(WARNING: Incredibly long blog…and a tear-jerker!)
Last Monday was the one year mark from losing my precious puppy, Lucy. She is so very near and dear to my heart that I thought it would be nice to dedicate a blog to her. That little dog taught me more than I could ever imagine in the 4 short months we had her. If you’re wondering why I’m so insanely obsessed with dogs, Lucy is the reason why. I wasn’t always a dog lover…in fact, I remember telling people “I’ll never get a dog.” Here’s how I became a crazed convert….
Steve and I love to be adventurous and spontaneous. We always said we could never have pets or kids because we’re the type that decides to go to Moab for the weekend and we pick up and leave an hour later. We love having the freedom to just go, whenever. There are a couple pet stores around our house that we like to go to and just look at the animals to get our fix. It’s almost like visiting your grandparents in the old folk’s home. You go, visit, and leave without any responsibility.
Then, one weekend in January 2011, we stopped in the pet store to take a looksy, and everything changed. There was the cutest black and tan miniature pincher. I remember so clearly thinking that is the dog I want and there is no doubt in my mind. I hadn’t even thought of getting a dog but something about this little black min-pin melted my heart. I begged and pleaded with Steve to get him and he said, “Tomorrow if you wake up and still want a dog, we’ll consider it.” Well guess what? The next morning I still wanted a dog. We went to brunch with some friends that have two pomeranians and they pretty much told us horror stories the whole time. You know…potty training hell, accidents in the bed at 2 a.m., bath time, getting into things, chewing shoes, and so on. But they were talking with so much love and compassion that I was 100% sold. They also advised to not get a puppy from the pet store so I looked right then and there in the classified section on KSL.com and found only ONE black, papered, newborn, female miniature pincher. The exact dog I was looking for. It was meant to be. We went straight from brunch to meeting up with the guy and the puppies. He handed her to me to hold and she snuggled right into my neck. Instantly I fell deeply in love. I bought her right then and there, no doubts. I remember being so excited and terrified at the same time. I couldn’t believe we just bought a puppy! What?! I never thought I’d see the day! My very first dog. Ever.
During this time in our lives, Steve was working nights so I wouldn’t see him Monday through Friday. He’d stay with Lucy during the day and it would just be me and her from when I got home from work until the morning. The mornings were my most favorite part. She’d cuddle and sleep with her head on my pillow. I was late to work a lot because I just wanted to stay there all day! This was also during the time when I was really sad but hadn’t yet started working on myself or realizing I was suffering from depression. Lucy knew when I was down and she’d come lay with me and comfort me. We’d watch TV all night long. She was with me when I felt so alone.
I cared for her more than anything I had ever cared about my whole entire life. I was so responsible with her; I wanted only the best for her. I was her guardian and protector. I had that motherly instinct I didn’t think I was ever going to get. Getting Lucy was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. She was my world. I never had kids, so dogs are only what I know. I only have experienced that kind of unconditional love, connection, and loss through my puppies. Lucy relied on me to take care of her and raise her and give her the things she needed. I never had something or someone that depended on me so much.
One day last May, Steve called and totally blindsided me. I was sitting at work and he had taken Lucy for her last set of shots. He was talking with the vet because Lucy was still going potty a lot throughout the night and drank tons of water. The vet did some blood work right then because it was very unusual. Steve and I had no idea that it was so out of the ordinary, we’d never had a dog before and Lucy was still just a puppy. The results came back showing her kidneys we over 70% failing. He told me they didn’t think there was anything that could be done and we were going to have to eventually put her down. My heart sank. I immediately left work and went home to see Steve and Lucy. When I got home, Steve was crying in the living room. That’s when I knew it was serious. The vet scheduled the next day to have Lucy go through dialysis. Doggy dialysis. Who would of thought? The vet said they’d spend all day Friday flushing out her kidneys, test her blood again, and if there was any sign of improvement they’d take her to the animal hospital and flush her for 7 days. We were game for anything.
I went with Steve Friday evening to pick up Lucy and talk with the vet. When we got there, it wasn’t the good news we’d been praying for. The dialysis didn’t help, in fact, things got worse. They were pumping fluid through her but she wasn’t letting any of it out. The vet took an X-ray and found a huge mass in her abdomen. She didn’t know if it was a tumor, kidney, or what. She said the only option we had was to do an emergency surgery to see what it was and if it could be taken out. Steve offered to buy every min-pin off KSL to find a matching kidney. Kidney transplants aren’t an option for dogs, dang. The kicker to the emergency surgery was if it was something that couldn’t be fixed, we’d have to put her down right then. The vet looked at me and asked, “Are you ready to say goodbye?” Um, NO I was not ready to say goodbye!! How was this happening??? Everything was going so perfect up until yesterday. We all decided that we needed to have one more night with her and we’d do the surgery the next day. If we chose to not do the surgery, we were going to have to put her down in a couple days anyway. Even though there was like a 2% chance of everything working out, and it was going to be expensive, we knew we had to exhaust all our options.
That last night was so hard. We tried to keep hope alive and not think of the worst but we also wanted to be realistic. We just decided to do all the fun things that Lucy loved and enjoy our time with her.
We fed her spoonfuls of peanut butter. Her favorite.
We took a billion photos and videos.
We gathered all her toys up and took about 1000 pictures. We all just played and cuddled all night and into the morning.
Saturday morning, we headed to the vets. They were so nice and supportive. They wanted to finish up with all their clients so they could have everyone’s focus on Lucy. So we sat in the waiting room. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. It was actually really nice to get a couple more hours with her. I felt she knew something was up and we all tried to comfort each other.
About 20 minutes after Lucy started the surgery, the vet came and knocked on the door. She was crying. She said there was only one kidney and it was swollen and failing. She couldn’t take it out because there wasn’t another one. It was over. Nothing could be done. My worst nightmare was coming true. We went into the operating room to say our final goodbye while they put her down. My heart has never hurt that much. She was a baby. A puppy. We only had her for 4 months. She didn’t get to live her life; she didn’t get to experience all the things we had planned for her. Camping, hiking, bike rides, summer. Her life was cut short. Things are a really big blur after that.
Turns out, Lucy was born with polycystic kidney disease. Because she was so sick from the beginning, she required extra care and attention. Since she was my first dog ever I didn’t realize it was abnormal. I just gave her the extra love and devotion she needed and I was in deeper than I even realized.
I know some people aren’t going to understand this blog. They aren’t going to get how one can put so much time, love, money, and attention into “just a dog.” But it’s the most love I’ve ever felt in my life, so I can only go off that.
Yes, we’re the creeps who have our cremated dog on a shelf in our living room. I know it’s weird but I love that I can still see her and talk to her every day. Steve and I still struggle when talking about Lucy. It was devastating. Lucy showed me an unconditional love that I didn’t know existed. She taught me that life is short. It can be taken away in a moment. We were so careful with her because she was still a puppy, but you never know when life can be gone. Since, I have really tried to live in the moment and be happy for today, because tomorrow isn’t promised. I learned responsibility. I learned to be more compassionate. She brought me and Steve even closer. She came to me at a time when I needed her most. I was so thankful to have all those nights with her. Even though she was sick and in pain, you never would have known. She was happy and playful and even she didn’t realize how sick she was.
Lucy will always be my first puppy. She’ll always be that special to me. So in January I did something wild, because we never know when our life could end, right?
I saved this 50 dollar bill for 9 years. It was from my Grandma for Christmas. It was her last Christmas with us so I saved it to spend it on something special. My grandparents were beyond special to me. This was perfect. Steve took me out to dinner and then I took my $50 and got my first TATTOO!!!
I love it. It means so much. It’s a constant reminder to enjoy today and live life to the fullest. It’s the only one we have.
So this was an incredibly long and sad blog. Sorry about that. But it feels good to talk about and remember the happy times. Now you’ll understand why I’m a freak about dogs. I love them so much. There’s a reason why they’re called “man’s best friend.”
Mamma loves you, Lucy. xoxo