Farewell for now, My Beloved Lucille March 11, 2014

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Lucille left her aching tired body on March 11, 2014 at 8 pm, surrounded by her pack.  She passed on the 3rd anniversary of her Beloved Benjamin’s death.  She will be forever deeply missed. I’d like to tell her story here

The ache is immense.  The void is beyond measure.  Lucille was a mighty soul.  She commanded attention with her true Alpha grit.  All the dogs knew not to mess with Lucille-  she was a dominant beast yet with such a soft underbelly.  Her kisses lasted for minutes and minutes- she couldn’t get enough of my face.  She would go into a trance of sorts- just kissing me.  I relished in her attention because I knew it was coming from a vulnerable heart.  She was complicated in many ways. Strong yet insecure ,  Intense yet calm,  Loud yet  beautiful in her ability to be quiet when most necessary.

I brought her home from the Berkeley shelter 9 1/2 years ago.  She had been there 8 months and was becoming depressed there.  She was just going to be my foster dog…I took her to prospective homes and everyone fell in love with her- she was after all a true beauty.   I came up with excuses each time why it was not the right home and soon realized-  she was staying with me and Benjamin- she had found home.  He was her home in many ways.   I  would soon discover she had some unpredictable dog aggression that was fierce- but never once did she go after Benjamin.  He was her rock.  He was her leader- even better than I could be.  He showed her through his magnificent grounded presence that he could be ultimately trusted.  She always wanted to lay wherever he was-  he was like her medicine when she felt insecure.  I was still learning how to be a dog trainer and she would challenge in many ways over the next few years.

I was also doing big pack walks with my dog walking business and the first day I brought her home- I took her a long on a 8 dog pack walk.  I just assumed she had to fit in because this was my job.  I honestly did not take into consideration what SHE NEEDED.  She got into a fight with a formidable Pit girl as soon as I unloaded the truck.  This was my welcoming into the world of Lucille’s dog aggression.  I was angry at her a lot over the next months.  She could be great with dogs but she could also just decide- that she did not like their energy and Bam! she would over correct them.  She especially did not like puppies- the would come bounding up to her and the before I could down her – she would correct them which usually meant a puncture on  their face. I worked her hard- I demanded from her. I used brute force with her often and in turn- over corrected her.   It wasnt until years later that I saw the error of my ways.

Lucille ended up having transformation- it just took a long time.   She ended up being a true sound Alpha girl.  I took her everywhere , alongside Benjamin and Madeline.  They were my dynamic trio of mighty ambassadors for their breeds.   But I also noticed what the times of heavy demand work did to her-  she would always hang way back in my training classes.  She did not want to be around any pressure, any aggression or any possibility of correction.  Her aggression had been uprooted but her insecurities were intact.  and I had contributed to this.   I was so angry at myself.  I realized- I did not practice what I preached to my clients in later years-   I truly believe even a dominant aggressive dog needs to learn how to cope with the pressures of the world through thoughtful slow patient exposure.  I believe I expected way too much of my dear Lucille so soon.  I expected her to fit into my busy pack walk life immediately and if she couldn’t deal with it- then the only “cure” was to correct her strongly.

This amazing beast taught me something so profound-  do not be attached to the outcome.  Being truly present with her would have shown me that she needed a patient path that did not require her to instantly “fit in”.   She needed to take in her new world and her new life with me on her terms- and then trust would have come naturally.    I am so blessed that she forgave me every day and in every moment and in all ways-  she loved me unconditionally even through my mistakes.

About 2.5 years ago- Lucille’s back legs started to weaken.  She would fall down unexpectedly.  I took her to a neurologist and it was eventually determined that she most likely had early stage IVDD-  which is a degenerative disc disease.  Over the next 2 years- there was a slow but steady decline.  She was wobbly on her back legs and I could tell it affected her attitude.  She felt more vulnerable.  She would lay down every time we stopped on our walks- it was becoming hard for her to carry her big frame.  In June of 2013, I decided finally to take the plunge and get her a wheelchair. It was an emotional decision for me because it was an acknowledgement that my girl was weakening. I researched all the dog wheel chair companies and went with Eddie’s Wheels.  What a gift these wheels would come to be!  Lucille took to it right away.  She was the Berkeley Bulldog on wheels. Lucille walked almost 4 hours a day in her chair.
We became so well known around town- 4 Pitties with special needs , one of them in wheels.   We went on long neighborhood walks daily and there wasn’t a walk where someone did not stop to say hello and ask about her.  People would pull over in the car and take photos every day.  People yelled out the most encouraging things from their cars .  Lucille made people smile pure and simple.  Lucille gave people encouragement when they needed it for their own private purpose.  Lucille’s determination made others around her feel inspired to move beyond their own limitations.  Every single walk we did for 9 months-  brought someone around us to smile, talk , take photos, or even cry.  Lucille was the local hero.  If she could walk with wheels, then it somehow  made people believe in themselves more.  Lucille inspired others and most of all she inspired me-  She showed me that a vulnerable body does not mean a vulnerable spirit.

Her disc disease continued to progress though- around December- she became unable to lift herself to move from bed to bed.  I did not leave her at home alone for more than 3 hours. I cut back on work immensely so that I could be there to move her.  She also was fully incontinent for the last  9 months.  She had to wear diapers.  I cleaned her  at least 20 times a day. I tended to her and wanted to keep her dignity amongst even these most vulnerable declines.  She had to wear booties because her back feet were knuckling.  My mind would only allow brief moments of thinking ” how much time do I have with my girl?”  She was the reason I came home, she was the reason I walked for hours,  she was the reason I turned away work. she was the reason I spent all my evenings at home.  How could I possibly imagine a life without her?  She had become my whole Identity in many ways.

Suddenly,  2 weeks ago- she took a decline. I thought it was only an arthritic flare up in her front leg.  We adjusted the wheelchair to help take weight off her front- but she still struggled.  I could see myself arguing with reality.  I did not want to admit things were changing. I pushed her to walk, maybe too much…and at times, I hated myself for it.  and then suddenly-  I shifted-  I put her in her the big wagon and started to give her a break from the wheelchair.  Oh how she loved being in the wagon-  she seemed so relieved.  This was a monumental moment of growth for me- I let go of control . I let go of things needing to be a certain way- that “Lucille must walk!”.    Lucille was teaching me a divine lesson-  Surrendering to What Is. The moment I put her in the wagon and viscerally felt her relief-  I cried and cried.  She was telling me it was time- she was ready to drop her tired body and rejoin the Cosmos.  She was so ready for her day of Freedom.

Everything changed for me in a flash- I went from being so taunt and wound in my convictions of things needing to be a certain way- to the most profound feeling of all-  Flowing with Life.  I stopped fighting.  Lucille’s most precious gift to me came our last day together- when she told me in most quiet dignified presence- that I could Let Go.

Our last day together was sacred. March 11, 2014-  she choose to tell me she was ready on the 3rd year anniversary of Benjamin’s death  ( March 11, 2011).   Her communication with me was other worldly. By this, I mean- it was just as clear as clear can be -transmuted to me in the perfection of Silence and Love.  I heard her Beingness tell me she was ready.   We did 2 wagon walks that day- she looked up and out and took in the day, but she also was quieter .  Not a sick kind of quiet – more like she was moving back and forth between 2 worlds.  I truly feel that she was communicating with Benjamin and he was gently guiding her in his Divine Direction.  I laid next to her while she was resting on her bed, that afternoon. The other dogs were sleeping nearby. I just stroked her over and over and basked in my love for her.  She was so peaceful. There really are no

words that will  do justice to how it felt  being with her this last day-  We were in communion with one another through the Infinite Knowledge that goes beyond dog and human.  I knew she was moving on and she knew I was the one that would support her onward to her next divine chapter.  The love I felt for her that day was of the deepest richest quality-  God was flowing through us and guiding her back Home.

 

The vet came and we talked about Lucille.  My dearest friend, Susanne , held my hand as we watched Lucille drift off to sleep with the first injection. I kissed her all over. I told her again and again, how much I loved her. I told her how proud I was of her, how beautiful and precious and perfect she was.  I told her that Benjamin was going to be right there to welcome her Home.  She passed with the greatest elegance.  She left this earth surrounded by Love Ever Lasting.

Her final gift to me was my own Surrender .  I surrendered to Life.  When I listened to my dearest Lucille –  so gently yet resolutely tell me she was ready-  She gave me new eyes and ears that see and hear from the Deepest Silence.  I was lost and now I am found.  Thank you for your grace, my Beloved.

4 Responses to “Farewell for now, My Beloved Lucille March 11, 2014”

  1. Heather Says:

    What a beautiful piece this is; your tribute to this noble, beautiful dog. I remember when Stella, goofy puppy she was, bounded up to Lucille almost 10 years ago. Lucille had been putting up with this puppy foolishness and gave Stella good reminder of how to behave herself. There really wasn’t any malice there; she may have over-corrected the goofy puppy, but she meant nothing other than a “HEY, KNOCK IT OFF!” Ever after, Lucille tolerate Stella and I never worried about it much. I always felt a deep fondness for Lucille. She was a graceful, beautiful soul. I’m so sorry for you loss, Kathy.

  2. Laura Zuckerman Says:

    Kathy, what a beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing her story with the rest of us. I will miss seeing her in her wheelchair with her flower, and I will always remember our last few wheelchair walks with Jenny. She was truly an inspiration.

  3. Marc and Maureen Says:

    We are very sorry for your loss. We know all too well how much lossing a loved one (human or otherwise) affects us. Marc and Maureen

    I was told once that we never really get over the loss of someone we are close to. We simply need to make an adjustment to our life and go on. Looking at things this way has helped me greatly. It gives me permission to miss, grieve , and morn the loss. But it also helps realize that life goes on and so must I.
    Marc

  4. David Says:

    What a wonderful piece. I’m so glad you took the time to record your thoughts and honor Lucile and capture these memories in this way. Your dedication and your love is so deep and it comes through so authentically in your writing. Thank you for being such a good teacher.

    All of our lives pass in a blink. That goes for dogs and humans alike. These bodies just don’t last. The value of our time here is measured in how well we loved others and how we were able to help them.

    May the love you’ve shown these beautiful beings will come back to you a thousand-fold! May your heart remember that stillness and peace–Lucile’s gift–in many many moments of your life and again when it’s your body’s turn to let go. I can think of 3 who will welcome you home, no doubt.

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