On Monday, October 24, we had to put down our 16-year-old dog, Lucky. We knew he was old and wouldn’t last forever, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
We discovered that he had cancer on Friday. By Sunday he had deteriorated so much that he couldn’t stand or walk. We had to carry him back to the emergency vet. We got test results back on Monday that gave us the worst news. His cancer was aggressive, advanced stage and spread through his abdomen and pancreas. We decided to let him go without further suffering.
It all happened so quickly at the end that we are in shell shock as well as extreme grief. The trauma of his death is still raw but I can now start missing the dog I loved. I can begin to remember what a unique and wonderful dog he was and how much he added to our family.
Lucky was a regal looking Chow/Shiba Inu mix. He had a thick double coat of off-white fluffy fur that came out in clumps several times a year when he ‘moulted’. He would look like a sheep who was only partly shorn and in an odd pattern. He also had the Chow purple tongue.
He was an incredibly independent dog. He did his own thing and if you didn’t like it, it was your problem! He had no interest in pleasing humans and did not see humans (even professional dog trainers) as authority figures. We have been told by several of those trainers that he was one of the few untrainable dogs they had ever met. But he never did anything we really objected to, except steal food off the counters when we left it too close to the edge. So we didn’t mind his independent streak.
On the other hand, his charm and personality were off the charts. He was a happy dog with what really looked like a smile. When he bounded up to you or nuzzled you to get affection, everyone just melted. And absolutely everyone loved Lucky. People who met him were always taken with him. He was genuinely winsome and appealing. He was also dignified and not at all needy, so you sort of felt flattered when he paid attention to you and wanted affection back in return.
Lucky had another unique character trait. He had more fixed habits and routines than any other dog either Tom or I have had (and that’s a lot of dogs). He had a strong sense of territory and made his rounds through the house and yard. He would go in and out of the doggie door at least 50 times a day!
He particularly loved to sit on the back stoop in an iconic pose – his butt on the top step and his front paws on the lower step. From there he surveyed his domain for hours, rain or shine. On rainy days we lived with constant wet dog smell. As soon as he’d start to dry off, he’d be out again till he was thoroughly re-soaked. If he didn’t feel like going outside, he would just stick his head out the doggie door and look around for a while.
Almost two years ago Lucky had several strokes and blew out both hips, one after the other. We thought we were going to lose him then. For weeks, Tom and I took turns sleeping on an air mattress in the family room to help him get around and get out to pee at night. He was finally diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and put on medication.
Although he had some minor residual damage from the strokes, he went back to an almost normal (though somewhat limited) routine. We all had a healthy, peaceful and happy year and a half plus for which we are now so grateful.
Lucky had a wonderful life as a well-loved member of a human/canine family that truly appreciated him. He was a unique, quirky and loving presence and his absence will be deeply felt forever.