Lucky dog prepares to cross the Rainbow Bridge
The first time we saw the little white Pekingese walking along the road near our house, my family thought he belonged to a neighbor and had escaped for a little adventure. When he somehow got into our back yard and braved our two black Labs to sample their food, we got a closer look at the little fellow. He was full of fleas and ticks, his little rib bones were prominent and his gait was not normal. No, this was not a beloved pet; he was a throw-away.
The little guy lucked out. The Labs raised a ruckus but they didn’t hurt him, perhaps knowing how in need he was of the food. And it probably astounded them that a small dog about the size of big Belle’s head merely kept eating with the two of them towering over him, barking. The reaction of the big girls was priceless — they’d bark that big-dog-I’m-gonna-eat-you-alive bark, pause, then look at us like, “I don’t understand why this interloper is not running away” before sounding the alarm again. The Peke was rescued, fed, watered and given a safe place to sleep. A trip to the vet showed he had a broken hip, was malnourished and, to our surprise, was an older dog, estimated at about 8 years old by the shape of his teeth. I named him Lucky.
That was in September of 2000, and Lucky is still with me. His personality is so much fun, so quirky. He’s deaf and almost blind yet he still rules the roost. The black Labs crossed the Rainbow Bridge to pet heaven long ago, but Lucky lords his alpha maleness over both the Shih Tzu and the German shepherd mix, who came to be a member of the household after wandering into the back yard as a puppy shortly after Lucky arrived. It’s funny to see this huge dog back down when Lucky gets in her face about something.
Don’t tell me animals can’t reason. Lucky is a prime example. The dogs must stay in the kitchen, primarily because it’s easier to clean up their “miscues” on the vinyl floor than the carpet, and when the cats were still alive, they preferred not to be terrorized. A baby gate keeps the canine members of the family in the kitchen, but sometimes I forget to put it up if I’m carrying things from one room to another. No matter what Lucky is doing, sound asleep, fighting with Ziggy, whatever, he knows the moment my back is turned and eases right down hall into the room that once held the cat’s food dish. The last of my cats crossed the Rainbow Bridge in March, to Lucky’s dismay. You should see the disgusted look on his face when he escapes yet finds no prize awaiting. I can almost hear him say, “Crap. All that work for nothing.”
Lucky has had several close calls through the years when I was afraid we’d lose him. He has episodes where his back parts just stop working — I’m not sure if he does something to get out of whack or if it’s just the nature of his hip injury — and he can’t walk and cries in pain. I keep baby aspirin on hand when he “stoves up,” as we say in East Tennessee, and it usually does the trick.
Lucky’s time is almost up, though. For several days, he’s been getting progressively worse. He will only eat lunch meat if I feed it to him by hand. If he walks at all, he can’t go far without lurching to one side, then he lies down where he lands and puts his little head down. He doesn’t seem to be hurting, thanks to the baby aspirin. But he is getting weaker and weaker. I don’t expect him to be with me much longer, and I hope he can pass over the bridge in his sleep, at home with his brother and sister and his adopted mom. But if it seems that he is suffering, I will let his vet take that last, loving step.
It’s hard to let him go, but his time is coming soon to shed this worn-out body. I’ll never forget him. When he does cross that bridge, I know he will never forget me, either.
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 (email@example.com)