Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey
Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey updates the condition of Alexandria's police dog Gracie as a local artist presents a portrait of the ailing animal.
They call her "Amazing Gracie," because even kidney cancer can't stop a beloved K-9 officer from patrolling with the Alexandria police department.
Many people have been touched by Gracie's spirit -- including a local artist who has painted a special tribute to the dog.
"It just broke my heart that Gracie is that vital, and wants to keep working, yet she's got that diagnosis of cancer," said Jason Swain, of Montgomery County.
"Whether it's a working dog or a personal pet, it's heartbreaking to know your dog is sick," Swain said. "And I thought well, this is my tribute to Gracie."
Swain painted the German shepherd in two poses. In both, Gracie's ears are up and alert, eyes bright and tongue out -- eager for an assignment.
This week, Swain presented his work to Gracie and her human partner, Steve Escobar.
Escobar loved the work that went into the painting, and said Gracie seemed to like the attention.
"I appreciate everybody," said Escobar. "All the outpouring from the community -- everybody's been calling, leaving messages."
Meanwhile, Gracie is still taking patrol and bomb-sniffing assignments, and she is, at last, training a younger K-9 to do her work.
But Escobar said no one will replace Gracie.
"We love our dogs," Escobar said. "We take them home with us. They are part of the family."