Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen. – Orphan Pamuk
Have you ever just looked at your dog and knew she understood what you were saying to her? Does she sit and listen to you talk to her as long as it takes for you to get whatever it is out of your system? Does she jump up on you and paw at you when she sees you crying and try to comfort you? Is she at your ankles the minute your feet hit the floor in the mornings? My Lucy does all this and more…
About 12 years ago, I went to get my hair cut and my hair stylist Jan was trying to find homes for the puppies her dog had just had. She said to me, “Teresa, you have to take one of these puppies!” I wasn’t so sure if this was such a great idea. I knew the kids wanted a dog and they were old enough to help with one, but I wasn’t so sure about my husband Eddie. Jan had a polaroid photo of the puppies and gave it to me. I took it reluctantly and placed it on the console of my car. Then I left the salon and headed over to the high school to pick up my youngest, Emily. She got in the car and immediately saw the photo and exclaimed, “Are we getting a dog??!!!” I said I wasn’t sure and she started getting excited and began begging, “please, please, please!!!!”
When we got home, we showed the photo to Eddie and he just looked at me and said “no,” but the idea of a puppy was growing on me. Charlie and Anna Marie saw the photo and began getting excited about a puppy. I slept on it and then the next day I contacted Jan and I said I would take the black and white female. I didn’t run it by Eddie…I just went to the salon and got her! We named her Lucy after the Sandra Bullock character in “While You Were Sleeping.” My kids love that movie and for the longest time thought Sandra Bullock was my sister, their Aunt Kanista!
The kids were great…at first. Homework and sports and choir and band activities eventually got in the way and before you knew it, I was the one taking care of Lucy. Eddie refused because the kids were supposed to walk her and feed her but when they wouldn’t, it fell to me. Before we knew it, she became MY dog. When they would try to take her for a walk, she would run to me so “we” could go. She would sleep on top of the couch cushion to be near me. And she began her habit of staying at my ankles.
Of course, as the kids left home, she only gotten closer to me. She knows which garage door is mine and when she hears it open, she waits for me by the kitchen door. She positions herself in the house so she can see where I am at all times. No way can I get away from her unless she is sound asleep. She loves making Starbucks runs with me and getting her puppuchino. In turn, she knows when we are headed to the vet and shivers with anxiety when she realizes we aren’t going to Starbucks!
And now with Eddie retired, we have our new routines…the three of us. Lucy gets upset when Eddie is in the family room and I’m in the kitchen. She wants me in there and she wants Eddie gone! She pesters him until he gets up and heads to the basement which is hysterical to me. We realized that one night and just laughed so hard about it. But when I went back to work briefly this fall, Eddie took over walking her every morning and she loved that. He kept the door to the basement open so she could join him if she got scared, especially during a thunderstorm. She gets scrambled eggs and cheese in the mornings when Eddie cooks breakfast and she sulks when we eat cereal or something else. She still gets cheese on those days.
Several years ago, I started posting photos of Lucy on social media with captions and using the hashtag “conversations with Lucy.” I received so many comments from friends and family saying it sounded just like something Lucy would be saying to me. These days, she knows when she sees me coming at her with my phone that this means a bit of photography torture for her. She goes all Greta Garbo on me and wants to be left alone. But I persist until she poses and lets me get the shot. Believe me, she is amply rewarded for this minor inconvenience!
These days, she is slowing down a bit. We know she was born sometime around Thanksgiving and she will be 12 years old this year. Somedays she is like the little puppy we brought home, especially when we are chasing each other around the house. I don’t know who gets worn out quicker, Lucy or me! And last year she had a few health problems that worried me and made me think about what life would be like without her. Her eyesight is getting a little iffy and Eddie says she can’t hear that well anymore. But then I open a bag of chips and she’s right there ready to share!
Lucy may have started out as our family pet but she became mine and has been mine for a long time. I think back to that day I went to get my haircut and I really believe me saying yes to this puppy was because God knew I needed this comfort in my life for the things to come ahead. Some may say that I rescued her but in reality, she rescued me that day.
God gave us dogs because he knew we’d need guardian angels we could hug.