This is, bar none, the hardest page I’ve ever chosen to write. Even after three years, and three new dogs, I could not stop crying as I wrote this page.
After four months of wheezing, we woke to a quiet house. With dread heavy in my chest, I went searching for her body, certain she was gone. She lay on the sofa, gazing at me with her deep, soulful eyes. I could barely hear her breathing. The egg sized lymph nodes in her throat were cutting off her airway. She had begun to suffocate.
Before the sun had reached its peak on 8/14/2013, Lucy Lou, our lovely hound mix, survivor of not one but two unhappy homes, suffered no more, at peace in God’s loving arms.
A classic Lucy expression
Lucy's habitual pose
Lucy’s first owner, as far as we know, was a man who married a woman with other dogs. She didn’t like Lucy and kept her crated for unacceptably long periods of time while her husband traveled on business. Returning from one trip, the man surrendered Lucy to some friends as a temporary solution until a new home could be found for her.
The friends cared for Lucy fairly well, for about a year, before offering her on Craigslist. They even managed some training. However, Lucy’s only bed was a crate in their garage. They owned a small dog and had a toddler. In her four years with us, Lucy would try to run away in the opposite direction whenever she saw kids, kid toys or small animals on the street. We disassembled her crate within days and re-purposed it. Her only other possession, a thick blue quilt, still cuddles our dogs to this day.
Lucy came home with us because we had sought a companion for Winker. Winker had lost her companion Daisy a few months earlier to two fast growing cancers. She had begun to show signs of depression, the only non-human in the house. Hounds are not happy in a pack of one. There were no bassets in any of the shelters. So we turned to Craigslist.
Lucy (L) with Winker (R)
Lucy (L) and Winker (R)
One of my fondest memories took place while Lucy was in heat, before she was fixed. Winker, our basset runt, walked out of the kitchen/dining area and surveyed the living room. Eschewing the numerous bedding selections, she spotted Lucy in the cushy recliner. She walked over to the recliner, jumped up enough to get her front paws on it, then proceeded to whine at Lucy piteously.
Lucy studied her for a long moment, speculation on her face. Then she stood and got down off the chair. Winker lay down and Lucy mounted her, humping her face.
Winker calmly endured this for a few moments. Then she somehow rolled out from under Lucy, waddled over to the recliner, jumped up, turned around a couple times, and settled down with a contented grunt.
Lucy looked at Winker, her back arched, arrested in the act. She looked at me. She looked at Winker. She looked at me. The look of What The F Just Happened? written so large on her face had me ready to puke, I laughed so hard.
Did Lucy learn from that experience? Of course not. Winker continued to fool her until the day she (Winker) died. Gentle, submissive, and relentless, Winker soothed out Lucy’s initially violent response to being cornered. Wore away Lucy’s fear and food aggressions. Bonded herself to Lucy like glue.
Not only love and companionship, Winker, I think, gave Lucy hope. The attentions shared while in heat were so convincing, Lucy lactated a few weeks after her heats ended. This occurred at least three times before Lucy was fixed. Winker, with a heart murmur, could not be anesthesized, and so was never fixed.
Lucy inviting tummy rubbing
It was a period of small triumphs and larger disappointments. The initial diagnoses gave her less than a month. At home efforts extended that to four months.
You may think we were wrong to extend the quantity of her life at the expense of its quality. We weren’t trying to make her suffer more. We were trying to kill her cancer, so that she might live out a full lifespan. We had already lost Roscoe and Daisy #1 to cancer and Winker to congestive heart failure. Sasha had just joined us a year and a half earlier. I would look at Sasha and say to myself, no, not another one. And so we fought for Lucy.
We learned important things from this experience. Dietary changes succeeded in slowing the progression of the disease but failed to completely arrest or reverse it. More needed to be accomplished there. What we learned in our choices turned out to be too little, too late. Some things we should have increased, some things decreased.
Keep in mind I am not a nutritionist. I don’t have a medical degree. Not a vet or assistant either. I am a simple layman, struggling for understanding, combing through the words of this expert and that, books, magazines, articles and resources online. I wish I knew the formula, had the magic pill. I don’t and I can’t.
I will continue to try to defeat cancer and to share the trials and errors. Maybe by pooling our knowledge and experiences, together we can find a solution.
Lucy was put to sleep three years ago in August. Today four dogs own us. Sasha has won the award for the dog that has lasted the longest in our home. Daisy #2 joined us to keep Sasha company less than a week after Lucy died. A year later (summer 2014) we brought home Silky, formerly Mamas, and Luke joined us this past August (2016).
We are hoping, and praying, that it is a long, long time before we have to face the loss of another dog, especially to cancer. But we understand and accept that owning a dog means we are as responsible for their deaths as we are for their lives.
R.I.P. Roscoe, Daisy, Winker and Lucy. Welcome Sasha, Daisy, Silky and Luke.
This website is for information purposes only and is not intended to be, or to serve as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.