Lucky dog crosses Rainbow Bridge, leaves empty spot in home, heart
The house is strangely silent, as it has been for the past week. It feels a bit empty, like a partially deflated balloon.
Who could have guessed that the absence of a little dog and his larger-than-life personality would make such a difference?
Lucky, the Pekingese who showed up at my house a little more than 12 years ago, crossed the Rainbow Bridge to dog heaven sometime during the early morning hours of Jan. 2. He had been in failing health for some time, but in the last two weeks, he went from being the scrappy little bully to Ziggy, the Shih Tzu, to barely being able to walk, eat or drink. I knew the end was near when Lucky stopped making his appointed rounds of the back yard when I’d set him outside for potty breaks. Up until the last couple of weeks of his life, nothing, not even when his back hurt so badly he could barely lift his leg, deterred him from watering his customary twigs and shrubs and blades of grass. The certainty grew when Ziggy started grabbing food from Lucky’s dish while Lucky’s nose was in it — and Lucky let him.
I prayed that Lucky would pass on in his sleep, at home with his family, but I had already decided on New Year’s Day that if he was still with us through the weekend, we would have to make the last trip to the vet. When I offered him his supper that night, he licked it a couple of times and turned away. I thought he would be more comfortable after a warm bath and some cuddle time followed by another try at supper. I bathed him and gently dried him with towels, petted him and fixed him a nice, warm bed in the bathroom where Ziggy wouldn’t harass him. I offered him supper again and tried to get him to take a drink of water. He just turned his little head away. I laid him on his bed and covered him with a clean towel so he could rest.
He was still alive when I checked on him just before I went to bed a little before 1 a.m. He must have slipped away shortly after that; I found him when I got up the next morning.
By our best guess, Lucky was around 20 years old. When he first showed up at the house late in 2000, he had a broken hip, was covered in fleas and ticks, and was skin and bones. The vet said he was an older dog then, around 8 by the shape of his teeth. We nursed him back to health although the odds were against him, and because of that fortunate turn of events, I named him Lucky.
He’s been right there with me through a lot of life changes, made me laugh, made me cuss, made me wonder how I ever got along without him. I’m going to miss him — miss the way he ruled the roost over the other two dogs even though Sophie the German shepherd mix could have made a dust rag out of him if she’d so chosen; how he’d sneak out of the kitchen any time I forgot to put up the baby gate and look so disgusted when I’d catch him and put him back; how he’d growl and try to bite most anyone who came by, including my daughter Emily. One time, I picked him up to keep him from nipping at her leg, and he was so indignant at her being in his space, that he bit (well, gummed) me by accident. The look on his face when he figured out what he had done was priceless. Don’t tell me animals can’t think and reason. Watching Lucky and the expressions on his face sealed that knowledge for me.
There has always been a debate over whether there’s a place in heaven for animals. I believe there is. The Bible tells us the greatest gift is love and I can think of no more unselfish love than the love of a pet for its human.
Emily shared a quote from Martin Luther after she found out Lucky had passed on: “Be comforted, little dog, thou too in the Resurrection shalt have a tail of gold.” And Billy Graham, when asked about dogs and the hereafter, said, “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.”
If that’s good enough for Martin Luther and Dr. Graham, that’s certainly good enough for me.
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. Her column runs every Sunday in the Life section. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (firstname.lastname@example.org)