by Janet King, renowned Löwchen breeder, (Duncara affix)

Janet KingThose who are familiar with the breed might anticipate a story about Littlecourt Loftus of Duncara. Understandably, there have been glowing tributes written about this legendary Löwchen, Janet’s first stud dog. Loftus certainly captured her heart and brought much pride through his impact upon her breeding program. Yet, there should be little surprise to learn from Fee Perret-Green, Janet’s daughter, that Lucy, a female who contributed nothing to the Duncara breedline, also secured a home for life with Janet. This international judge and highly respected breed specialist appreciated Lowchen as worthy companions, first.  Years back, she stated that the Anatolian Shepherd and Löwchen have "a special place in her heart," adding that she admired their "independent and intelligent attitude to life, which they combine with utter loyalty, devotion and unparalleled sense of humour."

Lucy was born on the 28th January, 1995, as one of four puppies in the litter. Her mother, Yentil, had seemed in very good form up to the time of their birth. Sadly though, all was not as it seemed. Two of the puppies died within 24 hours, and of the other two, the biggest, a boy, did not seem affected - but very soon little Lucy showed signs of fading. Her heart stopped beating three times in the first two days, but with the help of cardiac massage, it got going again. As she was so weak and finding it too difficult to suckle, the only alternative was to tube feed her with special food supplied by the vet. She was fed every hour, day and night, to keep her re-hydrated. Lucy had a fighting spirit and refused to die. After ten days, she managed to start suckling again, and slowly the tube feeding was withdrawn.

All seemed to be going well and she was growing fast. However, when she was a month old it became obvious that she could not stand up on her front legs. X-rays showed a malformation of the right shoulder. The vet. decided that she should be seen by a specialist in Concarneau when she was six weeks old. In the meantime, he made it clear that she would need an arthrodesis (a surgical stiffening of the joint). In the intervening two weeks, she managed to start hobbling around and became very playful.

When she was six weeks old, we set off together to see the specialist, a seemingly very austere and serious man who already did the biannual eye tests on the other dogs. Lucy was duly put on the x-ray table and I was told to stand at the other end while the nurse held her. But Lucy was having none of that, with one great leap she landed on my shoulder  and refused to budge. The examination finished, we awaited the results. When the vet. came back in he said in a sonorous voice that the operation would be very expensive, and as a breeder I should think of the economics of the situation as she could never be confirmed as fit to breed from or show. This seemed to suggest that she should be put to sleep. No way was that acceptable, (as) here was a spunky happy little dog full of life. Looking the vet. straight in the eye, I said "Monsieur I also have an arthrodesis and no one has ever thought of putting me down." He burst out laughing and agreed.

Lucy never had the operation; she managed just fine and found ways of doing things herself. She found walking on a lead difficult, as she tended to lose her balance, but every time she went for a walk she would select a stone. Not just any old stone, it had to be one which suited her, and she would carry it in her mouth for the whole of the walk, sometimes exchanging it for another one. Up in the fields, she would chase hares, rabbits and the other dogs.

She never let life pass her by. Lucy will be seventeen next month. Her chasing days are long over, but she still does her best to enjoy life in spite of the fact that she now has arthritis in her other front leg and in her spine. She is also blind in one eye from glaucoma, and this cannot be rectified, but she has had acupuncture for the arthritis  and can still move around and jump up on her back legs. She loves to tease the other dogs jumping up at them, just fooling around. Needless to say, she is very spoilt and can get away with a lot.

And as to the economics of keeping her, well Lucy’s outlook on life and joyful character have influenced more people into buying puppies than all the others put together. Yes Lucy has contributed more than money to the kennels.

© Janet King (Duncara), 2012