Our dog, Lucky, was diagnosed with lymphoma about the same time I started my weekly blog post. Lucky was taking steroids and other medications to reduce the size of his lymph nodes and provide him comfort. Some days he was full of energy. There would be a pep in his step. The medications extended his time with us by 3 months. Our family cherished that extra time. We showered him with love and all the treats his heart desired. He had the full run of the house and let me be perfectly honest, the rules did not apply to him.
The week after Lucky passed, I shared how he became part of our family. He left an imprint on my heart that will last forever. Last week was the one year anniversary of his passing. I decided to share this post again in honor of my faithful and loyal friend. Well, I changed it a bit, but my love and gratitude for Lucky remain intact:
One afternoon, I got a call from Todd. He told me he was bringing a guest home for dinner. This brought on a mini panic attack. Our house was not “company ready”, and I didn’t have anything prepared to serve for dinner. Todd told me not to worry about anything. When Todd arrived home that night, he brought a Pitbull puppy along with him. Todd also unloaded a dog crate filled with all the things a puppy needs. He also handed me the receipt for a hefty vet bill. I may have lost my cool. (I did not have thought-work back in the day.) I could not believe he would bring a Pitbull to our home. Lucky, as he called him, had been hit by a car on the streets of South Los Angeles. Todd said he could not leave him there. He scooped Lucky up and took him to the vet for assessment. Lucky was very thin and had open wounds on his back. The injuries were sustained when he was hit by the car. He was lucky to be alive, get medical care, and have Todd bring him home.
My mind went straight to doom and gloom. I was already caring for a puppy, Coco. We also had a Red-tail boa constrictor. Oh, and two young children. This is crazy, I thought. I told Todd, “You have to choose between the snake and the Pitbull. I will not have two things that can eat my children in this house!” Pitbulls are not often painted in a good light, and most stories I heard were not good. Lucky had already stolen Todd’s heart in a way that the snake never would. The next day, Todd went to a pet store with the snake and got her re-homed. I was so happy. I never liked having a snake in the house. YES! I might like this dog after all.
The first year was tough. I was concerned about Emily being safe. Emily does not walk and gets around by crawling on the floor. I worried Lucky may see her as a threat and harm her. I also had concerns about Lucky hurting Coco. Both were concerns that never came to pass. Lucky, a gentle giant, quickly learned that Coco was the boss in this house. She was the Alpha, and she let him know. Over the years, she took a chunk out of each of his ears. Not once, but twice. It was a bloody mess both times, but Lucky never fought back. He was never aggressive with any of us. He was always gentle and loving.
For 14 years, Lucky added joy and love to our home. He was never a one-person dog but loved being around everyone in his pack, even Coco. Lucky enjoyed his bath and would climb into the tub for me without any resistance. He was not a fan of being alone and let everyone know. Separation from us, even if only by a door, would upset him. If none of us were home by sunset, Lucky would cry until we arrived. That boy was a big, sensitive baby. He had a gift for reading my emotions. If he thought I was down, he would stay close to me. If anyone in the house raised their voice, he would become protective. Lucky gave me comfort and support. I felt safe and secure when he was with me. He supported me emotionally during a difficult season in my life. I am full of gratitude that he was there for me. You see, it is me and not him, that was the lucky one.
In December 2020, Lucky was diagnosed with lymphoma. Lucky took his last breath on February 28, 2021. He was at home and surrounded by his pack. It has been one year since he passed, and I still miss him tremendously. I always say, “Lucky was the dog I never knew I needed.” Thankfully, God knew differently.
3 thoughts on “The Dog I Never Knew I Needed”
I love this post Billie ❤
So moved by your story and I totally understand “the dog I never knew I needed” part of it…
This poem was how I worked through my grief. Best friend I ever had!
SOMETIMES, DEATH COMES… FEBRUARY 15, 2017 –
IN THE DEEP RECESS OF THE NIGHT, SOMETIMES, DEATH COMES,
THE TOLL MUST BE PAID, IT WAS PAID IN SUMS.
ANYTHING THAT BREATHES, EVENTUALLY, WILL NOT,
14 SEASONS, NOT A LOT, APPRECIATED, BUT ALL WE GOT.
YOUR COLOR WAS DARK, LIKE THE NIGHT THAT TOOK YOU,
LICORICE, YOUR NAME, MY PET, YOU’LL BE MISSED TOO.
EVER AND ALWAYS SO HAPPY, MY COMPANION, MY FRIEND,
SO WELL BEHAVED, LOVING, OBEDIENT TILL THE END.
MORNING CAME, BUT YOU DID NOT RISE, DEATH, WAS IN YOUR EYES,
SUDDENLY, SOMETHING CAME UP INTO MY THROAT, NO SURPRISE…
CHOKED BACK TEARS AND FROM THE OTHER ROOM I HEARD CRIES,
THEY WERE NOT CHOKED BACK, HEART BROKEN, SOBBING, AT YOUR DEMISE.
THE ONE SAVING GRACE IN ALL OF THIS,
ON A DAY WHEN ALL WENT COMPLETELY AMISS.
IN YOUR BED, ON THE LANDING, IN YOUR FAVORITE SPOT,
WHILE YOU SLEPT, WHILE YOU DREAMED, WAS IT PART OF THE PLOT?
SPARED THE ANGUISH OF PUTTING YOU DOWN,
LAST NIGHT YOU NUZZLED, AND CUDDLED, SO PROFOUND.
LOOKING BACK, IT WAS ALMOST AS IF YOU KNEW,
YOUR TIME HERE ON EARTH, IT WAS ALMOST THROUGH.
YOUR EARS THEY WERE RUBBED, AND YOUR TUMMY WAS FULL,
NO WAY WE WOULD KNOW, HOW THE NIGHT COULD BE CRUEL.
CRUEL THAT IS, AT LEAST AT FIRST IT SEEMED,
AND THEN I REALIZED, YOU PASSED, WHILE YOU DREAMED.
MY FRIEND, I ASSURE YOU, THE LIGHT IS THE FLOW,
IF YOU COULD HAVE STAYED, YOU WOULD HAVE, I KNOW.
THE SOUND YOU HEARD, OF THE FAR DISTANT DRUMS,
IT WAS A SOUND OF NIGHT, BECAUSE SOMETIMES, DEATH COMES.
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I love this so much. I was honored to be the gratitude room when you read this. I cried. A beautiful poem of animal and human connection and unconditional love.