It was 18th May, 2005. I was leaving Antonis Tritsis Park offices in Ilion. It was then when I first noticed you, resting by the feet of a lady who was sitting on a chair. You were a little white (ex white) tiny creature, your right eye almost hanging out, a collar round your neck, begging for some attention. Skinny, filthy, close-cut haired and unbelievably miserable. I opened a tap and offered you water with the hose. You drunk with lust even though you weren’t quite keen to come close. You barely let me touch you, pet you. You were so afraid! I looked at you in agony. I didn’t know what to do for you. Should I take you home? I suspected problems from everybody else. Should I leave you there? Surely, out there… you couldn’t make it… I kept on petting you, doubtful you were on me… As I searched with my hands I discovered two small lumps on your belly. And that was when I took my decision. You can’t stay out here. I’ll take you in my arms, I’ll get you to a doctor and God knows what is going to happen when we get home. I asked you to follow me and you did… I opened the car’s door and easily you jumped in. You turned and looked at the park, by the back window, as we left, as if you were saying good bye. Your anxiety though could not be hidden. Who was I? Where was I taking you, what was I going to do to you.
A short while later we were at a familiar to me veterinary. She cleaned you eye, searched you for microchips – you didn’t have one – and estimated that you are 6-8 years old. Abandoned? Lost? Who knows… Maybe you ran away because you weren’t treated right, maybe they’d lost you, maybe they took you for a haircut discovered the lumps and left you!…
We left the veterinary and finally got home. My daughter stood up to smell you. You were so afraid. You drunk water and tried to run away. It wasn’t until much later that you finally went to your bed, exhausted. In the meantime I was attacked by all family. “More dogs? One is not enough? For God’s sake”. “She is lost!” I said. “I’ll search for her family and I’ll find it…” I said hopefully.
The next day I had great news; after many months of rough time and troubles my first book was finally published. I thought you brought me luck and that’s why I said I’ll call you ‘Lucky’.
Then I started searching. I phoned all veterinaries of the district were I had found you. I posted ad to the newspapers and hanged posters around. Your family wasn’t found. Only some gentleman asked for you. He wanted to use you for breeding with his male. I refused. I couldn’t stand the thought of it. Besides, we had already visited a second veterinary to find out what these lumps might be. The diagnosis was disappointing. “It looks like breast cancer. It needs surgery and biopsy”. “How much will it cost doctor?” “5,000 euro…” Of course I didn’t have that kind of money and neither had I believed anyone was going to give that money for you, should anyone have wanted to take you.
I decided to keep you forever, besides, the whole family had fallen in love with you by now and nobody could say no to you for any reason. Nor anybody wanted to chide you. Even when you looked angry on you sister and wanted to steel her food or when you wept because you were left alone in the house, with nobody around you.
And that’s where this race began, from doctor to doctor! Surely each of them asked whatever they could think of… 3,000 euro, 1,500 euro and so on… After a lot of adventure we ended up somewhere in Perama. That doctor operated you for only 150 euro and removed both lumps. She was absolutely positive that your problem would end up here. Nevertheless, one month later the lumps appeared. New race from doctor to doctor. “Wrong treatment. Total mastectomy and sterilization is required” said most of them. Only, the money they asked could not be afforded. So we ended up in the Animal Welfare Institute. I spent my last 100 euro for the sterilization procedure to stop hormones from being reproduced. We hoped to stop the lumps from growing. You recovered too quickly but my hope was in vain… Another surgery was needed. A friend of mine suggested Mrs. Tziaki Martha. I took you there and she accepted to proceed to surgery for only 300 euro. Plus 50 for the biopsy.
Throughout the surgery I was waiting outside. I held the Beseeching Canon to Mother Mary and prayed. Such a little creature… harmless… defenseless. Please help me Mother. And she helped! The surgery had succeeded! Despite your suffering you came out walking – head up! The first night was a difficult one. We did not sleep. Yet you made a quick recovery. But, when I took the biopsy results I was terrified: “Among the worst kinds of metastatic cancer”. To reduce the risk of metastasis (unless it had already occurred) I had to take you to the surgery once again, the soonest. I wasn’t going to listen to that … After three times of anesthesia your heart developed signs of insufficiency. I decided that we had to stay away from that as long as we could. Once again I began searching for doctors and therapies. I ended up to Mrs. Loukaki Ekaterini, veterinary – homoeopath. Perhaps, this kind of therapy was going to help you.
And it did! You body responded to homoeopathy. Very soon you were back to your gamesome character and always ready for love and affection, as before. You climbed up and down chairs and beds and sofas so easily. And I was happy to see you wag your tail and giving me kisses. I remember every time when I got back home, I called your names, yours and your sister’s. You rushed out to the balcony, looked down at the street and ran around the house in madness to announce my coming. I remember getting in the house and you two jumping in my arms. I remember sitting in the chair and you two jumping on with me. That when I yelled in anger one look from you was enough to calm me down. That when I was praying you used to come beside me lie down and roll over showing me your belly with you legs. Once I blessed you making a cross on you, you licked my hands so pleased and sat there watching me until I finish. I remember you nudging me again and again to give you some of my food. That I took you in my arms to sleep together. That I dressed you at winter time to go for a stroll and you walked so proud in your tiny clothes. That I took you for a haircut and you were so happy. How can I forget when we went for swimming, and thinking that I was drowning, you rushed into the sea to try to pull me out and save me. So many things I have from you to remember. The happiest moments of my entire life!
Long time passed. You were always strong and healthy. You reached 13 kilos of weight and the doctor recommended a strict diet. Another two lumps appeared on the left side of your breast but remained so small that there was no need to operate. Neither caused you any pain at all.
Yet, as the years go by old age comes. Unfortunately this never comes alone. You developed renal insufficiency. Here we are now, ‘Athens Animal Hospital’ with a drip put on! I left you there alone just for one day. I had to be away. I came the next day. “She won’t eat” the told me “and kidney indexes are far too high”. I yelled “Luckyyy” and you jumped up in your cage. I took you in my arms; put the drip in my underarm lifted your food and water plates and went to sit on a chair, outside, you and me together. I wrapped you in a blanket and tried to give you some food. I kept trying and although you had no appetite at all you ate some. You didn’t want to refuse this to me. Three days later the kidney function indexes fell far below normal. Mr. Kontos who responded to the phone calls of Mrs. Loukaki allowed me to take you home. His exact words were “There is nothing more to be done here by us in terms of medication”. She will be better in her house with her family. Besides she can’t stay here anymore herself…” and indeed when we got home you began feeling better. Despite the drip we put on every two days you were eating again and walking at a normal basis. We started going out again and playing silly games.
Until that afternoon when I had to go out for a couple of hours. Unfortunately you escaped everybody’s attention and, skinny and blind as you were, stepped through the rails of the balcony and fell from two storeys up! Broken pelvis!… ‘Attikon Hospital’ once again. This time I knew… the end was coming. I saw it coming… and stood there frozen. You held on for ten days. Ten days full of agony, which you didn’t deserve. Until that morning on the 22ndFebruary of 2011, 9:30 exactly, you slept and your soul rested in peace.
My child, today it is one year since you left my arms to travel into God’s arms. Not a day has passed that I did not think of you that I did not cry for you, that I did not pray to God to have you by his feet keeping him company. On that sinister day, when we took you for your long travel, your sister sat behind the door and wept. Since then every time she sees little white dogs she runs close in happiness. But when she understands it isn’t you turns in grief and leaves…
My little girl, my child, blessing of my misery and remedy of my pains. I pray to God every day to let me see you and hug you once more. To hold you in my arms and touch you and pet you just one last time. Remember what I kept telling you when I had you in my arms? “How much does Lucky’s father love her? She loves her from the earth to the sky, around the earth and back again. Why Lucky’s father loves her that much? Because she is his girl, she is his child, she is his love, she is his life, she is his star, she is his soul”. That is how much I loved you and this is how much I am going to love you through my entire life… I know you can see me from where you are and you can hear me and you care about me. If I could only see you!…
My child, I want to apologize for that afternoon, because I left, and I want to say thank you for everything we did together. For all precious moments you gave me. For all your hearty love you showed me. For everything you offered me without ever asking for anything. I want to thank you for simply being in my life. My daughter, fare well!
P.S. I would like to acknowledge:
o Mrs. Tziaki Martha for performing successful mastectomy in special price,
o Mrs. Loukaki Ekaterini for the years of services, the homoeopathy therapy she offered you and the unreserved attention and support not only at the time you were in hospital but in every moment of your life,
o All friends and acquaintances for they support during those days…
In December 2013, Lucky participated in the Photo of the Year competition, of the Stray Animal Stories page on Facebook. On 31st of Dec. in the evening was announced her victory, a victory that rejoiced both her and her entire family. On this occasion both she and her father wrote a few more words.
Lucky wishes to thank all voters and equally share her prize to all her competitors. She explicitly declared to me that in this voting there are no defeaters and no defeated. Only sweet muzzles, she says, who posed expressively to the lens and showed to all people how sweet and joyful is for someone to live with a four legged animal. For this reason, she kindly asks the competition organizer to try and find a way so that the prize goes to all competitors, one by one! Finally she wishes a Happy New Year, Health, Prosperity and a Year Full of Love, to everyone!
I, myself, wish to make a comment, at this point. Lucky, my own Lucky, is not my child only. She is not just the companion of many years. She is something more. She is the dog that somebody had left alone in the street. She is the ill and beaten dog that others got past showing abundant disinterest. She is the dog that somebody found and fought for, attended, did everything he could and understood and, tried to heal until the last moment. She is the dog that offered, in its turn, all her love, care and devotion to her new family.
Lucky is a symbol. Lucky is the dog that, right now, is out in the street, outside our house, suffering. It is the dog that needs help, hiding every night and crying while sleeping. It is the hungry, thirsty dog that so many shoo and even more do not bother for. It is the dog that cries out for help. And finally, it is the dog that will make everything to make its new parent happy. Lucky is out there, next to us, in front of us, behind us, in our neighborhood, in our stroll.
We got through many things, Lucky and me. Rough times as well. But I will not change any of them. Because our course was one and only. And if I gave one, I was given one hundred. To be honest, I was given as many as words cannot describe. I do not wish, nor can I say something more. You see, memories come up in my mind endlessly and I get so emotional. Just one thing: Please open your eyes and heart. Reach out and nurse a little animal from the street. It doesn’t matter if it’s ill, scabbed, one eyed, lame, blind or with cancer. You will save its life but, in its turn, it will save yours…
From the bottom of my heart
Thanks to everyone