My Lucciano

{ Written in August 2013 } It is with a very very heavy heart that I have had to let my Lucciano go. I hope that by doing so, he can move on and go on to his next adventure.

Although he is a very bad vegan, he was a wonderful companion, friend, pack leader (let's get real-- he was the boss of everyone), and has such a big and special place in my heart.  

I hope he knows that there are people who love him so very much and will always miss him and never forget how he has touched us.  

Here is our story of how we met, all the wonderful times we shared together, and all that he has taught me.

Lucci at the park

Do you know the story of how Lucciano came to be a part-- or more like the boss-- of our family?  My mom and I had been volunteering at The Lange Foundation for several months and she would always walk Lucciano because he went at a nice pace.  One day when she was taking him back, she said he stopped and walked towards the line of parked cars by the sidewalk.  He took her over there then she knelt down next to him and he put his head on her lap.

"He wants to come home with us!" is what my mom said.

After she said that, the thought of NOT taking him home with us did not exist!

I don't know what Lucciano was like before Lange rescued him from the South LA Shelter, but from his mug shot, it didn't look like he was taken care of or paid much attention to.  He was an owner surrender and if there's anything his previous owner did right, it was to send Lucciano our way.

Elena from Lange bailed him out on May 16, 2008.

Lucci at the shelter

{This is Lucciano's mugshot from when Lange first rescued him from South LA.  He obviously had not been groomed or well taken care of.}

 Lucci at Lange Foundation

{This is Lucciano after The Lange Foundation bailed him from a kill shelter, groomed him, took him to the vet, and got him ready to be adopted!  Look at how handsome he is :) }

I remember when he first came to Lange and which kennel he was in and our first walk around the block with Lucci.  He was quiet and calm and then towards the end of the walk he barked at bush. From then on, each time we went to Lange we would make sure to walk him and hang out with him.

 Lucci taking a break during a walk

 {Walking Lucciano at Lange, before we adopted him}

Walking Lucci at Lange

{My mom spending time with Lucci.  Can you see his 2 adorable little teeth?}
 We adopted Lucciano on October 30, 2008.

We knew he was an older gentleman (maybe between 8 and 10?) and probably wouldn't live as long as a younger dog, but we thought we could give him a good home he could spend the rest of his life in.

(Way later after we adopted Lucci, Elena told me that everyone at the shelter she pulled him from had said he was "the devil dog" except for one volunteer who said he was a sweetheart.  He bit a few folks at Lange, including Rachel the first day he got there and Jose when he tried to pill him.)

The day I went to go pick him up to take him home, he didn't want to leave because he smelled food at the kennel.  He yelped, cried, whined, and walked all over me the entire ride home (this was how we learned he didn't like car rides).  We walked him around the block and he barked at our neighbor's cardboard Halloween cat decoration.  He claimed his spot in the living room, which was on the black chair.  At bedtime, he refused to sleep in his bed and jumped on my bed...I put him back in his bed.  He jumped back up.  I put him down again.  He jumped back up!  That night was the first night of many nights that he slept by my side.

Lucci's first meal

{Lucci's first meal}

Lucci on the couch

{He jumped right on this chair like he was saying, "Yup, this chair will do, thank you very much."}

Lucci sleeping next to my bed

{This is a messy photo of our room and where we slept.  Lucci's house was next to my bed and he loved my furry leopard blanket so I gave that to him.  I would make his space nice and cozy every night!  That orange thing was his toy :)}

It's hard to describe Lucciano in words because he has such character!  My brother's friend calls him "The Boss" and that's what he is-- the boss of everyone who he has met who is either captured by his fluffiness, taken with his charm, or had the fear of his bite instilled in them.  He also knew how to get what he wanted and threw temper tantrums.  Please refer to this video and see photo below, where he is caught in mid tantrum!  Most of the time he threw temper tantrums at my dad, who was eating some kind of chicken or fish he wanted.  I used to get mad at my dad for feeding him all this stuff I told him not to, but now I am glad he did and that Lucci got to do what he loved, which was eat!

Lucci throwing a temper tantrum

{Throwing a temper tantrum}

Lucci asking for scratchies

{Being his adorable self, lifting his arm when he saw us walking by, which was his way of demanding a belly rub}

When we spent time with Lucci at Lange, he was always a nice walker, barked only that one time at the bush, and would love belly rubs.  We didn't know he would be as feisty as he is.  Not too long after we adopted him, after a walk on a rainy day, my mom decided to wipe his feet.  We did not realize he was sensitive to people touching his paws and he got her good.

Lucci bit my mom

{This photo doesn't capture how bad it really was but my mom's fingers were swollen for weeks.  The funny thing about this picture to me, is Lucci in the background}

But there was no way we could send him back!  Things happen!  We were still getting to know each other.

Since then he has successfully bitten 12 people to my knowledge, and probably tried a lot more.  But you know what?  It was because he was scared and afraid we were going to hurt him.  Somehow, he had learned to associate being touched or handled with something negative.  We all tried very hard to show him that people can be good.  And we loved him and have grown to understand him.

I have to say, it was scary each time he bit because there was no warning growl, only a CRAZY noise he'd make as he bit you!  I seriously considered sending in a tape to The Dog Whisperer many times.  Then after he tried to bite me was another scary time because the next time I would have to groom him or do something to him, I wasn't sure if he'd strike again.  But we got through it and these past few years he has let me pet him, groom him, cut his hair, clip his nails, and clean his ears (mostly while he is sleeping).

Lucciano has taught me so much.

Lucci enjoying the breeze

{Enjoying the breeze and sniffing the air}

Did you know there was a point in my life where I didn't understand when people called themselves "mom" to their dogs or why they spent tons of money on them and babied them?  Lucciano taught me, it's ok to be like that, I will still like you, won't make fun of you, put up with it, and maybe even like it a little bit.  He was the first anything that I felt like I needed to call "My Love" because he really is.

He has taught me about trust and earning it, loyalty (he had pretty bad separation anxiety but when he got better, he would just wait for me by my door to come home from school or work), laughter (why is he so funny and cute??), patience, creativity (any time we had to give him medication we had to figure out a way to do it without him noticing), friendship, and most importantly love-- the unconditional kind.

Lucci waiting for me to come home

Lucci jumping at the door

{Lucci waiting for me at the door and jumping when I came home.}

At the park with Lucci

{Friendship + Unconditional Love.  PS: This was at the beach where he looked up at the sky and barked at EVERY SINGLE seagull!  A classic Lucci move}

The love we receive from our furry family members is not something you can really describe, but anyone who has experienced it knows how special it is.  I have never felt anything like this before in my life.

He has taught me how to care for another living being.

He has taught me great empathy.  When he was happy, I was happy.  When he hurt, I hurt.  When he cried, I probably cried harder.  I remember hearing his whining as the vet brought him out from his first dental and I burst into tears like a crazy person in the lobby.  (They were very very nice about it and assured me he was not feeling any pain at all, just woozy from being knocked out.)

He taught me that when you care and love someone or something, it doesn't matter how tired you are, how upset you are, or how busy you are, you make the time and effort for them and in the end you always know that that was the right decision to make and that was where you needed to be.

And in his most recent lesson, he has taught me about life, death, and letting go.

I will always remember all the ups and downs we had, but especially the many very sweet moments we shared-- like when every morning, we would run from my room to the couch and he would jump into my lap and we would snuggle under the covers for a few minutes before we had to get ready for the day.  I remember I could just hear him breathing snuggled next to me and it was such a funny and loving moment.

Another thing I loved was if he was at the other end of the room, I would kneel down and pat my hands on the floor and he would run to me-- I would always say "Penguin!" when he did this because it reminded me of a penguin for some reason and it always made me laugh.  I loved seeing his adorable face bounding towards me.

Lucci's first Christmas Card

{That face!  This was Lucci's first Christmas card.  We have the most amazing groomer that worked with him and made him so clean and cute!}

Lucci also did this funny thing where he would bite his stuffed dog and whine and not let go!  We called him his baby and eventually we took it away from him because we weren't sure if he was sad or upset but he would just have it in his mouth and whine the whole time!  Anyone out there know the meaning of this??

Lucci biting his toy

{Lucci and his stuffed dog...falling asleep with him in his mouth!}

Besides eating he LOVED to sleep.  He always found the funniest spots, in between chair legs, on my mom's shoes, in the middle of the floor so people would have to walk around or over him, Valentine's bed that was too small for him, etc.  He also did this funny thing where he would lift his head up to look for me-- when I saw him do this I would say, "I'm here booboo!" and he would literally drop his head back down on the floor with a thud!  I was always afraid he'd hurt his head this way, but good thing he didn't.  We'd joke he was like a football player because if he wanted to get into a room and there was a crack in the door or something blocking his way, he would just ram right through it!

Lucci sleeping on the pilates machine lol

 {Sleeping on the pilates machine lol}

He was an only child for the first few years we had him.  Then I found Valentine. Then Bernard joined the gang.  They've all had their share of ups and downs too, but eventually had a mutual understanding and love.

Val and Lucci

Bernard and Lucci

Bernard Lucci Val

{Bernard our littlest one, Valentine my Baby Girl, and Lucci our Booboo :)}

In these past few weeks, our relationship has elevated to another level.  In these hard times, Lucci allowed me to take care of him and do what we could to keep him going.  He fought like the tough guy he is, but in the end, it was just time.  We all grow old and this shell we live in just cannot support us for forever.  Just like he has always been by my side, this time I was by his side.  The past few weeks I have tried to be with him every moment I could.  He slept by my side.  I brushed him constantly because I know he liked that.  I massaged his tired body.  Anything I could do next to him- work, emails, etc. I did.  Every second I have had with him, whether hard or easy, heavy or light, is something I will always treasure and keep with me.

I think anyone who has lost someone goes through in their mind all the things they could have done or should have done.  For me, I wish I had taken him on more walks when he could go, more trips to the park, and that I was able to give him all the foods he loved before he lost his appetite.  It never really occurred to me that in the end, he would not be able to do what he loved to do most.  But on a few of his good days, he actually did gobble down two of his favorite foods and I was so happy to just watch him eat.

Everyone who loved him did the best we could for him, and I hope he knows how special and important he is to us.  I truly hope that we have made him happy during his time with us, because he certainly has filled my heart with so many smiles, with life, and with tremendous amounts of purpose and joy.

I don't know what happens to us after we leave this Earth, but I feel in my heart it is a much better place without any suffering or pain.  I hope Lucciano is free from all the ailments of his old body- that he no longer has arthritis and he can walk and run again; that the sunlight no longer hurts his eyes and he can see perfectly; that he has the energy to bark at all the birds in the sky and roll around in the grass; that his big appetite has returned and he can eat whatever his heart desires; that he feels happy, loved, and content.

I think if Lucci could talk to us he would tell us not to be sad and to go eat chicken because that always made him feel better (I don't think he ever understood the concept of veganism).  He would say that his body is old but his spirit is strong and as feisty as ever, and the only way his spirit can be free is to leave his body behind because he no longer needs it.  That he will always be my little shadow.

He has changed my life in more ways than he will ever know.  I am so grateful he has been a part of my life.  I miss him very much and love him very much.  He will forever be in my heart.

 Walking with Lucci

{Going for a walk with my handsome boy!}

Lucci rolling in the grass

{Rolling in the grass was a favorite activity of his}

Lucci running!

{Full speed ahead!  I love how happy he looks and how cute his round little tummy is :)}

Lucci dozing in the sun

{Caught Lucci dozing off in the grass in the backyard :)}

Running to me <3

{It melted my heart to see him running to me!} 

Lucci with my mom and Val

{With my mom and Valentine}

Lucci with Connie

{Meeting Connie for the first time!}

Lucci under a towel

{His first bath-- he tried to attack the blow drier so we used a towel instead lol}

Lucci in my lap

{He was a toughie on the outside and a softie on the inside!}

Lucci's hippie hair

{His hippie stage-- this picture always cracks me up!}

Looking at Lucci

{True Love}

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