Steve Huffman column on Lucy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lucy woke me in the wee hours the other morning, snorting and wheezing.
She was experiencing an asthma attack, or something along those lines.
I should have leaned over and asked, “You OK, honey?”
Instead, being half asleep, I hollered, “Lucy! Hush!”
And Lucy ó as she always does ó did exactly as told, retreating to the hallway.
Lucy is my 13-year-old border collie. Well, technically, she’s a mutt.
But when my sons were little, we liked to say she was a border collie, thinking, I suppose, that it somehow made her more valuable.
Lucy does have a fair amount of border collie in her, but she’s a mutt. She’s white with black spots.
Lucy was returned to me a couple of months ago after Sheree, my ex, called.
Sheree and I were married for 20 years. We’re still “friends,” which means she seldom hits me anymore.
Well, not hard, anyway.
“Lucy has started acting strange,” Sheree said.
Ten years ago, when Sheree and I were still together, I installed a hidden fence in our yard. The fence has been out of commission for years, but Lucy learned her boundaries early on and never strayed.
Not until recently, that is. Sheree said Lucy had developed a habit of leaving the yard and roaming.
She also said Lucy had taken to relieving herself on the living room carpet.
Not a pretty sight.
My sons are away at college and I think Lucy was starved for attention. So I volunteered to take her.
When we all lived together, I used to take Lucy for a couple of walks a day.
There was a dirt road not far from our house. I drove there in the morning with Lucy and we’d run together.
I never had to put Lucy on a leash. She’d stay within shouting distance. There weren’t any houses, and a car on the dirt road was rare.
Lucy loved to gallop and chase Canada geese while I plodded along well behind. We bonded, Lucy reinforcing my belief that dogs are wonderful creatures.
We adopted Lucy from one of those animal rescue operations. Someone who lived in a trailer had owned Lucy when she was a pup. They vacated the trailer and left Lucy chained out back.
Three days later, someone finally called the Humane Society and Lucy was saved.
Lucy and I are still buddies, but we’ve changed. We’re both thicker than we were as pups. Neither of us is as light on our feet as we used to be.
Lucy used to love to chase squirrels and cats.
She still does, but in limited doses.
Nowadays, when we walk, I’ll spot a squirrel.
“Lucy! Squirrel!” I’ll say.
Lucy will make a head feint and be happy if the squirrel just feigns terror.
A block or two farther along, I’ll see a cat.
“Lucy! Cat to the left!”
The head-feint scenario is repeated.
I’m not sure how much longer Lucy has. She totters like a senior citizen. She’s not as alert as she used to be and her hearing is fading.
But she still perks up when I ask, “Lucy, wanna go for a walk?”
And as long as she continues to do so, we’ll keep strolling the neighborhood.
Unsuspecting squirrels and cats, you have been warned.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@