The one-eyed, big-hearted warrior. Forever missed.
She passed away on New Years Eve day.
Dec. 31, 2002
Lucy is twelve. And a half. The half means a lot--it’s like three years to you and me. And this particular half a year saw the departure of Lucy's left eye, which went blind as a result of interocular melanoma. But she's a warrior, and she's battling back. Her twelve and a half years make her 87 or 88 years old in terms of the human lifespan. Even before her recent operation, she no longer bounced quite as high, played for quite as long, or even ate as many leftovers. Her football days are behind her; she saves the sprinting for fake runs at squirrels and an occasional rush at Barney, my 2-year old orange tabby. But the giant goofy smile on her face after a walk in the park is just as wide, and the bark with which she absolutely rules the household is every bit as loud and insistent as it ever was. And the room she takes up on the bed is, well, proportionate to her age, let’s say.
How can I even begin to describe the bond I have with this dog? I remember when we first brought her home.
She was a tiny little puppy in a cage at a sad, pathetic pet store in a mall.
I was desperate for canine companionship. Out of the parental domain, separated from my English mastiff and miniature poodle, separated from my barn full of cats and kittens, I was severed, it felt, from something terribly important. In love with Jim though I was (am), it was hard not having a dog. I had to have a dog. And to make that long story short, we ended up at the mall one desperate weekend looking at puppies in their cages at Doctor’s Pet Shop (long since out of business, thankfully). It was not the ideal place to hook up with a pet. But we’d already tried the SPCA and they refused to let us have a puppy, unreasonably, I thought, since our schedules were perfect for raising one. So there we were, at the mall. And once you see those puppies in their cages, it doesn’t matter where the cage is. All you really see is puppy--and they’re just as needy at the mall as they are at the SPCA.
We were thinking about a black lab. And there he was--an incredibly adorable black lab puppy. We asked to see him. And when we were stuffed into the "bonding room"--a rectangular crawl space with a bench--the puppy was still incredibly adorable, but, even in that small space, adorable from afar. There was no chemistry. The little adorable puppy just completely ignored us. I guess it was after we squeezed our way out of the bonding box that we first noticed her.
Actually I had noticed her before. But I was thinking black lab. So she didn’t register. But it was hard to ignore her now.
She was just tiny. About as big as her silver water dish. When we’d gone to look at the lab, she’d been sleeping in her food bowl at the back of her cage, curled up like an oversized hamster. And I remember noticing how she kept her tiny little paw curled so daintily under her chest, a position that reminded me strongly of my mastiff. But now she’d awakened with a vengeance. It’s hard to describe how the expression on her face morphed from sweet to evil as she flung her whole tiny body from the furthest reaches of the back of the cage right up to its door in an effort to burst its lock and fly free. The way she was moving and barking, there was no possibility she would have simply fallen to the floor. She’d have ascended through the ceiling in a blaze of black and white glory right out onto Baltimore Pike and into Smedley Park.
You had to laugh watching her. So we asked to see her.
The moment the three of us were in the bonding room, Lucy, as she came to be called about an hour later, went to work on us, turning a piece of ripped cardboard on the floor into the most fascinating dog toy ever invented. The way she happily played with that thing, I'll never forget. She challenged both of us to get it from her, bringing it first to me and then to Jim, taking turns with us, seeming to understand that this would be a joint decision. She was roughly three months old, but wiser, it seemed, than King Solomon himself.
We were both completely smitten. And it was easily decided. Lucy decided she’d go with us.
READ LUCY'S DIARY