I think it’s good for children to have pets. They learn about caring for other living creatures, which helps ease them away from their basic nature that the world revolves around them. There’s feeding, watering, grooming and exercise as well as the occasional lessons involving life and death. These are all invaluable experiences for boys and girls. This story is about one such pet, Lucy; a dog that was a dear companion of our family for 14 years. Our son Carl has had a few animals be a part of his life, but none have been as close as our dear Lucy.
I always loved the name “Lucy,” and sometimes imagined using it for a daughter. After Sue told me she didn’t think naming a child “Little Lucy Lindlauf” was a good idea, we compromised, and used the name for our Labrador Retriever cross puppy (Little Lucy the Lab).
Lucy entered our life in 1992, and I could tell you many stories about her early years and the fun we had together, but I will instead jump ahead to 1996, the year Carl entered our life. A few people warned us that dogs would be jealous of a new baby, and may try to harm him, but Lucy simply adored Carl from the time we brought him home from the hospital. Sue walked in the door, placed Carl in the basinet, and attempted to give Lucy a little attention after being gone for several days. Lucy wanted nothing to do with Sue, but instead stood peering at Carl, her entire back end being wiggled by her overactive tail. It was love at first sight!
A toddler can be a little rough on a dog, and Carl certainly tested “Uff Uff” (his pet name for the big dog) enough times. He would sometimes grab fists of Lucy’s hair, but she would simply look at him with her tail wagging. He tried to ride her like a horse on more than one occasion, and would often drag her around the house on his little adventures. Wherever Carl went in our yard, Lucy was the shadow that followed along. Lucy was the gentle, patient, protector, always looking out for her little friend.
Lucy and Carl would play hide and go seek together for hours. Carl would go upstairs and hide, then I would tell Lucy to go find him, and she would. I think she enjoyed it as much he did! Lucy loved to retrieve sticks, and Carl learned early on how to throw them for her. They dug holes together, and played in mud puddles. They swam in the lake together, and watched out the window for people to walk by. Carl shared his snacks with Lucy, and she brought him sticks to throw. They were best friends.
Carl, at one point, was afraid to go to sleep by himself in his own bed, but could manage if Lucy was in the room with him. When we went into the basement during a tornado warning, it was Lucy he wanted by his side, not his Mom or Dad! When he was scared to go upstairs by himself, it was Lucy who would accompany him.
The two friends had some moments of tension, however. If Carl left food lying around, Lucy would eat it. I saw Carl and Lucy sharing an ice cream cone on more than one occasion: Both of them enjoying the cool treat Carl held in his hand! I remember once when Carl was about three and he was walking into the living room with a corn dog. Lucy was following behind, and Jedda was lying on the couch. When Jedda saw what Carl had, she jumped down, and ran to greet him. Carl yelled “NO,” and jerked his treat on a stick back, behind his head, out of Jedda’ reach. Lucy, who was standing behind him, grabbed the corn dog and ran off to eat it, leaving Carl in tears!
I had initially selected Lucy to be my companion, but in the end I realized she was something far greater: She was Carl’s first friend. Lucy loved Carl, and he reciprocated the affection, spending hours on the floor curled up with her. There is a strong chemistry between a boy and his dog, and there was something incredibly strong between Carl and Lucy! Carl was good for Lucy, but more importantly, Lucy was good for Carl.