[Lucy was a rescued Airedale with a number of challenging behaviors that AireCanada placed some years ago with Michele Bond. Michele recently wrote this touching essay about Lucy. We wish that all those Airedales who are adopted through rescue could be so lucky as to have an owner with the sense — and sensitivity — of Michele Bond. AireCanada thanks her and her family very, very much for their loving care of Lucy.]
Lucy passed away on Monday.
I have been so privileged to have been a part of her life. I know I have said it many times but Lucy taught me so much. No, the first year wasn’t easy. I was devastated when people were trying to convince me she was too difficult and that I should give her up. I am so glad I didn’t. She and I both had things to learn. She needed to trust me and I needed to accept her limitations and know that she was never going to be totally secure around other dogs.
She was the softest, kindest dog . She only had that one problem….but don’t we all! She became so well trained and was always just my side kick. I had to know where she was at all times. She had to always be in my view. I had to be fully aware of our surroundings and plan our moves. Even in the house with people around I had to make sure doors weren’t opened….or doors were closed. Thus she became my shadow….attentive to what I wanted from her. She actually never walked out a door or gate without looking at me for permission. This all sounds difficult and time consuming but it became second nature to us both. She achieved instant recall so if she was in the yard and spotted a rabbit to chase, I could call and she would come to my side. She knew her muzzle was a good thing, brought fun times and was always accepting of putting it on.
I am so proud of her.
I am still in disbelief and shock that she is gone. There had been little things since after Christmas. Maybe it all started with the teeth grinding and chattering. We had two teeth pulled that may have been an issue but turned out were not. The grinding just mysteriously ended. I always thought it was environmental as we were living in a situation where many neighbours, including myself, were suffering from headaches, coughs etc. In January, she seemed to be not eating and was lethargic so we put her on a two week program of antibiotics. That seemed to do the trick and she was back to her goofy Airedale self.
We went away for two weeks and when we got home on Monday, she was happy and bouncy, but earlier that day she had fallen over. After that she didn’t want to walk far, but other signs were all good….eating…..drinking…..no temperature.…pink gums and capillary refill time was great….bowels good. She still wanted to play….jump on the bed to sleep.
Sunday night — her last night — she still had her dinner and her plate-licker specials. She slept in my room as always but didn’t get on the bed. She got up about three times during the night to change positions but stayed in the room. In the morning, I let her out and she did her business but then became disoriented so I helped her into the house and made a vet appointment.
That was when I realized she was not going to make it. She went to her favorite place in the kitchen where she would sit and watch the cooking preparations in hope something would fall her way (and, of course, it always did). I lay down beside her for a little, and talked to her. Just as we were preparing to take her to the hospital, she left us. I don’t know why I was disturbing her to take her to the hospital. I knew she was dying and, actually, by that time, even though she had vital signs, she really wasn’t there.
Among many other things, Lucy taught me that there are many ways to own a dog. She taught me not to believe everything you read or are told by trainers, to trust your own instincts, to do the things that work for you and your dog.
I learned how important it was to work with the dog YOU have.
Dogs do not always need other dogs for companionship. Dogs don’t need to walk in different places for variety; yes, it would be nice, but sometimes it’s not possible. We walked every day, one direction or the other, and she was just as excited and enthusiastic as the day before. I never became the calm owner when other dogs would try to approach. There were too many altercations when I didn’t know better that made me permanently nervous but I can’t believe Lucy didn’t understand that of me. I am convinced she knew how much I loved her….fought for her….protected her…and that is the important thing.
Thank you for Lucy. Sending her to me turned out the way it should. I am so very sad right now but I know having her in my life was a good thing.