• CELEBRATING BUFFALO TOGETHER
    #totallybuffalo

    CELEBRATING BUFFALO TOGETHER
    #TOTALLY BUFFALO

 

Watching my kids say goodbye to our pup, Lucy was heartbreaking

I try to keep things in perspective.

I realize so many people lose a loved-one everyday and it is gut-wrenching. I know, I lost my dad just over six months ago and it was the most difficult thing I’ve faced so far – and I’ve faced a lot.

So, I know heartache. I know pain.

I also know that losing a pet can be a tragedy beyond words. No, it’s not like losing my dad. For my kids, it’s not like losing their grandfather – but it hurts nonetheless.

It’s been an excruciatingly sorrowful experience. Losing a dog is hard enough; setting the time and date in advance and then counting down the hours you have left with her is nearly unbearable. Making the decision to euthanize your pet is something that’s hard to deal with. You feel awful; like a bad person. We loved her. We were fine carrying her outside to go to the bathroom. Fine guiding her around since she lost her eyesight a few months ago. Fine cleaning up after her constant mistakes in the house. Fine with all of the inconveniences of having a very sick pet. My Maria took care of her – like she was her baby. And it was fine. But, the past few days, Lucy didn’t eat, didn’t drink and cried all the time. She was vomiting pure blood. She was in pain. The veterinarian said her liver was failing and she really had no chance. We hated seeing her in pain.

 

So, as a family, we made the decision. Of course, Emma and Ella were not a part of it and were not with us.

Being by Lucy’s side as she took her last breath, as memories of her running and jumping raced through my head, was a blend of joy, confusion and heartache. Watching my girls hug her, tell her they loved her – that was overwhelming.

I know many people – those who’ve never owned a dog or who haven’t really bonded with one – probably think mourning the loss of a pet is a bit of an overreaction. I mean, it’s “just a dog.”

The truth is – that’s not true. They’re so much more.

In fact, the loss of a dog is in almost every way comparable to the loss of a human loved one. No, not the same, but comparable. Unfortunately, there’s really not much in our cultural playbook—no obituaries, no grief rituals, no service—to help us get through the loss of our beloved pet, which can make us feel like we are over-reacting. Almost embarrassed.

But, I’m not. I’m heartbroken. My girls are heartbroken. My husband is heartbroken. And if anyone takes issue with that – oh well. We don’t care.

Lucy wasn’t like one of my children – but she was a member of our family who provided us with love, joy, and happiness. She never judged. Never hurt us. She was never mean to us or disrespectful. She was always loving and sweet and always so happy.

So it does hurt. And watching my children hurt is the worst.

My children hurt today. They lost their dog of 12 years. The most amazing dog. The sweetest dog.

Year after year.

She got cuter and funnier.

The truth is, you’ll never really know what your pet has meant to you. Sure, they’re there – and we pet, walk, play with them. We feed them. We love them, give them hugs. But, really – what they truly mean to us – is immeasurable.

Lucy has taught my girls responsibility, to be kind, empathetic, patient. She’s taught loyalty and unconditional love.

I’ll be honest here – I got Lucy because I was a single mom and wanted to do whatever it took to make my girls happy. They were old enough to help take care of her, so I figured it was time. It was love at first site and Lucy became a member of the family.  And when we met Scott – he fell in love with her, too.

 

She had a naughty side to her, don’t let that face fool you. She loved, probably more than anything, to eat. And not her dog food. She’d often snatch your food before you could take a bite. She ate everything and anything she could. She’d even – don’t judge her – tip over the garbage and dig through it. I know. Gross.

    

But, that was Luce. Lucille Ball, Lucy-Lu, Lucinda. Luciana, Lucile Rose. She had a million nicknames.

But, she was a sweetie.

And a tough cookie. Once, when I was walking with her, I was approached by three men looking for money. Lucy, who had NEVER even shown her teeth – growled like a rabid wolf. One of the men asked if she bites – I said yes. They took off. That was the only time she’s gotten the slightest bit aggressive. Just when I needed it. Amazing, right?!

But, she’s done more than that. I truly believe in my heart – that she deserves some credit for my daughter, Maria’s recovery. After Maria’s accident – nearly 8 years ago – Lucy was amazing. When Maria was in the hospital – about 6 months in all – Lucy would just lay outside of Maria’s bedroom door. All day and night. Scott said it was heartbreaking to see. Then, when we moved into our Boston hotel as Maria had outpatient rehab – we moved Lucy in with us.

She was so gentle around Maria. I know they had conversations. I know she made Maria feel better, less alone. I know she gave her strength. She made her laugh. She was the best kind of therapy.

I am forever grateful for that.

Everybody really did love Lucy. She was a force – a beautiful, sweet pup and we will never forget her.

We’ve been reminiscing, telling funny stories and thinking about all the good times. Lucy has gone through everything with us, three moves, bad breakups,  awful hair styles, braces, tough times, good times, new family members, loss. She’s been by our side through thick and thin. Emma and Ella don’t know life without Lucy. And Maria and Alexa were 9 and 10 – so they’ve had her in their life more than not.

       

Lucy loved the beach, anything with peanut butter on it, and her family. Lucy was a special dog.

That’s the thing about dogs, we know they don’t have a long life span, yet we go out and get one, bring her home, love her, and then let her go. Then, sometimes we do it again. Knowing that pain will be back; that loss. That’s because of what they give us in return in much bigger.  And we wouldn’t trade all these years with Lucy for anything.

Mary Friona

Editor-In-Chief at Totally Buffalo
Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years -seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.
Mary Friona

Mary Friona

Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years - seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.

Comments (11)

  • Avatar

    Sharon Finnegan

    |

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Cheryl gonda

    |

    I can totally relate to your loss. Our cat Lucy we lost in August ! She was only 2 weeks shy of 5 years old and came down with Lymphoma. We had her euthanized and it truly was the hardest goodbye we had to deal with . I still cry every time I think of our last day with her ! I totally understand your pain and am sending hugs of comfort your way ! Your and our Lucy’s are running free in heaven . No longer in pain and sick . Awaiting for the day that we join them ! ?

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Debbie Caruana

    |

    My for babies… My dog, Tippy, I had from a 6 year old into my late teens, my PeeWee, the first baby I had as an adult, who was abandoned and almost deceased when we took him in, our Aspen, a beautiful and loving Dalmatian who we adopted at 5 years old and who had one all black ear, all lived till almost 15 years old… We love and miss them all so much still to this day. Now we have our little Mini, who is 6 now. She brings so much love and life into our home and never asks for anything but kisses in return. We know someday we will have to make that sad decision again, and we feel the pain of everyone who has had to do it. But we will love them forever and ever, and never stop. They are our kids, our family, and they help keep us happy. God bless you and your family with peace for being so strong and loving in Lucy’s life. Heartbroken for you….

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Debbie Caruana

    |

    My four babies… My dog, Tippy, I had from a 6 year old into my late teens, my PeeWee, the first baby I had as an adult, who was abandoned and almost deceased when we took him in, our Aspen, a beautiful and loving Dalmatian who we adopted at 5 years old and who had one all black ear, all lived till almost 15 years old… We love and miss them all so much still to this day. Now we have our little Mini, who is 6 now. She brings so much love and life into our home and never asks for anything but kisses in return. We know someday we will have to make that sad decision again, and we feel the pain of everyone who has had to do it. But we will love them forever and ever, and never stop. They are our kids, our family, and they help keep us happy. God bless you and your family with peace for being so strong and loving in Lucy’s life. Heartbroken for you….

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Diane Murray

    |

    I feel for you right now. It is 1 of the worse things to go thru. We had to put down our little dog that we rescued 10 years ago. Said i won’t do it again because the pain is so awful, but after 3 years, decided to get another dog. We love our little Zoey girl. She is 7 years old, pretty much follows me wherever i go. She is a shitzu, she is so quiet, don’t even know shes around 1/2 the time. She is the sweetest little dog Cant imagine going thru that again. Much love to your family.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Aunt Teri

    |

    Im so sorry guys, Lucy has been a part of your family for a long time now. We get so attached to our pets it’s terrible to let go believe me we know. Mary that was a beautiful tribute to her. I love you guys so much ???❤

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Debbie

    |

    You are do right. Anyone who never had to go through saying goodbye to a pet doesn’t understand the pain. Knowing that you gave your little Lucy a beautiful, loving home hopefully will give you comfort and get you through this difficult time. Lucy is looking down at you, free from pain, wagging her tail because she knows you loved her unconditionally. Thoughts and prayers to all of you.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Pamela

    |

    Mary: I’m so sorry to hear of your families loss. I thought I’d share an idea that may help your little ones. Our son was 9yrs old when we lost our beloved Springer Spaniel, Maglie (named after Sal Maglie). He was devastated beyond words. To help him through his grief, we gathered together a few pictures, shopped for supplies and created a small scrapbook. Just a few pages where he could express his feelings of love, laughter & sadness. Pages that told how Maglie was the best dog, how much he loved playing baseball in the backyard with Maglie and how much he missed Maglie. He drew a picture of our house and pictures of a baseball bat & ball and his very own drawing of Maglie as he saw him through the eyes of a little boy. 12 years later and we still have that scrapbook and the memories of our Maglie Moo.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Tammy Nadeau

    |

    What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful, special girl. My family just recently euthanized our handsome, loyal, comical companion, Heff. He is the first pet I’ve had his experience with, and it was surprisingly devastating, for myself and for my children. I was not expecting the grief that came along with it. I took a lot of comfort in the kind words, support, and sympathy offered by my Facebook family during this difficult time. Your article was very raw and honest, and a very timely read for me as well. Thank you for sharing this, and my sincere condolences to you and your family on the loss of your beautiful Lucy ❤️

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Jo Pfetsch

    |

    I am so sorry for your family’s loss, Mary. I lost a German Shepherd, Sam, that was one of my kids. She was the best, smartest dog ever. She even understood non-verbal commands. We were joined at the hip. She was a very important part of my life. And you’re right, it is comparable to losing a human family member. I also had to have my 23 year old cat, Girlfriend, put down when she got just too sick to go on. I still think I see her out of the corner of my eye and that was several years ago. My heart hurts for all of you.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Lisa Yeager

    |

    Having a dog for the first time in my life I can not imagine losing her. I know that day will come and just listening to your story I had tears and so felt for you and your family. Time heals? I hope so but you will miss her forever.

    Reply

Leave a comment