by Sandi Martinez
(Thank you Debbie Martinez and Lisa Speaker for your editorial contributions!)
Saying goodbye to your pet can be a sad and difficult experience for children, the other pets, and the owner.
My sister Debbie and her family had to say goodbye to their dog Lucy just last week. I remember when we first saw Lucy as if it were yesterday. It was nearly eight years ago at a park in New Mexico called Lucero Center, (thus, the name Lucy!) and we were all gathered at a family reunion. It was July, and it was very hot. Not long before the gathering was wrapping up, Lucy came by. She was lingering near us, but she kept her distance. I’m sure she smelled the food and was very hungry. She was scraggly, her fur was matted in places, and she looked too thin, but she seemed like a kind and sweet dog. Interestingly, she refused water or food when we offered it to her.
But she trudged on, brave and courageous, and my brother-in-law Alex, was drawn to her. You could just see it in his face—the concern and compassion. Then we did a little inspection. Did she have any tags? No. We wondered if she was from the neighborhood and simply just didn’t wear a collar or tags. Based on her appearance, it was clear that she was either lost or didn’t have a home. Then, before you know it, the possibility of rescue reared its head. She could live in the big city. She didn’t need to wander the small town in the high desert when she could live in the Rockies!
And so she became a city dog. After taking Lucy in and living with her for over 8 years, my sister learned an important lesson. She said, “Dogs are like people. They have personalities and histories. Some dogs have difficult or sad histories so by the time they get adopted into a good home they have a few emotional scars.” Lucy had a stubborn streak, one that could be frustrating and difficult to deal with. She was special and had her own baggage, but she was a good dog and good to the family. Unfortunately, Lucy was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery in November of 2011. But recently, her tumor came back and began to grow exponentially. The veterinarian told my sister and her family Lucy didn’t have much time to live.
My nieces, ages 7 and 3, understood that Lucy was sick. As Alex took Lucy to the vet, they both cried, and though the concept of death wasn’t clearly etched in their young minds, they knew she was not coming home. After all the tears and the sadness, came hope. They would simply give another dog a chance at a happy life. So, Coco, a Chihuahua mix, came. And, the next cycle of life begins again. This 10-month old pup doesn’t have much of a history, but she has a bright future, and Lucy will always live in our hearts. Coco brings renewal and the opportunity to love again, with open hearts, and open minds.
We love you Lucy!