On February 26, 2015, in the Chicago suburb of Lansing, animal control found a horribly abused dog in desperate need of help. She was emaciated, badly scarred both physically and mentally, and abandoned in a dirty cage. It was a dead-end street; it was snowing and cold. They could immediately tell she had been used as a bait dog, because of her wounds. What is a bait dog you might ask? The horrible answer is they are gentle dogs used as “practice” for fighting dogs to hurt another dog. It is a barbaric, and cruel way to treat animals, and many bait dogs often succumb to their wounds. This dog, however, did not, which is why she was likely abandoned on that cold, snowy day.

She didn’t know it then, but her life was about to become magical and wonderful for the animal control took her to a nearby animal shelter, the South Suburban Humane Society. The South Suburban Humane Society was started in 1970 to take in unwanted animals and find them homes. Years later they expanded to include thrift shops to raise money to help adopt more animals into loving homes. The dog, whom the South Suburban Humane Society (SSHS) named Lefty, was terrified of people but the workers there were patient, taking great care to show her people can love, along with getting her healthy and helping her gain weight. One of the trainers, named Tony, really took a liking to her and worked with her often. She became important to the SSHS when they launched “Leftysjourney” on Facebook and YouTube discussing her journey from an abused bait dog to an adoptable family member. Trainers at the shelter worked with the dog they named Lefty to make her adoptable and not terrified of people.

People started to hear about this wonderful dog and donated money for her care. It was just the beginning of her new journey as that May a couple came into the shelter to adopt. They were a couple who always loved dogs, and raised dogs (always shelter or rescues dogs, never bought) and were looking to add a new dog to the family. That couple was my parents and I learned from them that a dog means a forever responsibility. My parents never returned or rehomed a dog. They spent time with Lefty and decided to adopt this wonderful dog. She was renamed Lucky, because as my father often said, “she’s lucky we adopted her, and we are lucky she adopted us”. While she never got over her mistrust of many people was extremely attached to her family. One of her greatest moments was the following Christmas when she received several new toys and lots of chew bones. She was very spoiled and always expected to get her way and get what she wanted (which was usually always). In fact, the veterinarian warned my father about her weight because she went from the emaciated dying from starvation dog to a spoiled, chubby dog who ate snacks with her much loved human daddy.

Sadly, all good things come to an end and Lucky’s story does as well. November 2020, she started to become sluggish, such as struggling to walk and eat. She was taken to the vet to see what the issue was, only to find out her heart was failing. The vet assumed it was due to her previous dog bait days but couldn’t be for sure. The decision was sad but the only choice and that was to be humanely “put to sleep”, only unlike millions of unwanted animals, she was surrounded by her family. I wish every dog had a second chance like Lucky, but if more people would adopt instead of shop, we would have more stories like hers.

Rest in peace Lucky, and you will never be forgotten.