Pretty Puppy

“Oh what a pretty puppy,”

cooed a woman passing Lucy this morning.

Not quite the pup, Lucy turns 14 years old today.  Though just as your children are always your “babies” despite their burgeoning age and size, Lucy will always be our puppy.


I was reflecting on the 14 years she has been in our lives.  It all started on a rainy day in June in 2002 when Jeff was left in charge of the girls while I was away on a mother-daughter  weekend.  He was bored and did not know what to do with the girls in the bad weather.  So he opened the yellow pages, found a place called Puppy Love that sold dogs off I-84, and huddled the girls into their car seats to drive up.  Later that day I got a phone call from Jackie, her words high-pitched in that adorable 4 year old sing-songy voice:  “Mommy, Lucy is here and we love her.  Can we keep her?”


The rest is history.

Lucy arrived in my life by surprise, and I did not immediately fall in love.  Her paws permanently scratched my new pristine wood floors in the home we had just carefully renovated and restored.  Her nocturnal whines disrupted my peaceful nights that were just finally made whole after the baby/toddler years.  Her bird dog DNA sent the geese and ducks flying in a honking frenzy as our once bucolic backyard became a feathered war zone.  Her hyperactivity made pleasant walks impossible as she literally dragged me down the street pulling with such force that I desperately tied the leash around my waist for traction.  I can’t tell you how many cars slowed down, lowered the window, and called out sarcastically: “Who’s walking who?!

Lucy was walking me, no doubt about it.

Upon reflection, it is those walks I have loved most of all.  A dog forces you to get up and get out.  It is during my excursions with Lucy that I have forged many friendships.  It all started in the fields of Greenwich Country Day after school drop off.  Mothers would pull into the parking lot, open the trunk of their enormous SUV, and move swiftly out of the way of the furry beast flinging itself outside with wild abandon.  We must have walked hundreds, maybe thousands of miles over the years, as the dogs sniffed and scampered while we chattered and trudged.

Many of those dogs from the early days are gone now.  I hear about them passing and feel it deep in my gut, not just as the end of a treasured life but as the loss of a precious time.


Of course, the walks continue and new friends accompany now through the beautiful parks of north London.  Once again, I find that walking and talking is the best way to bond.

Jeff has become my loyal weekend walking partner.  Our walks with Lucy are my favorite part of our married routine.  As we amble through the neighborhood into Regent Park and Primrose Hill, we rehash the week, review the updates on our girls, dream about our future.  Conversation flows as naturally as each step follows the next.  We watched the first daffodils of spring shoot through the ground with Lucy by our side.


And last night we watched the city glow beneath Primrose Hill and the sky glimmer above it.



I am no longer dragged on a leash.  Though Lucy still takes the lead, she does so gingerly and looks back frequently to make sure I am following, forgetting that we are tethered. When I set her free in the parks, she wonders slowly, happy to just follow in my footsteps.  Her right front leg is arthritic, and sometimes we stop to rest along the way.


The wild antics that provided endless entertainment on her doggie retreats in the country have mellowed.  During a recent stay, the report noted that though she still exhibits a “noisy whoosh of spanielly excitement“,  she is “noticeably slower on walks…a happy and relaxed old dame“.  Yet Lucy still has that puppy spirit within her, and on her last visit to the country she “took a particular fancy to the young and exceedingly dashing George, and they hurtled around the place together.  Good old Lucy, lovely to see such a spring in her step“.

I’ll stay in step with Lucy as we continue to walk together, 

happily tethered.

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