A recent photo of Lucy.
My dog's name is Lucy. We named her for St Lucy because we brought her home as a puppy on St Lucy's Day in 2001. She is a soft, squishy Labrador Retriever and my best friend. She ran away this morning as my father was cutting the grass and I was still asleep (I don't get up until late on Saturday mornings as I have to get up every weekday at five o'clock). Our garage door was left open and I guess she thought it worth her while to go off on a little adventure. Naturally I was very worried so I went off to look for her, feeling rather peeved that I hadn't had my morning coffee or any breakfast and thinking what a blasted nuisance she was. I turned back after a distance of just two miles and thought it would be better to simply ring the local authority or the vet. I got in and rang the local authority but didn't know her chip number. Fortunately there was then a call from the vets, and the dog had been found by a local woman called Gwen. I left a message on her answering machine and she rang me and I went to collect her.
Everyone loved her and lavished her with treats and thought she was younger than 11 years, which I thought was very touching. She was very nearly run over by a bus. She is now sleeping peacefully in my father's chair. She isn't allowed to do that but it's her favourite spot.
Dogs are simple creatures. I know sometimes we read about horrific dog attacks, such as that of the Princess Royal some years ago, but Lucy is a very docile and placid creature, more interested in sleeping and eating than anything else. She likes nothing better than for her back to be scratched as she can't reach it herself. She also has a particular fondness for poultry and sausages. She has never stabbed me in the back, or lied to me, or stolen from me (the sandwich I left unattended a few years ago notwithstanding!). Every day I return from work she is ostensibly happy to see me, no matter what kind of day I've had. She is of no particular use; all she asks is to be loved because she loves me. Audrey Hepburn (my idol) once said: ''I think an animal, especially a dog, is possibly the purest experience you can have. No person, and few children...are as unpremeditated, as understanding, really. They only ask to survive. They want to eat. They are totally dependent on you, and therefore completely vulnerable. And this complete vulnerability is what enables you to open up your heart completely, which you rarely do to a human being.''
This is a photo I found on Google Images of an autistic boy with his dog.
In recent years paediatricians and psychologists have been researching dogs in relation to autistic children. We already have guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, and now we have service dogs for people with autism. I received a telephone call at work the other day from the National Autistic Society and while our kalendar was full for the rest of this year, and much of 2014, I had as long a conversation with this lady as time allowed and asked her about dogs. I think they're probably the best thing for autistic children. With dogs you don't have to worry about eye contact, saying too much or too little (or the wrong thing), and dogs, having been around human beings for thousands of years, are naturally helpful creatures. You can read about Autism Sevice Dogs on Wikipedia.
Tolkien loved dogs too. I don't think that Tolkien ever owned a dog but his view of dogs relative to cats is expressed most clearly in the Tale of Tinúviel from The Book of Lost Tales. There Beren is ensnared by monstrous cats in the service of Melko and Tinúviel comes to his rescue with the aid of Huan of the dogs, whose bitter feud with Tevildo (who later became Sauron) is known to all the Gnomes. Huan is victorious and breaks the spell and Beren comes forth. In the Quenta Silmarillion it is told how Huan was the most faithful of friends (save Beleg Strongbow) and died after his battle with Carcharoth, the most vicious wolf in the service of Morgoth. And don't let's mention the fabled Cats of Queen Berúthiel!
As for cats, I have no especial dislike for them. I was at Blackheath on a bleak afternoon some years ago and a beautiful blue-grey cat came up to me and was very friendly, purring affectionately and allowing me to stroke his back. I left him with regret as I had to go to the pub.
Coming back to Lucy, I think the name was well given, for she is indeed the light of my life. I would be lost without her.