Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Goodbye, Lucy

"For the soul of every living thing is in the hand of God." -Job 12:10

I’ve mentioned Lucy a handful of times on the blog. She is my parent’s dog we adopted from the Walter Crowe Animal Shelter, a high-kill shelter, run by people who truly care about the animals, in Camden, SC. We adopted her as a puppy the day after Thanksgiving two years ago. While my parents didn’t really want a dog at the time, it was hard to say no to this brown puppy with big soulful eyes looking out at us. Lucy made herself right at home, and became part of the family almost instantaneously. She became my dad’s dog, and they did everything together. My mom helped with her care, some, but the brunt of the responsibility was my father’s, and he loved having her in his life. Wherever my dad went, Lucy was at his side. Errands around town, trips to the post office, road trips back and forth from South Carolina to Vermont, and evenings spent watching the news, sports, or the History Channel.

"If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness." -Marjorie Garber

At the time, my parents did not have a dog, and had not for over a year. This was the first time in my life where we not only had no dogs, but did not have multiple dogs. While my parents had enjoyed the down time without a dog - the lack of dog hair throughout the house, and the freedom to travel – as soon as they had Lucy they realized what they had been missing with no dogs. Lucy filled a void in my dad’s heart, which had not been filled since his other dog, a chow mix named Springdale, died my freshman year of college. In the nearly 2.5 years we owned Lucy, my dad regularly called me from his walks with her. I would get calls when Daddy was still awake, and my mom had gone to sleep, to tell me about something cute Lucy had done. This brown shepherd mix had quickly turned my dad’s heart to mush, and he loved every second spent with her.

"I guess you don't really own a dog, you rent them, and you have to be thankful that you had a long lease." -Joe Garagiola

Two days ago, I was sitting at work and received a call from my mom. I answered, and the first words out of her mouth were, “I have some terrible news.” My heart sank. I’ve gotten calls like this in the past, and they always have involved the death or serious injury of a loved one either of the two or four-legged variety, and I knew something was very wrong. But, never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to hear the words, “Lucy died last night.” I was in shock.

"The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master." -Ben Hur Lampman

Apparently, Lucy had a congenital heart problem that had gone undiagnosed by multiple vets. She began showing symptoms on New Years, and my parents rushed her to the vet. Many roads are closed in the winter in the North East Kingdom of Vermont, and the nearest vet was an hour away. By the time they got to the vet, Lucy was fine. The vet ran all sorts of tests and monitored her, but found no problems. After that, Lucy quickly went back to her normal self, until two nights ago, when she began showing symptoms again. Being late at night the vet they’d used on the last visit was closed, and they had to take her to an emergency vet, the nearest being 1.5 hours away. My dad has one glass eye, and his lack of depth perception makes it extremely difficult for him to drive at night. So, my mom drove, while my dad sat in the back seat, Lucy’s head nestled on his lap. It was dark, and quiet, and he sat stroking her head and talking softly to her while my mom drove the long distance, which must have felt like an eternity.

"She died as she had been born and as she had lived, in my care, and surrounded by those who loved her." -Vicki W. Fowler

When they arrived at the vet they tried to get Lucy out of the car, but she was not moving. They quickly realized she had stopped breathing. My mom raced in to get help and the vet ran out, noted she was not breathing, and rushed Lucy into the exam room where she performed CPR and administered a shot to try to get her heart beating again. There was nothing that could be done for her, she was gone, explained the vet. Soon after, we learned Lucy had an undiagnosed heart condition that most regular vets would not have picked up on. She died a painless death, in the arms of the person she loved most, but all of our hearts feel as if they have been ripped from our bodies, as we mourn her loss.

"Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives." -John Galsworthy

All we can do is think about what an incredible dog she was. Had it not been for my family, Lucy most likely never would have made it out of the shelter alive. She had been found as a stray, turned into the shelter, adopted by the people who found her, returned a day later, and by the time we met her was an older puppy in a shelter overrun with puppies. The adoption coordinator informed us when we adopted her that she most likely would have been put down the following week. My parents gave her love, they gave her a home, they gave her furniture to lounge on, TV to watch, woods to run in, lakes to play in, socialization, regularly veterinary care, a high quality diet, and most importantly, a family. In her short life, she went from being a flea and parasite infested puppy with deep brown eyes that seemed to have given up all hope, to a vibrant, healthy, athletic, and blissfully happy dog.

"If there is a heaven, it's certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them." -Pam Brown

This is a photo of her taken over the summer playing in the lake in Vermont with my brother’s dog, Minka. I am planning on blowing up and framing this photo, which I think truly captures her spirit, as a gift for my dad.

Rest In Peace, sweet Lucy.

"If there is a heaven, it's certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them." -Pam Brown


  1. Rest in Peace, Lucy. I'm glad she got to go in a peaceful loving way, where she could feel the love of her family. My thoughts are with your parents. :-(

  2. Woof! Woof! Sending my Golden Thoughts to you parents. Lucy definitely had a great joyful life ... n lots of wonderful memories treasured forever. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Lucy sounds very lucky to have found such a good home. There are so many wonderful animals in the shelter that need good loving homes, I'm so happy she brought some joy to your father's life and hopefully he will find that in another rescue too. Still, this must be so hard for them. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  4. We only get them for such a short time. Bye Lucy.

  5. What a joy they are for the short time that we have them. And what a wonderful life she had with your parents....

  6. I read post this last night in bed and cried. You are so right about Lucy having a wonderful life with your family ;) One that she surely would not have had were it not for your mom and dad. I think my tears were for your family. I've only had little Louis for a little over a year, but his absence would leave a gaping hole in my life.

    Thinking of you all!


  7. I am so sorry about Lucy. I know how painful it is to lose a furry family member. It helps to know that she had a wonderful life with your family. I do hope that you dad will consider adopting another, I know it's hard, but people like your mom and dad have lots of love to give a deserving pet!

  8. How so touching thank you so much for sharing the story. :(