I'm not sure how we came to name her Lucy.
I think it's because she was funny, and because, like the old TV show "I Love Lucy" we definitely loved her.
Last Friday was her last day with us after making that awful decision pet owners find themselves making, that the time to be humane overrides the false belief that things might get better.
God bless our veterinarian Matt Somerville for the kind words he shared with us -affirmation that we had made the right choice.
But tell that to your heart that has loved a sweet little Heinz 57 black dog that has been a part of your life for 13 years and then realize, oh, she's gone.
I haven't the heart to put away her leash or water or food bowl and half expect to hear her dog tags jingling against the water bowl or feel her paw in the morning, a reminder that "it's not just time to get up for work, mommy, it's time to open the door for me, please. My bladder's not entirely made of steel," she was probably trying to tell me many a morning.
I tried in vain not to dwell on her absence in the initial days afterward, kidding myself that she was just off snoozing in one of her favorite spots - under the kitchen table, in the corner of the dining room or under the bed, her back legs protruding like a couple of chicken drumsticks.
I turned to the television for distraction.
Not too far into the channel-surfing, wouldn't you know it - two awful extremes popped up: "Cujo" the killer dog of Stephen King's twisted mind and "Marley & Me," a tearjerker tale I was not about to tune into. My nose was already red, my eyelids puffy.
Anyway, TV or no TV, there's really no escaping that awful lump-in-the-throat sting of loss.
We got Lucy as a 9-month-old puppy from Hounds' Haven shelter in the Smithfield area. We'd made the decision that, yes, we were going to adopt a dog, give it a loving home and collectively care for it, but we hadn't really begun the search.
That's when we found her. Daughter Sarah and I were at the Fort Steuben Mall, on our way back then to eat at Chi-Chi's, when there was Hounds' Haven having an adopt-a-pet day.
Sarah and Lucy bonded instantly. It was love at first hug.
Our refrigerator still sports that photo from that day - the official new Kiaski family member.
And she was part of our family, for sure, from the Christmas card photos in which she had a place to the car rides she took with us, to the walks we enjoyed and the loyal companionship that is so uniquely a dog's.
How I miss coming home to Lucy, the epitome of the welcome wagon, the happy, tail-wagging constant of life.
That Bubba the Great Pyrenees would unexpectedly come into our lives later on, that big white dog that would become best buddies with little black Lucy, made our lives all the more fun, all the richer.
The decision that we made with Lucy last Friday is that same awful one we had to make three years ago for Bubba.
Their urns are now side by side with photos attached to remind us of what wonderful creatures they were, not that our heads or hearts need the visual cue.
I like to think they're together and happy and that we'll all be together again some day.
(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at email@example.com.)