Our 11-year-old dog is on her last legs. The vet diagnosed renal failure. Lucy doesn’t know it. We do.
Lucy still lives each day to the hilt. Nothing in the past to regret. Nothing in the future to dread.
Every morning she saunters along on our mile-long nature trail. Each walk is more and more precious to me now. Lucy doesn’t think that way. Every walk has always been precious to her. It’s her favorite thing.
When we start out she hops up and down, nips at my coat pocket, expecting a treat because when she was a puppy I got up at 4 a.m. to take her out into the yard to do her business. Then I gave her a treat. That ended long ago. Lucy doesn’t know that. She lives in the eternal now.
Once we’re back, she darts from room to room and returns with her stuffed bear clutched in her mouth, tail wagging, body quivering. She nudges it against my leg as though I’d never seen it before. Every guest has gotten the same treatment for 11 years. It’s her favorite thing.
Glad to see you! And so is my bear! We’re glad you’re here.
Every evening Paula plays fetch-the-squeaky-ball with Lucy. Paula flings the ball off the deck. Lucy bounds down the steps, races in circles, finds it, and then runs back up the steps for another round and another and another. It’s her favorite thing.
Lucy’s lost a step or two. Sometimes her back legs crumble. She lays panting for a while but soon gets back up for another round like there’s no tomorrow, only the eternal now where every moment is precious.
That’s how I want to live. But I know tears are coming. Still, I can and will take joy today.
Years ago when I was a pastor, a child asked me whether dogs go to heaven. (Her dog had just died.) Of course, I said. After all, heaven is a reunion with all our loved ones. No tears. Only joy.
I expect to see all my former dogs bounding toward me over those streets of gold, wagging their tails, jumping on my chest, and slobbering my face with licks. My favorite thing.
I don’t expect to see any of my former cats in heaven. I’m pretty sure it’s not good enough for them.
See Paula’s photo (Oregon Seastacks) on the home page. Posted January 23.
you’ve spoken so eloquently about your precious moments with Lucy… I have spontaneous tears for her, for you & Paula – love for such a playful, exuberant, alive being. She reminds us all how to live here & now – as you say no past regrets; no future to dread. Our dear dog Bodger turned 11, & is slowing down too… yet still leaps & bounds & greets & chases his beloved donut (that squeaks when it’s new…), & rolls in the snow. I choose over & over to move from dread of him not being here to gratitude of him here & now. And for all those I love.
Ram Dass, the late spiritual teacher, encouraged frequently distracted human beings to “be here now.” By contrast, dogs seem to already have that gift of being in the present moment. An unknown writer remarked, “Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces the old one. It merely expands the heart.”
Maybe they go to prepare a place for us?
Wow!! What a great lesson from a loving dog.
An old friend of mine has told me something more than once, that dogs don’t need heaven because they’re already angels.
Lucy is a true Taoist, living ever-present in the moment! “The Master observes the world but trusts her inner vision. She allows things to come and go. Her heart is open as the sky.” —Tao Te Ching
Perhaps you recall how precious the animal world is to me. I am sad to hear of Lucy approaching her final days away from you and Paula, and crossing over into her next journey. When she arrives there, she will sit, tail wagging, waiting faithfully for the 2 of you to come home.
May Lucy enjoy life until her time comes.
You are right about cats!
We just lost our dear old rescue mutt, Teddy. He was with us for seven years, but had been badly abused for 5 years before, and came to us in a state of high anxiety. Gradually he became just a good old happy but untrainable doggy, and I hope it was due in some part to the affection we tried to lavish on him. We’ve had many dogs over the years, but Teddy’s loss has hit us hard. Maybe its because we ourselves are about twelve in dog years. I’m sure Teddy is in heaven, and I hope he’ll vouch for us. We’ll need it! I’m pretty sure our male cat, Samson will be there too, but I’m not so sure about his step-sister Delilah.
Thank you for sharing Lucy with us.
This story brings a tear to the eye of every dog lover.