The final chapters in a dog’s life

Published 9:40 pm Monday, April 11, 2016

There was nothing like Lucy’s soulful, hazel eyes staring unblinkingly at me, attention focused like a laser on the fork in my hand, to make me feel guilty. She groveled politely, never barking or stealing off the plate. She just stared me down until she won.

She never made herself too much at home. I never came home to find frame pictures and vases on the floor, knocked down by a nosy dog nudging her way to the window. I never walked in and found her sprawled across a couch or bed. Truthfully, I never saw her eye a piece of furniture with interest. She was just fine with her dog bed or a warm spot on the carpet.

I got Lucy, an older mix of German Shepherd and husky, just over two years ago from the Portsmouth Humane Society. A friend who volunteered there called, almost begging me to take this dog that didn’t “belong” with the other dogs in the room, and she already had two. While I didn’t intend to get Lucy, I finally agreed to take a look so my friend would shut up.


Email newsletter signup

Surprisingly, she was different than the other two dozen dogs in the room.

She didn’t run to the front of the cage, wagging her tail and barking up a storm every time a door opened. When we opened her kennel with leash in hand, she didn’t even jump up and meet us. In fact, if I recall, she stayed on her bed until we hooked the leash to her collar and got up.

With a graying muzzle and a couple of missing teeth, perhaps she was so used to being overlooked that she stopped expecting any attention and was grateful for what she recieved. Although her adoption papers estimated she was around six years old, we never knew her exact age or her history. My vet just laughed and told me that was conservative.

Her papers said animal control had picked her up in Portsmouth and that she had been at the pound for six months when I got her. But it was obvious that someone, at some point in her life, had trained and cared for her. With only a couple of exceptions, she was by far the sweetest, most gentle dog I’ve have ever had.

Her hearing had declined a lot over the past few months and perhaps, her vision, too. Nothing major seemed amiss when she climbed in the car Saturday afternoon, happy for a little fresh air while we ran errands.

I’m glad we got that last ride. Something went very wrong Saturday evening, and it was became obvious around 11 p.m. that she didn’t feel well. She died shortly before midnight, as we pulled into the parking lot at Suffolk’s 24-hour emergency clinic.

We always wondered about your story, how you came to land in that pound. While I will never know the beginning, I do know the final chapters of your life had a good ending.

Rest in Peace, Lucy.