I have been slowly and sporadically writing about the dogs I have had through the years. I intended to do it chronologically, but I’m going to jump forward in time to our most recent dog, Lucy.
Lucy was my mother’s dog. The story of how my mother, who was not a dog person, ended up with Lucy starts back in 1999, when I returned to live at my parents’ house. I moved back home mainly because my mother and father had health issues, and I thought it would be better for me to be closer than a two-hour drive. I should probably have stayed in the Huntsville area, because I was still working in Huntsville and had to stay over there all week. I could have kept my house in Alabama and just come home for weekends. But I didn’t.
My father died in 2000, after I started building the house where Leah and I live now. We moved in right after we got married in 2005. After that I was worried about my mother being lonely, so I encouraged her to get a dog for company. One day while I was in Huntsville, Leah and her father took my mother to a dog rescue and she came home with Lucy.
Lucy and my mother soon accommodated to each other, and even though my mother never really became a dog person, she grew really attached to Lucy. Lucy sat with my mother while she watched television, and eventually she slept right beside her when they went to bed. I think Lucy provided a lot of company and comfort for my mother when she would otherwise have been alone.
Here’s Lucy making herself at home on my mother in the assisted living facility.
A couple of weeks before my mother died, Leah and I took Lucy home with us. At least one of the staff at the assisted living facility where my mother stayed for a few months said he wanted Lucy, but we decided that since I was the one who encouraged my mother to take Lucy, we (notice how “I” became “we”) should take her.
We brought Lucy with us when we saw my mother. Occasionally we put her up in the bed to let her snuggle.
Lucy has some characteristics that are hard to take. She barks a lot, which is not uncommon for little dogs, but we think it has also caused Zeke to bark more. She is food obsessed. She tries to eat the food Leah puts down for the cats (Leah says she’s a pain in the butt). She tends to nip your fingers when you give her food by hand, a trait I’m afraid my mother made worse. My mother couldn’t bend down very far, so she tended to drop treats so that Lucy had to snatch quickly. That tendency made my mother even less likely to try to hand a treat directly to Lucy, so she always dropped the treat and Lucy had to snap to get it. So Lucy is used to snapping to get treats. Lucy is also harder to train on the leash than any dog I have had.
But the worst behavior is that she poops in the house. I have never had any problem house breaking any dog I have ever had, up until I got Lucy. I’m afraid we tend to blame my mother for this problem, too. My mother was completely deaf in one ear due to surgery, and had a pretty significant deficit in the other ear. We assume that initially Lucy might have barked to be let out, but when my mother didn’t hear and let her out, Lucy ended up relieving herself in an out-of-the-way place inside. Eventually Lucy got used to doing it, and now she does it in our house. Not always, but too often. We have always been careful to take the dogs out frequently and to pay attention to their behavior so we can tell when they might need to go out. We take Lucy and Zeke out a lot, but it has not kept Lucy from doing her business inside.
She has done it while we are out for a few hours, and she has done it during the night while we’re in bed. She did it last night, and that was the last straw. The only solution we could come up with was a kennel, so now Lucy has her own little den where she’s going to spend the night and stay in while we’re out.
Here’s Lucy trying out her new kennel.
She went into the kennel voluntarily. She didn’t seem to be spooked when I closed the door. We’re going to try to make sure she sees it as a positive thing rather than as punishment. We’ll see how it goes Monday night.
I have to admit that it has been hard to get used to having Lucy around. Neither of us can find much to love about her, but she earned her keep when she lived with my mother.