Lines were out the door Wednesday at a funeral home in Pasco County, and you might be surprised who all the attention was for.
Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects to a Labrador named "Lucy."
Four years ago, she walked into the lives of Thomas Dobies and his fiancé Pam Montana, and their lives have never been the same.
Thomas Dobies said he can hardly talk about his beloved mixed-breed Labrador, but he's a better man for loving her.
"Lucky thing, God has sent me her," said Dobies sobbing.
Dobies can barely speak about his Lucy without breaking down. There are pictures of her everywhere at his funeral home. She was a fixture at every service held there. She became so popular over the last four years folks began requesting Lucy at their family's funerals.
"People just loved her. Where's Lucy?" said Dobies. "When she got so ill, the family came in and said Lucy was at daddy's funeral, can you have Lucy here for mama's funeral? I said, ‘No I'm sorry, but Lucy is very ill."
More flowers surrounded her coffin than some heads of state. Her honorary Pasco sheriff deputy's badge and collar rested on top.
Dobies, thanks to his love of Lucy, became a huge supporter of the Pasco Sheriff's Office, and that's why she was named an honorary member. There were officers from every arm of law enforcement at Lucy's funeral, paying their respects.
"It is a death of a family member, and for me, as a child. Lucy is my girl: Daddy's girl," said Dobies.
Hundreds of friends, family members and former clients of Dobies many funeral homes came out. They'd been comforted by Lucy at family funerals and wanted the Dobies to know how much they truly shared in their loss.
"Tom Dobies is truly somebody who has helped law enforcement tremendously, firefighters, he's always been there for us," said sheriff Chris Nocco.
"He has been so much of a blessing to so many families, churches, individuals, people in need, they would come to his door and he wouldn't turn them away," said former sheriff Bob White.
Dobies single-handedly bought so many dogs for the sheriff's office White said they'd lost count.
While sheriff, White named a courtroom in the jail after his honorary canine, called Lucy Dobies Court. Four years ago, Lucy wandered up to Dobies Funeral home and into their lives.
"Came inside and the girls in the office said, ‘We have a dog, a new mascot,'" said Dobies. "I said, ‘Like heck we do,' and I went out. I was going to chase her off, and she came over to me. She walked right on in, and she's never left since. She's given me so much, I tell you what, and she never wants anything. She never asks for anything. She's always there to greet me when Pam would open the door."
Dobies wasn't much of a dog person. His fiancé had already had two other dogs, Rosie and Amber, but it wasn't until Lucy walked into his life that he underwent an amazing transformation.
"He was like, ‘You have a dog?'" said Montana. "And I was like, yeah, and to see him just transform with Lucy is unbelievable."
"I wish she could get up out of the casket and come on out here and start greeting people, but she just means so much to Pam and I. We love her like a daughter," Dobies said.
Lucy was riddled with brain tumors, and despite Herculean attempts at surgeries and treatments, her condition worsened to the point where she was unable to walk.
"And she was having seizures, and that broke my heart," said Dobies.
"She needed constant care and having that part of my life and being the person to be the caregiver, now that she's gone it's a real loss," Montana said.
They resolved themselves. They had to let go of Lucy.
"Pam and I sat there one day, we were in the yard, we both broke down crying, sobbing and said, ‘it's time,'" said Dobies, fighting back tears.
Lucy was put to sleep Monday and passed peacefully in the arms of Dobies.
"I know she's up in heaven. I'm going to miss her so much. It's just so tough, not being able to have her here," he said.
Dobies said Lucy was buried in the exact same kind of coffin Michael Jackson was buried in. No expense was spared.
They haven't decided yet, but they will probably launch some sort of perpetual fund in Lucy's name, so her legacy of service and helping the Pasco Sheriff's Office will live on.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?