Dear Reader, please indulge us this little tribute to our dog Lucy, who left us in Deltaville, Virginia before we departed for the Bahamas. We will return to our regularly scheduled blogging in the next post.
She chose us; we didn’t really choose her. On vacation Mary has a habit of saving a bit of dinner for strays that inevitably haunt the pretty places. In Belize, she saved some fish for the many local cats we saw. But after dinner, they were gone. All we saw were three mangy dogs apparently living under an old upturned boat. All three came out to take the scraps, but only one continued on with us. Lucy followed at a safe distance and as we sat on the porch of our rented house she crept up and took a scratch from Mary. Once she felt safe with us, she curled up in Mary’s lap and slept the sleep of the dead. It was clear she had not been able to let down her guard like this and just sleep in a long time. Her trust was touching and right then I knew she was ours.
We got her back to NYC and she had every disease in the book, including heartworm and Lyme disease. I often say that what we spent to fix her up would have allowed us to buy 10 purebreds, but there really was no question we would do whatever was needed. She recovered and thrived. It seems mutts are more resilient that way, and there was no muttier mutt than Lucy. She was an island dog descended from a long line of indistinguishable canines. In Belize they call them potlickers, and lick a pot she could. Even though she spent only one year surviving on her own and had 14 other well-fed years with us, she lived for her next meal. It was her reason for being. She had an internal clock that knew her 4 pm dinner was coming down to the minute. That clock corrected for daylight savings time within a day. You couldn’t deny her treats. She was so earnest about it, like begging was her job and she was dedicated to it. She was indifferent to playing fetch, acted bored at a dog run, and wasn’t much of a guard dog, but when it came to finagling food from a human, she was an expert. Kids were easy targets as they always dropped food and found it a funny game to feed her. Now, Mary will confess that she was the main cause of this begging, but I know she just couldn’t resist those big sad brown eyes pleading for a treat.
And Lucy would eat anything. We didn’t bother noting the things she liked. She liked just about everything. It was far easier to note what she wouldn’t eat – bananas and citrus were about it. She had odd tastes too. Cut open a red pepper in the kitchen and she would smell it from wherever she was and come around.
She actually got excited about it. She’d eat a green pepper too but for some reason they weren’t nearly as good as a red pepper. In her later years she learned about fresh coconut water. To her it was like the elixir of youth. Even though a senior dog, a bowl of coconut water would have her jumping about and playing like a puppy .
She was an adaptable dog. It didn’t matter what we did or where we went, as long as she was with us. From her humble beginnings on the island, she ended up a well-travelled pooch. She lived in NYC and spent weekends on Long Island. She accompanied us on vacations all over the place. When we moved to San Francisco she rode out there with us in the car and watched the scenery go by. She romped in the snow and tiptoed in the surf, climbed mountain trails and navigated city streets. She loved going for hikes. Not much for bushwacking, she would always find a trail and had to be in the lead. Sometimes at a fork she would look back asking which way to go and sometimes she just chose one and marched on as if it were completely obvious. If the humans didn’t follow her, she’d have to run back and find out what went wrong.
For a dog that grew up on an island, she was surprisingly afraid of water at first. She wouldn’t go near the surf. When we first tried to take her on the boat, she noticed the water between the boards of the dock and froze in fear. She even avoided puddles on city streets. It took a long time to coax her to swim. Eventually, she would do it in water without waves and into which she could wade. She was no crazy lab belly flopping and chasing balls. But for all that, she was a great boat dog.
She never got seasick and when we were moving she would just find a comfortable spot to lie until we got where we were going. When we started sailing long distances, one of our greatest triumphs was when she learned to do her business on a mat we made for the purpose. Once she figured it out, she took to it like it was what every dog did naturally. We’d hear her trotting up there on her own before breakfast each day.
She got old though, like all dogs do. She had arthritis in her back legs and walked with a stiff-legged gait that caused her head to bob. Her teeth decayed and some fell out but that didn’t diminish her one true love- eating. She could barely hear and lost the sight in one eye. But through it all, she never complained. I know dogs can’t complain, but what I mean is that she maintained her cheerful personality each day. As long as she had her humans with her and got her two square meals, she could endure anything. To me that is a lesson we can all learn from. Don’t dwell on the bad stuff; enjoy the time you have with the ones you love.Eventually, cancer got her and her body gave out and we had to give her up. But we will never let her go. We still get up in the morning and look for her in her bed, and it’s a little heartbreaking to realize she is not with us anymore.
We hope you’ll enjoy this video celebrating Lucy’s many 2 and 4 legged friends, her travels and our wonderful life with her.