Steve Tappmeyer had to work hard to get Darren Vorderbruegge to Maryville. He had lost his assistant coach, Chris Johnson. Darren was Steve's cousin and a few speed bumps with state law almost prevented the hiring.
It was a great hire. Darren had been a high school coach in Wichita. He brought his wife, Amy, and three kids to Maryville. Amy became a much respected teacher at Horace Mann Lab School on the Northwest campus. Their three kids, Dawson, Cordray and Daryn Leigh were instantly popular in the school system.
All three Vorderbruegges babysat Sam during summer breaks. Sam loved them all. Daryin Leigh was a favorite of Sam's because she played games with him. Dawson, the oldest, helped Sam cultivate his love for sports. Dawson convinced Sam his last name wasn't Steinmeyer, but Pujols, the last name for Albert Pujols, the superstar player for the St. Louis Cardinals. That really confused Sam's pre-school teacher.
On July 4, 2003 or 2004, a black and tan puppy came shaking to the Vorderbruegge house. The puppy was terrified of fireworks. The puppy wouldn't leave the Vorderbruegge house, which was a problem since they already had a family dog.
My wife, Michele, was and still is the office manager of the Northwest Missouri State Athletic Department. Darren knew Sam didn't have a pet, so he asked Michele if we wanted to adopt the frightened puppy. Michele was going to be a tough nut to crack.
She had sworn there would never be a dog in our house.
However, Michele underestimated the amount of guilt Darren could generate. Finally, Michele agreed to take the puppy over the weekend. If it didn't work out, Darren said he would take the puppy back. He knew that would never happen.
The puppy was a female and the Vorderbruegge's had named her Lucy. I wanted to change her name.
That was way to sissy for a dog that would protect our family against wild animals, reckless drivers, and crazed drug dealers. However, I was over-ruled by a 2 to 1 vote. To be honest, Sam's vote was the only one that counted.
Darren told us that he wished he could keep Lucy instead of his other dog. It didn't take long to see why. Lucy was one sharp dog. He was already house-trained and never had a slip. Lucy instantly became part of the family.
Lucy was mostly beagle, with maybe some shepherd in her. She also was really smart. We would lay a blanket in front of our downstairs bay window. That's exactly where Lucy would spend her nights.
She was a show-off. Lucy would lie around all day staring at our neighbor's sheep. As soon as we would pull into the driveway, Lucy would immediately become a sheep herder, chasing them home. After a while, even the sheep ignored Lucy.
Lucy was a social dog. Each morning, Lucy would make her rounds to the neighbors, checking in on all her friends. By noon, she would be done socializing and be lounging in the sun at our back door. The neighbors would tell us of Lucy's visits. No one seemed to mind.
We have five or six outdoor cats. If you looked out the window, Lucy would be laying curled up with the cats. However, if we stepped outside the house, Lucy would chase them to cover. The cats didn't seem to mind. They all needed the exercise.
Lucy never lost her fear of fireworks. Around July 4th, she would spend a lot of time in the house, nervous with all the explosions going on in the skies. Thunder bothered Lucy, too. If I felt Lucy licking my hand in the middle of the night, I knew a thunderstorm was approaching.
If Lucy was visiting a neighbor when I came home, she would come greet me on a dead sprint. Last Wednesday, she sort of jogged to meet me. She was fine Thursday at noon, but when I got home Thursday night, Lucy couldn't move her back legs.
My first thought was she had been hit by a car, so I rushed her to a veterinarian. However, her spine had given out. We tried medication and were hopeful at first. However, she never got better.
As a kid, I didn't read many books. However, Old Yeller, a book by Fred Gipson and published in 1956, was one of the first books I read. Of course I cried when Travis had to shoot Old Yeller, who had contracted rabies protecting his family.
Thank goodness I didn't have to use that method, but a tough decision was necessary. Lucy, the scared puppy who had been a part of our family, was now in need of my help. I made the decision to have Lucy euthanized.
I went to school to tell my now 13 year old son that Lucy wouldn't be coming home. Telling my wife was tougher. There is no moral to this story and no happy ending. There's not much sports in this story either; just the story about great dog with a sissy name that my family will really miss.
By Gene Steinmeyer Guest Columnist
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Gene Steinmeyer Guest Columnist
Updated Jan. 16, 2013 @ 11:47 pm
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