Courageous, Proud, and Loving to the End

Written by Carole on April 23, 2010

Vashti and Lucius

Vashti (left) and Lucius, brother and sister and best friends

My beloved dog, Lucius, died at the age of 14. His littermate and sister, Vashti, had passed away the year before. She went suddenly, becoming severely ill in just a few days, and then collapsing. I took her to the vet and she never returned.

Lucius missed his sister terribly. He would often stand outside their doghouse, stick his head inside, and howl—the low, mournful cry of a Siberian husky. He seemed to be saying “Vashti, where are you? Where have you gone? Are you lost?”

They truly enjoyed their life together. When she wanted to play, he would play dead. When she approached him to find out what was wrong, he would abruptly leap up and pounce on her. She would get back by stealing all the toys and putting them in a pile in front of her. To each other, they were best of friends. To me, they were loyal and loving companions whom I miss terribly and remember fondly.

Lucius By the Lake

Lucius enjoys a walk around Lake Washington

But it is Lucius with whom I would like to spend five more minutes.

Throughout his life, Lucius was courageous, proud, and loving. On our walks, if danger seemed imminent, Vashti would scramble as quickly as she could to get behind me, while Lucius stepped forward with a low guttural warning to whatever threat was present.

For a couple of years before he died, Lucius had a hard time getting around—he had arthritis, his hind legs were weak, and he ran out of breath on short walks. When he, Vashti, and I would go for a walk, Lucius would need to stop frequently and rest, sometimes panting hard for 10 minutes before we could continue. When we headed home, coming up the long hill he struggled, but persevered each time.

Lucius loved to ‘strut his stuff’ at the dog park. He would circulate and meet all of the other dogs. He approached each one with his head held high and chest puffed out.

In the evening, he liked to sidle up to the sofa as I watched a movie—his soulful brown eyes looking straight into mine—then to the popcorn—and then back. I liked sharing the popcorn with him and made sure there was enough so he could enjoy it, too.

He always seemed to know when I was having a bad day. He would come over to where I was sitting and put his paw on my thigh to comfort me. He would let out a strange, muffled bark as if to say “I’ll stand here and comfort you until everything is okay.”

About two weeks before he died, Lucius and I went for our last walk. He barely made it back up the hill and never wanted to go again after that. Finally, he stopped eating and in a few days he was gone. I suspect he died mostly of a broken heart, never understanding why his sister had left or why he had to spend every day alone.

Lucius was the type of soul who gave more than he got. I would like five more minutes with him to go for one more walk, to share one more bowl of popcorn. Mostly, I want to place my hand on his shoulder, to relieve his sorrow and pain. I want to tell him what a wonderful companion he was to Vashti and to me, and that we found comfort in his courage. More than he will ever know, I miss his love and keep him with me every day.

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