One evening, my mother returned home from the school she worked at with a small, black puppy. This one had a more delicate bone structure; she looked frail and anemic in comparison to the dense, compact musculature of my former dog Sport. My mother told me she was a Cockapoo, a cross breed of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle. The family of one of the students needed to give away puppies, as their dog’s pregnancy had been unexpected. My father took some convincing, but he acquiesced, and I named our new dog Lucky.
After our experience with Sport, Lucky stayed in the house. We made a small bed for her in the dining room, and put up barriers so she couldn’t wander the house unobserved. She wasn’t as boisterous and excitable as Sport, and our play took on a more gentle quality. Most of the time this occurred in our living room. If I took her outside to play, she never left my sight.
After awhile, we moved closer to the school my mother worked at. A six-foot-high concrete fence enclosed the back yard of the house we rented, so Lucky could enjoy the outdoors unobserved. After awhile my mother brought home another dog, a little white mutt that my mother named Tiny, and he provided company for Lucky during the day while my mother worked and I attended school. But then the owners decided to sell our house, and we had to move again.
As my father didn’t receive much retirement pay, and much of what he had saved over his life he had lost when we had left a condominium complex, our options for housing were limited. The new church we attended allowed us to move into the house on their property, another old parsonage that they used as a fellowship hall. So we moved there, and my parents often invited people over after the Sunday and Wednesday evening services. While my mother and I spent the days at school, my father watched Lucky and Tiny. He could let them outside if he chose, as six-foot-high concrete walls extended along the sides and the back of our yard, and the front was lined with a waist-high wire fence. At night, they could sleep in Sport’s old house, which offered room to spare for the smaller dogs. Or, when the weather grew chilly, they could spend the night inside.
Not long after we moved into that house, my father began paying more visits to the hospital. At first these were short stays, lasting only a few days. But gradually they grew longer, until it seemed as if he would never leave. As his health deteriorated, the hospital might change, but the fact that he resided there did not. After days spent at school, my mother and I spent our afternoons and evenings at the hospital, wanting to be with him as much as we could. We ate meals in the cafeteria or from snack machines, and slept on the faux leather couches in the waiting room. What time we spent at home shrank to little more than morning visits to shower, change clothes, and feed Lucky and Tiny. Then we left again to begin our days.
Lucky might have been built smaller and more delicately than Sport, but she was no less intelligent. Several mornings we arrived home to find her scampering toward us across the church parking lot. One church member added more wire to the fence, hoping to prevent her from squeezing her narrow frame through any gaps. But somehow, she still escaped. On one of our quick morning visits, I looked out the front window and spied her climbing the fence. By the time I ran outside, she had made it to the top and leapt to the asphalt of the parking lot. She wagged her tail as I opened the gate and ordered her back inside.
Perhaps we should have considered finding new homes for her and Tiny, as we couldn’t offer them a real home life at that time. Perhaps that was what Lucky sought. Or perhaps she merely yearned to explore the world beyond her yard. All I know is that one morning we returned home and she wasn’t inside our yard, or wandering the church property. I searched the streets of our neighborhood, and later, when our schedule allowed, my mother and I visited the local pound. But I never saw Lucky again.
I can only hope that someone took Lucky in, and gave her the love and attention that she deserved.