Lucky, Thankful

When Tex Moncrief welcomed a rescued pug into his home, he opened the doors to a friendship with an Aggie veterinarian that he would come to cherish as much as his beloved pet.

Story by Jennifer Gauntt

Tex Moncrief holding Lucky the pug
Tex Moncrief and Lucky

William “Tex” Moncrief has owned a lot of dogs in his 100 years, but none were as special to him as Lucky.

Lucky came to Tex and his wife Linda in 2007, when the pug was only around 3 or 4 months old.

“He was a cute little guy, all ruffled up,” Tex said. “His name was (originally) Zamboni, like the machine they drive on an ice rink. I said, ’I’m adopting you, but your name is not Zamboni anymore; from now on, you’re Lucky.’ We loved that dog.”

And Lucky, he was.

Over the years, Lucky came to mean a lot to the Moncriefs, and Tex, especially, meant a lot to the pug.

“If Lucky happened to be asleep, and I got up and walked away and didn’t wake him up, it didn’t make any difference where I went in this house—and it’s a pretty large house—he would find me,” Tex said. “It was the darnedest thing. I’d look down and pat him, and he’d lick my hand and wiggle his tail.

“I’ve had several pugs, but he was the most lovable fellow I ever had; he just had to be with me,” he said.

Lucky the pug (black and white photo)
Lucky

Lucky even liked to sleep with his head on Tex’s shoe, which Linda interpreted as “making sure he wouldn’t get left behind.”

When, at one point, Tex was briefly hospitalized for a nosebleed, Lucky did get left behind, but the pug still did his best to “be” with Tex.

“I came back from the hospital and I couldn’t find Lucky where he normally stays, by the kitchen or the main entrance. I said, ‘What happened to Lucky?’” Linda recalled. “It was unusual, because when we were away, he would make sure he was the first to greet us.

“So, I went downstairs, and I found Lucky on his (Tex’s) shoes, the way he always slept when Tex was wearing his shoes,” she said. “I brought the shoes upstairs and I left part of his clothes in the chair Lucky rested in so that he would feel comforted. I thought that was very special.”

So special, in fact, that Linda ended up bringing Lucky to the hospital to see Tex.

“He was so happy,” Tex said. “He crawled right up on the bed, and I just rubbed and patted him.”

Dr. James Schroeder, Tex Moncrief, and Linda Moncrief sitting on a bench outdoors
Dr. James Schroeder, Tex Moncrief, and Linda Moncrief

As Lucky aged, he developed Addison’s Disease and then leukemia, which eventually took his life at the age of 11. It was a hard loss for the Moncriefs.

“For weeks there, we could hardly stand it, missing that dog. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog in all of my life that I missed that much. It was awful,” Tex said. “I didn’t think we were going to get over him.”

When Lucky passed, the veterinarian who had cared for him throughout it all—Dr. James Schroeder ’65—was there with the dog. Because of the routine nature of Lucky’s treatment, Schroeder had become a fixture in the Moncriefs’ lives.

“I met Dr. Schroeder when I took Lucky in for a checkup. I was impressed when I first met Jim,” Tex said. “Dr. Schroeder and Jill (who worked for Dr. Schroeder) would come to our house to care for Lucky, like he was a little child of their own, almost, and they were just gentle. It meant a lot to me for them to do that.

“Dr. Schroeder just made life easier for us, knowing we were going lose him,” he said. “From Jim, I understood how you can love a little dog.”

Knowing that Lucky’s passing was particularly hard on the Moncriefs, Schroeder wrote a letter to the couple to express his condolences. The framed letter now hangs in their home.

Tex Moncrief sitting at a table reading a framed letter
Tex Moncrief reads from the framed letter written to him and Linda from Dr. James Schroeder following Lucky’s passing.

“‘The past month was difficult to see Lucky lose his strength and energy but through all of that time, until the end, he remained very loyal and faithful to you,’” Tex says, reading the letter. “‘Though it is with humility that I understand that I am unable to cure or save all of my patients, I have long realized that I am just the hands that the Lord uses to assist in the ultimate purpose for these little creatures He gives us for a time to enjoy and care for. Believing that gives me some comfort as I try to help with the end of their lives.

“‘I will always remember as Lucky’s life was ending that you said a very…,’” Tex pauses as he reads, emotions welling up. “‘…dear prayer thanking God for giving those years with Lucky to enjoy his companionship. I have also seen the sweet adoration and love that you and Linda have shown for each other. That is a reflection of a kind and generous heart that I have seen and I thank you for your trust.’”

In recognition of that mutual love and respect, Tex and Linda decided to “give back” to Schroeder’s alma mater with a gift honoring their long-time veterinarian. The funds will honor Schroeder in perpetuity, with a room named after Schroeder at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Small Animal Hospital.

“Jim Schroeder is just one of the finest men I’ve ever met. He’s not only a good veterinarian, he’s just a fine gentleman,” Tex said.

Editors note: Dr. James Schroeder passed away Feb. 13, 2020. We send our condolences to the Schroeder family.

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Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of CVM Today.

For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216