That Lucky Place in My Heart…
I didn’t watch it. I just didn’t have the heart. You see, our little dog, Lucky, left us two weeks ago.
He was very tired at age 14. He lost his site at eleven, lost his hearing at twelve, and became arthritic at thirteen. But he handled every one of those infirmities with quite dignity.
But when cancer came a few moths ago, Lucky began to lose his tenacious grip on life. Two weeks ago he lost interest in eating. He’d limp past his bowl as if to say that food was for dogs with a future.
A week later he stopped drinking water. We knew then that the end was at hand. So we prepared for his final day.
Everyone took the time to say goodbye in his or her own way. Then early the following morning, Lucky sat quietly in my arms as his vet sent gave him a painless, loving push and sent him to what she called “the other side.”
This was our third dog. The first was a Lab, followed by an Airedale, followed by Lucky, a Shitz shu. The only “lapdog” we ever had. But, at 20 pounds he had just as much love in him as his 60-pound predecessors.
When Lucky was just a pup, I quickly learned that I could not walk him anywhere near a playground for fear that a thirty minute stroll would turn into a two-hour lovefest as the kids would jump off the swings and run over to pet the little guy. We couldn’t blame them; he looked and felt like a plush toy out of FAO Schwartz.
At the age of two, when the poor thing was dumb enough to fall asleep while sunning himself in the neighbors driveway, and the kids were negligent enough not to notice, Lucky earned his first injury: the neighbor, backing out of the garage, ran over his front right paw. It obviously could have been worse. For six weeks the kids took the stoic little man to the playground, riding on a pillow inside a bright red wagon. Of course that made him a neighborhood celebrity and from that point on his popularity grew.
For the better part of a year locals asked for updates on Lucky’s condition; and long after he was back on all fours he was still referred to as “that poor little thing.”
Falling victim ourselves to his increased celebrity, we began to allow him up on the bed at night. Somehow he’d work his way up from the bottom to the top in the wee small hours of the morning so you’d wake up to find him snuggled in on the pillow beside you, or worse, wedged between your head and the headboard.
As the years went by and Lucky added one more health issue on top of another it only made him more lovable. Friends reminded us that if you name a dog “Lucky,” he or she would fall victim to a series of calamities. Our Lucky lived up to that rule. So we be came accustomed to saying, “Blind, deaf, arthritic, and answers to the name Lucky!”
But he was Lucky in one true sense: he had a family that loved him and a home that he made all the happier during his long and sometimes challenging life.
Bob Dole once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” He was right, in a place where friendships are bought and sold, dogs are perhaps the only friends you can count on.
The kindness dogs, or cats for that matter, give those who show them even a small degree of affection has always been a thing of wonder to me. The vast majority of them are simple creatures. Certainly Lucky was. To be in your arms, or snuggled up next to you while you slept was his sweet spot. He saved all of his heart for you, how could you help but make a place in your heart for him. It’s a place every pet we have ever loved leaves empty when their time comes to wait for you on the other side.
Maybe this week I’ll watch the Greatest American Dog. Now that Lucky’s gone, some other four-legged cutie has to earn that title, right?
SMW Health Editor
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