Ed asked me when Annie was two how old she should be before we got a dog. I said 35, so of course the next day he brought home Sandy, our first family dog. After a wonderful 14 year life, Sandy passed away. We were dogless until Ed said on a Monday night, "I thought we could go up to Millcreek to look at basset puppies."
I didn't know we were interested in getting another dog, and what did we know about bassets? But a little over 11 years ago, an 11 week old basset pup weighing in at 11 pounds, mostly ear weight, stole our hearts. My class at the time voted on her name: Lucy. She would trip over her ears, fall into our little pond, and drag any socks left on the floor outside to bury. We had to warn over night guests that underwear or socks left on the floor might never be seen again. How many dozens of Ed and Charles' socks that are at some stage of disintegration in our yards is up for grabs.
Lucy was a bit obsessive. We found out early on that she loved toilet paper tubes. Not paper towel tubes or wrapping paper tubes, just your run of the mill toilet paper tubes. She loved them! She would bat them around, bark at them, and proudly bury them outside. We always knew when a burial took place by the tiny pile of dirt on her nose upon coming inside. One of my students saved up 127 tubes for Lucy which lasted quite a while. Gramma Bev would save tubes for Lucy tying them up with a ribbon. We always put them in our bathroom closet on a shelf and that damn dog could smell those tubes. She knew that's where we hid her treasures. Often she would sit and bark at the door waiting for us to dole her out 2-3. Being a brilliant basset she could count to 4 as that's how many she could hold in her mouth at once to take outside.
Like any regular dog Lucy liked to eat. Normally she wasn't a beggar, but if given the right opportunity she would clean off a plate or lick crumbs off the floor. Who wouldn't? But she did have her favorites. Any carbohydrate was a first choice, but her favorite thing in the world? Pancakes. Lucy loved her pancakes, and such good parents were we, she was indulged. If we got busy or neglected to give her one, she would sit in the kitchen and whine. Only over pancakes. She didn't whine if there was leftover chicken or steak, but give the girl her pancakes and love was in the air. She didn't need syrup or butter, just plain would do please. She just knew if there was a plate of them on the counter they must be for her! Silly Lucille.
About a year and a half ago the whole family went up to Whidbey Island for the weekend. Six adults, five dogs. The tide was low and the sun was out. Charles' dog Piper and Annie's dog Logan would run, run, swim, play, swim, run, and play. Gracie June and Bella dog accompanied us all but have a bit more of a princess mind set. Lucy ran around, and BARKED. She never really knew how to play with other dogs, but she was a very accomplished barker, her version of play. The beach was such that her bark echoed and carried down the beach alerting all for a mile in either direction that she was playing, loudly and having a good time.
Lucy loved a good walk. Living by the river and trails this was a good thing. Ed and I weren't too found of autumn walks as Lucy was a sneaker pants. She would quietly disappear off the trail to go to the river, not really for a drink, but to roll in the fall nastiness of spent salmon. Or in the pinch, dog poop. Why not? Ever proud, she would re-present herself on the trail with her new aroma as if to say, "Look at me!" That meant a bath, in my shower, with me. P.U. Stinky dog!
Of course we never got pet insurance. Why would we? We should have for Lucille, a veterinarian's dream patient. She had the usual shots and check-ups, but wait, there's more! Lucy got an infection in her head from a stick in her mouth. Operation. She had a torn meniscus in one knee. Operation. Later that year, the other knee. Operation. Then arthritis. Meds. Bladder infection. Meds. Repeat bladder infections times a million. More meds. Teeth cleanings. Head infection from a cat whapping her. Overnight at the vet. Meds. Various lumps and bumps that needed draining. Meds. Yes, Lucy has sent the vet on vacations many times over the years. Perhaps it was her calling.
And yet, we loved her. She was a loyal, upbeat, hilarious dog. A few weeks ago, she got another bladder infection. It cleared up, but came back. She needed an ultrasound so couldn't be on antibiotics and this last week was very hard on all three of us. By Wednesday she'd stopped eating. By Friday morning when Ed took her to the vet she was shaking. The vet wasn't completely sure what was wrong, but it wasn't good. Ed brought our beloved Lucy home throwing up and shaking which she did all night unable to get cozy or relax. Annie came over to stay and help, but our dear favorite basset Lucy June passed away this morning at 6:45 in her dad's arms. We buried her under the magnolia with her favorite squeak toy, a fresh tube, the grungy socks and various nasty dirty tubes Ed unearthed when digging her grave and so much love it gnaws at our hearts.
We Billingtons love our dogs. We spoil them and make them our own as if they were one of the family, which perhaps is why we hurt so much when they leave us. The circle of life is full of joy if you're a dog in our household, and while death is part of the deal, it's hard and it hurts. What will we do without our Lucy girl?