4.22.2012

Lucky Update

*If you never had a chance to read my initial post about Lucky, READ THIS FIRST: http://luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/lucky-boy.html 

On August 20, 2011, I rescued a terminally ill, elderly dog named Lucky.
Actually... that's the day I "adopted" him.
Lucky, first day at the vet

Lucky had lived all 10+ years of his life on the streets. He'd never had a family to love him.
Never a name of his own.
Never a place to call home.

For the last 2 years of his life, Lucky had lived outside of the local bank... with simple wishes for shelter, random scraps, and rain water. He was planning to live --and die-- there.

At some point along the way, Lucky was hit by a car. His injuries were severe: his leg was badly broken... his jaw nearly ripped from his face. Yet, no one ever stopped to help him...

So, Lucky's injuries would heal on their own... improperly, of course. His leg soon lost mobility. His jaw simply hangs from his face.

Then... one day, my friend, Kara, spotted Lucky at the bank. She saw the pain in his eyes. The limp in his step. The absence of his smile.

Kara and Marsha spent the next 2 hours trying to catch this dog. Well... he may be old and injured... but he's also fast when he needs to be. Throughout all those years of being ignored, broken, and taunted, Lucky had learned how to get away, and he'd become quite good at it. Honestly, it's how he'd survived this long.

Kara, Marsha, Lucky & I
But finally, they caught him. They drove him to the vet, where they heard the heartbreaking news: Very sick. Severe health issues, Heartworms. congestive heart failure, on and on. 1-2 years to live... maybe... if he's "lucky."

Then, they heard the vet's recommendation: euthanasia.

That's when Kara called me. And as you already know, I made an offer. Lucky lives here now. Lucky is mine now.

But... Lucky's arrival was just the beginning of his story...

Because the dog that I met then... and the dog that I know now... are 2 totally different dogs.

Yet, the changes in Lucky didn't happen overnight. Not even close

So... I'd like to share Lucky's journey with you... and soon... you'll understand why this particular story is one of the most life-changing experiences I've ever had...

In offering to take Lucky, I was more-than-aware of the challenges I'd likely face in trying to care for him, due to his years on the streets and his many health problems.  I knew what I was getting into...

But during his first few hours here, Lucky was suddenly this super-happy, very-outgoing, fun-loving dog... smiling, sniffing, enjoying the attention. That afternoon, he stayed inside with me... basking in the air conditioning, gazing up at me, loving the fresh food and water.

I remember thinking to myself: "Wow. That was easy..."

But I knew better.

Later that day... Lucky became extremely anxious about the idea of being indoors. He wanted out... now. Of course, I knew that he'd need plenty of time to adjust to his new life, so I let him out in the yard. Soon thereafter, he was okay again: smiling, sun bathing, rolling in the grass.

That night, I tried to bring him inside to sleep with me... just to see if he was even interested in the idea. He was not. He wanted out, so I took him back to the yard, gave him some food and water, and sat with him... until it was time for bed.

However, I couldn't sleep that night. I just couldn't stand the thought of Lucky being alone, outside in this new, strange place... even though it's what he needed and wanted at the moment. (Baby steps...)

So, at 10:00 pm, 12:00 am, 2:00 am, and around 4:00 am, I routinely went and checked on Lucky in the yard. He was sleeping, mostly. But clearly, I was not.

Well... only a couple of hours later, at 7:00 am, I headed up to the kennel for work. When I got there, I stopped dead in my tracks...

I saw that the main fence gate had been broken.
I was in shock, because the latch I'd used to lock it was still attached...

So... Lucky must've worked on this gate for a while... to be able to force his way through it like he did... despite its reinforcements. Trust me... I've had plenty of "escape artists" here. None of them have ever escaped from that fence...

As soon as I saw that gate... I knew, and I panicked. I started screaming his name: "LUCKY???!!!"

As I'm yelling for him, over and over again, I'm simultaneously calling myself a dumbass in my head: "You idiot. He doesn't even know his name yet. He's not going to come to you. Stop yelling, dummy."

But I couldn't stop. I ran around the building... calling for him... frantically checking all over the property.

Lucky was gone.

I jumped in my car, and started driving. I stopped at every house, every gas station, and every bank along the way. Meanwhile, I called a friend, who quickly printed some Missing Dog flyers for me. Soon, I was frantically posting those bad boys all over town.

Everywhere I looked, Lucky wasn't there. I spent all day --and more than a tank of gas-- searching for him.

Still no Lucky.

As I was driving, I called Pippa... hysterical, sobbing, worried sick.
She said: "Okay, calm down. Breathe. You will find him, or he will come back. Trust me. This will all be okay."
I said, "But he doesn't understand that this is his home yet! He doesn't trust me yet! He doesn't even know his own name yet! I'm never going to find him, Pippa!"
Pippa said: "Ash, breathe. You know better. You'll get him back. You will."

I should never question Pippa. The woman never fails me. But that day, I just couldn't believe her. Even though I hoped --more than anything-- that she was right, I was truly terrified that I'd never see him again. I'd wanted to save him, to care for him, to love him in his final years. I didn't want him wandering streets, searching for shelter, hoping for food all over again...

I felt like I'd failed him.

That day, and the next day, I had volunteers run the shelter. I drove around... all day long... in search of my Lucky. I didn't find him.

Every second of those 2 days, I was constantly wishing, hoping, and searching for him. Every minute, I was worried sick. Every hour, I broke down. All the while... I was beating myself up, like you wouldn't believe.

Those 2 nights, I just couldn't sleep. I kept looking around, checking for him, calling for him... had he come back? Of course, he hadn't. Then, I'd cry some more.

The next morning... at 7:00 am, my phone rang. After tossing and turning all night, I'd finally fallen asleep. So, who the heck is calling me right now?! Half asleep... I rolled over, checked my phone, and didn't recognize the number. I started to hit "ignore," when it hit me: "Lucky..."

I frantically answered: "Hello?!"
A man responded: "Are you the girl with the flyers for the missing dog?"
I sat straight up in bed: "Yes! Have you seen him? Where is he?!"

Before he could even answer the question... I was dressed, keys in hand, running out the door.
He said: "I think your dog is asleep behind the Chevron."
I quickly said: "Please don't wake him. I'm on my way..."

Before I hung up, I just had to say: "Hey mister... you don't know me, but my name is Ashley. For 2 days now, I've been hopelessly searching for my dog. I'm sure others have seen him around, but you're the only one who took the time to call me. I can never thank you enough. I've been praying for this phone call."

I drove as fast as I could to the Chevron. Meanwhile, I was plotting my ambush. I'd have to be quiet --and quick-- in order to get him. Even though I'd feel terrible having to scare him like that, I knew it had to be done. He was just so used to running... it was really the only way.

Then... as I pulled in, I saw him...
Asleep on the gas station concrete...

At that moment, my heart broke into a million tiny pieces...
Because I knew the truth...

Lucky had only stopped there... because that cold, concrete, parking lot... simply felt like home to him...

As tears filled my eyes, I made myself a promise: I don't care how long it takes --seconds, minutes, hours-- I'm not leaving here... without him.

So, with lightning speed... I opened my door, sprinted toward him, threw him over my shoulder, and ran back to the car. As I placed him inside, I could see that he was terrified. He honestly should have bitten me.

I looked into his eyes, and said: "I'm so sorry, buddy. But one day, you'll thank me for this. At least... I hope you will."

Then... I took him home.

That was the last time my Lucky ever tried to leave me.

Even still, he needed more time to adjust. It didn't happen overnight. He didn't trust me for a while. And honestly, early on, he didn't even like me that much. Especially after I'd ambushed him at the Chevron...

But I was okay with all of that. I knew what he needed from me: he needed space; he needed care; he needed love. But most of all, he needed time.

So... I was gentle. I was patient. I was kind. I never forced myself on Lucky. I never pushed him to do more. I never asked anything of him.  

Out in the yard, I'd let him roam as he pleased. I always stayed close-by... yet, I kept my distance. He seemed to be okay with that, so I was okay with it, too.

Soon, I'd see him looking around for me, just to make sure I hadn't left him.
In those moments, I'd stop... I'd reflect... and I'd smile.

He thinks I'm funny
Then... at some point, over the next few weeks... Lucky began to change. Lucky began to accept. Lucky began to trust. 

Lucky began to feel... lucky.

Slowly, he started to follow me, to smile at me, to love on me.
He started to bark, to chase, to play.
He started to become... a Lucky Dog.

I watched... as Lucky let go of the uncertainty, the worry, the pain.
I witnessed... every change, every nudge, every smile.
I became... his friend, his leader... his mom.

And one day, I suddenly realized... that it was happening. Lucky was slowly releasing more than 10 years of daily struggles, and the only life he'd ever known... for me, and because of me.

I apologized, and he forgave me.
I was trustworthy, so he trusted.
I loved him... and then... he loved me back.

It honestly changed my life.

Today, Lucky is the happiest dog I know. He's learned to walk on the leash, and it's one of his favorite things. He loves to play in the yard, and he never tries to escape. He also loves attention, affection, and sunshine.

Lucky loves the simple comforts, like knowing that food and water will always be there. He's realized that he doesn't have to beg, search, or fight for scraps any longer... and it helps him feel safe. 

In fact, Lucky is so comfortable with the food situation here, that he actually demands to have his breakfast served first thing. And if you don't feed him as quickly as he'd like, he will bark at you, until you get off your ass, and give him that bowl. I'm not kidding. It makes me laugh every single day.

Lucky loves Kongs with peanut butter. He loves smiling. He loves me, and I love him.

Lucky loves... life.

If only you could have seen the broken dog that came to me last year. The fear in his eyes, the pain in his heart, the uneasy smile. The dog who was dying... and waiting to die...

If only you could have known that dog...

Then you'd never believe the boy that's here today. I think you'd only believe me... if you'd witnessed it for yourself...

For those of us who were so lucky, his transformation has been nothing short of incredible. Lucky has saved us all.

To those who claim: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks..."
Well... I'm here to challenge that...

Because I took an OLD, 10+ year old, broken-boned, terminally-ill, super-untrusting, at-death's-door, lived-all-his-life-on-the-streets dog... and was able to teach him every trick he needs to know...

Most importantly... how to smile.

But of course... that's nothing compared to the lessons he's taught me: about trust, forgiveness, acceptance, letting go, moving forward....

And most of all: love...

While Lucky may have only days, weeks, or months left to live... he gives every bit of love in his heart... every bit of loyalty in his soul... to me... every single day that he's here.

Seriously... who's the lucky one?

*Lucky Dog Rescue focuses on the forgotten dogs... those with no other hope. If you wish to help other dogs like Lucky find the love they've always dreamed of... please click below to donate today... and please share this post, & ask others to do the same. Thanks -Ash

56 comments:

  1. I remember the day he came to live with you. He's such a good baby!

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    1. I was so glad y'all were here for that! It was such a special day!

      He's changed so much. He's put on so much weight. He LOVES going for walks on the leash and sun bathing in the yard. He is such a happy boy these days.

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  2. What can I say that won't be trite or said hundreds of times? You do God's work, taking care of his babies here on earth. Don't ever change, don't ever give up, and hold on to your hope. These darlings need people like you.

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    1. I agree with Dawn!!!!I am proud of you and Thankful for you and the work that you do!!! I have been rescuing animals for 26yrs and every one of them are a blessing to me,They teach me things that I tend to take for granted or Forget!! Mya God Bless You and others like you!!! Sincerely Linda B

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  3. A very heartwarming story, Ashley. Lucky definitely is a very Lucky dog, for you to have found him and not given up when you thought you'd lost him! Thank you so much for sharing, and for All that you do!
    Kimberly W. Alexandria, MN

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  4. oh geez, once again im a blubbering idiot...so glad one of my pooches is laying on the couch so I can hug him and say a prayer for each dog with out a home tonight be wrapped by angel wings to keep them safe

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  5. Thank you for Sharing Lucky, and Your story, it's why I share every dog I can that is searching for a home and why I hope to be living in a home of my own again soon so I can foster.
    Thank you for all that you do.

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  6. OMG how awesome. you are an Angel Lucky is a lucky dog !

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  7. Such a sad but beautiful story about an amazing dog and his buddy...

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  8. God bless u both!

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  9. This is beautiful. My family just adopted a 2 year old schnauzer who was rescued by a local rescue organization from a puppy mill. He is also untrusting and not sure what to think about being in a home and around a family for the first time. This story gives me hope. We will never give up on him and I know that one day he, too, will be able to smile and love life just like Lucky.

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  10. I have been waiting on this post for several months. Lucky stole my heart as soon as I saw that pitiful picture of him in the kennel. I fell in love immediately, and I've patiently waited to read about his new life with you. Thank you so very much for what you've done in this fellow's life. He is lucky to have found you. No matter how long he has left with you, I know you will make it a wonderful life for him. You are such an inspiration, Ashley!

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  11. God Bless you for doing this for such a precious old sole who needed you.

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  12. Oh my goodness, I haven't cried that hard in a very long time! How Lucky you both are to have each other - God Bless you both!

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  13. That's an amazing story, almost unbelievable. Its such a blessing to know there are people like you in the world, so willing to give when everything looks so hopeless. Though I don't know you I am very proud of you and your work. This story is a blessing to everyone who needs hope, for people and animals too. Thank you and God bless you Ashley. You have a nice way with words too, you might consider becoming an author!!

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  14. Ashley, I remember the day you took him in too. I'm involved with a UK dog rescue charity which specialises in helping older dogs, so I felt particularly for Lucky when I saw his details.

    Must have been heartbreaking when he was missing and to see him on the concrete. We've had old dogs go into foster who clearly do not feel they belong in the house :-( But like you, with the love of our wonderful foster homes, they come round.

    Oldies are wonderful. Well done Ashley and Lucky :-) I hope he is with you, enjoying life, for a good time to come. We didn't expect our first adopted "oldie" to live that long but with lots of love and tlc, she was with us over three years :-)

    Angela

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  15. Oh, lawsy, Ash, you have me just bawling again! You describe so well the things that EACH new rescue baby I bring in teaches me over and over again. They all end up full of LOVE though it takes some a bit longer ythan others.

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  16. Oh, lawsy, Ash, you have me just bawling again! You describe so well the things that EACH new rescue baby I bring in teaches me over and over again. They all end up full of LOVE though it takes some a bit longer ythan others.

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  17. You're amazing!

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  18. What a beautiful story...you and Lucky...you're both angels!

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  19. what a wonderful story. Sure made me smile! You are both truely lucky to have each other. Thank God for you Ashley.

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  20. Thank you...so very much.. for not giving up.. you never gave up. And he, Lucky, is your reward..Sandra Vohs Myrtle Beach SC

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  21. Ashley you are incredible... What an amazing and incredible story filled with hope. Those dogs are so lucky to have you in their lives... I know you also feel like the lucky one. You are inspiring. I share your immense love of dogs and hope to be able to help them hals as much as you have some day.

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  22. Wow! What a great story. I cried through the story, thinking of all the other dogs that people have given up on - because of age, sickness etc... Thank you for not giving up on him! You are truly an angel!

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  23. I suppose this makes up for the alcoholism and the meth addiction that is your life.

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    1. why did you post this?? if you have an issue with this person then you should have addressed it IN PRIVATE! DONT RUIN ALL THE GOOD THAT SHE HAS DONE! SO NOT COOL!

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    2. For making a comment like this, it just shows how small you are. Not worth anyone giving you the time of day but because God will forgive we must. Shame on you.

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    3. Chris Hoar made that comment. He was totally kidding... just trying to make me laugh.

      But I'm sooo touched to see that y'all stepped up to defend me when you thought he was serious! Thank you :)

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    4. I saw that last night....I was thinking "WTH?"

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    5. Chris and Ashley created Pet Pardons - that's how I knew it was a joke. :)

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  24. Loved the story, Ashley...thanks for sharing. (smile)

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  25. I loved this!! Thanks Ash for loving this beautiful little soul the way he should have been loved from the day he was born! You are the best! Love to Lucky!! :)

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  26. I JUST read about Luckys story with tears in my eyes! and then I read some rotten mean comment that someone left on here (I POSTED A REPLY)! I WILL IGNORE IT AND MOVE ON! I WANT TO say thank you and send you a huge high five for never giving up on LUCKY! your dedication is AMAZING! XXOO (from SSM)

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  27. Wonderful. I read a novel, that is similar, called "One Good Dog" by Susan Wilson, and "co-written" by Chance. I recommend it.

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  28. Wonderful. I read a novel that is similar called "One Good Dog" by Susan Wilson, "co-authored" by Chance. It's an unforgettable book.

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  29. This is such a sweet story,God bless you Ashley and Lucky too.

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  30. Not sure if you will have a chance to read this or not, I've been watching your blog/site a while and can only begin to imagine how busy you are...always. I'm in Eastern Canada so that will give you some idea of how far your blogs will travel. I read this, this morning while eating breakfast readying myself for the work day. As I sat reading tears began to fill my eyes. Thank you for giving this ole' guy a new leash on life and showing that not all humans are self-servicing. I am sure his trasformation was nothing short of a miracle and amazing to watch. Thank you for all you do and all those who help you both near and far in the rescue and rehabilitation of one of God's greatest miracles, in his image, man's best friend, the dog. As anyone knows who loves this noble and majestic friend, never will you find someone so loyal and true. God bless you for what you do.

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    1. I just read your sweet comment. It touched my heart more than you could know. Thank you!

      Sending you love from Mississippi ;)

      Love,
      Ash

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  31. I have fed the dogs at the bank-including Lucky as long as he was there-everyday for 3 1/2 years..There were 4 left after Lucky was taken, but one apparently passed away approximately 2-3 weeks ago. On the weekends I go to Jasper just to feed them. My only wish would be that someone could rescue the remaining 3 dogs. So many people have made fun of me for caring so much--one worker even threatened to posion them, but they have become dependent on the little bit of food everyday in their bowls...I applaud your endeavers.

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    1. I know a couple of people who have been trying to help those remaining dogs. If someone gets them, please contact me. I'd love to help find them fosters and forever homes.

      Thank you for taking care of those babies. You're an angel.
      Ash

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  32. There goes my chance of making it through the day without crying. Oh, well - it was happy tears this time! Best wishes to you, Ashley! You are a true gem. So many lives have been saved because of you! Lots of love and luck to you! It will all work out if you have faith! :)

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  33. I just stopped crying long enough to write this. You are an angel and Lucky is blessed to have you in his life, as long as it may be, and I hope it's a long one!! My heart aches hearing the torture he went through but I am so glad there are people like you who have hearts of gold!!! I donated before and will do it again!! Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for making Lucky the luckiest!!! <3

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  34. Thank you thank you I wish there were more people like you in the world it would really be a better place

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  35. U R the true embodiment of an ANGEL...they don't live in the clouds w/t fluffy wings & halos.
    REAL angels live, work & save in the countries, the towns & the streets where they're needed!
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you've done & will con't to do to make this world a better place for ALL God's creatures. :)

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  36. Thanks Ashley for not giving up on Lucky, it sure made me cry but it has inspired me and all who are reading Lucky's story. I always have loved animals from a little kid,I used to bring home the pitiful, helpless, homeless, hurt Dogs and Cats and drove my Mom crazy, lol. I have had many Dogs and Cats over my 55yrs and now my kids a grown up. Now, I really want to do something more for the lost and animals at risk. I'm getting ready to volunteer at our local Shelter and working with local Rescues to make a difference. I only have 6yr old Cockapoo and have room for a few more and will foster Dogs in need. If more people like me would choose to do little more to help and educate the community, we would have less animals wondering the streets or get euthanize daily. Thanks for sharing your story, it give me hope and inspires me to push forward.

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  37. What a wonderful story!! He looks awesome, and you are such a special person, Ashley. <3

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  38. What a touching and wonderful story with a happy ending. I want to do more, have 2 little dogs and a rescue as well. I would love to take them all, but we all know that is impossible. So I advocate and share stories. I know some of my friends don't like hearing or reading about these poor babies, but everyone needs to get involved somehow. God bless you for what you are doing. Give Lucky a hug please, we are pulling for him!

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  39. Bless you for helping this sweet guy...he waited along time for you. Then there you were...Your an angel sent to Lucky...

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  40. Lovely post Ashley; so happy for Lucky!
    Lisa@ Home for Life

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  41. I cry every time I read your posts. You are SUCH an angel. Thank you for everything you do for these babies!

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  42. Ash, do you have a boyfriend? If not, you need to find one as compassionate as you and make lots of babies. The world needs TONS more of you. So get to it :-)

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  43. You are a blessing to these dogs who need love!

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