We got Lucky. So did she.

Lucky was laid to rest yesterday beneath a pretty oak tree in our yard. We weren’t prepared for her to go so soon, but our prayers were answered as they were meant to be.

X-rays and blood tests on Wednesday afternoon revealed something amiss in her abdominal region, and she had an uncomfortable night. After some consulting and weighing of options we decided to go ahead with exploratory surgery on Thursday morning. Lucky was anemic and had been refusing food for a few days, so the surgery was a calculated risk—but it quickly proved to be the right choice. The doctor discovered almost immediately that Lucky had advanced cancer of the liver, with indications that it had already spread to other organs. There was no point in trying to save her. The vet sutured her abdomen and kept her under anesthesia while we called the family together. We were all with her and shed copious tears as she passed.

Lucky was much more than a special dog. She found us in the spring of 2003 as much as we found her. A stray, evidently abandoned, she was a homeless two-year-old living under a footbridge not far our home in Hendersonville, NC. My 8-year-old son had already been asking for a dog, specifically a Golden Retriever, and one day there she was. Dirty, malnourished, skittish. She’d obviously borne a litter recently but there were no pups to be found (their fate remains a mystery). And she had apparently experienced some bad storms, for she never got over her fear of thunder. Before deciding to take her in, we dropped her off with our vet, Dr. Don Zehr, for an examination. He called as soon as he was done. “She’s a great dog,” he told me. “You got lucky.” So naming her was a no-brainer. She quickly assimilated with our family and became one of us. We had a joyous eight years together.

 Lucky took her last ride with me in the convertible yesterday. This morning, I discovered some of her blonde hairs on the passenger seat. I put them in an envelope that will always remain in the car, so she will be part of my future journeys, wherever they may take me.

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