Lucy still had that puppy smell. Even at ten years old and even as she lay in the dimly lit room at the vetinary hospital. The room with the Kleenex box you hope to never visit. 

We said our goodbyes and drove home as a cold spring rain came down. Tears gave way to laughter then back to tears as we shared favorite memories of our family dog. Most of which took place  before the girls were born.

We decided to stay home from work and school the next day.


The evening rainstorm made for a gorgeous morning so we took our grief outside and headed to Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.

Even on a Thursday the parking lot was busy, but we found a spot, paid our $7 fee and were immediately greeted by a barrage of hikers all accompanied by their four legged friends. Maybe in hindsight not the best place to mourn our recently deceased dog.


But Lucy wouldn’t have come with us. She hated other people and other dogs. She hated being on a leash, she didn’t like car rides. We’re pretty sure she was part cat. Unless there was a tennis ball. Then she was all dog.

We set out on Horsetooth Falls Trail letting a perfect mix of sunshine and cool breeze raise our spirits. We passed groups of school kids on field trips and shared the path with the many other hikers. It wasn’t the solitude that would have better suited our moods but we were together and we were doing something we love. Appreciating everything a little bit more than usual.

Once at the falls we sat down, had a snack and watched the girls throw rocks in the pool.


Lucy loved the water. She snorted like a pig when she swam, while fetching whatever ball or stick you threw in for her. She could only turn one way in the water, “Not an ambi-turner” we’d always say. And it was not always easy to get her out of the water when it was time to leave. Honestly, it was kind of stressful to be with Lucy in public.

I said earlier she was our family dog. That’s not exactly true. She tolerated our two girls and she definitely enjoyed the Cheerios and other scraps that collected beneath their chairs, but Lucy didn’t belong to them and they didn’t belong to her.


Lucy belonged to Court and I. She was our first-born. We drove her home from Denver’s Dumb Friends League, curled up against my chest at 8 weeks old. She was a feisty puppy. I got to Google – “Is it normal for my puppy to try to eat me?” Court got his ear ripped during some puppy rough housing. She was with us during that huge snowstorm that shut down the city. She drove back to Illinois with us when we got married. She ran around the empty rooms of our first home. I pretended she acted more protective of me when I was pregnant with L. (She wasn’t.)

We got back to the parking lot and there was still plenty of sunshine so we headed to New Belgium Brewery for a beer and food truck tacos. It took L exactly 16 hours after saying goodbye to Lucy to ask when we’d be getting another puppy. I was timing it. It won’t be this summer, maybe this fall. She loved Lucy, but she wasn’t her dog. Our next dog will be hers. And C’s. Their playmate, their protector. Their best friend. Maybe a dog that will hike Horsetooth Falls with us.

I picked up Lucy’s ashes this week. We’ll take them when we go up to Chamber’s this July and spread them somewhere along Trap Park Trail. Where she swam and ran free just last summer, just like a puppy.


The Details: Horsetooth Falls Trail- Open year round, 24 hours

Drive Time: Approx. 15 minutes from Fort Collins

Trail Distance: Approx. 1.2 miles to the falls one-way

Designated Difficulty Rating: Easy

Toddlerado Rating: Agreed, easy hike with the added bonus of a “treat” at the end, what kid doesn’t want to find a waterfall

Highlights: It may not be a roaring water feature, but it is a waterfall and it is soooo close to town, pretty vistas of the front range

Usage: HEAVY- again, it’s soooo close to town – parking lot often fills up early on the weekend.

Amenities: Vaulted toilet, drinking water, picnic tables

Would we go back? It’s not a place we frequent due to the crowds, including hikers blaring music on their portable speakers, but it is so darn convenient. During the week, on a nice winter day or – when the kids are little older- one of the moonlight hikes might be more our style.