GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Lucy, the Yorkshire terrier recognized as the world’s smallest working dog, died June 30 after a brief illness.
A consistent presence at local and regional hospitals, schools and hospice centers, Lucy was known around the world for her diminutive size — she weighed in at 2½ pounds and 6 inches long — and inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tiniest therapy dog in 2011.
Lucy received multiple canine therapy certifications and began her career soon after being rescued by Sally Montufar and Linda DeSantis. The pair took on the tiny pup — providing for her and seeing that she was trained — after a previous owner was unable to adequately care for her.
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“She was very, very tiny — almost dwarfish — and had a tongue that wouldn’t go into her mouth,” said Montufar, of Smithville. “It was cute, but she wasn’t perfect and some might even call it a defect. But I called it a feature. It was part of what made her her perfect self.”
During a lifetime of therapy work, Lucy became a celebrity in her own right, appearing in news publications and videos around the globe. She also met fellow celebrities along the way, including Dolly Parton and Miranda Cosgrove, the star of Nickelodeon’s “iCarly.”
Montufar and Lucy also befriended Bill Wynne, a decorated World War II veteran who owned and trained Smokey the Dog, a Yorkie who was found during a combat mission in New Guinea and backpacked with Wynne through 12 Air Force combat missions before becoming the world’s first therapy dog.
On social media, Lucy attracted tens of thousands of fans.
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The tiny dog, it seemed, just had a way of attracting attention.
“Even the pictures don’t show how tiny she really was. I saw that she kind of stopped traffic and that people who met her would really respond,” Montufar said. “People would say: ‘I’ve never seen a dog that small in my life.’”
For eight years, Lucy and Montufar traveled in the name of charity, appearing without fee at hospitals as far as Portland, Maine, and following tragedies, including the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Work for the latter cause resulted in Lucy earning a commendation from the New Jersey Legislature as a canine hero.
It was Lucy’s hospice work that Montufar was most proud of. The tiny, feisty pup helped spread cheer to those who needed it most.
Lucy was forced to semi-retire about a year ago due to medical issues Montufar said are unfortunately all too prevalent in dogs bred to be as small as she. A recent seizure proved too much for Lucy, Montufar said, and the world’s smallest working dog did not recover.
“I mourn her. Her darlingness. And I mourn our lives together,” Montufar said. “She gave me purpose.”
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Though Lucy is gone, Montufar hopes her legacy will continue, especially with the children she met over the years.
“Her message was that you don’t have to be perfect,” she said.