[Dog Tales] Lucy

For years and years I avoided buying a house. The thought of the admin, both to buy it or to rent it out if I wanted to change country (again) was enough of an excuse to delay taking the plunge and for decades I avoided it. Then at around the age of 45, it dawned on me that there is never going to be a good time to buy a house and that there will always be more reasons to put it off. Once the decision was made, we began looking around in earnest.

I don’t always have cause to say this but thank god for the Internet. In Australia, homes are open for 45 mins each over a three hour period on Sunday or Saturday, so you have to do your research and hit a pocket of viewings while looking for a place. Having the houses listed online at least made creating the list a little easier, and owning our own home meant that we would no longer have the hide the dog every three months when the rented place was inspected.

This had been happening with our first rescue dog, Moody for a while. Once we had moved into our own home though, which was further away from work and meant longer days for him at home (not that he seemed to mind) I decided I would get him a companion.

In a way it was not unlike buying the house had been. I knew I wanted a rescue dog as our last rented house had been close to a dog refuge centre and I used to listen to them barking at night. All of them wanting a home. But with Moody none too keen on other dogs, it would have to be somone a bit special.

On my list of definite ‘nos’ was: NO to an all white dog, NO to Jack Russells as a breed (too headstrong) and NO to a moulting dog. Moody was a non shedder and that was perfect. Another Moody would be just the ticket.

Every week, I would drive over to the shelter and return home to Moody, apologizing that I had not yet found him a friend. Then one Saturday I was walking between the kennels when a small white dog stood on its hind legs and stretched its paws towards me.

‘Hi there!’ I said, ‘What is your name then?’ I looked at the label on the cage door:


Not the best of starts.

Boink, Female, Jack Russell.

Even worse.

I had a look at the other dogs and then came back to Boink. She stood up again, and licked my fingers when I held them to the fence. Maybe I should just enquire about her, see what the story was. As I walked back, I noticed she was on her hind legs again, trying to say hello to another couple walking through. So that had not just been reserved for me.

Also there that day was a gorgeous golden cocker spaniel, an older boy whose owner had had to given him up. Boink’s story was that she was around a year old, had been named for her ability to spring from a standing start to some height and had been picked up by a ranger, presumably having boinked herself out of someone’s yard.

I told the home I was interested in one or the other, pending a meet with Moody, and went off to get him and my husband.

Both dogs were fine with Moody and Boink was very friendly.

‘I am a little worried about getting a Jack Russell,’ I said, ‘I hear they can be quite stubborn.’

‘Oh she is not your typical Jack,’ said the friendly staff member, ‘she is super bright, alright, but quite submissive for the breed.’

‘Does she moult much?’ I asked

‘Not too much,’ she assured me.

At this, Boink decided she wanted some love and jumped up. The staff member stroked her. Clouds of white fur rose up from her back into the air around her.

‘Wow,’ I said.

‘Yeah well,’ said the woman, ‘they do tend to moult a little more when in kennels. It’s the stress.’

As much as I loved the golden spaniel (and I would have taken him as well if my local by-laws allowed it) I decided that two old dogs in the house would ruin my plan to extend Moody’s life by bringing a younger dog into the mix. The staff member told me not to feel too bad, the spaniel would be gone before the weekend.

‘Dogs like that always go quickly, ‘ she said, ‘but people are sometimes reluctant to take on a Jack Russell.’

And that was how my husband and I came to be driving home that day trying to think of another name for a shedding all white Jack Russell.

Eventually we thought Lucy might suit, plus there was a small Harry Potter connection. It seemed like a sweet name for a sweet dog, still I couldn’t help but add a final flourish to her name and registered her as Lucy Piglet.

And sweet she has turned out to be, and in direct opposition to Moody infinitely friendly, with a streak of fearlessness from her JR credentials. Despite the fact that he politely ignored her presence in the house, wanted absolutely nothing to do with her fun and games (once overcome with excitement at just life in general, she flung herself on her back and wiggled upside down across the carpet to where he was lying, he stoically ignored her)  she was good for him. If dogs approached, she would bounce up and head them off before they got to Moods, leaving him left in peace. She was as adventurous as he was timid and virtually silent for the first two weeks, until one day she surprisingly let rip with a deep voiced ‘woof’ that sounded more like it came from a St Bernard than an 8kg terrier. She loved Moody, as she loves everyone, sat quietly while he got sick, and licked his bleeding wounds from the cancer as it took hold. If there was one mistake, it was choosing a name for her with the same vowel sounds as Moody, as dogs (apparently) only hear the vowels, so Moody and Lucy sound the same to a dog.

She is a smart little cookie, always aims to please, has learned a bundle of tricks which she loves to practise and is basically now the park social secretary, welcoming the newbies and delighted to meet and greet all her mates down there on a daily basis. She swims like a champion and has a worrying ability (like many dogs) to tell the time – and if you have not moved at around the time of their afternoon walk, will stare unblinkingly at you until you get up and grab the leads.

As for the moulting, which was supposed to calm down once she de-stressed and settled in, it is still going as strong as the day we first met her. You can spend an hour combing and combing but to no avail, she will shake her body and an eruption of white follicles will rise up to the sky. Her fur is everywhere – on my clothes, in my car, under the cushions on the sofa but she is gorgoeus, my life has been better for her company in it and I would not have it any other way.

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