Friday, March 29, 2013


As I am writing this I have just finished one of the worst weeks of my entire life.  Last Tuesday, March 19, 2013, I had to have my little sweetheart Lucy put to sleep.

I want to tell you the story of her life and the unconditional love she gave, despite an early life of abuse and neglect.

So you get the whole story, I have to go back to a time before I was born.  I was a change-of-life baby.  When I was born my sister was thirteen and my brother was ten.  My parents thought their family was complete.  Well, I came along one day and changed all that.  My parents knew that with all the attention a new baby required, that there could be some jealousy from the siblings, so my Dad brought a purebred beagle puppy home for my brother.  The dog's name was Bum.

He was wonderful dog, but my brother turned out to be terribly allergic to dog hair, so by default Bum became my dog.  He was like an older brother to me and I grew up alongside him.  Bum lived a good, long life, but finally went to the Rainbow Bridge in 1973 at the age of seventeen.  

Times were such then that getting another dog was not possible but I promised myself that at the first opportunity I would get another dog - and not just any dog - another beagle.  For any of you out there who are beagle lovers you know how they steal your heart with those big, soulful eyes.  I love all dogs, but my heart belongs to beagles.

As soon as I had bought my house, the first thing I did was to have the backyard fenced in so I could get a dog.  I wanted an adult - one that had been trained and was housebroken.  And so, on July 8, 1999 we welcomed Chance into our family:

His full name was Navaho Riverrun Not-By-Chance.  He had been a showdog, and had won all kinds of awards at dog shows in the Midwest.  His days on the dog show circuit came to an end when we got him - I wanted a pet not a showdog.

It did not take long for Chance to get us trained the way he wanted us to be.  In a short time he was running the household.  He and my Mother became especially close.  

Here's a photo of my mother and her sister - you see who got into the picture without being asked:

Here's my favorite photo of Chance doing what he did best - sniffing out food:

My Mother died in July of 2003.  Losing her was hard on all of us, but especially on Chance.  One day I looked at him only to see that all the fur on his chest was gone.  After a thorough checkup, the vet said that he was grieving for my mother.  What should I do?  "Get another dog" was the vet's wise answer.

By this time I was very familiar with the dog rescue organizations and I decided to go through Beagle Rescue to find a companion for Chance. After fulfilling their stringent requirements, they came to do a home visit/inspection.  They told me that they were bringing a dog along with them that had just come into the program and they thought might be a good match for us.  The day of their visit arrived and Chance and I were standing outside waiting for them.  I looked down the street and the woman from Beagle Rescue was followed by a skinny, scrawny little dog that they had named Coco. 

Coco had been abandoned by the side of the highway by her previous owners in Anna, Illinois.  They found out that she had heartworm and probably didn't want to pay for the treatments, so the just put her out of the car and drove off.  Luckily a state trooper saw some movement in the underbrush, stopped and found Coco.  She didn't like me at all, but she loved Chance, and he loved her, so the deal was made.  I couldn't keep her that day, but if approved I could get her in a week or two.  

Luckily for me, I passed the test and Coco was officially welcomed into our family on September 21, 2003. The first thing I did was change her name.  I don't know what her name was originally, and I knew that the rescue people assigned names at random, but I already had a name picked out for the first female dog in my life:  Lucy.  You see, like millions the world over, I have always Loved Lucy:

and so, on September 21, 2003 Coco became Lucy Craig.  

As I mentioned, she didn't particularly like me, but she and Chance got along famously:

They quickly became inseparable:

Once she realized how much I loved her, Lucy became my shadow. She was right by my side no matter what. 

 Here she is talking to me in the car:

For most of her life with us Lucy did not like riding in the car.  We would go a block or so and Lucy would start throwing up.  The vet explained that this was not carsickness, it was anxiety.  She had been put out of a car and abandoned once, and she was afraid it would happen again.  I used to tell her that she was stuck with us no matter what, and over time it got a little better, but unlike my other beagles, Lucy was never fond of car rides.

I also used to tell her, "I can't undo any of what happened to you before, but I can spoil you rotten for the rest of your life" - and I did.

Lucy quickly won the hearts of everyone she met.  My friend Denis was visiting us from Belgium, and he became so enamored with Lucy that I was afraid he was going to try to take her home with him.

Denis liked Chance, but he loved Lucy:


But he couldn't have her.

Life went on and Chance and Lucy and I were very happy together.

Chance had a good long life and he went to the Rainbow Bridge on August 16, 2011, just short of his fifteenth birthday.  Lucy and I were devastated.  Lucy had never been alone in all the years she had been with us, but I wasn't ready to get another dog right away.  I needed to mourn for Chance.  As the days went by I could see that being alone was not good for Lucy, so on December 20, 2011 Maggie came into our lives:

Lucy and Maggie quickly became fast friends:

Everything was going along fine until Wednesday March 13th - Lucy stopped eating.  The first day I let it go but when a beagle doesn't eat they are sick.  When she still wouldn't eat on Friday I tried tempting her with all her favorite foods, but with no success.  On Friday I called and made an appointment with the vet for Saturday, hoping and praying that we wouldn't need the appointment.  On Saturday she still wasn't eating. We went to the vet and after running some blood tests they told me that Lucy was a very sick dog.  They said she needed around-the-clock care, so I took her from the vet to the Animal 911 in Skokie.  We had been there years ago, but thankfully had not needed them recently. They got her on IV fluids and got her stabilized but they still couldn't get her to eat.  I left here there the rest of Saturday until Sunday evening, but I insisted in bringing her home Sunday evening.  Lucy never ate when she was nervous or upset, or if I wasn't around.  I felt that if I brought her home, then Maggie and I had a good chance of getting her to eat.  No luck.  I took her back to the vet for observation on Monday but insisted on bringing her home again on Monday night.  I stopped on the way and got her favorite - hamburgers from Bill's on Asbury in Evanston.  She seemed interested but I still couldn't get her to eat. Tuesday morning after a quiet night she actually took a piece of hamburger in her mouth but then spit it out.  As I was getting ready to take her back to the vet I could see that she was having trouble walking - her back legs were giving out.  I knew then that the prognosis was not good.  Maggie and I took her back to the vet, and they told me she was suffering from massive organ failure.  If we did nothing she would die soon, but would suffer in the meantime.  I could not stand to see her suffer, so I signed the papers and Lucy went to the Rainbow Bridge on St. Joseph's Day, March 19, 2013.

I can't say enough about the vets and staff at Riser Animal Hospital in Chicago and Animal 911 in Skokie.  They were knowledgeable and caring.  They all gave Lucy and me the best of care and compassion. Lucy deserved the best care and she got it.

I told them I wanted Lucy cremated and her ashes returned to me. They use All Paws Pet Cremation and Remembrance Services in West Dundee, Illinois.

Lucy was cremated the day she died, March 19th, and I picked up her ashes on Friday the 21st.  When I picked up her ashes they had a surprise for me - They had made a cast of one of Lucy's paw prints as a remembrance.  It is something I will always treasure.

Chance's ashes are with my mother, but I will keep Lucy's ashes to be buried with me sometime in the future.  I promised her I would always be with her and I will.

So that's the story of a little dog and all the love she brought to everyone she met.  We were blessed to have her as long as we did, and I will miss her every day for the rest of my life.

Maggie and I are bereft.  I mentioned to someone that the only good thing about losing one dog is that you can rescue another, and I'm sure we will, but not right away.  No other dog could ever take Lucy's place, just as Maggie did not take Chance's place.  Every dog has their own personality, and each one is unique in their own way.  No one will ever take their place, but another dog will have the chance to try to fill the void they left in our lives.

Lucy Craig, my sweetheart forever - until we meet again - Rest in Peace.

Over the years, my family has given me two signs that pretty well sum up how I feel.  The first sign is one in my front window that says:

"A Spoiled Dog Lives Here"

It should actually say that two spoiled dogs live here.

And the other one says:

"This House Is Not Complete
Without the Pitter-Patter of Beagle Feet"

If you are a dog lover I think you will enjoy this:

"A Fable"

And God said to Adam and Eve, "I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of My love for you, so that you will love Me even when you cannot see Me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves." 

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. 

And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail. 

And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal." 

And God said, "Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG." 


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope time heals the pain and leaves you with beautiful memories of a faithful companion.

  2. Such a sweet story :') Thank you for sharing.