“Lucy! No!” Her scream echoes across the street as I run into the road. The car about to attack Lizzie is coming straight for us and I have to protect her. I crouch down in front of the monster and stare it down as she runs after me. A leash with my broken collar dangles from her hand.
The car monster stops right in front of me, as I expected it to, and a man steps out. “Are you all right, Miss? Thank God I heard you in time to stop.” He walks towards us, wringing his hands, wide-eyed and smelling frightened, just like Lizzie.
I don’t understand why she cries. The scent of her tears mixes with that of the rain. “It’s OK, Lizzie. I protected you.” I place my paws on her leg, trying to comfort her.
“Come on, Lucy. Let’s go home.” She picks me up and starts to walk back to my new home. I wiggle and fidget, trying to get back down. How can I protect her when she carries me? “No, Lucy-Girl. I’m not taking any more chances with you today.”
Lizzie is my new human. I love her but she is strange. She asks me to do things but I don’t know how. I want to, though.
Today was our first walk together. I didn’t know what a walk was. We went out into the world but it’s strange and scary. At least I protected Lizzie today.
I loved my first human, but she didn’t understand me. She never went on walks with me. We always stayed at home where it was safe. She brought me to Lizzie’s house and left me there. I was scared at first, but Lizzie is nice. She always has treats.
Lizzie opens my crate and lets me out of the car, but this is a new place. There are so many scents here. It’s scary. I smell pee and dog and more dog. Humans, cars. And there are treats everywhere. It’s just too much! I pull back on the leash, curl my tail against my belly and crouch down, whimpering. “Please let me go back in the car. I’ll wait for you there…”
“It’s no use, Liz. She doesn’t want to go.” The human I have to share Lizzie with came along today. He never has treats. He smells annoyed as he wrinkles his forehead at us.
She wants to take me closer to where many dogs run and play. They look like they’re having fun, but it’s too scary, too new here. I drop to my belly and quiver when she tries to get me to walk. My new collar wraps around my chest, so I can’t pull free.
She picks me up and carries me into the swarm of dogs.
He makes a noisy breath. “You’re not doing her any favours by spoiling her like that, you know.”
The strange smells are everywhere. “Let go of me, Lizzie, I’ll organise these animals for you.” I can do this. Herding things makes it less scary.
“Ssshh, Lucy. Pay attention.” Lizzie looks down at me and tries to distract me but I need to pay attention. The herd will get away if I don’t. I try my best to ignore her, I really do, but I’m so hungry. And she has treats… No! Have to pay attention. Watch the herd. Focus. Can’t let them get away.
A woman walks up to us and she smiles. I look at her from behind Lizzie’s legs. She smells like treats and toys and grass but she’s still a stranger. I duck when the woman leans over me and touches my head. Scary.
Lizzie’s man makes another noisy breath, but she looks at him and he stops.
Lizzie hands him my leash. “Could you hold her for me? I’ll be right back but I really need to pee.”
“Lizzie!” Oh no! She’s going away! I try to follow but the leash is too short. “Don’t leave me! Lizzie!” What is she doing!? “Lizzie, don’t go! Please come back! Lizzie!”
He pulls me back. “Sshh. She’ll be right back. Just stop it.”
“Lizzie!” I drop to my belly, quivering. “Please come back!” I pull back, trying to free myself but he’s too strong.
There she is. Oh, my Lizzie is back. She didn’t leave me like my other human. “Please don’t leave me again, Lizzie.” I sit on her foot and lean against her leg so she can’t get away.
She crouches down and hugs me. “It’s OK, Lucy-girl. I’m here. I always come back, you know.”
“That is the dumbest Border Collie I’ve ever seen.” Lizzie’s man wrinkles his forehead at me again as he talks to Lizzie. I don’t like him and I don’t think he likes me. He never plays with me. I step back, crouching behind Lizzie and keeping my eyes on the herd for her.
“That’s not fair. She’s not dumb. How well would you have gotten along in life without anyone to teach you to wipe your ass? She was not taught a single thing for three damn years and it’s not her fault.” Lizzie smells angry. Her shoulders are tight and her hands grip my leash so tightly it pulls at my collar.
Did I do something wrong? I sit next to her, lean into her leg and lick her hand. Please don’t be mad at me.
She looks down at me and her smile comes back. “Oh Lucy-Girl, it’s OK, sweetie. I’m not mad at you.”
Love you, Lizzie.
Lizzie takes me out of the car and I’ve never been here. I don’t like new. It’s scary. I put my nose in the air, trying to find out what kind of place this is. I smell trees and field and pee.
Oh wow. There’s a scent… There it is! I don’t know it but I can’t resist, scared or not. I smell wool and poop. I hear bleating noises. From many, many animals. “Let’s go, let’s go.” Lizzie doesn’t know the way so I show her.
I run forward as far as the leash will let me. Lizzie stays behind so I circle around her and give her a nudge in the right direction. She turns to face me. “Lucy, No!”
I run ahead again, towards the smell and Lizzie finally follows. We need to go faster, faster.
Lizzie and I watch the bleating animals. My leash is still in her hand but I have to go. Have to get behind them. Bring them to my Lizzie. “Let me go!”
The smells of the herd pull at me but she holds me back. “Ssshhh, Lucy. You’ll spook the sheep. We need to wait for our turn.”
The other dogs leave the field and we are finally doing something I understand. We walk towards the sheep but I’m still on the leash. “Let me go.” I know this. I have to get them. Bring them to my Lizzie. She lets me go and I run. They fly away from me in every direction and I want to bring them back but I don’t know where to look first. I look back at Lizzie. She’ll tell me what to do.
Is she… Why is she crying? I run back to her.
“Oh Lucy, I’m sorry. I really thought this would be good for you. I don’t know what to do anymore…” Her tears smell salty as they run down her cheeks.
I lick her hand. Please don’t be sad. I’ll try harder.
I wake up and it’s dark. Something is wrong. Should I warn Lizzie and her human? They’re sleeping. They won’t like it if I wake them up in the dark.
I get out of my bed and check the house. I walk past the street door and I hear something… Something is very wrong. We need to go see!
“Lizzie! Wake up!” There’s something outside. We have to go see.
“Sshh, Lucy. Go back to sleep.” Lizzie’s voice sounds muffled and she turns over. Her man puts his arm over her. I smell him. He smells like Lizzie and something else. She curls up against him and pulls the blanket over her shoulders.
I grab the blanket between my teeth and pull it off them. They need to come. “Come on!”
“Fuck, Liz! Shut that dog up.” He smells angry.
“Sorry. Ssshh honey, it’s OK, go to sleep.” She turns back to me, stroking my head.
“No it’s not.” She needs to get up. “Let’s go!”
“She probably needs to go out.” Lizzie rolls onto her back and rubs at her eyes. Are they hurting?
“Yes! Go out! Let’s go go go!”
Lizzie walks downstairs and heads to the yard door. The safe one. “Wrong way! This way, this way!” I take her hand in my mouth and pull her the other way. To the street door. The scary door. “Let’s go!”
She looks confused. “Lucy, what are you doing?”
I jump up against the scary door, but it won’t open for me. “Open it!”
She follows me and opens the door to look outside. I run past her, into the street where so many monsters are, but we have to go. No time to be scared. There is a car-monster but it’s sleeping. Next to it, a man is lying on the ground. “Look, Lizzie! A man! A man!” Is he sleeping too? He’s not making any sleepy sounds. “Wake up, Mister! Wake up! It’s too cold to lie on the ground!”
“Oh God.” Lizzie takes three large steps inside and calls up to her man. “James! Call an ambulance! There’s a man lying in the street!”
She runs back to me and the man. She rolls him over and puts her head against his mouth. Is he whispering to her? I don’t hear anything. Maybe he’s not sleeping. She puts her ear to his chest. “Good girl, Lucy. You did good.”
I did good? “Yay!” She starts pushing his chest and I hop around. “Come see! Come see! I did good!” I keep calling out and more doors open. More people come out, smelling sleepy.
A loud whining noise comes and hurts my ears so I go back to our house to wait for Lizzie. She’ll come when she’s done helping the sleepy man.
Lizzie’s man walks over and stands next to me as flashing lights turn the darkness into a strange almost-day. His hand strokes my head and I look up at him. “Good girl, Lucy.” He smiles at me. I smile back.
People walk over to Lizzie and the man and they start pushing his chest too.
Lizzie talks to some of them before walking to us, her eyes full of tears again. Oh no, did I do it wrong again? Why is she crying? I jump up at her and she hugs me. “Oh honey, you did so good. You saved that man’s life.”
Her man hugs Lizzie and me. I finally did good.
This story is very different from my other rainbow stories. Lucy, too, is a rescue. However, her tale is not that of a dog loved too little but of a dog loved too much. When she appeared to be frightened by the outside world, her owner allowed her to avoid her fears and allowed them to grow stronger and stronger. While it is not exactly abuse, a dog, especially a high energy working dog like Lucy would not thrive in such an environment.
She shows us her true mettle though, by facing her fears in the end, when it truly matters.
This story, too, is based on a real-life acquaintance with a dog. My very own Lucie (yes, that’s us in the photo, right after we ran our very first clear round at an agility trial) has a very similar story. She doesn’t cope with life the way other dogs do, because she never learned. She never will now. It’s too late. But with help, she’s overcome a lot of the circumstances holding her back.
And we love her enough to make up for the rest.
Dear reader, as always, Lucie and I would like to thank you for sharing this with us.