I want to tell you about Josh and his special friend. Her name is Lucy.
Theirs is a story of intense friendship that both of them needed when they met and continued to need for the years that followed. Josh had lost “the best dog in the world” and was reeling in despair over it. At the same time, Lucy was a young dog who just a few months old and ended up in a “free to good home” ad on Craigslist.
It might have been serendipity because her ad described her as “the best dog in the world.” And though Craigslist ads for animals can often lead to shady and even despicable outcomes for the animals listed there, turns out the ad for Lucy wasn’t just correct, it was a lifesaver.
To share how true this really is, not so long ago when I was talking to Josh, he looked at me as tears began to gather at the bottom of his eyes. “There have been times when I couldn’t catch myself,” he confessed. “But she did.”
Josh makes no bones about it. Nor does he hide the fact that he struggles sometimes and when his moods press down on him like a heavy, gray cloud, it’s Lucy who helps bring the sunshine back around.
What’s his is mine
I interview quite a few people for this job and no one is harder to talk to than Josh. And it’s not because he’s difficult or is struggling or there are problems we’re always trying to solve. On the contrary, he’s a kind, sweet and authentic man of immense emotional generosity. He doesn’t just love Lucy, he loves PRCKC, too. “When I come here, it feels like family,” he says.
To be honest, the real issue with talking to Josh is that it’s hard for me to maintain composure. His love for Lucy and how she has saved his life is intensely personal and the emotion of it all is very raw and open. The pain of his past – and how she helps him deal with it – is palpable. Stand near him and it will radiate into your bones. And your heart.
He’s being honest when he says PRCKC is the only reason he can keep Lucy, which might be the only reason he is alive. “Thank you,” he rasps. “Thank you.”
Soon, his tears become your tears.
News that hits hard
Not so long ago, Lucy began behaving as if something were wrong. Josh didn’t know who else to turn to so he reached out to us.
Once he came to the clinic, our team gave Lucy an exam. As we tell people, we’re here to help; however, as a nonprofit we don’t have the diagnostic equipment that a full-service clinic has so we can’t do much in the way of testing. For that reason, we work with a handful of local clinics to help people get additional assistance.
In Lucy’s case, the problem was pretty apparent. “Her lymph nodes were swollen,” Dr. Andelson said. After sending some blood work out, the results came back. All indicators pointed to lymphoma.
This is the kind of news that leaves a knot in your stomach regardless of who the pet owner is. Yet, for Josh, it felt like a sentence being handed down. Suddenly the fragile balance went sideways, tilting wildly in a direction nobody expected.
I wasn’t there for the initial conversation and, honestly, I’m not sure I could’ve been. If anyone ever suggests that kind, compassionate and caring people aren’t tough, think of a doctor or veterinarian delivering bad news. That has to be one of the hardest things in the world, and our vets won’t hesitate to wade into those rough waters and then be the shoulder someone leans on as they absorb the disbelief and sorrow.
There is a light out there
After the initial ripples of pain began to subside, Josh and Lucy got on with their lives. And as of this writing, we’re actually working with Josh to help him find a dog who can come live with him and, hopefully, learn from Lucy. She has much to teach about being a steadfast and gentle friend who can absorb love and give plenty in return.
Of course, always in the back of Josh’s mind, and ours, is that Lucy is sick. But when Josh and I talk, we discuss what a good, long life Lucy has led. How she has given much and gotten much in return. That she has a comfortable place to live, plenty to eat and a truckload of love in her life … it’s all any of us could ask for really.
Josh agrees. And he knows that he must go on living his life the best way he can. He knows, too, that rescuing another dog who needs a home and love is what Lucy would want more than anything.