She’s One Lucky Dog

Lucky Dog Lena
Today I’m going to get a little personal. If you are here strictly for the DIY tutorials, you might want to come back another day.

Those of you that have been following my blog for a while (6 years or longer) may remember when we adopted Buddy aka Handy Dog. Buddy was an amazing dog and was truly my best friend. Buddy’s foster mom told me that she thought he was a Walmart greeter in a past life. I don’t know about that, but I do know that he never met a stranger.

In fact, he had the ability to coax even the most anti-dog person into petting him. Sadly, Buddy passed away in early April. He was diagnosed with a tumor on his heart. Luckily we had four wonderful weeks to spoil him before it was time to say goodbye. I thought I could wait longer for another dog, but Buddy left a huge hole in my heart and only another dog could help heal my broken heart. I began looking for a new dog on (a huge database of pets that need homes.) I searched for English Shepherds that would be a good fit for our family. I had high standards, so finding the perfect dog was proving challenging. He or she had to be mellow, friendly with other dogs, good with children, not too anxious or skittish, 3-5 years of age, around 50 lbs., and didn’t chase cats.

A few dogs caught my eye on the Petfinder search, but ultimately they didn’t quite fit my criteria. Then two weeks ago, this sweet face caught my eye:

Lucky Dog Lena

There wasn’t much information about her except that she was a gentle teddy bear of a dog. I filled out an adoption application with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue to allow me to get more information. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is based in the Washington, DC metro area. The organization works with several high kill shelters on the east coast including ones in North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. They also work with a shelter in Puerto Rico. Lucky Do only rescues dogs that they have spots for in foster homes. The foster parents bring the animals to adoption events every weekend in the hopes of placing the animals in loving homes. Remarkably, Lucky Dog finds home for approximately 1/4 of their foster animals every week!

Soon I received a phone call from Megan, Lena’s foster mom. We talked on the phone for an hour as she told me a lot of pertinent information about Lena. Lena was heart worm positive but she was undergoing treatment. (Did you know that dogs with heart worm have to be given arsenic?) She weighed 70 lbs, but was definitely underweight. (I could not believe this as she looked smaller in her pictures.) She told me that Lena was surrendered by her owner to a high kill shelter in South Carolina (no reason was recorded as to why she was surrendered.) She went on to tell me that Lena is very mellow and a sweet dog. She got along with the foster mom’s dogs. But, what she said next left me speechless.

Lucky Dog Lena

“Lena likes DIYing”, she said. I asked her to clarify and she explained that while working on some DIY projects she turned on the power sander. Her dogs scattered the moment the sander started up. But, Lena stood her ground and watched as if supervising the project. The same happened when she used a power stapler. Lena sat and watched. I was trying very hard not to let the excitement show in my voice. But, my brain was screaming, “Adopt her now! This is the dog for you.”

Megan explained that Lena hadn’t been tested with children yet and she would be taking her to an adoption event in Arlington, VA over the weekend. I knew I’d be going to Virginia in two weeks, but Megan couldn’t hold a dog per Lucky Dog Animal Rescue’s policy. I had three options. 1) I could jump in the car and go meet Lena that weekend. 2) I could wait for two weeks and hope that she was still available for adoption. 3) I could adopt her sight unseen. Luckily, I came up with a fourth option.

Lucky Dog Lena

My mom answered the phone on the second ring. “Mom, I’m going to ask you a huge favor. If you say yes, you can count this as my birthday present from you this year.” My mom hesitantly agreed to go to Arlington that weekend and meet Lena. I could barely contain myself as I waited for her to call me on Saturday. When she called she began by telling me Lena seemed very aloof and looked sick to her. Megan had warned me that Lena was not feeling great because of the heart worm treatment. My mom also said that there were children who were petting her and she was very calm. She said a man got up close to her face, and again Lena was calm. Finally, my mom said, “She’s a very sweet dog, Brit. But, there is another woman who seems to be very interested in Lena.” I was so anxious to have this dog, I hung up and called Megan right away. Although it was unusual, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue agreed to let me adopt Lena without meeting her. And Megan agreed to dog sit Lena until I could pick her up in 10 days.

As the hours drew closer to the day I’d meet Lena, I began to feel a pit forming in my stomach. I worried whether I’d like Lena and if she would fit into our family. Megan sent me a few photos via text of Lena. Each time I saw her adorable face, I knew I had to have her in my life. She was beautiful and I was in love with her. Is it bizarre to fall in love with a dog you’ve never met?

Lucky Dog Lena

I knocked on Megan’s door and she waved me in while holding back all the dogs. Each one rushed to meet me at the door except Lena. She hugged tight against Megan’s leg.

Lucky Dog Lena

She let me pet her, but her eyes never strayed from her foster Mom. I found myself feeling guilty for wanting to take her away. Megan assured me that she had easily attached to her first foster parent and that she had only been with Megan for two weeks. Everything seemed to live up to what Megan had told me. She really was a big dog at 70 pounds, but her ribs were sticking out. Lena was very sweet and definitely mellow. I promised to return in a few days after my commitment to attend the DeWalt event in Baltimore. Before I left, I gave Megan my pillowcase with a t-shirt in it so Lena could get used to my scent.

As the DeWalt event finished up, I left a few hours early to pick up Lena before rush hour traffic. I arrived at Megan’s and she took about 15 minutes to give me Lena’s medical files and helped me fit her new martingale collar. Then Megan walked Lena to my van and persuaded her to get in. She gave Lena a few send off words and said goodbye to me. As I sat in the driver seat and checked the traffic in Google Maps Lena began to pace in the van. Then she gave one loud bark of protest. I told her not to bark and that was the last peep out of her. It was a long drive back to North Carolina. After a while she laid down and began to relax. Eventually she dozed off for a little while.

Lucky Dog Lena

When we walked into the house my son smiled big. It was clear that he was happy to have a dog again and he appreciated her calm nature. The next morning Lena met my vet who jokingly said she wished Lena would be more still during her exam. We both laughed because she held impossibly still as the vet poked and prodded her. The vet and I debated Lena’s breed makeup. She is definitely a mixed breed. Perhaps she’s a golden retriever and a german shepherd. I think I’ll just call her a golden shepherd. (Could this be a new designer breed? LOL.)

After the vet appointment I gave her a much needed bath and grooming. She definitely looks like a well loved dog now.

Lucky Dog Lena

Lena is a chill dog. She rarely barks, we’ve only heard her bark a few times (and it is always just one bark.) She doesn’t know many commands, but she knows her name and, “Let’s Go!” Unfortunately we also found out that she has some thunderstorm phobia. I bought a Thunder Shirt with the hope that it will help calm her in a storm situation. I’ll know more as the fireworks start to go off for the Fourth of July.

One of the coolest things about Lena is her tail. It is a beautiful tail that curls at the tip. As she walks and wags, her tail curls to the left side.

Lucky Dog Lena

I have to admit, I feel like the lucky one in this relationship. I’m glad to have been able to adopt Lena.

Lucky Dog Lena

I’m anxious to see how her personality unfolds as she becomes more comfortable with us and as she recovers from her heart worm treatment.

Lucky Dog Lena

In the meantime, we’re enjoying having her around.

Lucky Dog Lena

Do you have a rescue dog? Was it love at first sight? And who rescued who? 😉


84 replies
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  1. Eileen
    Eileen says:

    What a sweet story and what sweet eyes Lena has. How perfect that’s she’s a DIY dog! She’ll be exposed to a LOT of power tool noises in your home. I wonder if that might help her adapt to thunder. Good luck!

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Thanks Eileen. Yes, no quiet time around our house. LOL. I do hope we can help her with the thunder storm anxiety. We had a storm roll through last night and she didn’t like that.

  2. Marcia Banach
    Marcia Banach says:

    Lena is a beauty! I absolutely believe in love at first photo sight! Now Lena has a fur ever home and you guys have a new BFF. Congrats and we’ll done!

  3. Meredith Rhodes
    Meredith Rhodes says:

    What a sweet, gorgeous girl and a wonderful start to your story together! We foster for Lucky Dog up here in the DC area, so I know firsthand how wonderful and dedicated the organization is. They are committed to matching the right people to their dogs and take a great deal of care in selecting their adopters. I’m so glad to see a great fit between Lena and your family. I look forward to seeing more of her on your blog in the future!

  4. Maureen Ercol
    Maureen Ercol says:

    Lena is just beautiful! I’m so happy for you and your family. No doubt you will all be so happy together. Congratulations!

  5. Lis
    Lis says:

    Lena and the story of how you came to meet her is just lovely. I have adopted three strays over the years as well as a beautiful Sar that I found tied up out in the woods in July with no water or food. I fed and watered her and went back home and couldn’t stop thinking about her. A friend who was staying with me for the weekend got so sick of me talking about that dog that she finally told me to go get the car keys – we were going to find her and rescue her – and that is just what we did! Sashi died over a year ago but I had several great years with her and am thankful that I did. She was an old dog and not in great shape when I took her so I am happy for the time we had together.
    Sometimes you just know and it sure was that way for me! Congrats on your new family member – she is a beauty! Love her eyes – so expressive.

  6. Janet
    Janet says:

    She is very lucky to have found you! A home is empty without a dog in it and your heart led you to her! Wishing you many loving DIY years together!
    Get well soon Lena xxxx

  7. Julie K
    Julie K says:

    Pretty, and pretty lucky! I hope you and your family enjoy each other for a long time. I believe rescues know that you saved them and return the favor with love.

  8. Judy
    Judy says:

    I have my first rescue dog, who totally rescued me! We moved to a new province and my little sheltie didn’t last a year , she was older but in good health or so I thought. She suddenly passed away from a heart issue, and I never got to say goodbye. I missed her something awful, she was my dog, with me all the time. So now im in a new place missing my companion like crazy!!! My daughter had gotten a job with a veterinarian and they worked with the local rescue, and in came Whiskey. she was hit by a car and her foster mom needed to have her gone as she was having personal issues , and like you we adopted without me meeting her. And it has been awesome ever since , she fits in perfect with our family!! I highly recommend rescues!! there are so many fur babies out there that need a loving family!!

  9. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Congratulations on the newest addition to the family – Lena is absolutely adorable!!
    Good luck and I am sure she will quickly adjust to her new home!

  10. Colleen Taylor
    Colleen Taylor says:

    What a sweet story & I love her coat of many colors & you can tell how sweet her demeanor is. I’m so happy for you that you have a new dog now. Good luck to you guys with those dreaded fireworks noises. I’m sure all will turn out ok.

  11. Michele Riggsbee
    Michele Riggsbee says:

    She’s lovely, Brittany! And very lucky to have been adopted by you and your family! Both of my dogs and my cat are rescue animals and have been the very best fur babies! I can’t imagine not having them in my life. I hope Lena continues to heal from the heart worm. Thanks for such a feel good post!

  12. Sharon S.
    Sharon S. says:

    Definitely some Golden Retriever in your sweet girl. She favors my full blooded golden Norton who is also very mellow and laid back as well. He would welcome any robber to the house with a tail wag or if he was laying around (which he does a lot as he has become a senior citizen-) or he would have just given a tail thump and gone back to sleep. Never noticed anxiety with storms until he lost his mate to cancer a couple of years ago and he is also very concerned now about being in whatever room I’m in. My husband died suddenly a few years ago and Norton has become very special to me since then. I don’t know what I would have done without him. So glad you found each other- sounds like a mutually satisfying relationship.

    • Alanamous
      Alanamous says:

      Aww, I’m so sorry for your losses of both your husband as well as Norton’s mate. I am so glad you have Norton. Goldens are amazing dogs.

      I just lost my labrador retriever, Moose, suddenly a couple of weeks ago, although he was about to turn 13 and he passed quickly. He lost his adoptive sister when she was 10 (he was also 10 – they were 3 months apart in age). Moose wasn’t afraid of thunderstorms in his early life, however in his senior years he became afraid of them. Since he wasn’t able to go up and down the stairs to sleep with me in my bedroom anymore I would sleep on the couch with him whenever there was a thunderstorm for the past year. Moose was everything to me and I loved how his mission in life was to ensure that everyone he met had a great day.

      I was more than happy to carry a bowl of water to him several times a day in his old age because I knew he was too tired to get up and get a drink himself, even though we would still go for a mile walk each day and later in the day Moose would bring his toys to me to play to ensure I would continue to smile and laugh. I also didn’t mind that my house became covered with area rugs and bath mats just so there wouldn’t be any slippery surfaces where Moose would feel uncomfortable walking as a senior.

  13. Sheryl
    Sheryl says:

    Oh Brittany, that is the sweetest story and Lena is a beautiful girl; what a gorgeous face. We adopted a rescue dog after fostering for the group. I saw her on their faceook page, and a few days later we were driving to Hinesville, GA, to pick her up. She must have known right away that we were her family because she hopped right into the car with a huge smile on her face. That was five years ago. It’s been a hard road for her even at our house, as my husband died and my kids went to college. But she’s very adaptable and very sweet. Wish I had the time and energy she needs, but we’ll all just have to give each other a break. Oh, did I mention I drove to east Tennessee to get the cat I found on Petfinder? Apparently I’ll drive anywhere for a sweet face. <3


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