Knowing it’s coming doesn’t help alleviate the pain. I learned that quite quickly yesterday morning on my way to work.
A text from my mom that Lucky was not doing well, followed by a phone call from my dad with the inevitable news: Lucky had to be put down.
I could feel my breath shorten and my stomach begin to knot. I expected this to happen, I knew it was coming, but my heart still broke. Lucky was diagnosed with Lymphoma last Friday, and in less than a week, my sweet puppy was gone.
As the tears rolled down my cheeks, and through broken conversation, I attempted to put my dad at ease about his unselfish decision. As hard as it was to call it quits on the struggle, we only wanted to do what was best for Lucky. She was the biggest fighter I’ve known, always pushing through no matter the circumstance, but even in the days leading up to her death, she began to slowly wave the white flag. No matter how much she loved life, her 16 year old body had finally succumbed to her age and the illness on a gorgeous sunny day, complete with a bright blue, cloudless sky and temperatures in the upper 60’s. It was ideal weather that she would have loved, and was a perfect day to remember my girl.
I have never lost a pet before, but you better believe I now understand the sadness that comes along with it. Grief sure is a strange thing; it comes and goes while remembering the good times, the bad times, and every time in between. For me, I deal with my heart break with words and through writing. Getting my emotions down on paper is like my own form of therapy. It is something that has helped me through all the tough times in my life: death, break-ups, misunderstandings, misfortunes, internal battles, etc. The best way for me to get out my feelings, and to memorialize Lucky, is to write about her and remember her life along with all of the joy she gave me. Last night I sat down and just wrote and wrote. Lucky has a great story and I find it important to share her story with all of you.
There was a time in my life when didn’t think I was a dog person. Sure, I thought they were cute, fluffy and made for good company, but I never truly realized the mark they can leave on your heart.
I have only had one dog before Tebow, and her name was Lucky. My dad found her in a field and brought her home to live with us when I was in the third grade. My mom, who didn’t think she was a dog person either, was initially not too thrilled with our new member of the family. Lucky was a wild young thing, as most pups are, and would spend her time doing ‘bad dog’ things like digging up the landscape, chewing the hot tub cover, running through her invisible fence, and eating the woodchips blanketing our playground. I liked Lucky, but was also pretty cautious. Never being around dogs in my life, her high energy made me a little nervous. Over time though, her loving spirit began to grow on me and the rest of the family.
Lucky was one of those dogs who literally didn’t have a mean bone (no pun intended) in her body. She absolutely loved bones, belly rubs, head pats, and protecting her domain, aka ‘the yard.’ Lucky was an outside dog who truly hated being in the house. She always enjoyed running around the backyard and while chasing bunnies, birds and everything in between. She was an independent woman who loved her family, but also was keen on keeping a certain level of independence.
As the years went on, Lucky and I continued to grow closer. She would watch closely over me when I was in the backyard on the trampoline, she would lay by the basketball court as my brother practiced for hours and hours, and she would follow my dad eagerly around as he would tediously mulch, weed whack, and plant, as well as mow the lawn.
When I was in the 8th grade, my grandma was diagnosed with colon cancer and moved into our home. It must be a genetic thing, (sort of kidding!), but my grandma was not a dog person at all. I truly believe that Lucky was the first dog that my grandma could not only tolerate, but also learned to love. We would catch grandma sneaking Lucky treats and watching her roam outside through the window. Lucky seemed to silently understand that grandma was sick. One amazing trait Lucky had was a special sense of reading human emotions. She was never wild around grandma, and Lucky listened intently to the direction grandma gave her. When my grandma passed away during my freshmen year of college, Lucky grieved right along with our family. She would lick our hands, nuzzle our legs, and truly sympathize right along with us. If ever a dog could love, Lucky is the one who could.
Fast forward a few years and Lucky had grown wiser, smarter, but also older. Gone were the black-as-night features that framed her face, and here were the grey whiskers that seemed to slowly be popping up more and more each day. After college, I moved back in with my parents and I was happy to see Lucky girl every morning when I left for work, and every evening when I would pull in and she would be waiting on me.
Last August, we went away on vacation for a week, just like we do each and every year. Most dogs might go to a kennel, but Lucky preferred to stay home in her own space. We paid the teenage neighbor to let her in the house at night, out in the morning, and to feed and water her throughout the day. Lucky was a dog who preferred to remain at her own home, and we were happy to oblige. When Lucky was young, we took her to a kennel, but her sad cries when the other dogs barked at her were enough to make tears fall from my own eyes.
After this, Lucky always stayed at our home and we had never had any issues. However, the one thing Lucky was deathly afraid of was storms. She would send herself into a panic whenever those rain clouds moved in, and unfortunately, this time our neighbor did not get to our house in time. Lucky had ran away, and hours later, our neighbor called our family in Destin, Florida to share with us the news: Lucky was gone. We were all terribly upset, as can be imagined. Here we were in Florida, 100’s of miles away, and our family dog was out in the storm somewhere, probably scared and alone. We called close friends to go check on her and look in all of the spots she was known to hide in, but to no avail. As night came and the thunder continued to roar, there was no sign of Miss Lucky anywhere.
The next morning, our neighbor went back to the house to look around in the daylight, and still no Lucky. We were afraid she had a heart attack somewhere due to her panic caused by the storm, but her body was nowhere to be found either. My fiancé at the time called his parents and asked them to check out the house and the surrounding areas during the daylight. They decided to start at the house and then make their way around the neighborhood. However,as they pulled into the driveway, there was Lucky. She was a wet mess and looked a touch frazzled, as can be imagined, but there she was standing in the middle of the driveway. Where she went that night we will never know, but Lucky was safe and sound back in her home. We felt such a relief and although we were fully enjoying our vacation after knowing she was safe, we honestly couldn’t wait to get back home and see our brave puppy dog.
To be continued…