Lucy in the Room

Lucy grows into a smarter and sweeter dog each day. She’s now firmly entrenched as a member of the family and everyone treats her like a star. Which is a good thing, because if they didn’t they’d get the “canine pre-licked plate.” : )

I have also noticed slight changes in the Luce as she matures. The most obvious would be her coat. It’s grown out so nicely and fully she literally looks like a Lion when the breeze hits her right. She has developed quite a mane.

A more subtle change I see is that she is more expressive. She was always vocal upon the return of a high-value human (I’m happy to be counted as one of her favorites). But increasingly, she maintains this demeanor long after the person’s arrival. She even requests to be pet and hugged much more so than she used to.

Maybe we’re growing on her…much like her coat.

Lucy taking a well-deserved break.

Lucy taking a well-deserved break.

She is also a little (just a little) less stubborn. Oh you still can’t boss her around or anything. And don’t dare expect her to run excitedly towards you when called. But she is more willing than ever to comply when you ask her over. Just a few weeks ago, for example, Lucy and Bella slipped past me out the front door. I called them both back. Both looked at me. Bella turned to continue to run off and explore the area around our house. Lucy hesitated, then walked straight towards me.

Good girl.

She’s a great alarm clock, too (even if you don’t need one). Each morning, Lucy tells me if she thinks I’m sleeping longer than needed. She lets out a certain “wake up” sound with her Leo voice. Then she slaps a few licks on me in rapid succession. If I turn away, she ramps up the noise. If I turn towards her, she ramps up the licks. One way or another, she gets her message across.

At this point I usually invite her to jump upon the bed to buy some time. Because she’s fairly large, I have to prepare a wide landing pad for her. 90% of the time, she’ll jump up and nap next to me for a few minutes. The warmer the weather, the shorter her duration upon the bed. It just gets too hot for her, even with AC and a dog fan blowing in the room.

All of this is welcome and I really appreciate it when I’m away. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and the days can tend to run together. Some mornings wake up (still half asleep) thinking I’m home. My mind plays tricks and convinces me Lucy is in the room. Then reality sets in, I see the unfamiliar surroundings of the hotel room and think “this sucks.” Next a look at the calendar to count how many days until I can go home. And wake up next to next to my better half. And of course, Lucy the Leo.

But this just makes me appreciate those mornings when I really do wake up at home all the more. And Lucy really is in the room. Even if she’s waking me up too early.

Isn’t it great to have dogs in your life? They make all things good.

Give your dog a hug and a “high paw” today. They deserve it.

Lucy Didn’t Do It

Sometimes a “deposit” is spotted on the carpet in our home. With three cats and two dogs, the list of suspects is short. And since each could be sick enough to forget their manners at any time, the source of said deposits is sometimes the subject of controversy.

Recently, there was something unpleasant on the carpet. While no one caught any creature in the act, the clues began to present themselves. Clues such as size, for example. Four out of five of our pets would be considered small. Lucy, of course, is the big one so if something big materializes, she jumps to the top of the list.

“Lucy left a surprise on the carpet in the basement,” Pia told me when I came home.

Uh oh.

“It couldn’t have been Lucy,” I replied. “She’s been feeling fine lately.”

Pia eyes narrowed.

“I think it was Bella,” I said. Not sure why. Bella wagged her tail at the mention of her name, totally unaware that I just threw her under the bus.

The kids are too old to blame, or I might have gone there next.

“No,” Pia said. “It was your Lucy girl. In fact, she did it twice.”

Uh oh.

“It couldn’t have been Lucy,” I insisted. “She doesn’t do those things.”

“Oh really?” Pia asked. “Then how do you explain this?” At that, she lifted Lucy’s tail and, well, let’s just say it appeared there was some light circumstantial evidence that Lucy might have been involved.

Uh oh.

“Well…ummm…” I stammered and suddenly became interested in some flowers near my foot.

Pia waited patiently, letting Lucy’s fluffy tail drop down to it’s normal level.

“I think she sat in it, but didn’t do it,” I offered unconvincingly.

“Yeah right,” she said. Then there was an awkward silence, which Pia finally broke by asking me, “So are you going to clean her off or am I?”

“Well I’m not sure she did it, but I’ll clean her off anyway,” I said.

“Grab the garden hose,” Pia instructed. “I’ll help you.” I did, and held Lucy gently by the collar while Lucy’s Leo caboose got all dressed up again.

So Lucy’s all clean again. But I’m still not convinced Lucy did it.

Innocent until proven guilty.

Innocent until proven guilty

Innocent until proven guilty

Lucy and the Rainbow

It was Memorial Day, and Lucy had already finished an action-packed weekend. With daughter Selina graduating high school, and two family birthdays in the month of May, Lucy had enjoyed the constant stream of friends and family who came by to visit. And in her pure, innocent Leo mind, all of these visitors came just to see her.

But by Monday, most of our guests had to head back home. Some had as much as an 11 hour flight ahead of them, so hanging around all day was not an option. Duty calls.

Try explaining that to Lucy.

She played around with Bella and napped. She ate raw beef hearts for lunch and got a few pieces of steak from a generous human at dinner (using her mind control, of course). She showed me one of her best card tricks, and I thanked her for it.

Playing with Bella

Playing with Bella


Then in the late evening, she stood at the corner of the backyard and watched the fountains. After barking at a few passers by, she looked up at me on the deck and told me something was missing.

Lucy watches people by the lake

Lucy watches people by the lake

“What is it, Lucy?” I asked.

I received no response back, of course. Just that familiar deep, soulful stare. But something was clearly bugging her. And as good as I’ve become at reading her body language, I still sometimes have to guess when she makes vague “statements” like this.

So I took a stab. “And just so you know, I can’t bring all those people back. Before you even ask.”

A moment later, I learned it wasn’t all about the people being gone. Sometimes Lucy wants things that don’t even cross my mind. This was one of those times.

She gestured up at the sky with her dark black mask, indicating I should follow her gaze.

I did so and was startled to see a rainbow in the sky. It had not even rained! As soon as she noticed I saw it, Lucy wagged her tail and came over to me. She was immediately more settled.

Lucy's rainbow

Lucy’s rainbow

I guess she wanted a rainbow. I guess she needed something brilliant and colorful to finish her big canine party weekend. And a rainbow was just the thing she needed. “If you had told me you wanted a rainbow I would have got you one,” I whispered to her, hoping to save face.

She wasn’t fooled. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was the one who conjured up the rainbow herself. Not sure how, but she and a few dog friends on the other side could probably pull it off.

Such a silly puppy…

Lucy and the Rattlesnake

Lucy went out with some of her dog friends to visit the dog park. It’s a very large, enclosed park with vast fields and several bodies of water. Coyotes are occasionally seen outside the fence, but the inside is relatively safe. Think of it as a reverse zoo.

On this peaceful day, the weather was beautiful and the park was popular. With the snow season (hopefully) firmly behind, everyone seemed to be out with their dogs. The pack ran and re-explored the familiar environment while Pia, along with a few of her human friends, chatted about human things.

And then Lucy happened upon a rattlesnake.

Lucy's Rattlesnake

Lucy’s Rattlesnake

She had never seen one before. And based on how well it was camouflaged, she almost never saw this one either. The other dogs crowded around Lucy and the snake. All instantly curious. Lucy’s ears perched forward and her big brown eyes took in this amazing new discovery. The rattler, however, did not appreciate these wolf-like creatures disturbing his afternoon nap.

The snake rattled long and loud. Pia saw something was up, and then heard the rattle. She instantly sprinted over towards Lucy to pull her away from the danger, but this turned out to be unnecessary. Lucy immediately dropped her head down low, hunched her shoulders up, and went into full reverse. None of us knew she could reverse walk like that, but on this day it was discovered. She’s apparently really good at it, too.

Lucy’s keen instincts kicked in that this rattle thing in the grass was not friendly, but something to be avoided. Or maybe it communicated to her the way ants and other creatures have in times past. At any rate, she did the right thing. She left and never went back. The other dogs decided to bolt as well, and they moved onto other things. The rest of the walk was uneventful.

I was out of town for this little adventure, but Pia told me all about it. And even sent me this photo. And I’m glad I was away for this one. I get nervous enough when Lucy walks upon the ice. Walking up to a rattlesnake would be worse.

So glad no one got bit.

Please Don’t Clip My Nails

That’s what her expression says whenever I show Lucy the nail clippers. Her eyes change and she looks at me pleadingly as if to say, “How could you?? How could you do this to me? You should see yourself right now, holding those archaic torture devices with the ridiculous orange handle. Could you please put them away and pretend to be civilized for just one day?”

Please don't.

Please don’t.

Yes. Her expressions pack quite a nonverbal punch.

She has never had a bad nail clipping experience, mind you. Bad as in, getting cut or losing a paw. But she has always resisted it. A few times I’ve asked to the “pros” to clip them while she was at the vets or boarding. Sometimes they could pull it off, others they’d let me know they just couldn’t get it done. “That big girl does NOT like getting her nails cut, does she?” a vet tech one observed as I picked her up from an extended stay.

No. She doesn’t.

Lucy doesn’t get violent or anything when you give it a try. But she’s very strong and will whip that paw away from you no matter how firm your grip. Then she’ll cry a little and give you a crushing look. All of this will just make you feel terrible inside.

But letting them grow long is not an option. I made that mistake once and Lucy wound up splitting a nail while running, right down to the quick. The vet fixed her up in no time with pain meds and a special little sock wrap.

I don’t want to see that again, so I insist she let me cut them.

Fortunately, she’s getting much better about it now. She still doesn’t like it and will give me “the look,” but she’s much more cooperative now. I’ve found it’s best just not to make a big deal of it and praise her with treats. If I’m clipping them at night, I’ll strap on a head lamp (don’t laugh) so I can get a good look at the quick and not risk cutting her (I know she’d never forgive me if I did).

In the daytime, Pia will just hold up some treats and Lucy gets nice and distracted. Now, instead of pulling away from me, Lucy will roll from a sitting to a lying position while I finish the job. She somehow maneuvers her entire body onto the floor while I’m holding onto her paw. She must be the queen of canine core strength because it looks like one big yoga move when she does it. I have to try to catch it on video, sometime.

All of those fancy moves are really just her way of complying while still getting her way. She may have to get her nails clipped, but it will definitely be under her conditions.

That’s Lucy…the stubbornly charming Leo.