My best dog-friend died last week in a freak accident and we are heartsick. Lucy was eleven years old, in good health, and in fine shape, but her luck ran out. Now we must do what she would have wanted: carry on, live for the moment, be kind to our animals, and do not get too angry when the dog gets into the garbage.
Lucy was a Labrador Retriever and Treeing Walker Coonhound mix. This is not an ideal combination if you are looking for a calm dog with good social skills to build rapport with neighbors and visiting relatives. She was hyper alert, always watching us to see what our next move would be and whether it would involve food. She also scouted continuously for new hunting opportunities. In her younger years, before she mellowed with age, she caused me some embarrassment when we went for walks together. When a neighbor with a dog approached us, Lucy would go into a low crouch, expertly stalking the neighbor or the dog, it was hard to tell which, as they passed nervously by. She never actually attacked or bit anyone, but try telling that to someone who is being stalked by a hunting dog.
Lucy was insanely happy, as most Labs are. She possessed a goofiness that was as entertaining as it was sometimes disconcerting. Fortunately for the cats, she did not treat them as prey, but she did instigate playful combat with them. A recliner chair that also rocks and spins around in circles was the perfect venue for such combat. One cat sat up on the back of the chair to watch while the other stationed herself in the seat. Lucy thrust her nose threateningly at the lower cat, who then set in motion a carousel-like ride, propelled by the cat slapping Lucy’s muzzle with her paw every time the chair spun around to meet the thrust of Lucy’s nose.
With the exception of her often troubled puppyhood, Lucy never had a sad day. She loved to wake up in the morning, she loved to sleep away half the day, and she could sit for hours in the evening, always on the furniture that allowed her to observe us at eye level, watching to make sure we didn’t do anything without her. Her loyalty to her immediate family was beyond reproach. She protected us from deer, other dogs, and strangers approaching from half a block away.
Lucy made us better people for her time with us and we could not have hoped for a better dog.