For the last year at our valley house, we had a puppy. Bret searched long and hard to find a livestock guardian dog to ensure that our pup would not have a strong instinctive prey drive for the chickens and rabbits that we had already. Mid-summer 2018, Bret saw an ad for puppies that were essentially a mutt of several different breeds he liked in research. They were part Great Pyrenees, part Anatolian, and part Border Collie. Off to find our pup we went! Kids were tricked into staying at Grandma’s so we could surprise them.
We pulled our vehicle into the driveway, hoping that our directions had led us to the right place. These pups lived on a country road, so far down the dirt and gravel path that we could not see the barns or house from the road. Now to some, seeing lots of chickens and goats on one side of the driveway and tons of garlic hanging to dry in the open barn on the other side may not sound beautiful, but to me, it looked like the dream life.
Before we knew it, we were meeting the dog owner, surrounded by half a dozen puppies that could not decide whether to be curious or nervous about us being there. How does a person even decide which bundle of cuteness to choose? While Bret and I talked about how to go about choosing the right pup for our family, the chickens and goats made it quite clear that it was feeding time. The owner left us to play with the dogs for a minute while she fed her other animals. Immediately, one of the puppies left her brothers and sisters and bounced happily behind “mama.” Bret knew then and there she was the one he wanted. He also knew immediately what her name was, he said it would be Lucy – his loyal Lucy.
Loyal Lucy was ours in a matter of minutes, and I was tasked with holding her in my lap on the way to meet her kids. She was so scared and excited when she met them that she peed all over me! This was a habit that it took her months to break – every time we took her to the vet, she met a new person, or anything else exciting happened. Even so, the four of us McGlauns were hopelessly in love with her. She also learned which car was Grandma’s quite quickly, because her arrival always brought some decadent treat for the Lucy girl. As you may guess, little Lucy was spoiled!
I had a rule – a dog that was growing into half the size of a horse did NOT belong inside my house. If I had taken pictures of our couch, I could unequivocally prove my case – even though I lost the battle. Lucy was inside as much as she was outside, and she literally ate half the leather off my couch! I am still working on my attitude about it, even though the couch has been gone for a year now. Lesson learned: Never let the cute little puppy get away with something that you do not want a giant dog to do!
Every day with Lucy was such fun; she was such a clever girl. The very first day we brought her home, she figured out how to climb out of her temporary pen within minutes. She was, in fact, so good at escaping we ended up resorting to a harness with a running line for when we were not home for her safety. We were in a country neighborhood, but our valley home was on a busy highway. This is something we plan to address in our home choice this time! We never liked having her on that line, and we avoided it as much as possible. Thus, the eaten couch.
She lived up to the stereotypes of a dog when any of us were sick or sad, and she wore her Loyal Lucy moniker in true character of man’s best friend. She turned 1 on June 3, 2019. Until having pets as an adult, I never fully realized just how much a part of your family they become. Bret and I have had 3 puppies over the years, and I remember each one and their separate personalities often. No one comes close to Lucy, though. Lucy will forever be my favorite pup – even if I have another favorite as life progresses. She brightened up a tough year for our family, and I would trade the sorrow of her loss for the joy of the journey all over again. She died in her sleep one day in June 2019, and we will forever miss our Loyal Lucy.
She never really embraced the notion that she was growing bigger, and multiple times she almost flipped us out of the den recliner. If someone was sitting in it with the footrest popped out, she would come half-running and half-flying down the stairs from our room, onto your lap, and snuggle – if that’s what you could call it.
Lucy was generous to a fault. Mr. J the Rooster intimidated her, and she would meekly lay in the grass to allow him and his ladies free reign of her food bowl. This did nothing but encourage Mr. J’s grand ego! Jack the Cat and Little Bit hated her, but Jack did learn the art of asking for belly rubs from the dog he loved to hate. The bunnies would go nuts any time she came near their tractors, and as much as she loved following them from one end to the other, I am convinced that “prey drive” or not, they would have been in mortal danger without fencing to protect them from attempts at play.
Sometimes when my kids were extra challenging to get out of bed on school days, I would enlist her help. She was the best alarm clock this mom could ever hope for! All I had to do was bring her inside and ask her, “Where are the kids?” She would jet-speed into their rooms, jump on them, and paw at the covers until they gave her hugs. From that point, there was no going back to sleep. She did soon grow too big to do that, although she never would have believed such a suggestion.
Alfred Lord Tennyson penned it best, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” One thing about the homesteading or farming kind of life that is a bit of a downer is the reality of loss. We obviously did not get Lucy with the intent of only having her for a year, but I would absolutely do it again. She enriched so much about the daily routines of our home that I cannot imagine those memories without her central to them. If our memories are what keep the past alive, then she is still alive in my heart for sure. So, just in case, I love you, my Loyal Lucy! Thank you for the smiles you continue to bring to my life.