For Luckie: A Special Dog for our Special Needs

I must admit, I didn’t much like dogs. I was raised to be afraid of them, and I brought that fear into my adulthood.

But 13 years ago, I had bigger issues. My wonderful, fun, beautiful, brilliant daughter was enmeshed in the throes of OCD—obsessive compulsive disorder. Fifth grade is a very difficult year socially for anyone, and she was being tortured by the need to turn on and off light switches 26 times, to pack and unpack her backpack the same number of times, rendering her incapable of leaving her classroom, and unable to cross a line—impossible in a tiled school hallway. So, fifth grade is a minefield for anyone, and she was primed for failure.

She needed a friend. And so I, who had sworn that we would never get a dog, got Luckie. For my daughter’s 12th birthday, we wrapped a number of gifts. First, she opened a placemat with little colorful paws on it. “Okay, I guess” she said, “Thank you.” Next, she opened a package containing a bowl, with colorful dog bones. She looked more confused. We encouraged her to open the next gift. Inside was a leash. She looked at me, she looked at her father. She had the most wonderful expression on her face. Confused and hopeful all at the same time. She stammered, “but, you said, I could never have a dog.” I told her we had changed our minds. I will never, ever forget that moment of pure joy.

My daughter had a friend, and called Luckie her sister. I will never know who was luckier, Luckie for having my daughter, or my daughter for having Luckie. Or me, who was lucky for having them both.

A year or two later, my daughter was off at sleepaway camp, and her father and I decided to divorce. As so many of you know, special needs children bring added stress. I found out I had a benign brain tumor. Reports from camp were not good. And I was angry. Angry at the entire world. It would have been easy to stay in bed and hide. But I couldn’t. I had to walk Luckie. So, Luckie and I walked. And walked and walked and walked. We walked until I finally opened my eyes and saw the sun shining, and that I was breathing and grateful that I was able to walk and breathe and hope.

So, thank you, Luckie, for everything you did for us, and for the joy you brought us.

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