It seemed harmless. The whining started about a month ago. A lot of it. Lucy whined when she wanted to go out or when she knew me or Daddy were about to enter the front door. This kind of whining seemed more urgent. I took her to our Vet, whom we love and trust. Dr. Campbell thought her arthritis was getting worse and that she was developing cataracts, all quite normal for a boxer mutt at age 13ish. Our Vet gave us some medication and we went home being grateful that she’d feel better soon. Four weeks later her whining was getting worse, and more frequent.
I rescued Lucy almost 10 years ago from a Boxer rescue in Lakeside. She was in a house with over 30 other dogs, mostly Chihuahua’s pushed into small crates, with about 10 Boxer mix mutts in the backyard. The backyard was pure dirt and dust and the sweet old lady, bless her heart, was doing the best she could, but clearly couldn’t turn any dog away. She brought out a few Boxers, and when Lucy flopped out, she came to me immediately and had the sweetest disposition of the brood. It was a fit. I named her after a Grateful Dead song, “Loose Lucy” – as her name was Princess when I got her – seriously?
When I rescued Lucy, I was 4 years sober and had wanted a dog for a long time. Lucy is my first baby. No children here, it was just Lucy. She was my protector, guardian and best buddy. Lucy was my reason to get through life – – when I didn’t want to move forward. I had to show up for her – every day and she taught me unconditional love. She was with me through my first break-up, my job loss in ‘08, my stint as a sober House Manager (with her in tow), and my Mom’s passing. In January 2010, she partnered up with me on our first move in sobriety where we drove cross country through the hot desert of Arizona, the hurricanes of Mississippi and the cold and blustery turf of my home town of Valley Forge, Pa. We were met with two blizzards within 48 hours of our arrival and if she was anything besides adorable in that snow, she was resilient, easy-going and quite accomodating. Lucy was with me when I met my husband and when he asked me early on in our courtship, “What’s important to you in this relationship – what are the must have’s?” I replied, “My must have is that you love my dog as much as I do and then we’ll be ok.” Their love was so strong and fierce. She’d wait for him at the front door to come home every day. When I’d say to her, “Daddy’s home!” she’d start jumping around in a circle and howling. I have the videos to watch, I hope I don’t wear them down. She moved back with us in late summer of 2016 when we came back to her home town of San Diego. She had come full circle.
Last week the whining was continuing multiple times a day and her GI health was extremely poor. We ended up taking her to the ER on Saturday after she collapsed on the sidewalk. After running tests and waiting with angst and worry, we were told she had a condition called Insulinoma; a type of pancreatic cancer. This caused her insulin to be extremely high, while her glycemic count was extremely low – so low they were surprised she was even alive. This explains her behaviors over the past month, the whining, the lethargy, the fogginess and so on. We now know. With this unexpected and tragic news we were able to spend the next 48 hours with Lucy and love on her and be with her and take her to her favorite place, the beach. She was happy and content prodding along the sands and dipping her paws in the Pacific. But she knew. I know she knew.
This is where God’s timing comes in. Liam and I are traveling to Philly tomorrow to visit family. God gave us our time to be with her and to celebrate our love and life with her. To know that she won’t be suffering while we are gone, or having to take multiple medications by the dog sitter, or worse yet her collapsing and passing on while we are gone. That’s not a risk we were able to afford. This is God’s gift to us. The blessing of his timing. He wanted us here to be with her before she needed to go. A blessing of the best kind because we can glory in her life, and remember all of our amazing memories (hundreds in my iPhone) with her with peace, contentment and joy. All the while knowing that she’ll be taken care of by all the other doggies up there – as they too are frolicking around on the beach with the soft sand, sunshine and the glistening blue water – waiting for her.
Lucy Caruso Clough
“Until one has loved a dog, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France