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.