Yesterday, November 14, 2008, I said good-bye to my girl, the Irish Setter I'd always dreamed of having. Willful, stubborn and curious, loving, exuberant and loyal -- Lucy was all that and more. Two years ago, at age 13-1/2, Lucy was diagnosed with canine cognitive disease, where every day was one long, excruciating anxiety attack spent trying to find someplace safe to hide. I thought I'd have to say good-bye to my best friend back then but thanks to twice-daily doses of alprazolam Lucy came back to me, a bit calmer than before CCD but still as stuborn and loving as she'd always been. As she approached 15, the arthritis in Lucy's back legs made it more and more difficult for her to stand up or walk and her interest in food started to wane. Oh, how jealous and outraged Kirby and Fancy were as they saw me ply Lucy with one sumptuous meal after another ... beef liver, Bob Evans Beef Stew, Tyson's Roast Pork, braunschweiger on toast, McDonald's cheeseburgers (no condiments!), White Castle "sliders", even cat food ... the list goes on and on. Some days she'd eat with gusto, other days nothing I offerred tempted her. Then a week ago Lucy wandered off the area rug in the kitchen and slipped and fell, hurting the better of her two back legs. After days of watching my girl struggle mightily to get up, struggle to walk without falling but falling more and more often, when no food could tempt her, I knew it was time to let her go, the one last thing I could do for her after she gave me a lifetime of love and loyalty.
Today the reminders and memories are almost overwhelming. Opening the freezer door and seeing that package of mini corn dogs that I was so sure she'd love (she didn't), the empty space in my bedroom where her bed had been, the row of pill bottles on the shelf in the kitchen, the trip to the grocery store today spent buying food just for me and not me and Lucy, a very subdued Kirby, who grew up tugging on his Aunt Lucy's ears and never failed to stop what he was doing and run to greet her when she asked to go outside, and a confused and subdued Fancy whose food bowl now sits where Lucy's always sat. But through all the tears there's been some smiles today too, as I remembered all those trips to Fairview Hospital where everybody knew Lucy's name but nobody knew mine, that time she ate a bag of foil-wrapped Rolo's and had the most festive poop in the world for three days, her unbelievable patience when baby sister Gracie and, years later, baby nephew Kirby came into her life and pestered the hell out of her like puppies do, that trip to Euclid Beach when she and Gracie ran and ran with no fences to get in their way, hearing her impatient barking at the living room window every day, even those last days, when I'd come home from work and stop to get the mail before pulling into the garage -- get in here, she'd say, so I can feel your hand on my head when you walk in the door and hear you say "Hi, old girl, how ya doin'? ". What I wouldn't give to have that to look forward to when I come home on Monday.
Sleep softly, my Lucy girl, my Lucy-fer J. Pup-Pup -- you'll always be in my heart.