From Session to Session

Therapy Take-Aways to Practice in Your Life

Remembering Lucy – Life Lessons from a Beloved Therapy Dog


As I grieve the loss of my dear Lucy, I thought it might be helpful to write about how 15 pounds of Pure Love changed my life. Lucy was a very special dog. She taught me many things about myself and inspired me to be a better person. And as a therapy dog in my counselling practice she helped change other people’s lives too.

These are Lucy’s special lessons that I will remember:


Approach Life with Curious Eyes and an Open Heart

Lucy woke up every morning with big brown curious eyes that seemed to say, “What’s happening?” She made me smile just to look at her. Even when I wasn’t in the mood, she made me go outside and check out what was going on.  If she heard kids playing or a baby crying, she immediately wanted to get involved. She was patient and loving with everyone regardless of age, ability or circumstance. She was a role model for all of us.

At work, Lucy was the “greeter” and the “comfort spaniel”. She provided a welcome and warmth that went beyond my skills as a therapist. She could be fast asleep during a counselling session but if someone became emotional or teary, she would immediately wake up and move toward them. She had an uncanny sense of knowing what people needed. Lucy touched people deeply with her gentle nature and her loving presence.

To learn more about Lucy’s work as a therapy dog, go to my article Moments of Magic.


Count Yourself In

Before I had Lucy, I was often in my own thoughts and would walk past people barely noticing them. If I was in a hurry, sometimes it seemed people were even in my way. This became impossible as the human at the end of her leash. Lucy oozed personality and truly believed that everyone wanted to know her. She regularly approached strangers on our walks. She had this gentle way of inviting attention and connection. As Lucy’s circle of friends grew, our short walk to work became an extended pleasure of meet and greet. I suppose I was just along for the ride! I took note of her wisdom. I learned how to slow down. I met my neighbors and developed a deep sense of belonging in my beautiful neighborhood.


Live in the Present Moment – It’s all we really have

Nothing about life is permanent. Dogs really know how to teach us this one! They come into our lives; lavish us with love and attention every day and then they leave us way too soon.

Living in the present moment includes embracing our worst days in the darkest moods as well as our most beautiful experiences. We can’t hold on to what is happening in any moment – all we can do is experience it right here, right now. Knowing this gives me comfort in these early days of grieving Lucy. I know that however intense my experience of loss is, that it will shift and change in time.

And now I’m going to wipe my tears and go outside and see what’s happening…


I am very grateful to all of Lucy’s friends in the neighborhood, at work and beyond.

You were all part of helping me give Lucy a wonderful life.

Rest in peace Lucy…you will be missed.



  1. Sandra ThomsonSandra Thomson03-04-2012

    Dear Ruth – I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your sweet little doggie Lucy. I love your wise words about what she taught you. There is no stopping a dog from introducing us to other dogs and people along the path. I know you will miss her terribly. I’m thinking of you at this sad time with love and tenderness. If I had a tail, I’d wag it for you to make your smile – as I know you did every time Lucy greeted you with a wagging tail. Much love Sandy

  2. catherinecatherine03-04-2012

    Oh Ruth we are so very sorry to read of Lucy’s passing. I loved her and I know she was a huge part of your life and will be greatly missed. May she rest in peace in doggie heaven, I know she left your world a better place. We are thinking of you with sympathy at this time.

    Loe and hugs Gary Cath Amanda and Natalie XOX (and Cali and Kasha)

  3. Don and ConnieDon and Connie03-04-2012

    Ruth–we both feel for your loss, having experienced the same with the loss of our Molly just a couple of months ago. Lucy was truly part of your practise, and added a welcome dimension when we arrived to chat about complex and troublesome issues in our life–not that you weren’t welcoming, but Lucy did it in her own way!
    We love the way you keep in touch. Thanks for that.

  4. DavidDavid03-04-2012

    We had the pleasure of taking Lucy for weekends and one weekend we kept being woken by her barking which is very unusual for her. We finally realized that there was a two day old helium balloon that was floating a few feet off the floor by her crate and really upsetting her! We have many fond memories of Lucy and will miss her.

  5. BevBev03-04-2012

    I am so sorry to hear about Lucy’s death. She was a special sweet girl. I have a new 8 month-old lab puppy named Dolly. I am sending you a hug and Dolly sends a slobbery kiss.

  6. Trish R.Trish R.03-04-2012

    Dear Ruth,
    I was sad to hear of Lucy’s passing. Your tribute is beautiful and as I read it, I remembered Lucy’s warmth in instinct for giving comfort. I’m truly sorry for your loss and send you my heartfelt condolences and you grieve Lucy in deep love.

  7. CindyCindy03-04-2012

    Oh gosh Ruth. Thats a stunner. Read your email and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My heart aches for you.
    Lucy was actually the shock and bonus I felt when we first met. Though you had met my husband and he had shared with me little stories of “this dog ( and actually more about the dog than the sessions:) I wasn’t prepared for the pretty face that was to greet me the first and every other time after that.
    She always was the ice breaker as I came in sometimes in distress, sadness, grief or despair. I loved to watch her get her treat and settle in for our sessions.
    Sometimes she sat with me or with you or just on the carpet. She was my part of my journey and healing. I remember once she was not well and was at the vet and it was not the same without her.
    Ruth you are one of the most special persons I have had touch my life and I am grateful that you shared Lucy with us.

    Your Client and Friend always,


  8. JillJill03-04-2012

    Ruth, I’m so sorry to hear about Lucy. I remember when you first got her and quickly realized her gift for therapy. Just like you. So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the lessons you’ve learned through her. Jill

  9. HeatherHeather03-04-2012

    Dear Ruth,
    I have asked Ben to look for Lucy at the Rainbow Bridge…I know he will find her and look after her. They will be good friends and run with the energy and health they both once had. One day we will all be together again. With love.

  10. PamelaPamela03-04-2012

    Ruth sending a hug and deepest condolences for the loss of sweet Lucy. A pet becomes a deep part of our human family and I believe enable us to grow as people in addition to the unconditional love they give each and every day.

  11. Billy NivenBilly Niven03-04-2012

    Hi Ruth,
    On behalf of Liam, Jack and Barney my beloved slobber rocks (twin boston terrier mix brothers) we share in the loss of Lucy. I was grateful to have been a witness to the magic which exists between the two of you. I will be honored to lift my Chanupa in gratitude for the healing work that Lucy continues to perform. We will also make a spirit offering (food) for her journey to the Great Mystery may if be swift and sure. Love and Prayers, Billy

  12. TovaTova03-05-2012

    Lucy will be missed. I loved her ability to calm the fears in children. She will hold a special place for teaching B. that dogs could be safe. She was so patient, calm and gentle with him, which was so healing for him.

  13. Karen & BradKaren & Brad03-05-2012

    Ruth, we are so sorry to hear of Lucy’s passing! We share in your sadness and always looking forward to seeing her . . . Since we cannot have dogs in our apartment, we welcomed Lucy as one of our adopted dogs. We learned the news on Sunday while pet-sitting for another adopted dog Daily. Lucky for us, he was quite happy to absorb our sadness about Lucy.

    We really feel badly for you, and hope you are giving yourself time to heal. We seldom meet a dog we don’t like, but she was beloved and will be missed. Thoughts of you alway bring Lucy to mind and vice versa. So sorry you lost your team mate, daughter, best-friend . . .

    Wherever you are Lucy, have a nice play with Rover, Honey and Toby . . . until we meet again.

  14. PennyPenny03-05-2012

    Ruth, your words are heartfelt, touching and beautiful. I feel as though I knew Lucy through your heart and through your sharing. May you find support in both expected and unexpected places and recognize it and take it in – as you grieve the loss of this precious gracious curious little being, Lucy. with support – Penny

  15. Sam & SoniaSam & Sonia03-06-2012

    Hi Ruth,
    For the short time we knew Lucy, it was evident how happy and complete Lucy made you feel. Sonia and I only wish we could have known her longer. We are so sorry for your loss.

    Your new friends at the bakery Sam and Sonia

  16. MabelMabel03-07-2012

    Dear Ruth,
    I so very sorry to hear of your loss. I know Lucy was a very special dog to you and we both share in your sadness. I am sure up in puppy heaven she’s looking down on you barking “Don’t be sad it’s a new and beautiful day so you get up and see what new adventures are in store for you a step at a time and no matter what happens I will always be with you”.
    Mabel & Peter

  17. MarinaMarina03-08-2012

    Dear Ruth, I’m so sad to hear about such bad news! I imagine how big is your sorrow and how much you’ll be missing dear Lucy! Everytime I picture you, I imagine you in your nice living room with Lucy at your feet, and as I don’t visit you often, this is how I will picture you forever! This is to tell you that for me Lucy will be always with you in my mind, and I’m sure this is the same feeling you have. I’m glad she taught you so much and I’m sure she has been important for many people who interacted with her. I’m close to you and I’m sure you feel the love I’m sending from so far away.

  18. Mary NilsenMary Nilsen03-08-2012

    I gasped when I saw the picture of Lucy. She looks just like our little Wingsie, a Cavie who brings us such joy. I believe some dogs are reincarnated people–or maybe angels–sent to us for a time and for a purpose. Keep your heart open for another angel in your life.

  19. Jennifer LeeJennifer Lee03-10-2012

    Dear Ruth, I’m so sorry to hear abotu Lucy’s passing. She was one of my earliest doggy friends and I’m so sad knowing she’s no longer sleeping in your office. I’ll miss her.

  20. SuzanneSuzanne03-14-2012

    That lovely wet nose, silky fur and liquid brown eyes will be so very missed. Especially the big, sensitive and knowing heart in that tiny little body. Lucy was much loved and relied upon and such joy she brought.

  21. Pauline EnrightPauline Enright03-21-2012

    Dear Ruth,
    I never met your lovely dog and I haven’t yet met you, except through email. I have just read your comments about Lucy and am very moved by your affection for her and her value in your life and counselling practice. As a ‘new ‘ counsellor (but not a ‘young’ one!) I have this week been studying grief and loss. We can never understand or feel another’s loss, but can only try to imagine it from our own experiences. I do wish you well and hope that your heart is warmed by the lovely wishes above and by having had the experience of such a wonderful relationship with another creature. Love from Pauline in Tasmania.

  22. RuthShellRuthShell08-19-2012

    Thank you everyone who took the time to write such beautiful and loving tributes about Lucy. These have meant a lot to me and given me great comfort.

    I am happy to report that the very best comfort was finding another special pup! Please meet ‘Honey” who now has her own page on this site. She is another sweet and cuddly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who has taken on the job as therapy dog instantly.

Leave a Reply