After Their Son Passed Away, His Beloved Dog Served as Their Last Living Link to Him

Lucy was Eric’s dog first. After he passed, she became ours.

Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest will be honoring the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is a finalist in our “Rainbow Bridge” category. Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote for Lucy. To see our full list of finalists, go to rd.com/petpals and vote in each category.

Lucy started out as our son’s dog. When Eric went off to college, Lucy became the family dog. And we adored her. Considering she was half Labrador retriever, she really didn’t like the water like she was supposed to. We never did get her to go swimming, but there were so many more things we loved about her.

She was a great watchdog, she loved to fetch, she loved to play games, and she loved her boys. Once, when Eric had come from college, I decided to go for a walk in the woods with Lucy, as we usually did. I called Lucy and she began to follow me, then abruptly turned back to the house. Eric was home and she wasn’t about to leave when he was there.

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Our Eric has since passed away. A rare form of cancer took him from us far too soon. It was a very hard time for myself, my wife, and Eric’s brother, Kevin. Eric was fresh out of college and just starting a promising engineering career when he was diagnosed. Less than two years later, he was gone. Lucy was our living link to Eric. We keep a photo of Eric with his arm around Lucy on the wall.

The time came for us to say goodbye to Lucy, too. She stayed around just enough to spend one last Christmas with Kevin. In January, I called the veterinarian, wondering if we were making the right decision. But Lucy was getting tired. Arthritis was making it harder and harder for her to get around. The veterinarian asked my wife and me if we wanted to be in the room when they brought Lucy back for her final shot.

We had been in the room when Eric passed and weren’t sure if we’d wanted to do it again. We talked it through and realized we had to be there for Lucy. We held her paws in our hands as she gently closed her eyes for the last time. Lucy’s suffering was coming to an end. We buried her under one of the old apple trees on our property.

We still have Eric and Lucy’s photo on our dining room wall. Eric is smiling with his arm around Lucy. I am not sure what Lucy is doing, but I would like to think she is smiling too.