Thursday, July 17, 2008

To the "Big Goose"...

Today was a sad day for us. After a long year battling kidney failure, we had to put down our dog Lucy. She had been with the hubby for 13 of her 15 years, and she will be missed. I'm attaching the email he sent out letting our friends know of her passing:


It saddens me to say that my big dog, Lucy (the "Goose"), passed away today. She had been struggling with kidney failure for about a year, and had finally reached the point where she was simply too ill to continue. So, with the compassionate help of Dr. Scott, we released her on to a better place.

Given that she's been sick for a while, it's easy to think of her that way, but that's not her, and not how she should be remembered. To help everyone else remember her the way we do, I'd like to revisit a few key episodes from our time together:

* the "squirrel" incident

When I first got Lucy, I lived in a house that was frequented by squirrels, and the thought of actually -catching- one drove Lucy absolutely nuts. Whenever a squirrel would come on the deck, in front of our big picture window, I would point it out and say "squirrel!", and it got so that she would go crazy for the word alone.

So, my friend Mark had a dog named Maggie. Maggie and Mark had this act where Mark would set her down, look into her eyes, and say (where, as near I could tell, could have been -anything-, as long as it was said in a special way). Upon hearing the "magic words", Maggie would explode into action, running all over the house barking. The variable nature of the trick made it look like Maggie had a big vocabulary (and maybe she did), and I thought this was great.

My downfall came when I tried to emulate it.

The main challenge to overcome was that, unlike Maggie, the only word that worked for Lucy was 'squirrel'. I thought to myself "How can I make it -look- like Lucy knows more words? I know - I'll -whisper- it to her, so no ever knows what the -actual- word is."

So, in front of a group of friends (always try new things with an audience!), I sat her down, looked her in the eye, asked her some question (like "Lucy, who's going to win the Presidency in 2000?"), waited for dramatic pause, and then leaned close (my undoing) and whispered the magic word.

Lucy, of course, exploded straight up, head-butted me square in the teeth, busted both of my lips, and generally entertained everyone as expected.

* swimming down the duck

One fine Sunday morning, I decided to take the girls (which, at the time, meant Lucy and Lori) for a walk down by Whiterock Lake, and I decided that a good place to do this would be on the north end, by Whiterock Boat Club.

So, I pulled in to the gravel parking lot and, seeing that no one else was around, just opened the door and let them out.

Lucy made a beeline for a flock of ducks standing by the water, and, I'm sure, was gratified when they scattered like, well, startled ducks.

Some of the ducks, however, made for the water, and Lucy followed them in. Once in their element, they had the upper hand and easily swam off around the docks, leaving her in their wake. Lucy was not one to be shaken off so easily, however, and disappeared around the docks after them, gamely trying to swim one down.

As she disappeared behind the pilings, I thought "crap! once she's out of sight of the shortest path back to dry land, she's going to exhaust herself and drown!". I was going to have to run out on the docks and rescue her. This was Problem Number One.

Problem Number Two was that Whiterock Boat Club was a security-conscious organization, and the docks themselves were a minor fortress consisting of:

* an initial security gate, set in a large blank wall
* a halo of barbed wire on standoffs around said large blank wall
* a 50-foot walkway, followed by another security door, this time set in the side of the small building that the walkway dead-ends into

When push comes to shove, you do what you gotta do.

I circumvented the first wall by using the standoffs for the barbed wire as hand and footholds (stepping gingerly over and around the wire itself), ran the length of the walkway, jumped up and grabbed the edge of the roof of the building (into which the second door was set), and hand-walked (dangling by my fingertips) around to the nearest dock. MacGuyver would have been proud.

Sure enough, Lucy was in one of the slips, paddling around and futilely searching for a way out.

I grabbed her by the scruff, hoisted her onto the deck, and breathed a sigh of relief. At which point she, being totally exhausted, slumped over and back into the water. So, -again-, I hoisted her out by the scruff, but onto a wider bit of the deck, where we could both safely catch our breath.

Which brings us back to Lori (remember Lori?). When Lucy and I got back to the car, I learned two things I didn't know before: 1) Whiterock Lake is surrounded by a 5-foot band of black crud and 2), this crud sticks to dogs. Lori looked like the proverbial "tar baby" from "The Song of the South"!

Fortunately, getting -out- of the boat club was easier than getting in (the doors are only locked from the outside), and the main security gate was still standing open. I took Lori onto the walkway, past the band-o-crud, and, a few by-the-scruff "dunk-ings" later, she was good as new.

* the feather comforter

I used to have a feather comforter.

One day, I came home from work, went back to my bedroom, opened the door, and was greeted by a fantastic sight. To better appreciate it, I turned on the light, which, in turn, turned on the ceiling fan.

As you may have guessed, the dogs had gutted the feather comforter and were reveling in the wreckage, running in circles and leaving rooster-tails of feathers in their wakes.

With the fan on, it was like a life-size snow globe with live dogs.

I had to laugh - you've never -seen- happier hounds!

* paying a visit to the neighbor

I got Lucy from the ASPCA as a grown dog (the in-house vet estimated that she was about two years old). She had her ways, and I had mine, and it took a while for us to find a groove that worked.

In the meantime, there were some issues. For one thing, she was an escape artist. If I tried to crate her, she could literally burst the crate at the seams. If I tried to put her out in the yard, she got out. Sometimes she showed up in a few minutes, sometimes in a few hours, once I had to go get her back form the pound again, and once she went to see Jim.

Jim and his wife Jeannie were my neighbors at the time. Jim was the inventory manager at a local West Marine, and Jeannie did interior design. Nice folks. On this particular day, Jim came to my attention at 4:00 in the morning - he was pounding on my door. When I opened it (after briefly considering whether I -really- wanted to confront whoever would pound on my door that that time of night), Jim pointed at the ground and said "is this your dog?". Sure enough, it was Lucy. I said as much, Jim went his merry(?) way, and Lucy and I went back to sleep.

Later that day I got the full story. It seems that Jim had to go into work early that day, and had to bring in several boxes of paperwork. He had to make several trips to get all of the boxes loaded, and, in order to avoid waking Jeannie, he left the door open and the lights off. On his last run, he tripped over a "big hairy thing" in the hall. Lucy.

Needless to say, it freaked him right-the-heck out, and he took a "kick now and ask questions later" approach. Only once they were both out in the pale light of the streetlights did he recognize his adversary.

* the great flood

Finally, the Lucy story of all Lucy stories (from my perspective, anyway).

As I've said before, Lucy was an escape artist, and refused to be crated or fenced. She was also sort of destructive, so I couldn't just let her have the run of the house. So, I decided to try keeping her in the master bath during the day.

This worked ok for a few days, but then, one day, I came home to an odd sight. My yard was full of water. I didn't know what it meant (yet), so I shrugged and went inside.

All was normal in the foyer and the hall, but my first step into the master bedroom went "squish". What the?! When I turned on the light, I saw water GUSHING out from under the bathroom door, making a 'vee' of suds in the carpet. I cautiously opened the door. The master sink was running full blast, with a bar of soap plugging the drain. Lucy had leapt up onto the counter to look out the window, kicked on the water, and knocked in the soap.

Where was Lucy? In the tub, staying dry.

She wasn't always a 'good' dog, and she was frequently a pain in the rear, but she was ALWAYS funny, and we're going to miss her.

-The Deatons

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