It’s been three weeks since I held Lucy Lou in my arms as she took her final breath and her valiant heart quit beating. Everywhere I turn I miss my faithful companion of twelve years. It was happenstance that my life even intersected with Lucy Lou. I just happened to be at the Dogwood Animal Hospital talking with Cindy, the vet, when Lucy Lou was rescued and brought in by Sharon Cravens, who is president of Best Friends Sanctuary Inc.
The last thing I planned was to have a house dog, but at Cindy’s insistence went to see this abandoned dog. My heart went out to the bedraggled lump of matted fur, which was trembling in fear despite Sharon’s loving touch. I looked into dark haunted eyes and spoke gently telling this shivering animal that everything was alright now that she had been rescued. Lucy Lou whimpered, reached out, and licked my hand. Sharon and I were both convinced this dog was someone’s pet. Two weeks later, I got a call from Sharon. No one had come forward to claim her even though posters had been put up and the police had canvassed the area for a couple of miles. If Sharon’s home hadn’t already been overcrowded with dogs needing homes her family would have gladly adopted Lucy Lou. On my end I was busy getting ready to head to Florida as my husband’s younger brother had suddenly died. There was no way I could take in a dog. Remembering how Lucy Lou had responded to me, Sharon said she would keep Lucy Lou if I would be willing to adopt Lucy Lou and I agreed.
A month later from the time I had first set eyes on Lucy Lou (the name Sharon’s daughter had given her and what I kept), I went to pick up Lucy Lou wondering if she would even remember me. As soon as Lucy Lou saw me it was as though we had never been parted. It was hard for Sharon to say good-bye as they had gotten attached to Lucy Lou. I was impressed by the big heartedness of animal volunteers who not only rescue animals that are deserted, but go the second mile keeping these neglected animals safe until they can be adopted to someone they know will give them a good home.
Three months passed before Lucy Lou’s confidence and true personality emerged realizing she had found her forever home. Wherever I went Lucy Lou became my shadow. Despite being discarded by a human, Lucy Lou was quick to trust anyone who entered our home. Visitors found her a whirlwind dancing on hind legs anxious to welcome them with doggy kisses, yet Lucy Lou would patiently posed for all kinds of pictures knowing she’d be rewarded with treats.
It didn’t matter how big the outside dogs were, Lucy Lou let them know in short order that she was top dog and was quick to boss them around. Even when the snow was deep for her short legs, my feisty dog loved playing in it. She was an endless bundle of energy. While Lucy Lou could play rough with the big dogs, she also had a gentle side.
Nights found her curled up in bed with me or lying on the floor close to my feet snoozing when I had to spend the day in the recliner due to increased pain. Every time I left the house, Lucy Lou would lie on the bed facing the door waiting for me to come home. When my husband had open heart surgery and a stroke resulting in becoming disabled, even though Lucy Lou had never been trained, she would bark and alert me whenever Dana had a seizure. When he fell and I had to get help, Lucy Lou would lie beside Dana licking his hand to keep him calm while I called for an ambulance.
This intelligent mixed poodle/schnauzer became the fiber of our household. She loved running in the woods or rolling on the ground while I worked in the garden and when I cooked in the kitchen there always was two dark brown eyes watching me intently. I began and ended my days with Lucy Lou by my side. It was while I was at my computer preparing my weekly get well cards to send out that Lucy Lou, whose furry body was flopped on the floor beside me, gave me a brainstorm. We had a friend battling cancer and none of my cards seemed appropriate. Why not pretend Lucy Lou was writing? What would she say? And so began a special correspondence between our friend and Lucy Lou that quickly caught on. You can tell a dog anything. During Clayton’s last hospital stay, I took Lucy Lou to see him. His face lit up as soon as he saw Lucy Lou and the small room was filled with laughter as she gave out lots of doggy kisses. I also started a blog of Lucy Lou.
Time passed swiftly and this dog, whose heart was bigger than her body, slowly started slowing down with age. I dreaded the thought of having to say good-bye, but when Lucy Lou became nearly blind, deaf, and it became harder for her to get around I knew it was time to let her go. As the autumn leaves began to fade, I took Lucy Lou back to where it all began so many years ago at the vet’s office. There Cindy and one of her staff put Lucy Lou to sleep for the final time. Wrapped snugly in a towel and her blanket, we buried Lucy Lou in a flower garden beside the stream and woods where she loved to run and play. This spring a bird bath surrounded by a ring of blooming daffodils will mark the grave of a very special dog, whose life made a lasting impression on all who came in contact with her. Even though there is a huge empty spot in our lives without Lucy Lou the many memories we shared together will always warm our heart.