In Dog Blog/ Favorite Posts/ Featured

The Story of Lucille

goose2LLTT3

This past Saturday, the 14th, we celebrated six years with this little furry soul mate of mine, Lucille. She’s a huge part of my life (my whole life pretty much revolves around her actually. Yeah, I’m that kind of dog lady!) so it’s only fitting that I share her story here. This story is a long one and it’s emotional for me to write, but here goes…

luckylucille_factorydress11

It was a little over six years ago that our previous dog passed away, and my mom swore up and down that we’d never get another dog. No dog could ever replace the void that Duke left. He was a goofy Greyhound/German Shepherd mix, and one of those dogs who was simply born good. He was the definition of a good dog and we loved him dearly. That being said, I was born into a home with a dog, I’ve never been without a dog, so I knew it was only a matter of time before my family couldn’t stand the lack of furry face that used to greet the door every day.

luckylucille_tankdress2

Sure enough, about a month later, we were all aching for a dog. We knew there would never be another Duke, but my mom and I set out to rescue another Greyhound all the same. The timing was right since I was entering the first weekend of Spring Break (my second time through college) so I had a solid week to stay home with our new found friend, if we found him. We started at the closest local animal shelter to see what they had. They didn’t have any Greyhounds, but in a far corner we caught a glimpse of a cute, stout looking dog with a big head and an utterly pathetic look. His kennel tag said “Spanky – Pit Bull” and he didn’t get up from his bed on the floor, but his little tail was wagging none the less. He even crawled towards us to try and lick our hands through his cage. Apparently he was recovering from Parvo and was very sick. My mom noted how calm and sweet he looked, not mentioning his breed, but sounding slightly surprised. I assured her that the Pit Bulls that came through the Spay/Neuter program at Vet Tech school were some of the nicest dogs we had. Seeing this “scary monster breed” in such a docile state, with such kind eyes (even though the poor guy was very sick), helped us leave the shelter with even more of an open mind. …but we still wanted another Greyhound!

luckylucille_arizonashirt8

We continued driving farther out of town, stopping at a second shelter, and then continuing on to a third. This third shelter would have to be the last stop of the day since closing time was approaching. As we pulled in the parking lot my mom made a joke about how she’d lose her nerve if we didn’t walk out with a dog this time! This shelter was at least twice the size of the last two and as we walked the isle of kennels looking for the words “Greyhound, Greyhound, Greyhound” we kept seeing “Pit Bull, Pit Bull, Pit Bull”. We learned that the shelter a few minutes across town would euthanize any Pit Bull type dog they got their hands on as an effort to prevent such a “dangerous breed” from …well, existing. As I looked at the faces of these dogs I saw some that looked overly hyper, some that looked anxious, some that clearly weren’t happy to be next to their neighbor, but I didn’t see a single one that looked so dangerous it deserved death with no second chance. I had a change of heart then. I was no longer on a mission to find a Greyhound or a Shepherd mix. I just wanted a dog who needed a loving home. Because I had one to give.

luckylucille_rjr_blog_hop_quilt9

I asked my mom to walk the isle with me again, ignoring the breed tags this time. We both stopped at the cage of a little girl with the most striking markings I’d ever seen on a dog! She was jet black with a thick ring of white around her neck that was flecked with black spots like a Dalmatian. Her cage said “Tobia – Pit Bull”. We asked to take her out for a walk and she seemed very sweet. She was very happy to be outside and was more interested in sniffing around than getting to know us. There wasn’t that instant connection, but my mom and I were still pretty smitten. As the shelter was getting ready to close up we decided to put in an application for Tobia. At the counter, one of the ladies mentioned that if we liked Tobia we might want to see another dog she was housing at her smaller kennel just down the road.

luckylucille_4thofjuly_shirt_10

We decided we had nothing to lose, and after confirming it would be no trouble to check out this other dog after hours, we followed Kelly to her kennel where she housed dogs the shelter didn’t have room for. After a drive that was juuuusttt long enough for my mom and I to question whether this would be worth the extra effort, we arrived and Kelly showed us in. My mom and I walked into her office as she called back to her kennel attendant to bring “Chopper” up to the front.

luckylucille_apihappi_5

A few moments later a little white ball of wiggle burst through the door and immediately locked eyes with me. She was wagging her tail so hard and so fast that I swear her back feet never touched the floor. Here was a dog I was meeting for the first time, and against everything I was taught in Vet Tech school about how to greet an unknown dog, my instinct was to drop to my knees and open my arms as wide as they would reach. This dog, still coming straight at me, mouth wide open, moving as fast as she could considering her legs, body and tail were all wiggling in different directions, entered my wide open arms and showered me in a thousand exuberant, yet courteous kisses.

31385_389578056858_4489_n

I will never forget that moment, for I don’t think I’ve ever felt a connection that instant and on that level, in my entire life. As clichΓ© as it sounds, it was like meeting your oldest and dearest friend again. There was a trust between us.

After the shower of kisses calmed enough for me to turn my head, my mom and I shared a glance and a huge smile as we looked at each other and then back at this little dog. Without saying a word we both agreed she was the one.

Her name would eventually become Lucille.

luckylucille_4thofjuly1

After taking “Chopper” for a quick walk it was clear she had no idea how to be on a leash, but my mom and I assured each other she was probably just really excited to be out. REALLY excited. As this 50lb dog was sporadically jolting my arms from their sockets I said something along the lines of “You know mom, I’m l..UHhh-erning about dog training in school, so I could probably teach her to waAHhhllk better on a leash”. I think my mom just replied with a skeptical “Mmm”. When we got back inside, the crazy animal on the leash returned to wiggles and extreme gratitude, in the form of face licks, in between playing with a toy she had found in the corner of the office. It was then that Kelly started telling us the story of Chopper.

lucillecollage2

The abuse case was called in by a neighbor who reported an emaciated dog tied out in someone’s back yard. …an emaciated dog who was trying to nurse a litter of new born puppies. No food. No real shelter. Left out to starve to death at the start of the winter season. My heart sank when I learned this news, knowing how much love this dog had to give. I hadn’t known Chopper longer than an hour, yet I couldn’t even fathom how someone could allow her to have puppies alone in a yard, and then consciously not feed them or care for them in any way. She and the puppies were rescued in January (if I’m remembering the month correctly) and by the time I found her in March she was back up to a healthy weight and all of the puppies had survived and were adopted. I was told she made a most excellent mother, and she still had a bit of the saggy belly to prove she nursed pups.

luckylucille_BPDOTM_hemplinen7

Kelly tried to show us a picture from the day Chopper was rescued, but wasn’t able to find it. I’m glad she didn’t because I’ve seen that kind of cruelty and abuse in other dogs, and I don’t have the heart to picture it happening to my own. The rescue story only solidified the fact that this little white and brindle dog was indeed The One. After filling out an adoption application, my mom and I reluctantly left. I could have cried leaving her that night but we promised we’d be back for her the next day.

lucille

My mom and I spent the rest of that night on our laptops researching breed characteristics, temperament, Breed Specific Legislation, and positive training methods for Bully Breeds. We bookmarked websites like BadRap.org, literally taking notes about monster myths, and absorbing both the good and bad potentials of rescuing Pit Bulls. My brothers were skeptical, and finding Chopper’s PetFinder mugshot was no help. In fact, her PetFinder listing was so lacking in personality and description that I didn’t even see it when I was initially searching. I’m glad I saved the photo. She doesn’t even look like the same dog.

18639_215975586858_3512987_n

Long story short, we did indeed go back for her the next day and she’s been the very heart and soul of my entire family ever since. It didn’t take long for everyone to fall in love after meeting her. Oddly enough, we called her Chopper for nearly two years before I couldn’t stand how unfitting that name was for her. She needed a name as sweet as she is, and now I can’t imagine her ever being called something besides Lucille! …besides Lou Goose, or Goober, or Hamlette, or Gubby, or Bubs, or any of the one million nicknames she has haha!

goobers

Rescuing a dog isn’t all sunshine and roses. Lucille came with baggage and my neighbors honestly feared her. I spent nearly a year teaching Lucille to walk well on a leash. The “who’s walking who?” jokes got old REAL fast. She was very poorly socialized with other dogs so I worked hard to turn her from dog awkward/dog suspicious to dog courteous (she even initiates play with some dogs now!), but she was always a friend to my small pack of cats. She’s still afraid of the vacuum and won’t walk on hard wood floors. She was the pickiest eater I’d ever encountered andΒ up until a year ago she would frequently make herself ill from refusing food (this stuff has been the consistent winner lately! …knock on wood). Her lack of food motivation made her challenging to train, but her extreme eagerness to please made her willing to learn. She has a lot of dental issues from her previous life, and I’m not even going to start with the extra step we have to include with her bath routine (Eww). But she’s always been worth it. Always.

lucillecollage1

I’ve spent the last six years being a silent advocate for her, slowly proving to neighbors that I’m a responsible owner who walks my dog on a leash and supervises her in our yard. They realize now she’s a good dog. Plain and simple. I know my actions and my photos of her speak louder than words (or arguments), and over the years many people have changed their minds when it comes to “scary blocky headed dogs” because of Lucille. I know not everyone will, and I’m not asking for everyone to change their minds, because I know, no matter what, this little furry soul mate of mine is the love of my life and the center of my family. She’s estimated to be nine years old now and I start to cry when I think about the life span of a dog. I want her to be with me forever. She is my everything and I love her more than words can describe.

Thanks for reading our rescue story.

  • Lisa Schofield

    Such a lovely heart warming story, thank you so much for sharing. Lucille is gorgeous and so lucky to have found a loving home.

  • What a beautiful story! How wonderful that you and your family really spent the time and had patience with Lucille. All of you and Lucille are simply awesome.

  • Caroline O

    This made me cry – it’s so beautiful! Love you both!

  • Kelley

    Great story! Thank you for rescuing and sharing a positive pit experience. My rescue also had/has baggage (white pittie/baby bear) but working through them has only solidified our relationship and I have found her challenges rewarding. She came to the shelter where I volunteer as a terrified stray who had recently had a litter. She was reluctant to leave her kennel for walks but was very sweet. Lilly didn’t present herself well while in the facility and no one was really interested in her because they couldn’t get that instant connection. When I brought her home she came in, walked around cautiously, sniffed for a few minutes and immediately perked up. She did a big shake off and jumped right into my husbands lap and our hearts. I hope your other readers are inspired by your story and consider adoption.

  • This just tickles my heart! Lucille is such a sweetie! Great photos πŸ™‚

  • Ashley1313

    Thank you for sharing Lucille’s story, it brought tears to me eyes. It never ceases to amaze me how dogs are capable of such unbelievable levels of love and forgiveness. Give Lucille a big hug for me, she really is a lucky girl!

  • Debi_myhappysewingplace

    Bless you my dear! What a lovely story and Lucille is so lucky and I’m so glad you both found each other!! xoxoxo

  • Emmie

    These pictures of Lucille are amazing, I never even knew she was a pit bull (my dog knowledge is minimal) but it’s clear she adores you. And you her of course!! I didn’t even know that its illegal to own pit Bulls in the UK…

  • Debora McFearin

    Thank you for Lucille, it was meant to be!

  • My heart! You’re such a wonderful advocate, and I’d love to give her a big cuddle! xx

  • Kim Covell-Campbell

    Love love Lucille’s story!!!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I adopted a pittie earlier this year (she’s almost 2) and we’ve been having a lot of the same training and socializing issues. It’s always good to read a success story πŸ™‚

  • Alice

    Beautiful story! I, too, have a rescued cat, she’s two years and half old and it’s only 9 month we’re together (year we have a kind of old grumpy couple relationship lol) and i can’t imagine her not being with me, not being here. I used to have a cat and dog previously when i was living with my parents, and both are dead now, the dog died few weeks ago a year after the cat, it left my parents really broken hearted and they need a grieving time.
    But i’m sure that as the time will pass and my little sister will fly away from the nest, they will take another furry friend, they are so like a person!
    I see it with my cat Rescue (that’s her name!) she has such a temper! She’s a rebel with a MASSIVE HEART! She has been found in the street, the head full of raw sores, she had unknown allergies and the scratching was a result of her scars. Now she still have “blank” spots where there are no fur, and she still keep that pet plastic cone for not harming herself. I will remember all my life the first evening she spent with me, she cuddled me for so long that i cried, we found each other! She keeps me focused on hope and carrying on (i am very depressive) and i bring her a confortable home far from shelter! I LOVE HER SO MUCH! <3

  • Jennifer Hill

    Wonderful! Thanks for writing! x

  • Elena Knits

    What a beautiful story. I’m so glad you found each other. I hope Lucille has many years ahead to be with you!

  • Victoria

    What a fantastic post..I have been considering a dog for about two years now, weighing pros and cons. It is the right time in my life and I would definitely love to adopt, your rescue story is heartwarming. Thank you for sharing something so personal!

    http://www.originsofalandgirl.com

  • jannapyj

    Oh how touching! That was the sweetest story…I’m so glad you share the continuation of it with us! I loooooove seeing Lucille and her sweet smile!!!!!

    JJ
    http://www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

  • glee

    Loved reading your story. We have a beautiful black Adora-bull who is so Love-a-bull and irresista-bull. She is really my 24 yr old son’s dog. We got her from the Humane Society and her sister was simultaneously adopted while we were there! Win win. My son and the sister’s owner even got them together for a play date. I was a cat person for 58 years; but I love our sweet girl. And just like yours, she wiggles with love a mile a minute.

  • What a lovely, heartwarming story. She really is lucky Lucille! I’m glad you found your soulmate x

  • Victoria Anderson

    What a love story! I work at a doggie daycare/kennel and so get to spend a lot of time with a lot of different breeds of dogs. I am looking forward to when I can adopt my own dog, right now I share my sister’s border collie, who is a real love bug.

  • She is the SWEETEST dog and I’m so glad you guys found each other! πŸ˜€

  • I love the story of your dear furbaby. So many of the “bully breeds” were my favorite visitors to get kisses from when I worked in a pet store. So many lovey Rottweilers and Pitbulls.

  • Amanda Russell

    This was such a beautiful and emotional post – thank you so much for sharing πŸ™‚ Lucille is utterly gorgeous, and not the least bit scary – you can see it in her eyes she is loving, caring and intelligent πŸ™‚ It is disgusting to me that anyone could treat an animal in the way that people do; I believe the “animals” in those cases are definitely the ones masquerading as humans, and I’ve never thought of my fuzzy family members as anything other than people, in their own rights. I absolutely know what it is to meet your soul mate and whether anyone else “gets” it or not that they’re not human, it doesn’t reduce the impact they have on your heart and your life. I’m so so happy for you that you’ve found yours, and I wish you many many years of happiness together in this life and the one beyond πŸ™‚

  • Verykerryberry

    Incredibly touching x

  • I know I already told you last night on the phone, but Lucille should be the pit bull ambassador!!!! And she is lucky to have you and your mom and brothers!

  • This made me all misty… whatta dog! I was seriously considering a pit bull last year when I was on the dog hunt but realized I couldn’t handle the responsibility. Its a travesty what these poor babies have to go through. Hope you have many more happy years together!

  • Donna

    Difficult not to get teary-eyed reading that! I worked as a dogwalker for a year and one of my favorite pups was a female pit bull blend named Sweet Pea. And she was SUCH a sweet pea!

  • Debra Ward

    Aww! Love how you found each other.
    After our dog died I said no more. We have two now.

  • Beth

    Thank you for writing Lucille’s story. I’m glad you changed her name. My rescue dog’s name was “Passion” when we first got her. The shelter said they were going through Soap Opera names at the time, haha! I was looking for a Bassett like the much loved dog I had lost. My daughter however stood resolutely by a cage with the most depressed living being I’ve ever seen. She had been found in a terrible place, one of the few survivors. Now Molly is my constant companion. She is either trotting behind me or sitting/laying on me pretty much 24/7. It took about a year to help her trust and be around people. How these dogs find it in their hearts to love a human being after what they have been through is a mystery to me. Molly has been in our family for eleven years now. I hope your story helps people to want to adopt shelter dogs of all breeds! πŸ™‚

  • This story tugs at the heartstrings like two dogs going at a a rope toy. Thank you very, very much for sharing this beautiful story and letting us get to know both of you even better.

    Giant hugs (from Annie and I),
    β™₯ Jessica

  • Melissa Shea

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m finishing my vet tech program now, so I get the whole, “Maybe I can fix this,” mentality, and the urge to rescue those who just need some extra love. And usually my judgment is good enough to know when I can’t fix something. We had a pit mix who was an amazing companion, but developed a fear aggression problem as an adult dog that resulted in her biting multiple people, including me. We could have given her up. We could have euthanized her. Instead, we figured out what was making her scared, and we worked with her to make her more secure in the people pack. It took two years and a lot of training, of the dog and of the people in her life, but she never bit anyone again.

    Her name was Lucy. We miss her very much.

  • What an absolutely lovely and touching story! You two are so lucky to have found each other.
    My sister got a pit bull (unfortunately he has now passed on) but he was honestly the sweetest, goofiest, most loving dog you could every meet. He really changed what my family thought of Pit Bulls too, and I honestly have never met one that I didn’t like.
    Lucille seems like she is worth each and every effort, and she is so lucky to have found such a loving home. It makes me so happy to see her face in your photos and to hear that you treasure each moment you have together. πŸ™‚

  • Cynthia

    My sister has the greatest pit bull mix rescue dog in the world named Panda. I would steal her it if I could but alas Panda is totally devoted to my sister. The only time Panda has growled at anyone was when my sister was very ill and we came into the house unannounced. Panda knew her mommy was sick and was guarding my sister well.

  • AnnaVespa

    I was the opposite; I was looking for a pit bull and found a whippet/blue heeler mix instead! Vespa is inherently good, always eager to please, and she is absolutely my heart and soul! We celebrate our two year “Vespaversary” this Friday! πŸ™‚ All the best to you and adorable Lucille!

  • I love this photos and this story. So incredibly sweet! I love what a huge part of your life she has become.

  • arlene

    such an amazing story, very touching., i grew up with animals too although i cant have a dog right now i kept my cats and bribe sweet treats to my neighbors in the apartment just to keep them. you both are lucky to find each other!

  • What a moving story. I’m a new reader, but now your blog’s name makes all the more sense to me – Lucille truely was lucky to find such a loving and caring new owner.
    I grew up with dogs, too and it’s so beautiful how much they add to our lives. I have so many memories of our last dog and still miss that happy face that greeted me everytime I came home. Somehow dogs are masters of making you feel like they’ve spent the whole day just waiting for you to come home and play with them πŸ™‚

  • This is a lovely story, lucky Lucille indeed. I love that photo of her where she’s upside down, dogs look so goofy upside down.
    What a wonderful example you are for adopting a dog, despite their baggage and improving their behaviour with consistent hard work.
    One of our dogs, Bert, was adopted from a shelter. As soon as they opened the cage he ran out to us and was wagging so hard he couldn’t stay still. He jumped in the back of the car and sat between my sister and I as if he’d been there all along.

  • Honora Nartatez

    One can see the gooey love oozing off of her. Such a lovely girl!

  • what a sweet baby girl!! awesome story.

  • Ronja Zigler

    Seriously bawling now. I love my sweet rescue. A doberman who made a little nervous and was 20 pounds underweight when she was picked up and almost euthanized for being “vicious.” Her viciousness is extreme excitement and jumping on humans because they have treats! I managed to get most of that trained out of her. Thankfully. She’s such a happy and sweet dog, even with her issues, and I love her so much!

  • This is such a sweet story. Lucille is a lucky, lucky beastie. I love her smiley face. πŸ™‚ I hate that there are people who neglect dogs…the thought just makes me absolutely sick.

  • Kathrynne Krause

    <3

  • Lisa

    Thank you for sharing this story! What a sweet dog and so lucky to have you. I have a rescued Great Pyrenees/Lab. She was abused and dumped with puppies near my parent’s home in the country. She was near death and very ill, we have a great bond due to all of the time I spent nursing her back to health. She is the sweetest dog and it breaks my heart that the first two years of her life she was abused.

  • Le Ann Osborne

    Oh, she’s wonderful! And so are you!!!

  • Kacy Burchfield

    Wonderful story. Lucille is truly a lucky girl, as are you to have found her. We have a now 7 year old blue nose pit bull named Sky that was also a rescue and she is a wonderful girl. Thank you for sharing her story. As a nursing mom, I find it so tragic that she was left to feed those pups with no food or water of her own. What a testament to the love that she is capable of.

  • Cindy A

    Wow I should not have read this while at work. It’s easy to see the mutual love and clearly it was meant to be.

  • Ellen

    Sounds like you both are lucky to have each other. Just finished reading ‘A Dog’s Purpose ‘ for my book club, and I have to say that there should be a special place in Hell for people who mistreat animals. Most people are good to animals, or at least not cruel. Thank you for sharing Lucille’s story.

  • Awww! Lucille is so adorable and your story is so wonderful. I really want to adopt a Pit Bull someday, I don’t know why they have such a bad rep, they are so cute and sweet.

  • sallieforrer

    What a sweet story! Pit bulls get such a bad rap! It’s not the dog’s fault – it’s the owners! There is a “no-kill” shelter where I live that specifically picks up pits and tries to give them a new home. And they are ALWAYS overcrowded. And every single one of those dogs has a story of mistreatment and abuse similar to Lucille’s. It just makes me so SO profoundly sad. We have our own Lucille (who is a shepard mutt and sounds very much like your Duke, just a good good dog) but sometimes we think about adopting another pup and I always think of those pit bulls. And I mean, why wouldn’t I after looking at the cute little face up there! Your Lucille is truly the sweetest!

  • AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I LOVE HERRRRR and it’s hilarious her name was Chopper lol

  • Vicki

    What a wonderful story. Pit bulls are banned in Denver being a bordering city we have a LARGE population of them. I think they are the sweetest dog ever! Such a sweet dogs should not have such a hard history. So many homeowner insurances bann them including mine. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  • Lisette

    Oh Lucille, I thank you and her every day for being the inspiration to get Bee!

  • Such a sweet face on her, I sadly lost our family dog in November. I miss her so much it feels so odd not having a dog around we hope to rescue another soon.

  • Oh gosh I’m getting all weepy!! Lucille is such a sweet girl. Thanks for sharing your rescue story. I think she rescued you just as much (or more) than you rescued her. Dogs are like that ya know. Vito sends snots and kisses to his friend Lucille!

  • Karen BarbΓ©

    Oh thanks for sharing your story. I fell in love with Lucille!

  • chantel

    You are a Champ and so is Lucille! Thank you for your story, your kindness and advocacy for bullies. Please keep sharing her with us! She is a doll πŸ™‚

  • julie le chow

    I cannot help but to notice that Lucille has a heart-shaped head. In that kennel pic, you can see the defeat in her eyes ~ Now, it is mirth and bliss. And I truly believe that we do not rescue them; they rescue us. They are great teachers, gurus… a dog loves freely with no agenda, or at least you know what their agenda is (i.e., more treats ! ) Unconditional love is a beautiful and healing thing. The love a dog gives is kinda like dog years, to infinity… I also have a strong sense that it is Duke who led you and your mother to Lucille, because she was waiting for you. He knows and looks out for you, all ways…
    Thanks for sharing. You radiate love and light and clarity ~ right back at you, dog-year like…

  • Luisa De Peuter

    What a moving story Rochelle. I always say Dinah is my third little girl. Yes, I have two humans and a dog sharing love and home since the littlest one was abandoned a year ago. The poor thing was only two months old, a little ball of fur filled with tons of fleas, with her skin really damaged. She still gets easily scared and I know we have a lot of work to do with her, but the love she gives us every day makes it absolutely worth the effort. They are indeed and member of the family.

  • Jenni Murdison

    Needed to read this toda

  • Mary Nease

    No, no, I’m not crying. There’s just something in my eye… like a branch. πŸ™‚

    • my sentiments exactly. we really need to get away from this tree lol

  • This is just beautiful Rochelle. She’s a gorgeous dog, and even more because of all the love you guys give her. She looks so different from when you first got her, so rich and those eyes of hers!

    We have a similar story with our Doris Day, but certainly not the abuse. Rescue dogs are hard work, but they just want love, and they respond & learn so much more when there is that care & love from the family. xoxoxoxo I love all these photos of her! Makes me miss DD! She’s with our friends while we’re away…. a loving family like ours and she’s very happy!