Here comes another dog story but who doesn’t love dogs? I want to tell you about Lucca who died in early June. She was a Siberian Husky that we adopted on a cold, snowy Super Bowl Sunday back in 2010. We were never sure of her actual birthday so we celebrated before the football game.
I miss Lucca so much. I miss her goofy smile, the smell of her fur, her bad breath, her soft ears. I would play with her tail while we watched television on the couch together. She liked ice cream and fish and turkey and pizza. She hated traveling to the Vineyard but loved arriving. People knew her as the slow-moving Husky who was out there twice a day in any weather. She particularly liked exploring the old dirt roads of East Chop. And sharing my morning donut at deBettencourt’s Service Station.
We lost Tyler, our Shetland Sheepdog, in 2009. He never met Lucca in this life but I hope that they are getting to know each other now. Here was my birthday wish this year: that we could have them both back — just for one day — together. There are 20 things we could do to celebrate. Alas, it was not to be and I spent the day working. I do believe that all of our spirits cycle around and that our dogs may already be nearby in some other form or as the new puppies down the street.
What is it about dogs that makes us care so much? (I love cats but am allergic so we remain a dog house.) There are rescue dogs, police dogs, bomb and drug-sniffing dogs. Seizure dogs. Dogs help the blind and visit the old and the sick. Dogs keep us company. They share their lives with us and get us out of the house. They connect us to our neighborhood, our town. They help turn down the noise in the world, take us away from worries about work, the news and this week’s celebrity crisis. They remind us of the importance of nature, slowing down and listening . . . the simple things in life. They connect us to the non-human world of animals. They give us permission to laugh, play and be young again. They remind us of our own youthful innocence. They make us more human. They bring out the best in us. They make us smile and that is precious. Do dogs know what they do for us? Maybe.
Lucca was abused as a puppy and escaped to the woods. Several weeks later, she was rescued by a good samaritan who rushed her to the local veterinarian. She recovered and enjoyed the pleasures of a safe home. Her owner eventually had to give her up for personal reasons and that’s when we brought her into our home. About a year ago, she developed kidney disease which we were able to manage. But then something happened to her brain and she spiraled downward quickly. When we could no longer help her enjoy a quality of life she deserved, we consulted with our veterinarian who came to the house. In a matter of seconds, she was gone. Just like that. That fast. It wasn’t fair. We were still getting to know her.
Our vet wrapped Lucca up in a towel and gently carried her away. We will bury some of her ashes near Tyler’s grave soon. There’s a hole in our lives now. The house is full of memories as well as her toys and tufts of her hair that we continue to find. We have put away her bowls and her leashes until we need them again. We will adopt again in the fall, if we last that long.
According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), six to eight million cats and dogs are presently cared for in animal shelters across the country. The truly agonizing truth is that three to four million of them are euthanized each year. That’s 80,000 per week!
Will Rogers once said, “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” That’s where you’ll find me.
Peter B. Robb lives in Holliston and Oak Bluffs.