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he was one of four Dalmatian
puppies staring out from the
trunk of a dilapidated Romanian
car when my husband, Don, two
friends and I went out one afternoon
for a “lookey loo” in Bucharest. (That’s
an L.A. term for strolling around.)
It was the winter of 1988. We
bought her for two packs of Kent ciga-
rettes, and took her home to Dorbantz,
where she pranced around in the feath-
ery snow of our small backyard.
In remembrance of our stroll we
named her Looky, which morphed into
Lucky. That was occasionally awkward,
as when a Romanian stopped to pet her
as we walked in Herestrau Park, and
asked her name. “Yes, lucky,” he mur-
mured. “She’ll be going to USA.”
Lucky came to our parties, a big red
bow at her neck. She begged for pea-
nuts, which she always received. (I
know, I know; very bad for dogs.)
When the Romanian Revolution
broke out in December 1989, Don was
evacuated to the United States along
with the other dependents. I brought
Lucky into my office, where she drank
water out of a brass vase I had for flow-
But she absolutely refused even to
taste either dry or canned dog food
from the commissary, then the sole
source of food and drink for all of us
under siege in the embassy. (This may
well have been due to the fact that
every week, our maid, Emilia, cooked a
special batch of chicken and rice for
After Nicolae Ceausescu and his
wife were put to death and a new gov-
ernment took over, my office staff
members were eager to tell me what
their duties had been under the Com-
munist Party government. We Ameri-
cans knew, of course, that our govern-
ment-supplied local employees were
required to spy on us. But we didn’t
know what, specifically, they had been
obliged to do.
Radu, a tall, good-looking young
man, had been a reliable embassy re-
ceptionist during the bad old days
when Romanians had surged into the
consular section, begging for consider-
ation as potential refugees. We always
believed that he was a captain, at least,
in Romania’s Department of State Se-
curity, universally known as Securitate.
And now Radu confirmed that.
“Do you remember,” he asked,
“when you and Don were going away
for the weekend, and I suggested that
I could take care of Lucky for you?”
“Yes, of course,” I responded. “That
was very generous of you.”
“Well,” Radu said, “not really. My
handler in Securitate ordered me to
make that offer.”
“Why, for God’s sake?”
“They wanted me to plant a listen-
ing device on your dog.”
I was stunned, dismayed at the idea
of our dear little Lucky with some un-
comfortable device under her silky,
polka-dotted skin. Then I thought of
the poor handler having to listen to
tape after tape of “down, Lucky.” “Sit,
Lucky.” “Stupid dog, come.”
Since nothing had really happened
to her, I was actually sort of pleased at
Radu’s news. All of my colleagues had
described being followed by Securitate
when they traveled, so Don and I used
to lament that they apparently didn’t
think we were important enough to spy
on. Now it turned out that we were.
After leaving Bucharest the next
year, we took Lucky with us to Peru.
There she again had a maid to feed her
and walk her in the park. We then
brought her home to Washington,
D.C. (No maids here, so we did the
Did Lucky know that she’d come a
long way from the trunk of that dented
old car in the square of Bucharest,
three years before?
I doubt it. She took red bows and
peanuts for granted, and began to nip
at the grandchildren.
Ginny Young accompanied her late
husband, Jim Carson, on several For-
eign Service tours before his death in
1973. She then joined the Foreign
Service herself, serving in Hong Kong,
Mexico and Romania. New Academia
Publishers will release her memoir,
Peregrina: Adventures of an American
, later this year.
Our Dog, the Spy
F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 2
We used to lament
that they apparently
didn’t think we
were important
enough to spy on.