Author: Michelle Homer
PEARLAND, Texas — Life hadn’t been kind to J.P. Groeninger before he moved to Pearland two years ago, looking for a fresh start.
He had faced a grueling battle with cancer and a heartbreaking divorce.
“I came here a broken man -- physically, spiritually and emotionally,” Groeninger said in a Facebook post on the Talk of Pearland page. “I came here with two things I love the most: my best friend, my beloved black lab Gracie; and my Harley Davidson.”
Gracie had been a birthday gift to celebrate his first year of sobriety.
“Her name was derived from words I was told early in recovery: mercy is not getting what you do deserve; grace is getting what you don’t,” Groeninger explained.
A few months after he and Gracie settled into their new home together, the 13-year-old lab began showing signs that her time on earth was coming to an end.
When she lost control of her bowels and could barely walk, Groeninger knew it was time to say goodbye.
“I was devastated. She was my heart and soul,” he said. “But it was for the best.”
After taking Gracie to the Humane Society to end her suffering, Groeninger broke down in the parking lot.
“I barely made it to my truck before I was overwhelmed with grief. I sat in my truck sobbing uncontrollably,” Groeninger remembered. “Now bear in mind, I am a 6’1,' 230-pound, tattooed biker with a rough look, to say the least.”
A woman passing by saw his pain and didn’t hesitate to reach out.
“I feel a hand on my forearm, I look into the face of a stranger, a woman had heard my sobs and saw my tears and just walked up to the window of my truck and placed a hand on my arm -- nothing more; not a word was spoken between us,” Groeninger wrote. “I let the grief release and flow. After about 10 minutes of this, I regained my composure, I looked at her with gratitude. She gave a small, compassionate smile and patted my arm and just walked away.”
That was almost a year ago, but Groeninger hasn’t forgotten the compassionate stranger. He shared his story on the Talk of Pearland Facebook page, hoping she would see it.
“I will forever be touched by the kindness of that stranger, I will carry my gratitude towards her until my dying day, she lent me her strength when I had none of my own,” he wrote. “It is my hope and prayer that she reads this and can know how she touched my heart that day, and if you are reading this, I say an overwhelming ‘thank you.’ You were my angel on that day, and I will hold you in my heart with love forever.”
Groeninger later returned to the Humane Society to rescue another dog and fell in love with a black lab puppy. Gigi has been a godsend.
“I look at this sweet creature and think to myself, ‘I’m so glad I rescued this awesome dog.’ She looks at me as if to say, ‘I’m so glad I rescued this train wreck human.”