Yesterday, my mom had to make the really hard decision to put one of her cocker spaniels to sleep. Lucky was having trouble breathing on Tuesday night, and it didn’t get better overnight, so on Wednesday morning he went to the vet. An X-ray revealed a tumor around his heart that had ruptured and was bleeding into his chest cavity. The vet told my mom that they could do surgery, and if he survived that, they might be able to keep him alive for maybe a few more months with medication and chemo. And she seriously considered it, but he was suffering so much. He was just likely to continue suffering if he could even be kept alive for a few short months. So she made the right, responsible decision and he was put to sleep. My mom is very sad, my dad and sister and niece are sad, I am sad, and Sandy, Lucky’s sister/littermate/whatever, is sad. She’s apparently been howling and crying, which makes it that much harder. My mom and I haven’t even talked on the phone because I think we’d just cry at each other with no words coming out. I can’t do anything for Sandy, but I thought maybe if I remembered some good things about Lucky, it would at least make my mom and I feel better.
She and my dad got Lucky and Sandy when I was in college. They had gotten my sister and I cocker spaniel puppies when we were kids, a brother and sister we named Rusty and Ginger. Ginger died, and Rusty was inconsolable – those two dogs, I swear to God, shared a brain. They were connected in some way I’ve never seen before or since. But since Rusty was so upset, my parents decided to get two more cocker puppies to keep him company – that would be Lucky and Sandy. Unfortunately, Rusty was well beyond the age of tolerance for puppy antics at that point. He would jump up on top of things they couldn’t reach just to get away from them. Eventually, he came to live mostly on the front porch and in the basement.
Lucky was a big, strong boy right from the start, with a gorgeous strawberry-blonde coat. And he was so sweet and friendly – a total lap dog. Sandy was always a bit stand-offish, though she’s gotten to be less so as she’s gotten older. But Lucky was always a total sweetheart. He wanted to be on you, with your hands on him, all the time. When my niece started to talk, she couldn’t say his name correctly. You’d try to get her to say, “Lucky puppy” and she’d repeat back, “Yucky puppy!” She had a stuffed dog that was a red cocker spaniel who was officially named Yucky Puppy. I believe Yucky Puppy was replaced at least once because she wore him out.
I can’t believe how quickly time passes. I honestly still think of Lucky and Sandy as puppies – probably didn’t help that we always called them puppies, long after they were officially dogs. But though Lucky’s health was not great in the past few years, he mostly seemed fine – and he was always thrilled to see his people, to get loved on and get a treat. I’m sad that he’s gone, and my heart aches for my mom, who had to be the one to make that decision. But I know he’s better off now. And at least we still have a Yucky Puppy laying around somewhere to remind us of that sweet dog.