Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tribute to a Terrible Dog

Our dear old Lucy has died at the age of almost 13. Some of you have read and consoled and advised over the years as I bemoaned the difficulties of sharing life with a dog who loved us always, but was for the most part, socially unacceptable. Lucy was, by most standards, a terrible dog.

She didn't like most people. Especially little kids. And men. And most women. She liked us, Rick and me, and our big kids, and a few select insiders who somehow managed to connect with her in a way the rest who tried, and many did, could never find the key to. She was exasperating or affectionate, snarky or snuggly, wild or companionable, depending on her mood and who she was with. 

My relationship with Lucy was one of the most challenging of my life. But I learned a lot from her. Some would say you never know what you're getting with a shelter dog, but there are no guarantees no matter where our pets find us. I know of plenty of pure bred dogs who have been even more difficult that Lucy was. I completely believe in adopting shelter dogs, and in making a lifetime commitment to them. They deserve our devotion every bit as much as they're willing give theirs to us. 

I'm sad to admit that I tried many times to find someone else to take Lucy, when it seemed that life with her was just too stressful. Understandably, and fortunately, nobody wanted her, and we were forced to step up, honor our commitment to her, and make the best of things. Some people would return a dog like Lucy to the shelter. That was never an option in my mind, and I'm grateful now that the Powers That Be kept Lucy with us. We were able to form our own connected and trusting bond with her, and we were able to observe how even a weird old dog can become gentler and more trusting as she goes along.

I see the lesson flowing over to my experience with humans too. More and more I think that if we don't give up on them, a lot of people we think are intolerable can truly surprise us. I hope that's true.

I've said too many times that I did not like Lucy. Truth is, I loved her. It took me almost 13 years to appreciate who she was as a unique dog-person-ality. And I'm going to miss her big stubborn sweetness for a long time. Fare well, Lucy, Big Girl, Lucy Goose, Rucy Roo, Smooch... I love you.