This is the update that I never wanted to write. I have started several times, but had to stop because the tears began flowing again.
Our sweet, lovable, funny, naughty, gentle giant passed away on Sunday morning with his head in my lap. We are heartbroken.
Everyone who knew Lucky loved him. He was the best boy.
When we first met Lucky over 2 years ago, he had trouble getting up and walking. He was weak, his diabetes was uncontrolled, he had advanced cataracts, he had some bare patches on his coat, and he had infections in the webbing of most of his toes. We thought “oh my gosh, where do we start?” But Lucky was resilient – he had a positive attitude and responded well as he went through several glucose curves to regulate his insulin dosage. He was a favorite at the vet and loved the attention he got when he spent the day for his curves. Once his diabetes was regulated, we took him for Adequan shots a few times a week for his arthritis. Lucky never complained. Then several trips to the dermatologist – he was happy to see them as well. He is the only dog I know who liked to go to the vet. Lucky still gave me a little bit of a hard time when I checked his toes at night, but I always gave him a good belly rub afterwards so I think he was okay with it.
Lucky ended up living much longer than anyone ever anticipated and with a great quality of life up until the end. He went on long walks and an occasional hike. He was a very social guy and acquired quite a following of friends and family over the years. We called him the mayor of the neighborhood. He loved to play fetch with his big red ball in the backyard. The last few months, his eyesight had definitely been getting worse but he would eventually sniff it out and bring it back.
We have so many stories of his funny antics over the two years he was with us – he was constantly making us laugh. But every night he would get cuddly and if we sat on the floor, he would snuggle up to us and put his big head in our lap. He would nuzzle me and he would paw at Scott and the kids if he wanted attention. His personality was as big as he was. And Lucky never missed a party – he liked to nap in our laundry room where he had a nice big mat. It was his quiet place and where I would always find him when I got home. But if we were playing with the other dogs in the living room or the kids were getting loud or there was any activity out of the norm, he would get up and come prancing into the room to join in the fun. No matter how tired he was, he had to be a part of the excitement. Lucky was the original party animal.
He also loved to go in the car. He could usually get in, but sometimes we had to help him. He was happy to go anywhere – the park, the pet store, and Grandma’s house were a few of his favorites. Sometimes I would be walking him in the neighborhood and Scott would pass us as he was coming home from work. He would stop to say hi and ask Lucky if he wanted to go for a ride and Lucky would scramble into the truck. Scott would drive him around the neighborhood for a while and Lucky would be so happy when he got home.
Of course, his favorite car ride was to meet Lorraine and Gary to go to his second home. Whenever we were going out of town, Lorraine and Gary were always willing to host Lucky and take care of his medical needs. We couldn’t have asked for better caretakers. Lorraine and Gary kept Lucky on his strict feeding and medication schedule and treated him to walks in the park to see his many adoring fans. We would meet halfway between our houses and Lucky would hop right out of my car and into their car. He was always excited to visit his vacation home and there were many tales to tell of his adventures and antics when we returned. We cannot thank Lorraine and Gary enough for their loving care and dedication to Lucky.
In the two years that Lucky was with us, he helped many fosters – especially the breeder mommas. He was a calming presence and allowed our new fosters to snuggle right up to him on his mat so they could feel safe in their new surroundings.
Lucky could also be stubborn. If he didn’t want to walk a certain direction or move out of your way, then he didn’t. He was almost 120 pounds, so he usually got his way. He was also naughty at times, stealing socks or slippers or magazines or anything he could grab to get your attention. Usually he just waited in the middle of the room with the object of his choice hanging out of his mouth until you noticed. Sometimes, he decided to taste it – he was a master at taking socks and chewing a hole in them before you knew they were missing. No one ever got upset with Lucky when he was up to his games. You just couldn’t. He was the most gentle soul and one look at you with those big cloudy eyes and his crooked bottom teeth and you could only laugh at him.
Last February, we thought we were going to lose him, but it turned out to be something he ate and an adverse reaction to some medication. After some anxious moments he recovered in about a week, but during his illness, scans were done and a mass was found on his spleen. We decided that he was not a good candidate for surgery and we had it scanned again 6 months later. Both scans indicated that it was a benign mass, however, we did not confirm through a biopsy because we didn’t want to put Lucky through that when it wouldn’t change our course of action.
This past Sunday, we woke up as usual. Lucky ate breakfast, got his insulin, and took a nice walk. Our college daughter had arrived home on Saturday and we were hanging out in the living room hearing about her semester and playing with the dogs. All of the sudden, Lucky sat down and just stared straight ahead. My daughter and I looked at each other and knew something was wrong. Scott thought maybe his sugar was low and gave him some treats. He took the first two, but then he refused any more and refused some yogurt. He was lying down and letting out a little grunt every so often. His gums looked pale and we were worried about the mass on his spleen. We went to the ER immediately. Lucky was able to walk in, but he laid down once we were inside and had to be taken to the back for triage on a gurney. The vet checked his sugar levels and they were normal. Sadly, they found fluid in his belly. The vet confirmed that even though the mass was most likely benign, it had outgrown its blood source and ruptured. Our choice was surgery or euthanzia. Our gentle, sweet Lucky was clearly uncomfortable and not a good surgical candidate so we made what we knew was the best decision for him. We got to spend a little more time with him alone as things were being prepared. We held him in our laps, patted him, kissed him and told him that he was a very good boy and that we loved him very much. We also Facetimed Lorraine and Gary so they could say goodbye to him. What a lucky boy he was to have so many people who loved him. He went to sleep peacefully with his head in my lap and Scott right by his side. It was only 2 hours from the time Lucky sat down suddenly in our living room until he was gone. It all happened so quickly and we are still in shock.
Here is one of the last pictures we took of Lucky. He was refusing to move when Scott was trying to rake leaves, so he playfully raked Lucky into the pile. I think Lucky enjoyed being the center of attention that day. Of course, Lucky seemed to enjoy every moment of every day. He was a total optimist and friend to all.
We were blessed to have Lucky as part of our family and thankful for the time we had with him. We will miss him forever. RIP Sweet Boy