Lucan and Cheryl

I first wrote this October 17, 2009. I’m including it today because I’m celebrating Lucan’s 7th birthday today. I love my boy! And, Cheryl, you are always missed. Thank you for guiding him my way, somehow.

Four years ago today, I brought home a gangly, huge puppy and named him Lucan. He was scared of everything. I had to drag him, literally, in the house as Lilith ran out to meet us. I’d seen a picture of him that my former boss kept sending me, and I’d spent six hours online trying to find a Celtic name that would fit him and go with Lilith’s name. She’s black, and one meaing of hers is “queen of darkness.” He’s a big yellow/white lab/Pyrenees mix. His name means “bringer of the dawn.”

Lilith came into my life at a crisis point and in many ways saved it. Lucan, too, came at a critical point and in an amazing way.

Four years ago this past March, my sister-in-law, Cheryl, died. She was one of those people who never failed to send a card for holidays, remembered birthdays, and would call just to check on me. I’d been her flower girl when I was around 8.

Cheryl had an actual phobia about dogs. It carried over to things like cats and rabbits, but interestingly, not so much to bears or horses or sharks. Since my family is very much an animal family, especially a dog family, this was always hard for her. My nephews did not grow up with dogs, but they always wanted them. They loved to visit me and my mom since we had a bunch. When they went to college, they of course whined to different girlfriends and came home with at least 4 different dogs. Cheryl always babied her boys. They’re grown, but they’ll admit it. She did not ever get over her fear and was so proud when she got up the nerve to pour water into their bowls through the sliding glass door. But, she made sure that they were cared for when my brother went off with the scouts or on his various adventures. And, she became very understanding of me and my dogs over the years. She became more understanding even when she saw how Lilith helped me and how Willie helped my nephew, Travis. But, the fear remained.

In the last few weeks of her life, she and her nurse went shopping. She had to get me a Valentine’s Day card, and she wanted it to have a dog on it. They found a cute card with a little yellow lab type puppy on the front of it. It was the last thing she ever gave me, and the last coherent conversation I had with her was about that card. She told me how she picked it out and how she made sure to find one with a dog, just for me.

When she died, weird as it sounds, one of my first thoughts was that now she wasn’t afraid of dogs anymore. And, for some reason, that thought comforted me greatly.

Strange thing is, around the time she was picking out that card is when Lucan must have been born. He was just a stray in the country who my boss took in when he was about 8 months old or so. He couldn’t keep him, and after he kept sending me pics of him and telling me when he was taking him to the pound, I decided I had to get him.

And then I realized that the puppy who looked a lot like the one on that Valentine card came home the day after Cheryl’s first birthday not afraid of dogs.

Even in the Bible, there are instances where animals served as messengers. I often look at my two dogs, knowing how and when they entered my life, and stare just a bit harder to see if there aren’t some wings beneath that muddy fur. If I’ve entertained “angels unaware” it would not surprise me to learn that they came in a canine form…..

Happy Anniversary, Lucan.

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~ by Janice Holladay on February 15, 2012.

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