just keep coming down faster
Any animal shouldn’t have to endure a life that this baby did .To the POS that did this I hope u ROT in Hell.Glad she is knowing what love is now

Beth Lyons - February 25, 2016 - 4:32 pm

Love this sweet dog! So happy she has a good life and will only know love and kindness from now on.

Trish Anderson - February 25, 2016 - 4:31 pm

I love my beautiful Gracie.. you’re a warrior baby girl. And you’re suffering is over. Karma will get whoever did this to you…God bless

Jessica Remer - February 25, 2016 - 4:26 pm

Beautiful Gracie. We love you and we’re praying for a fast recovery!

Vicky Padilla - February 25, 2016 - 4:24 pm

I have been following this story from the start. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I am humbled by the knowiedge that God continues to bless us with these precious souls to continue His work here on earth to bring awareness and help educate humanity about compassion, love, hope, faith and loyalty. Through no fault of their own, these precious living souls have endoured the most unimaginable and heinous offences and acts of evil cruelty, surely we glean the most valuable of lessons of both forgiveness and resilience. God Bless you Gracie ^i^ <3!

Kelly Larpenter - February 25, 2016 - 4:23 pm

what an amazing story about a beautiful angel I’m happy that she overcame the bad things that happened to her and her past and gave another human a chance to love her the way she deserves it thanks for being involved in her life destiny, mama sherry, and mama misty..
Lots of love from iowa..

Dena Newlun - February 25, 2016 - 4:20 pm

Such an amazing ending for a lovely dog. Bless all who rescued this baby!

Judy Rae Jackson - February 25, 2016 - 4:20 pm

So glad that Gracie was rescued.

Karly Moxon - February 25, 2016 - 4:19 pm

Oh man….❤️Bless you guys…..just bless you. If only we could learn from beautiful Gracie.

Tammy Jo Burton - February 25, 2016 - 4:17 pm

Love this baby ! So glad she has Love now ❤️

Lyne Brown - February 25, 2016 - 4:16 pm

I’ve followed since I found her story and my heart just breaks for her

Cindy Wyatt - February 25, 2016 - 4:14 pm

What a wonderful article and a lesson all of us need to learn from Gracie! Thank you both!

Terri Cribbs - February 25, 2016 - 4:11 pm

Love

Dana Frances Howard - February 25, 2016 - 4:08 pm

Gracie is BEAUTIFUL inside and out. Keep wagging that tail.

Lora West Rogers - February 25, 2016 - 4:07 pm

Aww Bless her and you All

Patricia Acosta - February 25, 2016 - 4:06 pm

I love you Gracie, you are the prettiest girl.

Holly Eely - February 25, 2016 - 4:01 pm

So well written…thank you for sharing her story. I cried my own years for this doll. So glad our village came together for yet one more beautiful soul.

Tracey Bowman Rahm - February 25, 2016 - 3:57 pm

What a beautuful girl…inside and out. It hurts too bad to try to figure out all of the whys and hows. I cant nor will i ever understand anyone with such a cold black heart and soul. May Gracie continue the road to recovery knowing how much she us loved by many. ♡

Terry Taylor - February 25, 2016 - 3:52 pm

I’m so glad this story has a happy ending. These stories are why I give money to animal rescue causes. Every little bit helps.

Karen Hoebel-Farley - February 25, 2016 - 3:52 pm

To the person who shot her.. know that God was watching and you WILL answer for your despicable deed.. and remember this.. There will be NO MERCY for those who have not shown Mercy to others and that includes animals. But if you have been Merciful, God Will be Merciful when he judges you. – James 2:13

Phaedra Petersen - February 25, 2016 - 3:50 pm

Gracie ♡

Patsy Bolan-Butler - February 25, 2016 - 3:49 pm

God bless everyone who helped her. What a special furbaby, she’s beautiful, no matter how she looks.

Sandra SV - February 25, 2016 - 3:49 pm

Beautiful.

Chris Rice - February 25, 2016 - 3:44 pm

I love her…she is an angel.