I will always remember the day that Frederic, my husband, who had always dreamed of owning a dog, suggested we adopt a 7-month-old Golden Retriever from his colleague’s niece. We already had two children under 3, a cat that caused me allergies, and the house was under perpetual renovations. If he had offered me a Tyrannosaur Rex, I would not have been more enthusiastic. Still, I love dogs, but let’s say that the timing could not have been worse.
After a lot of arguments and promises that “it was just to try,” I finally gave in and went to get Lucky. He jumped out of the house where he was staying. Already pretty big, but still clumsy, he was excited as if he had been locked up since the beginning of time. He went straight to our daughter, Juliett Fay, who must have been 1 ½ year old, terrorizing her with his big open mouth and gooey kisses. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she flung herself into my arms, refusing to come down again.
It started well
Once home, Juliett did not want to walk any more and shouted with terror every time she heard our new boarder arrive. This lasted for more than a week. Eliott, 3 years old, had probably not learned to give animals some air and spent his time lying on the dog, who hesitated between growling and playing. Fred was happy as a king and had as much authority over Lucky as a bad teacher on a class of unruly kids. As for me, I was assessing the potentially catastrophic situation, setting strict rules: Lucky had to stay on the ground floor, he was not to enter the kitchen, he had to sleep in the veranda (or maybe in the living room), but most of all, not in our room!
The first night, the dog began to cry as soon as we went to bed. Fred, distressed and worried as if he was in danger of death, went to get him, gave him a cookie in the kitchen, got him upstairs and laid him in our room. All laws transgressed in less than 6 hours. Better and better.
Highs and lows
Lucky, I have to admit, has proved to be a good companion for the kids. Juliett, once past her fear, became his inseparable mate. His affection and gentleness with them made up for his escaping habits (many, over and under the fences) and the ravages he caused in the house. Every day, we came back to find a disemboweled stuffie, a couch leg eaten, a pair of jeans chewed. He particularly liked the most expensive shoes, leaving obviously the “cheap” shoes intact. I had the impression of living in “Marley and me”.
And then one day, we really lost him. He fled, and we couldn’t find him, we couldn’t find him anywhere. Finally, we knew that he had been captured by the evil pound (real “mean” as in the movies). I started to worry like a mother. We had to pay a hundred dollars to get him back. Trembling, dirty, locked in an enclosure that smelled of roadkill, he looked down and gave me a “I’m sorry’ look. That day, in my heart, he really became a full member of the family. I felt an unconditional love for this crazy puppy, who was so affectionate and so sweet with the kids. I forgave him for everything (even the time he had eaten my new boots).
Years have passed
A decade later, Lucky is still with us. He sleeps a lot, snores like a tractor truck and has stinky digestive problems. His pace is much slower during our walks outside, he sometimes takes breaks when he climbs the stairs, but true to himself, he still manages to nibble a shoe or two.
Over the years, he has encountered a multitude of unruly children and he inherited a new turbulent human brother. However, he has always remained so patient and faithful. We were told that he had a life expectancy of about 12 years … In January, he will have 11, but we do not think too much about it, because we can’t imagine our life without him. After all these years of protecting us, receiving our confidences, drying our tears in his fur and enduring the sometimes too intense hugs of young children, it is our turn to take care of him.