For almost 14 years, each morning before I even got out of bed, my hand would drop to pat Lucy's sweet head. Each night before I went to sleep, I gave Lucy one last "ear job" for the day.
And in between - all day and every day for all these years - Lucy was beside me. Literally. She made true that quotation about the heartbeat at my feet. Or, more often than not, the heartbeat on my feet.
When we went over to the neighbors to look at their 5 week old puppies, Lucy was the first puppy I scooped up. She grunted and I exclaimed "Oooh, Gary! She's talking!" The puppy fever requires one to examine all possible puppies, so in moments I'd lost track of that first pup. I already knew I had to have the talking puppy with the little white tippy toes.
At the tender age of 5 weeks old, Lucy became a shop dog. She went with me to work at our antique shop and greeted all comers. She took strolls around the courthouse square and charmed one and all.
Lucy was my dog from the very beginning. Oh, she loved her daddy and she loved her canine brother, Tucker. But Lucy chose me as much as I chose her.
We had a mutual connection of the heart. It is a love affair like no other I've ever experienced with any creature.
Monday was a day like any day. Tuesday dawned with a rain storm in progress. Lucy hates storms and was in a state of anxiety. I soon realized that the storm had little to do with her distress. Until the vet arrived, I spent the day on the floor holding her, brushing her, loving her.
Our vet confirmed what we already knew in our hearts - there was nothing he could do. We let him end her suffering and struggle for life.
As I told my friend Elizabeth, over at the Chronicles of Cardigan, someday I may be able to appreciate the irony. Lucy - the love of my life, my shadow, my handmaiden, my heart dog - died of heart failure.
Of course I knew this day was coming. I just didn't expect it to come now and so suddenly. Besides, I don't think there's any way to truly prepare.
Gary remarked Tuesday evening: Just 4 months ago we had 4 dogs. That yawning gap in our lives just got a whole lot bigger. A whole lot.
I'm sure Tucker is showing her the ropes in heaven and the two of them are checking the perimeter together. Her hips are renewed; cataracts gone. Surely someone is shaking a rope monkey in her face to see her doing those little jumps of joy. No more special diet; she can eat all the treats she wants. By now Tucker has found the wild strawberries and a perfect napping spot under a big shady holly tree. She'd like that.