100: A Star Named Lucy

100: A Star Named Lucy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

A Star Named Lucy

To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.

~Author Unknown

Fifteen years ago we decided to adopt a dog. After scanning the Sunday paper, I found an ad for one that seemed to be just the dog we were looking for. It was a small Yorkshire Terrier, and the ad said the people were moving out of state and unable to take the dog. They had actually advertised two dogs — the other was a Labrador/Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix.

After calling to inquire if I could drop by to see the Yorkshire Terrier, I drove over to look at the dog. When I arrived I discovered that another family had arrived before me and were taking the little dog.

As I turned to leave, the woman who owned the dogs asked me if I would be interested in the other dog. She practically begged me to take a look at the dog. The big dog was not on my periscope that day — until they told me her story.

Star was her name. They had raised her from a pup, and then given her to their daughter and son-in-law who lived on a farm fifty miles away. She said that a couple of months earlier, the son-in-law had tried to harm their daughter and her baby in a drunken rage.

Star had jumped into the fight to receive a knife wound intended for their daughter. The woman was able to escape with their grandchild, and the dog was left to fend for itself. Eventually, the wounded dog managed to get all the way back to Kansas City to the parents’ home.

Star had been tracking her way home for several weeks when, within blocks of the parents’ house, she collapsed at a gas station on the interstate. As she described the scene and named the station location, my heart skipped a beat. I knew the very dog she was describing.

My husband had come home from work one evening very upset, around the same time of this dog’s journey. On his route home that day, he had passed by that same gas station and this was the very scene he had described to me. He said that he had seen a badly starved and beaten black Lab mix collapse. He had stopped to try to assist the dog. The dog was terribly frightened and would not let anyone approach her.

Finally a woman had come along and said she recognized the dog as her neighbor’s missing dog. The frightened animal offered no resistance when the woman called to her, and the dog allowed the woman to load her in the truck.

Impossible as it seemed, the dog had survived more than a fifty-mile trek across Missouri.

My husband had worried about the fate of that dog every day since it had happened. Now I was being given the opportunity to save her. She had heartworms and the couple was moving. They had no money to care for her and did not want to have to put her to sleep. I just could not abandon her.

When I came home with this pitiful, scrawny piece of canine fur, my husband said, “Good Lord! She looks just like the Lab I saw at the gas station.” Of course when I explained it was the very same one, he was instantly in love.

After several rounds of treatment for her heartworms, she regained her health. In the meantime, she quickly learned that my husband Gene was her champion. He held her and cuddled her through all the misery she had to endure with the treatments.

After a couple of weeks, Gene decided we should change her name from Star to Lucy. She wasn’t responding to her name, and he decided that the man must have used it when beating her. She seemed to associate the name Star with pain. Sure enough she instantly came to accept the name Lucy and it stuck.

She quickly worked her way into every fabric of our lives. For the first few months, we thought they had removed her voice box, as she never made a sound. But one day as we were walking her a child unexpectedly ran onto the path, startling her, and she let out a bark. Then she cringed as though she expected a beating. My husband and I hugged her over and over, praised her and told her it was okay. From then on, she got her doggie voice back. And within days, she would prove to be a hero.

During the night, that first November after we adopted her, she woke us by barking and growling. She jumped at the window, then ran to the front door and barked some more. We turned on the lights and looked around but could not discover the reason she was so upset. We were puzzled, but she finally calmed down and we went back to sleep. The next day we discovered a burglar had broken into two houses on our block during the night. We were pretty sure Lucy had run them off from our house.

Six years after she came to live with us, she began to show signs of kidney failure. Her kidneys had been damaged in her earlier years of abuse and it would finally prove irreversible. But she still managed one last heroic deed before her star burned out.

In early October of that year, she had gotten into a habit of jumping up and licking my husband’s neck. She would shiver and whine and bark. This was something she had never done before. I finally asked my husband why she was doing that. He said he had no idea. He did finally admit though, that he had a sore in his mouth and his neck hurt. I convinced him to see a dentist. The dentist recommended an immediate biopsy, which tested positive for oral cancer. The cancer required extensive surgery, but thanks to Lucy, they were able to stop it from spreading.

One year later, Lucy’s earthly light burned out. We knew we had been blessed to have owned her. She was a hero and her deeds will never be forgotten. Now all we have to do is look up to see our special star Lucy in the sky.

~Christine Trollinger

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