They say things happen in threes.

While not scientifically based, it’s said that mishaps — from household accidents and natural disasters to health issues and even deaths — happen in groups of three.

While I don’t give credence to the superstition, after losing a friend at the end of October 2020 and an old high school classmate a couple of weeks later, I jokingly told a group of friends on Zoom to drive carefully and stay safe. Little did I know that the third impending casualty would be my husband’s 11-year-old German shepherd.

Lucifer was diagnosed with leukemia the day after Thanksgiving 2020. A dog who never met a treat he didn’t like, he had experienced substantial weight loss (a shout-out to Dr. Brent Barton at Oregon Trail Veterinary Clinic, who provided caring support in treating Lucifer).

I’ll never forget the time I was working on commands with my German shepherd, the General. To minimize distractions, we were in the hallway at the top of the stairs.

Bent at the waist and telling the General to shake hands, I suddenly felt a paw on the small of my back. I’m sure Lucifer viewed the puppy training as a treat-fest that he was missing out on and was more than happy to shake hands (or butt) for a snack.

As part of the Malgesini Pack, I’ve mentioned Lucifer in nearly 20 columns over the years, including an October 2009 announcement of his upcoming adoption. I’ll never forget when we brought him home — John sat on the floor with the little black ball of fur.

Jeter, my then-10-year-old German shepherd, wasn’t too keen on what he viewed as an interloper. While Jeter bared his teeth, little Lucifer was unfazed. A few weeks later, he began standing out of reach under a chair while taunting Jeter.

And I’m convinced that dogs are capable of higher level thinking. One time we noticed Lucifer trot upstairs, bolt for his crate and toss one of the General’s toys into its back corner. He then turned and walked away — with a look on his face that said, “There’s nothing to see here.”

Despite great disdain for rain and hail, Lucifer loved the snow. He was nearly 4 months old when he first experienced a winter wonderland in our backyard. His vocalizations of pure joy reverberated throughout the neighborhood.

As Lucifer further deteriorated — in addition to the leukemia, he had ambulation difficulties due to hip problems — we were blessed with a wonderful final Christmas with him. Still feeling the benefits from a cortisone shot, he was able to muster up enough strength to headbutt John in the chest during their morning outing while playing in the snow at the park.

Also, I was brought to tears by a heartwarming gift I received. Each year, John helps our canine kids buy me a calendar for Christmas. He decided to put Lucifer’s pawprints on special days throughout the year. And on the last page, he signed it for Lucifer — referring to me as “Mommie Doolittle,” a nickname I received for providing medical care to the pack.

Lucifer, too, had several monikers, including POD (for Prince of Darkness). And his special sleeping area on John’s side of the bed was known as the POD Pit. John could reach down and pet his best buddy during the night — until Feb. 5, when he was no longer there.

While we miss you, beautiful boy, you left pawprints on our hearts.


Tammy Malgesini, the former Hermiston Herald community editor, enjoys spending time with her husband and dogs.

dogs/ German shepherd, as well as entertaining herself with random musings.

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