Lucy came into our lives during the summer of 1997. My parents had recently divorced and Lucy was a welcome and positive addition to our little family. We picked her out of a litter of pups at Friends of Strays in St. Petersburg, FL. My dad had stopped off there one morning to check out the dogs, and after seeing Lucy he came dashing home to wake my sister and me so we could go see her and decide if we wanted to adopt her. If memory serves, she and her brothers and sisters had been found in a dumpster. Can you imagine? How could someone do that to a litter of sweet pups? Although selfishly, I'm glad they did, or Lucy would never have become a part of our family. And when we looked at all those puppies, sure enough, the little brown one just captured our hearts. We brought her home, slapped a bright pink collar on her and named her Lucy. Or Lucy Jane, affectionately. Or Lucinda Vivian, if we were feeling formal and fancy. Lucy wore many hats.
New puppy Lucy climbing on my back, with my sister's encouragement! (1997)
I know on such a sad occasion it's easy to see all memories of the dear old dog with rose-colored glasses, but let's be honest here - as a pup, Lucy was a bit of a hellion. Cute as a button, sure, but also...challenging. We should have known when we brought her home and the first thing she did was lunge at our feet and nip our toes that we were in for a bit of a wild ride. Of course, her feet were also the size of saucers - way too big for her little puppy body. We knew she was a chocolate lab/pit bull mix, so we were in for a big dog, but those paws were the best indicator of what we really had in store for us. Sure enough, Lucy grew like a weed.
Already getting bigger!
Of course, a growing dog needs lots of nourishment and good nutrition. Lucy sought out this "nutrition" pretty much anywhere and everywhere. She would eat anything - pennies, plastic wrappers, even razors left on the edge of the bathtub. That dog must have an indestructible digestive system, let me tell you. Her favorite forbidden delicacy was my sister's retainer, which she devoured and then also went after the replacement - more than once. That's one pricey snack, dog. Another favorite was cloth hair scrunchies, which she would swallow whole, and...uh...let's just say, those don't digest. They come out in the same form in which they go in. Ewwwww. What is the appeal there? On a less gross note, Lucy also loved to eat ice cubes, and whenever you filled your glass with ice cubes from the dispenser on the refrigerator, Lucy would instantly be at your feet asking for one for herself. Another favorite treat was a raw egg cracked over her food - aaaah, now that's the good stuff.
Young Lucy, always on alert
Lucy also loved our swimming pool. It took a little convincing at first - we taught Lucy to get into the pool by putting a treat on a raft, encouraging her to climb onto the raft and float around. We would later regret this strategy as Lucy popped one inflatable raft after another, but hey, it got the dog swimming. And swim she did! She loved to be in the pool when we were, happily doggy-paddling around her family. Sometimes we would play "Pickle in the Middle" with her, throwing a ball back and forth from one end of the pool to the other as she swam back and forth to try to retrieve it. We would also run as fast as we could around the edge of the pool (the "mother" side of me now cringes at the thought) as Lucy chased us, and just as she was about to catch us we would jump into the water. She would often follow, but she always used the stairs. And not only did Lucy love the pool, but she really just loved water in general. You could aim the hose at her and she would run face-first right into the stream of water, chomping away, trying to catch as much of it as possible in her mouth. "Wet dog" just became a fact of life in our house.
Playing Pickle in the Middle with Lucy!
Through the years, Lucy made some friends. She got to know our neighbor, Dave, and was always happy to see him on the other side of the fence. She also got to hang out with Achilles a few times when we would bring him to visit, and when my sister and her cat Rodney moved in with my dad for a few years, Lucy was thrilled to have a feline playmate. The cat, however, was not so enthused and spent a lot of time on top of furniture.
Achilles and Lucy waiting to be let back into the house
Achilles and Lucy barking at my photographer on my wedding day, as he took photos of my wedding shoes!
A rare moment for Lucy and Rodney - they're so close to each other! Of course, Rodney is trapped in that room, because NO WAY is he going to try to walk around Lucy!
This was the more usual state of affairs - Lucy is ready to play, and the cat is up on the furniture.
And of course, Lucy loved her family. She would just look at us and wag her tail. When we came home from an outing, Lucy would always be laying there in the front window of the house, just watching and waiting for us to return. When we walked through the door, she would wag her tail so hard her whole body shook and pull up her lips, exposing her teeth in what could only be described as a big, happy dog smile. When my sister and I went to bed, Lucy would sleep in the hallway between our rooms, nose pressed against our bedroom doors, just waiting for us to re-emerge. And when she heard us stirring, we would hear the thump, thump, thump of her tail wagging against the floor. Lucy also loved resting her head on people - on their laps, on their chests, wherever she could. I sometimes think she was really a small dog trapped in a big dog's body. If it had been up to her, she definitely would have been a lap dog. If you sat on the floor with her, she was in total heaven.
Young Lucy and my sister
Young Lucy and my dad
Elderly Lucy and me, taken this past Thanksgiving
Lucy has been with our family through so many years and so many changes. When she first came into our lives, we were trying to figure out our new family identity in the wake of my parents' divorce, and she fit easily into our new life. At that time, I had just finished my first year of high school. Lucy watched both my sister and me grow up through our teenage years and all that entails - the laughter, the tears, the new friends, the boyfriends, the busy schedules. When I got my first car that had a muffler that sounded like a lawn mower, Lucy learned that sound and would run to the front door when she heard my car coming around the block. When I got my first job as a waitress at Steak 'N Shake, Lucy would ride with my dad to pick me up after my shifts and would start to lose her mind by the time they were halfway there. I'm not sure if that was just excitement to see me, or if she was hoping for a steakburger...probably both, if we're being honest. When we would get ready for homecoming dances and proms, we would have to be careful that Lucy didn't jump on our dresses. When we brought our boyfriends home, Lucy would shower them with way more kisses and attention than they ever wanted. Then I went away to college, but every time I came home, Lucy went wild as soon as she saw me. She never forgot. When I moved out of state, I saw Lucy even less frequently, but her reaction as always the same when I returned. Lucy was there as I got ready on my wedding day, barking ferociously at our photographer alongside Achilles. Lucy was there for my baby shower, patiently waiting outside for her turn to join the festivities. Lucy has been there through it all.
Our sweet dog
I wish I could be there to say good-bye to Lucy today, even though I know she doesn't know the difference. And I know that it is time for her - to be honest, she has been in bad enough shape for some time now that every time I visited, I made sure to say good-bye to her because I wasn't sure if she would still be around the next time I was in Florida. She has lived a very long, full dog life - 15 years of chomping on ice cubes, of mangled retainers, of shaking water all over us after a dip in the pool. Fifteen years of loving stares, happy tail wags and excited barks that put smiles on our faces and brought joy to our hearts. Fifteen years of being a part of our family, our Lucy Girl.
Lucy was loving and loyal till the end, and that's how I'll remember her. So long, sweet pup. I hope you find peace and know how very much you were loved.