TO LUCKY by ELLIN CURLEY

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.

last-lucky-11-1-2016

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.

tom-lucky-2

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.

lucky-04

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!

lucky-looking

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.

lucky-curled-up

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.

23 thoughts on “TO LUCKY by ELLIN CURLEY

    • Thanks you. He was such a character! Every day he did something that made us smile or shake our heads. But our other dog is quite quirky too so she is an endless source of entertainment and love for us.

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  1. As the companion of another wholly independent dog whose quirks make every day intertesting, I can hardly imagine how hard it must be without him around. My heart goes out to you, Ellin.

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    • You’re so right. Every day Lucky did something that made my husband and me comment to each other. I still expect him to bark at me when I’m preparing the dog food too slowly, or wake me up with a nudge to pet him at 6 AM. We are discussing whether or not to get a second dog now. We have always had at least two, sometimes three and four at a time. But we adore our Lexi, who is also quite quirky and interesting to live with and in some ways we are afraid to upset the good balance that we have in the house now. We’ll see.

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      • When my Ani goes to stay with her friends before I go north, I miss her presence. The house seems both too quiet ad too tidy… her toys are always everywhere, as are the sofa cushions.
        You can only go with how you feel.

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    • I have to keep reminding myself that we let him go to prevent him from suffering needlessly. We could have tried chemo. But he was so far along with the disease that the odds of some limited success, balanced against the odds of negative side effects and further disease progress,didn’t make sense for us. My son said that Lucky was a proud dog and that we should let him go with some dignity left. And that’s what we did. So hard to live with though!

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    • Thank you. I know you have been through this so many times before. I still cry over dogs who have been gone for years and years. But it’s so hard when you first lose them. The house feels quiet and empty. Everything seems “off” at home. Tom and are are moping around feeling lost. I know it will get better and we do have an amazing and entertaining canine roommate to keep us happy and loved.

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  2. Exquisitely lovely tribute to Lucky, Ellin. I enjoyed the times we spent with him on our visits. I think he knew we are furry kids people, sharing conversation and trust.
    Here’s looking at you, Lucky!!

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    • It really means so much to us that you and Marilyn have shared our dogs with us over the years. Lucky had a unique personality and presence and I’m so grateful that you got to know him. Now you can understand exactly what we are missing and mourning.

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    • Sharing my memories of Lucky with other people helps me deal with my loss. Your condolences actually do help, even though you didn’t know him personally. So thank you!

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  3. Oh Ellin, I’m so sorry. That has got to be one of the most difficult things to do, but it was the right thing to do. Our younger son recently had to put down his Golden Retriever and it is never easy to do. We all miss that beautiful animal.
    Leslie

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    • Most people have had to put down a pet at some point in their lives, or know someone who has. It’s a universal experience and the fact that others understand what you’re going through means a lot. What’s hard to deal with are the people who don’t understand how much a pet becomes a member of the family and how deeply they become imbedded in your life. To them it’s “just an animal” and no big deal. Fortunately I don’t have many of those people in my life. So I appreciate your support and condolences.

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  4. My heart goes out to you. I’ve been through it with several dogs, and it never gets easier. It takes a long time to stop listening for those little toenails on the kitchen tile. Lucky was very lucky, indeed, to have owners such as you and your husband. My condolences.

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  5. I am so sorry about Lucky. This is such a beautiful tribute to your handsome and winsome guy. Rest in Peace, sweet Lucky. Find my Daisy and Muffin; they would love to be friends with you–I just know it.

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  6. So sorry for your loss. It is so hard. I’m still reeling from my fur child’s passing in September and it’s tough. Good on you for finding it in you to write about him and all that made him your special Lucky.

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