Column – RIP, Lucy, who made her splash in Smithfield  

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Lucy Stewart, aka The Goose, circa 2015

Impressive, isn’t it, how our pets, most of them very small creatures, occupy such big parts of our hearts, how their spirit can fill a home – and leave it feeling so empty when they pass.

Lucy Stewart, aka The Goose, aka Momma Tee, last week went to doggy heaven (there’s surely such a thing, right?), leaving a hole in our hearts as big as the Pagan River, from which she was plucked a couple of times in recent years to extend a life well lived.

Better Half and I have owned four pets during 16 years of marriage, and loved them all dearly, but only Lucy had made the complete journey with us from Franklin to Suffolk, to Kentucky for a few years, then back to Tidewater, to the banks of the Pagan, where we plan to stay. Assessing the huge void over the weekend, the thought hit us that she’d been part of every home we’ve owned. 

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I picked Lucy out from a big litter of puppies yapping at my feet 12 years ago in far western Virginia, but make no mistake: Lucy was her mother’s girl, her spirit sister, from the day the dog and I rolled into Franklin in a box truck (another story for another day, but remind me to tell you about our eventful night at the South Boston Holiday Inn Express).

By the time we got to Smithfield in 2021, Lucy was greatly diminished, but had survived a misdiagnosis by our Kentucky vet of a brain tumor. Pet lovers reading this know that conversation well. Vet: I’m 90% sure, but you could spend lots of money you don’t have to run more tests to find out for sure. Of course, we spent the money. The Goose beat her 1-in-10 odds and tagged along with us to Smithfield, a place she loved.

The Oaks’ Amy Bowman (God bless her) diagnosed the problem accurately as Cushing’s Disease and set about prescribing a complex mix of meds that kept the CVS pharmacists hopping for the next couple of years. The partially used prescription bottles filled a gallon-size Ziploc bag when I took them to Amy last week in hopes they might help extend another pooch’s life.

If Amy gets much of the credit for Lucy’s enjoying two good years in Smithfield, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank neighbor Debbie Green, who once saved Lucy’s life – and perhaps my marriage. Better Half called my cellphone twice one Friday morning, and I responded by text, “Can’t talk. On a Zoom call.” Turns out that Debbie was pulling our 40-pound Goose out of the Pagan while I worked away inside, oblivious to the commotion out back. A decade ago, she’d have paddled like a champ to Clontz Park, but Granny Goose wouldn’t have lasted very long in the Pagan.

Likewise, her declining stamina limited a once prolific walker to quick loops through Downtown Smithfield, where she’d always throw on the brakes in front of the ice cream parlor and Smithfield Gourmet Bakery, her trusted sniffer quite keen even as the rest of her body began to fail. Never a big eater, Lucy developed an unquenchable appetite in her sunset years after a time on steroids as part of her treatment. 

A last act of naughtiness was snatching a toddler’s entire blueberry muffin at the Summer Concert Series three Fridays ago. Better Half, who was out of town, laughed out loud when I told her the story. 

King Frederick II of Prussia is credited for once declaring dogs to be “man’s best friend,” its truth never clearer than in the days after they’re gone.


Steve Stewart is publisher of The Smithfield Times. His email address is