Loving a hospice animal means that you take them into your heart, knowing that their time with you may be only a day, a week, a month, maybe a year. Sometimes you get a little bit longer with these loves. But you do it because your heart knows that it's the right thing to do. Though you know you will have your heart broken over and over, the peace that you give to an animal nearing the end of their life by taking them into your home, rather than having them die, nameless, on a table, is worth every tear that you will shed.
On Facebook, Erica K. sent her story to the more than 9800 followers of Luscious Lucia, a beautiful and kind pit bull who Erica took into her heart and home two years ago. Erica bears no malice in her heart for Lucia's original owners. Erica has been involved in rescue for many years, since she was a child, and understands that sometimes circumstances beyond one's control forces your hand, and you are unable to keep the animal you love. She would like to find Lucia's original owners, to give them peace, to let them know that their hard choice to give her up to Manhattan Animal Care and Control ended not as most do, on a table in the euthanasia room, but surrounded by love, even though Erica and Lucia only had three months of life to share together. Here is Lucia's story. Perhaps if it is spread to enough corners of the world of rescue, Lucia's first family will find it.
Today marks two years since Lucia, my first beautiful hospice dog, was surrendered to the Manhattan ACC. I will do today what I did on this day a year ago. I will continue to try to find Lucia's former family. I know they struggled and I know they were desperate. I'm not angry at them. In fact, I want to thank them. Little do they know that their dog changed the lives of people all over the world. Her legacy has saved many lives. Please share this in hopes that one day I can hug them.
You surrendered your dog Luscious on June 28, 2013 to the Manhattan Animal Care and Control. She joined my family July 2, 2013 after I raced to put a hold on her when she was set to be euthanized on June 30.
Apparently you tried to reason with the employees at the shelter. You wanted them to get your dog help. They promised you they would get her the medical treatment she deserved. They lied to you.
Instead, they put your 12-year-old dog on the kill list on June 30, 2013. That shelter gave her two days to find a new home and then slated her for death. Two days.
When I read your surrender form I was confused as to why you gave her up. If your dog has cancer, do the right thing and love her and support her until you feel it's time. Then be the bigger person and stay by her side as she takes her last breath. Luscious almost spent her last moments in life muzzled, scared, sitting on a cold metal table, and experiencing no comfort as the employees pumped her veins full of euthasol. Not a way to go. So I stepped in.
When I met her she was frightened. Her eyes darted around nervously as she was in a much different environment. Port Jefferson Station, on Long Island, is far different from Manhattan. It took her 30 minutes to change her mind and enjoy her surroundings.
I named your dog Lucia. Hope you don't mind.
I took Lucia to the beach quite often and she seemed to be very comfortable there. I wonder if you ever took her with you when you went there. She would look at me in the eyes with such love and devotion. I truly wonder if she had that bond with you as well.
Lucia tolerated dogs, but really preferred to be by herself, with me. According to your surrender form there was another dog living in your home. I wonder if she got along with him.
I never had to use a leash for your dog. She stayed at my side always and if I was ever out of sight she would panic and search for me. Did you teach her to stay by you? If so, it worked.
Lucia loved to rub her face and roll around on her dog bed. She would go belly up and wiggle around to scratch her back. Did she have a favorite dog bed at your home?
As many posts read that are similar to mine, from people who rescued an abandoned animal, you can't have your dog back, for two reasons. First, because she and I had a bond like I've never experienced. She loved me with all that she had and I loved her back just as much. And second, because Lucia, your dog Luscious, passed away September 29, 2013.
I did what you were unable to do. I lay on the blanket next to your dog and put my face directly in front of hers. After keeping her comfortable and happy for three months, I looked into her eyes and thanked her for being in my life. I told her how loved she was...by me, my family, the thousands of people who followed her journey, and even by you.
As her breathing slowed and her heart stopped I held her close to me and told her that she was the greatest dog anyone could have hoped for. I know you would have said that to her too, if you were there.
You must have really loved her. Lucia had such a sweet disposition that she must have been raised with a lot of love. I'll still never understand why you gave her up at such a tough time in her life, but thank you for doing it. Thank you for giving me the chance to spend the most wonderful and amazing three months with your dog. She became OUR dog.
I don't blame you for doing what you did. And I'm not mad. And if Lucia could speak, I'm sure she would thank you too. You gave her the opportunity for a different ending. And you gave her a chance to become an inspiration to thousands of people throughout the world.
Luscious lived a great life here on Long Island after she became Lucia. I gave her everything she wanted; I did whatever her heart desired that day, and she and I lived each day not knowing if the next day would be our last one together.
I adopted your dog on July 2, 2013 and I couldn't be more thankful for the experience.
There are many animals who would love to experience their last three months of life beloved as much as Lucia. Some may not have been held close to someone their entire lives. Have never had a toy or a soft bed to call their own. Please visit your local shelter or look on Petfinder.com, Adopt A Pet or Rescue Me, and in the box where it says "age," please click "senior." Grey Muzzle is an excellent resource as well, with a wealth of information on what you can anticipate when loving a senior pet.
And if you can, please share Lucia's story, so her original family will know that she was loved till she breathed her last.
If you are her original owners, you can reach Erica on Lucia's Facebook page here. If you would like to subscribe to the Orlando Pet Rescue Examiner, please click here.