It’s 3:00 A.M. on New Years Day. A cup of coffee finds me still awake and finishing off some of my blog posts and resolutions and thoughts of the year that has just past.
In the dim light of the lamp that now sits in the corner of the room where our tree once graced us with its dancing threads of colored glow, I can see a picture of my girl Lucy staring back at me with that still familiar sparkle all her own. And seeing her, I feel it’s finally time to post this tribute so that maybe, just maybe the year ahead will be able to thrive in her memory.
In That Moment
I can still remember the moment we returned home, having been gone longer than we expected to be in our effort to make a day trip out to a local festival. We opened the door to find a sick dog racing for the back door, barely able to walk. As I helped her out to the back yard she eventually collapsed on the ground. Racing over to pick her up I found myself standing there in my socks and with my jacket half off, a sense of desperation taking over. I was trying to hold her up as best as I could as she did her best to go to the bathroom. Knowing that she had been slowing down over the last couple months, and that the strength in her hind legs was fading, I had been spending extra time encouraging her with words of routine praise in the hope that I could keep her motivated enough to make it outside rather than going to the bathroom in the house. In the dark of that night as I stood there helplessly holding her up, all that I could muster were some faint expressions of that praise. And what I remember is that, despite not being to stand on her own, and despite her need for aid in what had been an independent exercise as recently as that morning, she looked up at me and simply wagged her tail.
That was my Lucy.
That night would find her clearly in pain. The next morning would find her oddly silent, a silence that would persist all the way from the car to the vet to the eventual process of having to put her down. I had been in this place before. Jen and Sasha had not. It was the first and only time I have witnessed genuine and unrestrained sadness in my son. A sadness I know all too well for myself.
Meeting Our Pups For The First Time
13 years prior to this we found ourselves at a house down the road greeting these two puppies whom couldn’t have been more opposite to each other despite being from the same litter. Charlie was cowered in the corner while Lucy was desperately trying to claw her way out of the box that held them both prisoner. We had fallen for them both in a matter of seconds, and for as much as they would eventually grow into a healthy sibling rivalry, those early days which found them snuggled up tightly against one another would still manage to surface from time to time as a demonstration of their inseparable nature.
Our Mirror Images
Over the years it became very clear what these two dogs meant to both Jen and I. They were mirror images of us. Charlie was me. Anxiety ridden but loyal and dependable, a dog who played by the rules because he was too afraid not to. With Lucy, the rules went out the window very quickly. She was emotionally all over the place, shifting from boundless energy to quiet seclusion at the drop of a dime. And her decision making was not always the best. However, when she loved she loved. When she was demanding she was demanding (and boy did she have some demands). When she was upset she was upset. She did everything all in and at full speed or not at all.
Yep, she was Jen.
It’s no wonder I had such a ready and easy connection to her. Charlie and I had and do have a relationship, but it has always been from a slight distance. Jen understood that distance, and in return they have grown the closer bond. He needs to be in the same room as Jen at all times. Not right beside her, but just close enough to know he wasn’t alone. Like lying at the foot of the bed rather than at the head. He accepts the odd pet and attention, but by and large he is content to just be. To just know that she is there is enough for him.
Yep, that’s me.
Lucy on the other hand had no problem invading your personal space until you got the hint that she wanted your affection and attention. Her token spot on the bed was either right by our heads or squished tight in a cuddle. In the times that she needed it, the more physical closeness there was the happier she was. And then when she didn’t want it… well, you were most likely to find her in whatever room you were not in at the moment.
Yep, that’s Jen.
Lucy was constantly upsetting the status quo, frustrating us at many points with her constant shifts in mood and her need to be catered to. But always, always, always the life of the party. She would love and accept anybody anywhere who was willing to give her attention without any inhibition.
She also happened to have a stomach made of steel. Or something otherworldly anyways. We have so many stories of the stuff she managed to eat and emergency trips to the Vet’s office, only to have the Vet throw up his or her hands in exasperation because they can’t get her to do what they want her to do. I remember one time she ate so much cocoa powder that she was flying off the walls. We took her to the vet and they tried to induce vomiting. And tried some more. And tried again.
Lucy just outright refused.
Vet sent us home saying they had never seen a dog take so much to induce vomiting before. Lucy just looked up with a look that said, “sorry, not going to do it.” And so we were sent home, she recovered and went on to find the next thing she could ingest. Like the crab apples off the apple tree that never sat well with her but for which she would sit underneath and take flying leaps straight up in the air just to get. Or our efforts to grow Broccoli only to find the new roots completely consumed. Or the woodships. Or the underwear… well, maybe I’ll stop there
A Girl With Spirit and Untamed Desire
Of all the things I miss about her I think I miss her great, untamed affection for the outdoors. She loved her walks. and we would often find her just staring longingly out the window. There was little more joyous site than seeing her bound through the fields of the off leash park or jumping in the water and swimming so far out that we would wonder if we were going to ever get her back in again. She always came back, but not before she went out and did what she needed to do, which by all accounts was living her life to the fullest. Which is what I like to imagine that she did. Just like her mother who dreams of one day hitting the road on her motorcycle.
All The Second Guessing
There is so much about that day that still haunts me. I question so many things and second guess decisions and replay it in my head at least a couple times a day. I feel utterly guilty and devastated and spend a good deal of time blaming myself for what happened.
These are things I will never know. Things that I have to live with. Which is a big reason for why even considering submitting this into this physical space was so hard. There’s a permancy to writing these words. A finality. As if to say, yes, this happened. She is gone and it hurts like nothing else.
A piece of us, gone. A comfort and companion to Sasha as he made his transition to Canada 4 years ago. Gone. The girl who ate his very first ice cream cone. Gone. The girl who comforted me through some very dark times. Gone. The one who provided us with so many memories and funny stories. Gone. The one whom occupied so much or our time and space, but at the same time gave us a sense of purpose, a place to focus our care and attention outside of ourselves. Gone.
But I have to believe, I have to have hope that she is being restored. Remade. Renewed. I have to have hope that she is freeing me from the burden of all of those decisions and choices that we had to make in the moment. Because that is truly what I hoped for her in that moment, on that day. Freedom. As best as I could imagine it, as best as I could offer it in my doubts and failures and shortcomings. Freedom just like she offered us when she came into our lives as a young puppy. A spirited puppy whom helped shake us out of a tough time in our first year of marriage. A spirited puppy we have never known a year of marriage without, nor a Christmas. She will be missed. Missed dearly. But also remembered. And above all, cherished.
We miss you Lucy girl. Desperately. You went and left your paw prints all over our hearts and made permanent imprints. And for that we that we are forever grateful.