My dear friend, Katie Doyle, once joked: “If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a dog. Not just any dog, I want to come back as Lucy.” To be sure, my beloved pooch has had a remarkable life for a canine – or otherwise.
From her humble beginnings as an abandoned pup in small-town America (Lucy’s mother was a prize-winning collie, guilty of an indiscretion with a neighbouring chow), Lucy has been a constant companion in my adventures. She’s had a few adventures of her own: from being an extra in a production of Strindberg’s Miss Julie; to cheering the elderly as Santa’s reindeer – complete with costume antlers. The old girl definitely has talent and heart.
When we moved to NYC in 2003, Lucy became toast of the town. (Our corner of it, at least.) Everyone loved Lucy. Residents in my apartment building all knew Lucy by name, I was just an extra in her show. On walks in Washington Square, we were routinely stopped by children desperate to pet her. Once, when my Darling English Boy came to Manhattan for a visit, we went for a walk along the Hudson River. That day, Lucy became an accidental model, when a photographer became captivated by her. She has a passport – one that’s arguably better used than the average American’s. She’s played in the Irish Sea, and scaled the heights of Pembroke Castle. Now living in Warwickshire, life has led Lucy to a quieter place, with a more gentle pace.
There are approximately 10.5 million dogs in UK households. To say that Britain is a nation of dog lovers is an understatement. Spike Milligan surmised, “the English Dog Cult now vies with Christianity in top ten religions.” I’m thankful to have been living here when Lucy was faced with a serious ailment recently (NB. This past Thursday). I believe that she received more caring and compassionate care on this side of the Atlantic. Although non-life threatening, her illness was quite severe, and required an enucleation of her right eye.
The process left me anguished and distraught. Lucy, however, has soldiered on. In her characteristic plucky way, she is undaunted and irrepressible. This experience illustrated for me how much more brave and resilient than humans dogs are.
We’re drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren’t certain we knew better. They fight for honor at the first challenge, make love with no moral restraint, and they don’t for all their marvelous instincts appear to know about death. Being such wonderfully uncomplicated beings, they need us to do their worrying.
– George Bird Evans
Worrying is a small price to pay for the companionship and unconditional love that dogs give. Warwickshire writer George Eliot said it best: “We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.” I’ll gladly do the worrying and more for Lucy, she’s a diamond. And, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
The Dogs Trust is the UK's largest dog welfare charity, helping thousands of stray and abandoned dogs find a happy home.
Dogs Trust, Honiley, Kenilworth, CV8 1NP tel. 01926-484398 www.dogstrust.org.uk