I am submitting a few pictures of our shelter dog, Lucy, for your consideration for the SPCA 2011 Shelter Dog Calendar. What a fantastic idea! Regardless of whether or not Lucy is selected, I will look forward to looking at all of the other pictures of everyone else’s special friends.
I’ve always been a cat person (and still am) and before Lucy arrived, had never owned a dog or knew anything about how to live with them. However, a few years ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to adopt a dog; him from the perspective that he missed having a dog (he’d given up custody of his dogs to his ex wife for his daughter’s benefit) and me because I thought having a dog again would be good for him. In short, in my thinking, the new dog would be “his” dog and I’d tend to my cat.
Of course, it didn’t turn out that way at all! Although my husband DID pick Lucy out (I just could not bring myself to go into the shelter and see all of those dogs who needed homes knowing we could only take one), she has, in essence, become “my” dog.
So, the story goes, we got Lucy from Durham NC’s Animal Protective Services about 3 ½ years ago. After my husband vetted the candidates, I went into a tiny room in the shelter to meet her for the first time. She was extremely enthusiastic and energetic, as befitting her Labrador background (she is obviously predominately Lab with likely some Hound, perhaps Fox Hound, thrown in for good measure). She climbed all over me, bounded about the room to look out the window and came back over to slobber on me for good measure. The handler who’d brought her into the room told us she was very sweet, hardly barked and loved hot dogs. As we were filling out the adoption paperwork, we were told she’d been picked up roaming free a week or so after Thanksgiving; no collar, no microchip and no one ever came to claim her. And, whoever they had been, had her spayed and had a small tattoo of a smiley face put on her belly near her spay. I still wonder to this day who in the world could have given this dog up! But, no matter for Lucy, same came home with us January 2nd 2007. Our vet figured she was roughly 18 months old at the time so that would make her about five today.
Admittedly, the first few months with Lucy were a bit rough for several reasons. One, she was extremely insecure and had separation anxiety, which, given the fact she’d likely been dumped, we could understand. Although she was house trained, there were a few accidents. She bolted out of the house a few times and went for a wild trot through the nearby muddy new house construction sites, with me running behind her (I finally learned you are not supposed to chase a dog as they think you are playing with them!) Plus, at the time, we had an elderly cat that, unfortunately, never did come around to Lucy’s charms. Yes, I’d never had a dog before so I was learning a lot of new things myself.
I took Lucy to several training classes so we’d learn how to walk well together and also to work on the separation anxiety. I’ll never forget that trainer, Jane, telling me one day after I called her for some advice, “Don’t give up on her. I promise you, in six months, she’ll be a completely different dog”.
Don’t give up on her. That just stuck in my head and, over the course of the years whenever we’ve had a behavior issue with Lucy, that mantra jumped back in to my head. Don’t give up on her.
Lucy and I also went to a general obedience class (much of this was training me just as much, if not more than Lucy!) and, over the course of the years, she’s had a few other training sessions as needs have arisen. Although it is pretty apparent that there are a few things Lucy does not like (other dogs if on leash, being in a crate or confined to a small room which includes the brand new dog house I bought her) which we attribute to “whatever happened to her “BU” (before us), she is otherwise a loving and perfectly delightful dog (even though she’s also stubborn and sometimes a bit “blonde”!)
I take her with me everywhere I go, weather permitting. In the spring, we drive down to Florida together for three weeks to visit and stay with various relatives. Lucy is always welcomed, and, her visits are even anticipated by my Father, who, before Lucy, pretty much wanted absolutely nothing to do with dogs.
She is perfectly delightful with our small nieces and nephews; some of the first words my nephew said (that I could understand, anyway) was “Lucy” and Lucy’s house”. She also does well with our five cats (the one that couldn’t stand her has since gone to The Rainbow Bridge) and will even cuddle with a few of them (if they let her). Sometimes, I think Lucy thinks she’s a cat.
Lucy has had a few significant heath issues. A year after we got her, we discovered she had the beginnings of Heartworm. Luckily, the treatment worked (although fairly ghastly; arsenic injections, who would have thought it?) and we all survived the six to eight weeks in which we had to keep her quiet. Imagine that!
This past April, she developed a very quickly growing Mast Cell Tumor on her left hind leg. The tumor plus large margins were removed. Thankfully, the margins came back clean and we’re keeping our fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that the cancer did not metastasize. Our vet is very confident he got it all, but, obviously, you never know.
Her recovery from this was rough on everyone, but, in particular, her. The poor thing had to wear a bucket (e-collar) on her head for about six weeks. There was a hideous open wound on her leg which must have hurt like heck. She had drains, stitches, rubber tubing, stables in her leg and was on something like 15 pills a day. She’s come through it, though; and I can happily report that she is back to running around and playing, chasing her ball, catching frogs in the backyard, and joyfully jumping around when people she loves come to see her (notably my step daughter and her “Grammy”).
A friend of mine sent me the information regarding your calendar. I thought, given everything we’ve recently been through with Lucy, it was perfect timing. I am sending a few pictures for your consideration. My favorites are her “soulful ones” but I did also want to send one that showed her incredibly infectious smile.
In closing, I have to add this. Not too long after we got Lucy, I purchased a few tee shirts with slogans about shelter dogs emblazoned on the fronts. My favorite reads:
“Who rescued whom? Proud owner of a shelter dog”.
This sums up my relationship with and feelings for my , Lucy. I didn’t, and won’t give up on her. Ever.
Thank you for your consideration!