We were thinking about what to do for old Lucy as she turned 13 and I sorted through years of images to gather a collection of photos of her. In doing so one is forced to revisit the hikes, docks, swims and just plain hanging out that occurred under her watch. In fact, documenting our dog’s life is really about documenting a lot about our own, at least as of 2004. Like many dog owning families, chronicles of the family and the history of a long-time pet are often so overlapped as to be indistinguishable.
Lucy, you see, predates our kids so I guess you could say she was our first child ….
…. and now my older son is about to turn 12. He has, like his younger brother, never known life without the big black lab that greets him every morning, the same black lab stands at the window as he walks up the driveway after school… every afternoon. Some day, probably not too far off, he’s going to learn a hard lesson that all streaks are broken (not a lot of Labs reach 14). But if I think about my boys and my some of my favorite personal images, Lucy is there more often than not.
Today is a truly happy birthday for old Lucy in that she’s still quite mobile, still super friendly, though graying on the chin and in the hair between her toes. The bark has become hoarse, she’s a bit more nervous, a bit more skittish; and her somewhat arthritic joints remind her that she has to really think about those stairs or trying to keep up with other dogs. But, as I reflect on 13 years of images, Lucy has been an ever present subject of nobility and grace, whose eyes indicated a kind soul. When no one wanted to be my subject, she was more than happy to be one. And she knew how to pose….
Anyway, any Labrador story would not be complete without mentioning water, and any owner will tell you that water, for them, is a magnet. Swimming is burned into their genes, to the point that driving by a pond or lake will result in pawing at the car’s window, whining and/or a full-on bark, just to escape for a quick paddle.
Sometimes I consider what we’ve put Lucy through. Just when she was getting used to us, at age one, we introduced the first of two baby humans, a second would arrive at four. Two years later we picked up everything and moved the whole family 300 miles to the north and at the ripe old age of 10 (70 in people years), we abruptly altered Lucy’s life yet again with the addition of a smaller white version of herself. I’m not sure which was more disruptive for her, the kids, the move or the puppy, but regardless, Lucy adapted as she always has and became a mother figure to her new step-daughter. She never got petty about change, no hissy fits and never questioned our love for her, she just took it in stride, a big long lab stride.
So today I celebrate not so much for the achievement of getting older, but for the history she’s helped to carve in her small niche of this world and the boys she’s helped raise.
Happy birthday Lucy…. I hope I can write a follow-up when you hit 98.