I’ve had several pets in my lifetime, but today, rather than owning a pet, Fred and I enjoy the pets of our family and friends. While I appreciate each of them for their unique personalities, when I learned that May 3–9 is National Pet Week, I immediately thought of one of the greatest dogs I have ever known: Lulu.
Lulu was a yellow Labrador who belonged to Fred’s son Toby. When Toby moved out of state for school, Lulu stayed home with Fred and his late wife, Patty. Lulu was an energetic dog with a strong bark that lifted her off her front paws, which was her “hello” but could be a bit startling to a stranger. She loved to catch popcorn midair and retrieve balls. She could play fetch for hours, yet as much as she liked the chew of the ball, she didn’t go around destroying things. In fact, Lulu was almost sentient. When you looked at her, it felt like you were talking to God. She was patient, loving, and kind, and she always seemed to know just what you needed in that moment.
When Patty became sick, Lulu rarely left her side. She was a wonderful support to Patty and Fred as Patty’s health declined, and even visited Patty in hospice. After Patty passed, Lulu went looking for her in the rooms where Patty once stayed. An emotional Sherpa of sorts, Lulu just wanted to connect with people and be where she was needed.
That only continued as she got older.
When Toby met his future wife, Taryn, Lulu went back to living with him. With the arrival of Toby and Taryn’s first child, Lulu offered support in a whole new way. She became a doll, a rug, and a little pack mule. She would lay patiently as she was dressed in bracelets or as Toby’s daughter laid on her while watching a movie. She never lost her patience or scurried away when she had her chance. This continued even as the family grew –- in fact this is a picture of Lulu with the third and latest grandchild. As always, Lulu was just happy to be there.
Lulu made it to age 14 and passed this last October. It was obvious at that point that while her needs to give, play, and support her family were there, the energy she once had to do so was gone. Toby, Taryn, and his family gave Lulu a great send-off, taking her to the beach and allowing the people who loved her to say goodbye. Lulu was special, and we all knew that when she was gone, it would be bizarre to open the door and not hear that big, happy bark. We knew we wouldn’t have that comfort we had all grown accustomed to with Lulu around.
For so long, Lulu was a friend and healer. She did so much in her 14 years here. She made so many days better with her presence, and she is greatly missed. I’ll always remember Lulu for her full-body wag — the way she would be so excited to see anyone and everyone who walked through the room. She was sweet and tender, and she had a spirit that left an impression on everyone she met.
Lulu was one of the greatest dogs I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and she spent her time on this Earth serving those she loved in such a simple way. Thank you, Lulu.