All I have are pictures of the beginning and the end.
It's been a long day today, one where I had to take my dog in and put her down.
Lucy, our little black lab of almost 12 years, died today. We chose to put her down after she bit Nora on the hand yesterday.
Lucy's been really showing her age the past year or so. She was losing her hearing (you could really tell this July 4 without NEARLY the level of freak-outs as in previous years with fireworks). The big thing to me (besides the biting) was how she just laid around, and barely got excited over anything, even a walk. She would limp and struggle to get up. And then yesterday was the last straw.
Nora and I went out after dinner to get a few groceries. It was late in the day for a grocery trip but I'd been painting the house all day and we were out of the fundamental stuff Nora likes, namely bananas and juice.
We got home, and Nora said "LUCY!" like she does, and Lucy greeted us at the steps as she does usually. Nora went up to Lucy to give her a hug (I've been supervising this closer lately as Lucy's been growling more at Nora for it), and I said "NO" to Lucy as she growled again and I could see Nora was backing off, but then Lucy whipped around and got Nora on the hand.
It wasn't a big old fat puncture, but she broke skin that bled a bit on one side with about 5 marks, and another bigger one on the other side of her thumb.
I got Nora in the house, and told her to stay there, while I got the rest of the groceries. There really wasn't anything I could do to Lucy to get through to her. She knows growling is wrong, and today wasn't the day that I could teach her not to bite. It's just one of those things (for me and a lot of other people) that at her age, I just couldn't let "pass" for another time to be even worse.
I talked to Brian last night. We talked about it for some time. But in the end, we knew we couldn't keep her, not being able to leave Nora for a second anywhere near Lucy. And pawning her off on a family with or without kids didn't sit right with us either. It's a tough choice, but one that had to be made.
So today I called the clinic where a friend takes her pets, and made arrangements to bring Lucy in. We spent part of the afternoon with her, and I tried to play with her. Truth be told, Lucy didn't have it in her. It dawned on me just how old my dog had gotten by how disinterested she was in playing with us.
I took her in this afternoon and they very lovingly helped sedate Lucy a bit so she wouldn't panic over the other shot, and wouldn't get upset by me being upset. She rested on a blanket awake while I held her and talked with her about all the places we'd been, and all the miles of lake front we had walked around over all the many years.
The doctor and the assistant came in and gave her the final shot. We waited for her heart to stop. I gave her a lot of hugs and held her to the end.
I stayed with her for a while after they left. I talked with her a little more, and said how sorry I was. I hope there's a doggy heaven for her.
We got Lucy in Yakima when I was working there in 1998-2000. We got her after our house was broken into and we talked the landlady into letting us have Lucy.
We got her at the Humane Society. She was found behind a KMart with her siblings, dumped off by someone who couldn't handle puppies apparently. I picked her because she was the only dog in the whole facility who wasn't barking her head off.
That, and she put her paw up on the cage as if to say "Hey, pick me!"
We named her Lucy after Lucy from the Narnia tales. We would have saved it for a human, but at the time we didn't even know we wanted kids, so we gave it to a good dog.
Brian was the one who trained her, and trained me how to train her. She was great at "heeling" -- walking along side you rather than pulling you along. She was hard to train about a few things, like staying off the couch, mostly because she was smart enough to know she could do it while you weren't there, and snooze away once the lights were out in the house.
We took Lucy on a lot of trips -- She gleefully hiked through mountain trail after mountain trail. She, like most dogs, would hang her head out the window and bask in being a dog on a ride.
She walked around lake after lake with me, through dark rainy nights as my protector, through snowy mornings and all five pregnancies.
She was truly a good friend to us all.
These past few years, since we moved here, she endeared herself to so many postal employees, that the gal who stopped by the other day said Lucy's well known as "the sweet dog on the route". One postal guy would routinely bring Lucy his second of a "buy one get one" Big Mac from McDonalds when it was his turn to do this route.
There are things I won't miss: like the grass burns and picking up dog poo. But really that's a small sacrifice for having a friend like Lucy.
She never met a lake, river, stick, or chew toy she didn't like. But what I'll miss most is that wiggly dog who got excited at the leash, the word "river" or "treat", the friendship and companionship that she provided me when I would have otherwise been alone.
But one of my favorites was the laughs and sheer panic she caused me when she flushed out an elk out of the woods at Mount St. Helens while I had wandered off to go pee in the woods. Her pride at having "caught" an elk that turned and reared up ready to kill my little puppy, but she got out of the way just in time.
I remember when I first got her, how I took her to the Yakima Greenway and set her loose for a run. She'd never been able to run freely before, and she gleefully ran and practically hopped with that ham tongue wagging.
That's the vision I have in my head of her tonight. Freely running about gleefully living life as simple as a black lab in summer.
There's a million other stories I could tell. Lucy, (or Lucifer when she was bad) will be sorely missed. It doesn't matter if it was "time", and that decision isn't taken lightly by us. We lost a dear pet today, and for that we are very sad.
Lucy, you were my good girl. Thanks for choosing us.
We'll miss you old lady.