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Memories of Luca
One day I decided I wanted a Basset Hound. I had seen one in the Park at Riverside Drive and was intrigued by this dog. It did not interact with any other dogs, it did not stay with it's owner, it just slowly walked around the entire dog run, smelling everything. I don't know what it was about this dog or breed, other than it was the cutest thing I had ever seen, but I knew at that point that I had to have one. That weekend I dragged my sister, reluctantly, all the way to Pennsylvania, to Tait's Bassets to get one. When I arrived I was disappointed as there were not many to choose from. We had driven 5 hours and every puppy that I pointed out, the owner said he was keeping. As I was ready to walk out of the Barn, he said, "we did get a return the other day, not sure if you are interested but he is over there". When I looked I could not believe my eyes, there was the cutest most beautiful Basset Hound puppy I have ever seen. He was a little older, 12 weeks instead of 8 weeks, but I did not care, he was mine. We drove the long way home with him asleep in my arms and my other dog in the back, Kobie, giving him dirty looks the whole time.

In the early weeks that we had him, we realized why he might have been returned, he was an absolute terror. He would not stay in his crate, he barked the entire time he was in there. Living in an apartment in the city we could not have a barking dog as the neighbors would complain, so we let him out of the crate when we went to work. Everyday that I came home from work a new disaster awaited me. Some days it was my favorite plant that was being eaten and ripped to shreds, some days it was our beautiful hard covered books that were destroyed, the couch was always a mess as Luca and Kobie must have been playing on it all day. The one thing that was consistent was the poop and urine all over the apartment. That was one thing about Luca, he loved to pee and poop. He was a very challenging puppy to potty train. But with all of this, I could not have loved or adored a puppy more. I could not wait to come home from work and see him, I could not wait to show him off to people, I could not wait to rub that freckly belly. He was my love.

One thing that was distinct with Luca was his smell. It was unlike anything that you had smelled before. It didn't matter if he was clean or dirty, the smell was always there. We were told it was a hound smell. We called him Smelvana or Smelvin for short. Sometimes it was embarrassing to have people come to the house because of the smell. We powdered him regularly to hide the smell but it didn't really help. My Mother would always complain about the smell and say how unbearable it was, but my Father always made us feel better by saying he smelled like a rose. I guess that is what made Luca special. We eventually grew to love that smell. It was who he was.

Luca and Kobie over time learned to love one another, they became the best of friends/brothers and eventually Kobie showed him the way and Luca became less destructive. They were inseparable. Everywhere Kobie went Luca followed. Although Luca was the Boss, (surprising since he was younger),he did look up to his brother for direction and guidance. You could not have found two mismatched pairs, a giant yellow Labrador Retriever and a Basset Hound, but somehow it worked.

One of the things we discovered early on was that his adorable long ears that made him who he was created a huge challenge. When we walked him on the street he would step on his ears and they would bleed. We were frantic as we did not know what to do. Someone finally told us about a "snood". That day we ordered a few on line. They were the answer. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Luca because of his snood. How many times do you see a dog wearing a hat. He didn't mind wearing it. Of course everyone who saw him commented on his snood, but that made Luca the hit of the neighborhood.

Once Luca was allowed outside, we hired a dog walker, Igal. It was kind of sad that Luca could not go for walks with Kobie, Thor and John. Those walks were too long and too intense for Luca. You see early on we knew that Luca was like a special child. He walked very slowly and could not walk for long distances, so he had to have his own special walk with his own dog walker. I know that Luca was so upset when John would come to the apartment to get Kobie and he could not go, he had to wait for Igal to get him. I wonder if he ever understood that we did this for him. So everyday Luca would go for his "Walk" with Igal, which we later found out consisted of Luca going to the bathroom and walking a few feet to the nearest tree and smelling it for the 1/2 hour or just laying down. When Igal complained that Luca would not walk, we said it doesn't matter, whatever Luca wants to do is fine with us, if he wants to smell a tree for a half hour instead of walking then that is okay. Little did we know that this was a sign of what was to come. Luca basically did his own thing. We always joked that it was Luca's world and we just lived in it.

Having Luca was like having a clown in the house. He always made us laugh and he did the cutest, funniest things. The way he walked was funny, watching him run was hysterical. Just looking at him made you smile. He was 2 inches off the ground and 20 feet long, with a giant nose and really long ears. Everyone said he looked like a Disney cartoon character. He didn't look like every dog you see on the street. Every child that walked past him was drawn to him. Everyone had to stop to pet him and ask what he was all about. I never tired of that. I loved talking to people about him and he loved it. He loved everyone. He had the best disposition, kind, and always gentle. A gentle soul.

After many years of working I started my own business so I was able to be with Luca all the time. I no longer had the need for a dog walker as I was him constantly. We lived in the city and I worked in the Hamptons and he came with my everywhere. He loved the car, so driving to the Hamptons was pleasant. At the job sites, he was amazing. He was never afraid of anything, he loved all of the workers and they all loved him. He climbed up ramps, visited with architects and contractors, always stayed right by my side. Kobie on the other hand was troublesome, as he was afraid to climb up the ramp and would not come in the house, he preferred to stay outside the house and sometimes he wandered, but not Luca, always by my side.

In the years that followed Luca lost the love of his life, Kobie, who died suddenly of cancer. This was devastating for Luca, he was never the same, he grieved terribly for his lost brother. We tried everything with him to make him happy to to no avail. He stopped eating for a period of time, he wouldn't go in his beddie anymore, his behavior changed. We were so worried. We were grieving so with our sudden loss but realized that Luca was equally grieving, it was hearbreaking to watch. He was never the same after Kobie's death, he was a lost soul.

After Kobie's death, Luca developed severe separation anxiety. I think he always had it growing up as he would get very upset everytime we would leave and rush to run out the door with us, but Kobie kept him calm and and company while we were gone. However, once Kobie left us, Luca's seperation anxiety was terrible. He would become frantic when we left and howl the whole time we were gone. This tore me apart. So after Kobie's life ended ours changed as well. We revolved our whole lives around Luca. We never left him alone, he came with us everywhere. If we went out to dinner, he stayed in the car (he loved the car), but only if it was cool. If it was a hot summer night, then we would stay home and eat dinner at home. If we went shopping, then he came with us. All the store owners loved him so he was welcome everywhere. He even went shopping at Bloomingdales. If we needed to be gone then we would either drop him off at my Parents house or we would hire a Pet Sitter. Our whole lives revolved around Luca. We catered to him, we babied him, we loved him.

One year went by and we finally decided to get another dog, Eli, a big, goofy black Labrador Retreiver. Gail did not want him at first, I think she thought I was trying to replace her Kobie, but selfishly I wanted another dog to make Luca happy again. I wasn't even sure I wanted another dog but my heart bled for Luca. Luca had never been alone, his whole life he had Kobie and now he had no one. I do think he loved Gail and I, but it wasn't the same love he had for this brother. At first Luca hated Eli, we thought we had made the biggest mistake of our lives. Luca was old and Eli was filled with energy. Eli would chase Luca all over the apartment and then Luca would go to attack him. We had to put Luca up on the bed to separate the two. It was a month of misery and doubting ourselves that we had made a terrible mistake. I wished many times I could return Eli, even though I would never do that. It took some time for Eli to relax and for Luca to accept his new brother. In a few months time I think Luca even learned to love Eli. The love was not as strong as he had for Kobie, but he definitely loved him. Luca was the boss and Eli knew it. Luca was quick to put Eli in his place, sometimes that could mean a quick, swift attack or a biting of an ear. I was glad that as old as Papa was that he was still able to keep his alpa status. It would have killed me if Eli had become the alpa. Luca made all of the decisions as he did with us and Eli followed.

When we ended the business in the Hamptons, we decided to have a permanent place that we could call home. No more moving from house to house. Of course the entire house search was based on Luca and his special needs, as Luca had very bad arthritis. There were many houses that we loved but decided not to buy because they had too many steps for Luca. Our Broker thought we were insane, she finally asked "are you buying the house for you or your dog?". Of course the answer was the house we are buying is for Luca. We finally found a house, all one level, huge yard that we knew Luca would love and would be his forever home. Unfortunately, the forever home lasted only a year.

Over the years we had many medical problems with Luca. One day he was stung by a bunch of bees and went into anaphalactic shock, another day we had to rush him to the Animal Medical Center for Bloat, another time he had a severe allergic reaction to a new drug that we put him on for his allergies and he was in the hospital for two weeks, another day we removed an 8 pound benign tumor from his side, another day he developed torsion and was rushed to the emergency vet for emergency surgery. He also developed severe arthritis in his elder years which made walking very difficult for him. One of our Landscapers called Luca a "soldier". Towards the end Luca developed a hematoma on his spleen and had to have it removed as it ruptured. Unfortunately as he was trying to recover from that, his Cushings disease became out of control and he developed Pancreatitis. Although he was a soldier for most of his life, he could no longer fight this battle. This would be his demise.

All of our money went to the care of Luca over the years. We gave up so much of we wanted to ensure that Luca was okay. We sacrificed many things in life that we wanted in order to take care of Luca. Money was never an issue in any decision we made, we only cared that we could make him better. We never asked how much a procedure or surgery would cost, we only asked if this was the right decision and if he would be okay.

Every battle that Luca fought and some very tough, we questioned in the later years, was this the time. Was Luca suffering? Was Luca in pain? Were we doing the right thing by him? Were we keeping him alive selfishly for us? Every time we questioned ourselves, the same answer came to us; as long as his spirit was still there then we would continue to move on. It all came down to his spirit, because his was so strong on even the worst days. The day we decided to let him go, we knew his spirit had left. I looked and looked for it, so that I did not have to make that difficult decision, but I could not find it. His spirit had finally left and all that was left was terrible pain and suffering. He looked deep into our eyes and let us know that it was time.

The day before Luca died we left the Vet and walked aimlessly through the streets of the city. We were so devastated over our little Luckie, knowing that it was just a matter of time. We walked and walked, deep in our own thoughts, not saying a word to one another. We could have walked down any street or any avenue, but we chose this route for some reason. While walking I saw a Basset Hound in the distance. When he got closer we saw that the Basset was being walked with a Yellow Lab. We could not believe our eyes. It was just like seeing Kobie and Luca back in the day. We asked the man about them, he was the dog walker, and said they lived in the same building and were the best of friends and loved each other. Later that day we could not get that interaction out of our heads. Over and over I thought what is the chance that I would see a Yellow Lab and a Basset Hound being walked together and at the same time that we had just left Luca in the hospital. I thought about this all night long. The other suprising thing is that Bassets are not very common in the city, you almost never see them. Over and over I thought about this and later realized that this was a sign from God; the Dog Walker was my Father (who passed away two years ago) and the two dogs were Kobie and Luca. My Father loved these dogs. He loved when we came to visit. Before he would say hello to us, he would get down on the floor and play with Kobie and Luca. This sign from God was my Father was beginning the journey to Rainbow Bridge. He came down from heaven with Kobie to get Luca. I never thought about signs and their significance, but I do believe now. It was time for Luca to leave us and head up to heaven with my Father and Kobie. My baby was slipping away and leaving us.

I wish I could say that he went peacefully, that he fell asleep and never woke up, however that is not what happened. Luca got very, very sick. We prayed everyday that he would just go to sleep, we told him many times that it was okay that he leave us and go find Daddy and Kobie, but he would not go. Finally the decision came that we dreaded we would have to euthanize him. It was a decision we never wanted to make, but he gave us no choice. We could no longer see our precious baby in the pain he was in. We held him in our arms as his life passed, the whole time Gail telling him to find Daddy and Kobie. The days that followed were the worst days of my life. I compared the death of Luca to the death of my Father. In some ways Luca felt worse. Everything I did was for Luca and now he was gone.

Goodbye Luca, Goodbye Luckie, Goodbye Smelvin, Goodbye Papa, Goodbye my love.I hope and I pray that you have found Kobie. I hope and pray that you are no longer in pain. I hope and pray that you are no longer old. I hope and pray that you no longer have arthritis. I hope and pray that you can take long walks. I hope and pray that you have found Daddy so that he can give you tickles under your arm. I hope and pray that you remember the love that we had for you and I hope and pray that you will never forget us for we will never forget you. You will be in my heart and my memories forever. My last hope and pray is that when it is time for me to pass that you are nearby and I can hold you in my arms forever.

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