Monday, July 6, 2009

Drum roll. . .Meet Lara (nee Mama) with Her Bling!

Yesterday was a banner day for Mama. She got a name, a shiny new identification tag and a mauve, patent-leader collar studded with rhinestones!

It was long overdue. Poor Mama has been wearing the ID and collar of my late dog, Henry, while I wrestled with the task of giving her a proper name.

Lara (pronounced LAR-ah) was the first one that came to mind when I began contemplating the issue a few weeks ago. Because she was blossoming more each day, it was important that any name had staying power.

The name Lara has origins in Russian and Latin. It means "protection" and also "cheerful" and "famous." She is all of these -- especially the last one. On July 4th her blog broke previous records with more than 100 hits from as far away as France, Germany, Finland, Iraq, Qatar and India!

Many people of my generation remember the character of Lara, played by Julie Christie in the 1965 Oscar-winning movie "Dr. Zhivago." With the backdrop of the Russian Revolution, Lara displayed grace and strength despite famine, poverty and the loss of her family.

A younger generation has grown up watching a modern, techno-savvy Lara on the movie screen -- Lara Croft, the brave and independent super heroine played by Angelina Jolie in the "Tomb Raider" series.

The clincher for me in deciding on the name "Lara" was its similarity to "Larry."

On May 29, two days after bringing Lara home from the shelter, my dear friend Larry DuBois passed away after a three-year battle with vasculitis, a rare condition characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels. He was 88.

Like Lara, Larry was fearless and protective, a Navy combat medical corpsman in the South Pacific during World War II. Later he founded the FMF (Fleet Marine Force) Combat Medical Personnel Association.

More than anything, Larry loved dogs. During the 28 years that I have had the honor of being a family friend I have heard countless stories about Larry's efforts, beginning in youth, to rescue stray dogs.

Over the past 20 years he has taken a special liking to Australian shepherds. He's pictured above with his last puppy, Ruff, who died of heart failure last November.

In the past, following a period of mourning, Larry would typically go out and purchase another Australian shepherd from a kennel. Instead, media coverage of the current shelter crisis made him determined to get a rescue dog this time.

Last March, he called and asked if I would take him and Mary, his wife of 69 years, to the county animal shelter on Palomar Airport Road.

When we arrived, the large selection of deserving dogs was overwhelming. This, coupled with effects of the vasculitis, made him too weak to stay long enough to deliberate on the most appropriate decision. We decided to leave and return another day.

The last time I saw Larry was at a small family gathering on April 27 to celebrate his 88th birthday. He didn't look well, but still had the characteristic twinkle in his eye. As I got up to say 'good bye' he said, "Lil, we need to go back to the shelter and get a dog!" I said I was ready any time. He passed away a few weeks later. . .

Well, Larry, I got a dog. A dog with heart. Her name is Lara.

Below: Lucy (bird)and Ollie (dog) admire Lara's new rhinestone collar.


  1. What a great blog! Congrats on her 3 pounds. Also what a tribute to a good friend. Keep up the great work with Lara. She is beautiful.

  2. Lily, Lara is the perfect name. You've provided her protection...she is famous because of you...and who could deny that she is cheerful, given her new lease on life. What a testament to all that she's accomplished in the last months. I can't wait to fly home to see her. And Joey. ;P

  3. Lara! It fits her perfectly, and the name is a beautiful tribute to Larry. Great choice! And, that rhinestone collar - watch out, Hollywood!