The way I see it, one of the best ways to cope with the ghosts on my blog is to share the living characters. And of course, that includes Lucie.
I’ve barely written anything on the “junior emotional support intern” puppy I got a little over a month before Pascale died. Admittedly, it was a strange time to get a dog. My heart was so shattered by Pascale’s cancer diagnosis. In my adult life I’ve taken on 3 very different dogs in various circumstances–bought from a breeder and thoroughly planned for, adopted on a whim, and rescued on a whim when they showed up. But I’ve never had the “oh shit if I don’t get a dog I’m going to be dogless and alone in a very vulnerable time” dog.
The first few months of Lucie’s life were 100% over-shadowed by Pascale’s illness. Sure, I cuddled her and trained her, but the majority of my care and attention were on Pascale. Don’t think she suffered though. Lucie had plenty of toys, treats, walks, and play sessions with me and “sister dog.” She adored Pascale. It didn’t take long for Pascale to find the positive qualities in her little sister. They played when Pascale felt well enough, and Lucie followed her around the barn or hiking.
One of the many, many gifts Pascale gave to me was modeling good behavior for her little sister. Teaching Lucie how to behave around the horses, stay out of the riding ring and pastures, and come when she was called off leash was easier than any dog I’ve ever had.
When any person or animal died (take your pick, there have been a lot), Pascale was always my right hand emotional support. She just knew. She laid right next to me (like sharing a pillow close) when I was too sad to get out of bed. When I needed to laugh, she rolled around like stuck beetle or brought me a toy acting silly to make me smile. She was my rock for so many years.
I’d be lying if I said Lucie picked up exactly where her sister left off. After all, she is a different dog. When Pascale died, we both were distraught. Lucie tried to jump in the van after her when they loaded Pascale’s body away. She moped and cried for days. We both did.
But that week was also the same week where she transitioned to only dog. She slept in my bed with me every night instead of the crate. She wasn’t the second dog to get food or treats anymore. I was able to bring some different bones/chews out in rotation since there was no food aggression to worry about. All of these little things may seem insignificant, but they also shifted my relationship with Lucie as well. I’m not sure when, because it was a slow process, but she stopped being “the puppy I had to get so I wouldn’t be alone” and became my sweet little Lucie girl.
Okay, but what about the golden retriever thing?
Well, I had her DNA tested as that is my new favorite thing for rescue dogs. The shelter had her listed as “Golden Retriever/Pitt” and we all thought that was made up. Even the shelter staff were like, uh that’s a lab. But lookie here:
A damn fine golden retriever if I ever saw one!
In the past year I’ve had her, Lucie has flowed into my lifestyle like she was always meant to be here. She’s definitely a high energy dog, which isn’t always fun when she’s running laps around my house throwing toys around and slowly destroying my floor, but I prefer dogs like this. She lives for her daily walk, and leaps in the air (to my eye level) when I say the ‘W’ word. I take her to the barn with me, where she runs around and plays with other dogs the entire time. She has never met a dog she doesn’t like. Even if someone is growling and telling her to back off, she flops upside next to them and wiggles, please be my best friend! I can’t wait for us to be best friends! I often say she doesn’t really know how to read a room.
Of course, she hasn’t been perfect and while she’s extremely easy in some ways others are more difficult. I’ve had to deal with some minor to moderate separation anxiety, something Rehab My Rescue has been super helpful with. Beth is an animal behaviorist and has introduced me to a new way of training that I haven’t been exposed to much in all my years of dog ownership and training. With her help, (she’s based in Dallas and does virtual sessions too) I’ve been able to get Lucie used to being home alone for several hours, left alone in the car for short periods of time, and am learning tools to redirect some of her fear based behavior with strangers. It’s a slow process, but I’m seeing real progress.
Mostly though, she is my happy-go-lucky puppy. Just like her namesake, Lucie brings a lot of light into my life. She’s not as obsessed with me (one might even say emotionally damaged) as Eliot was. She’s not as cuddly as BT. And no dog will ever be Pascale, still my heart. But Lucie is her own Lucie girl self. She’s friendly, full of joy, and game to be my friend through thick and thin. That’s all most of us can hope for in a dog.