Storytime: Love Moves Mountains

Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Boxers.


Featured Rescue: Heart of Ohio Boxer Rescue


Love Moves Mountains… And Lifts Dogs

One of the most heart-wrenching experiences in my 30 years of doing rescue was also one of the most rewarding. I had ventured out on a rather dreary winter day to get some dog food and other small items, including bread and single-wrapped cheese, when my phone rang with a call from a woman who had a rescue emergency. She said she was from a construction company with office space in a large complex. When she arrived at work that day, she heard a noise under the deck and discovered a Boxer-looking dog huddled in the far back corner.

I arrived at the complex to find a crowd of onlookers, though no one had attempted to help the dog under the deck. I got down on my 70+ year-old hands and knees and saw he was about 20 feet away from me, as far under the deck as he could get. I asked if anyone could crawl back in there and offered to direct them on what to do, but nobody wanted to help.

With no alternative, I fetched a blanket and some cheese from my car and asked if someone could at least pull me out on the blanket once I leashed the dog (my hands would be too full to crawl out). But again nobody would help. Desperate, I asked, “Could one of you gentleman please go get the lady who called me?” Apparently that was easy enough.

At least the woman who had called was helpful. She and another lady prepared themselves to pull me out on the blanket, as I went spelunking under the deck. The ceiling was low and the space claustrophobic. When I came close enough to throw the dog some cheese, I noticed he was emaciated and dirty, and he was dragging something on his left front leg. As I crawled closer and offered more cheese, I saw what was bothering him—his leg was caught in a trap!

The dog appeared to be in severe pain, but I could almost bet he was not going to hurt me because his tail would wag from time to time. I put a whole piece of cheese in my mouth and said in a mumbled voice, “Okay boy, I am not going to hurt you if I can help it.” I got right up in his face, and he took the cheese out of my mouth. At that point I knew I was going to get him out of there.

I asked the ladies to pull slowly on each corner of the blanket. I needed to hold the leash in one hand and the trap up off the ground in the other so it wouldn’t cause the dog additional pain, so the women had heavy, dead weight to pull. The bystanders still just stood around, gaping, as the women hauled us out from under the deck. And when it came time to ask for help lifting the dog into my car, I wasn’t surprised to again find myself alone.

Well, this Boxer boy needed a vet, and I was going to get him to one, with or without help! I really do not know where the strength came from, but I counted to three, said a quick prayer, and up into the car went the dog (trap and all).

It was almost quitting time when I arrived at the vet, so no specialists were available to see the dog. None of the remaining people were strong enough to remove the trap, so they gave him pain meds and sent us off to another veterinary office that could help us immediately.

I went inside to get help removing the dog from my car at the next vet and, in the few seconds I was gone, the dog managed to eat most of the cheese and almost half of the bread loaf! This guy was definitely hungry. After removing the trap and giving him a careful examination, the vet decided to keep the Boxer for a few days. He updated the dog on vaccines, gave him antibiotics, fed him, and tried to restore some blood flow to his damaged leg. It didn’t look too promising, but good nutrition and antibiotics would give the dog a better chance of getting through surgery.

While the Boxer was recuperating at the vet’s office, I had some time to look into the dog license he was wearing when I found him. As his story unraveled, his past became more and more distressing. It turns out the dog had been found by police in an empty house with a torn bag of dog food after the neighbors called them about a dog crying. He was taken to the pound, where he was then released back to his owners after they simply updated their dog license (no questions asked.) So after obtaining the family’s new address from the pound, I zipped over to their house unannounced.

The family met me at the door and appeared very sad when I told them I had their dog. They lied directly to my face, saying that their Boxer had gotten away from them when they were at the library. I suggested we go to the vet to discuss their dog’s injuries, stuck them in my car so they couldn’t flake out, and we were on our way.

The family’s reaction upon hearing the costs of caring for their injured dog was typical. They immediately began complaining that they couldn’t afford to pay that kind of money “for a dog.” Having experienced similar situations many times I knew just what to do…

I took the family (both adults and their two children) to McDonald’s. They thought we were only having lunch, but I was actually about to give them just what they wanted—a way to get out of caring for the family pet they never should have had. As we finished our lunch, I said, “Would you like me to take Boxer boy and pay for his care since you’re unable to?”

“Oh yes, we would,” they answered (big surprise), and I just happened to have an owner release form with me, ready for them to sign. With our business together through, I returned the family back to their home and have not heard from them since.

The Boxer had surgery to remove his left front leg (including the shoulder). To this day he remains one of the most wonderful Boxers I have ever known and is everybody’s friend (both human and animal). Oh, and he’s not just anybody’s Boxer boy anymore… He’s my Clayton.

Mary Nevius

Toki Poki For A Change

Toki PokiWe’ve been focusing on posting stories out of our Lost Souls: FOUND! series on this blog, but today we’ve got a supplemental piece to our newsletter. This month’s “Work + Dog” section features Christy Myhre, her dog, Toki, and Toki Poki, and awesome pet trading card company that does all it can to support dog rescue and other great causes (for example, last month the sold packs of canine-alized (can’t really say personalized, can we?) Valentine’s Day cards, and for each set a person bought, they also donated 500 cards to a children’s hospital. How cool is that?

The purpose of this section is to introduce you to interesting people and inspire would-be pet industry entrepreneurs. So, get inspired! Here’s Christy’s story:


Toki came into my life in February of 2000 in the same way that pets often come into people’s lives.  Toki chose me.  Jumping elated into the air, she grabbed my sweatshirt sleeve and stared at me with big, round eyes as if to implore, “Will you be my Valentine?”  I accepted, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

In 2006, Toki was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor (MCT), a type of skin cancer that can spread throughout a pet’s body and release chemicals that can regularly cause gastric ulcers, internal bleeding, and other potential life-threatening illnesses.  I had no idea at the time what a mast cell cancer tumor was and honestly had no idea what to do. I’ve never been the type that just listened to the doctor – I wanted to speak with pet owners that had similar experiences. My internet research at that time resulted in no connections (as this was prior to the big social networking boom), so in the little time I had to make a decision, I trusted my specialist and went with what she said. After several tests and two surgeries, Toki came home with what we refer to as her 6″ tummy tuck. The tumors were removed and we waited for her results. As I watched her lie in a sunbeam with a frozen bag of corn on her belly, I promised Toki her very own website; all she needed to do was recover quickly, so we could build it together. Her biopsy results came back with clean margins. HURRAY!

Toki’s nickname became the name of our website: My intention with Toki Poki® was to create an online community that puts our pets front-and-center rather than the owners.  And why not? It’s our pets who often bring us together as a community, and pets who give context to many of our interactions and conversations.  Toki Poki® trading cards are simply an extension of that; where pet owners can make custom trading cards of their own pet. After all, aren’t pets our best “team players”? Why shouldn’t they have their own trading cards to collect, share, and spread the word?

As a result of this pet venture, Toki and I have made many new friends around the country – amazing people and their incredible pets that I would never have met if it wasn’t for my dog. We have created an online pet community where people reach out to each other for questions and support.  We have also been able to give back in rewarding ways such as our Toki Poki® trading card deliveries made to children’s hospitals several times each year.  Toki has had a number of additional mast cell cancer tumors removed since 2006, but with the support our Toki Poki® members, the journey remains bright and inspiring even in the most challenging of times. Toki was honored by being named the 2012 “Canine Cancer Hero” for the 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk in San Antonio, Texas.  Both Toki and I were proud to raise awareness on the early warning signs of canine cancer and to give back to what triggered our adventure in the first place.


Storytime: Must a “Real” Golden Retrieve?

Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Golden Retrievers (Vol. I).


Featured rescue: Arizona Golden Retriever Connection


Must a “Real” Golden Retrieve?



When our Golden Retriever, Charlie, passed away, we decided that our three remaining mixed-breed dogs were enough. Several months passed, we had a lot less vacuuming to do, and the lint roller was sitting idle. However, every time we saw a Golden Retriever in a commercial or just walking down the street, our hearts were yearning, which eventually led me to my life’s passion.

 I was aware of Arizona Golden Retriever Connection because I had participated with them in the Fiesta Bowl parade. When the organization put out a plea for foster homes because they were receiving too many dogs, I answered the call. I did not know what fostering a dog was about but was willing to give it a try.

In walked our first foster, Harley, and our world was forever changed. Harley was nothing like our previous Golden Retrievers – Jake and Charlie were very calm dogs and real “retrievers.” They retrieved toys, loved to swim, were well mannered, and would never even think of jumping up on people.

Not Harley. The whole “retriever” thing is still foreign to him. In fact, he doesn’t even understand the concept of toys, let alone getting them and bringing them back to us. Harley avoids water at all costs, won’t step outside unless we’re beside him, and to him jumping up on people is an Olympic sport. We joke that if we have a party and no one leaves with a broken hip, the party is a success!

When we first took Harley in, we were troubled – this was not how Golden Retrievers act. We should know, we’d had two before. Then it hit us. We were trying to replace Jake and Charlie, but instead we needed to quit making comparisons and embrace Harley for the dog he is.

His shortcomings as a retriever became his “selling points.” For example, because of his fear of water, we didn’t deal with a wet stinky dog that developed ear infections all the time. Double Bonus!

We realized that he may not retrieve, but was instead silly, and his joyful exuberance surely made him a real Golden boy. For him, someone new – coming just to see him – was a reason to jump for joy. Turning his faults around worked so well that we immediately found him a home – ours! We had succumbed to what is known as “foster failure,” which in this case was a very good thing.

Now we have our Golden “Retriever” and the story should end there, right? Well, I still decided to volunteer for this terrific organization that had found us the “perfect” dog. First, I just did transport, then I became Intake Coordinator, then Board Member, and for the last four years, President.

Harley helped me find my passion and has taught me so much about life. He reminded me that I can mourn the loss of something near and dear and hold it in my memories, but I can never replace it, and that is OK. He showed me that the “baggage” each of us carries can often be pried open to reveal a treasure buried within. He demonstrated that sometimes not conforming is a good thing. In the end, he has helped me to see that we are all guided to exactly where we are supposed to be, even if that means being a little different sometimes.

Candace Ziemer

Storytime: Early Warning Izzy

Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pit Bulls.


Featured Rescue: Fugee’s Rescue


Early Warning Izzy

A week before Halloween I was propped up in bed with my laptop on my knees, and my adopted Pit Bull, Izzy, was stretched out at my feet. It was 10:30 at night, and I was looking forward to sleeping in the next morning. My yard and porch were completely dark, as I had turned off the outside lights before going to bed.

Izzy came into my life two months earlier from a local Pit Bull rescue organization after I saw her adorable face online. Her short, golden hair and baby-bird’s-wing ears appealed to me instantly. Izzy was skinny but very energetic for a middle-aged “woman,” with manners that needed a bit of polishing, but she was wonderfully friendly and non-aggressive toward people of all ages.

I was a divorcee living alone in a log-style house that faced a two-lane road without sidewalks or shoulders. There were no casual passersby in our neighborhood of newer luxury homes and one modest remaining rental, a small cracker box separated from my property by a line of red-tip trees. The current renter was a single man, a landscaper who worked long hours.

I was about to shut down my laptop for the evening when there was a thunderous Rap! Rap! Rap! at my front door. Alarmed, Izzy raced toward the door, barking loudly, and I picked up my cell phone from the bedside table to call 911. The police arrived within minutes and walked around the yard. Finding nothing suspicious, they did ask me if I’d seen any vehicles. One officer told me my dog had probably frightened off anyone who’d been on my porch. I might have had difficulty going to sleep that night if not for my canine early warning system.

While walking Izzy on Halloween night the next week, I noticed my landscaper neighbor through the red-tips, sitting in his yard, burning a small amount of garden debris and talking calmly to a woman on speakerphone. I returned to my house and was putting the chain on the front door when I heard a desperate person in the middle of the street, shouting, “Help me!” Again I called 911, reporting that I thought someone had been hit by a car in front of my house. Several cars stopped and a fire truck and ambulance arrived very quickly. Izzy and I sat on the porch, watching from a distance so as not to interfere with police activities.

I was stunned to hear on the news the next day that my neighbor had died at the hospital, the victim of a hit and run accident. Further stories revealed he had been struck and injured in the driveway of his home during the short time it had taken me to walk through my house after coming inside.

Several days later, a state trooper came to question me about anything I might have seen. The officer told me my neighbor had lived long enough to report seeing an unfamiliar white van in his driveway a week before he was killed. On Halloween that same white van had pulled into his driveway, so my neighbor approached the driver to ask why the two men were there. The driver responded by sharply turning the van and ramming him while racing out of the driveway. Badly hurt, my neighbor had dragged himself into the street and cried for help, which is when I heard him.

The officer told me that they had not been able to locate the white van, but they suspected that at some time in the past, drugs had been sold out of the rental house. The men in the white van may have been seeking drugs and, when they realized they were at the wrong house, ran down my neighbor before he could get a close look at them.

It was a terribly disturbing episode, especially when the dead man’s family arrived to gather his belongings. I couldn’t help wondering if the mysterious rap on my door the week before had been the same men, looking for drugs. If my Izzy had not sounded the alarm and frightened them away, would I have been a victim instead? I may never know the answer, but I know I sleep much better with my warm friend and her no-nonsense bark at the foot of my bed.

Nancy Pauline Simpson

In Memoriam: The Wonderful Mr. Rigby

Sadly, another one of our Lost Souls: FOUND! superstars passed on recently. We’d like to honor him today by sharing his story with you, which appeared in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Basset Hounds.

In the words of his “dad,” David Posner, Mr. Rigby “found a way to captivate by being nothing but himself and not much seeming to seek approval. Perhaps, a lesson for us all.”

The Wonderful Mr. Rigby 

Basset Hound Rescue Dog

Mr. Rigby is approximately nine years old. This tri-colored Basset Hound came into my life during a cold November five years ago. Back then I had just moved to the Washington, DC area and was not looking for a dog, but it was hard not to be drawn to Mr. Rigby when I saw him at an adoption show in front of a local pet store.

For a large Basset Hound, he was horribly malnourished. Stretched out on the sidewalk, his handsome head seemed unsupportable by an emaciated body whose every rib was visible. I spoke with his handler and learned that this poor boy, Rigby, had been found wandering in the woods in even worse shape. After several weeks of care, he still weighed in at only 38 pounds, which is 12 pounds less than what he carries today while looking trim. 

I went into the pet store and bought him the biggest bone I could find. He picked himself up off the concrete, and within minutes he’d cracked the bone into pieces. I knew I had to leave soon, or I’d be taking this fella home.

One week later at the same time, I returned to the same pet store, and to my secret delight, Mr. Rigby was again in attendance, slightly heavier and more animated.  I bought him another bone and watched him make short work of it. But once again, I left without taking the plunge.

Another week lapsed, and I was drawn back to yet another adoption show. As you may have guessed, Rigby was there. But there was another twist to his story.  He had spent a few days of the last week in a new home, only to be returned for stealing food off a kitchen counter. I was amazed that a Basset Hound could pull off such a feat, surprised that his new family would have rejected him for it, and secretly relieved that I had not missed my chance to rescue Rigby. I filled out the paperwork right then and there. In keeping with his proud appearance, I added the “Mr.” to his name, and thus commenced my life with Mr. Rigby.

No doubt, nearly everyone who has a dog loves to gush about how wonderful his or her particular pet is. Forgive me my bias, but Mr. Rigby is the most wonderful dog in the world (aside from his brother, a 10-year-old rescued Cocker Spaniel named Duke). He is wonderfully willful, for instance, demanding 10-minute belly rubs whenever he wakes from his 12-hour naps. He’s wonderfully stubborn, like when he routinely digs in his heels while we’re attempting to cross busy thoroughfares. He is wonderfully self-absorbed, staring for hours at nothing, or at least nothing that I or even Duke find worthy of a moment’s notice. And he’s wonderfully assertive. He barks out his requests to be carried downstairs (for the last year arthritis has curtailed his ability to descend on his own but hasn’t weakened his conviction that the mattress in the second-floor bedroom is the most comfortable spot in the house for dozing). But most of all, he is wonderfully loved by just about everyone (human and canine) who crosses his path.

On our many walks, slowed to an aging Basset Hound’s pace while Duke strains for more speed, nearly every passerby smiles after they’ve gazed down at Mr. Rigby in his contentment. That’s his gift to us: his gentle nature and the smiles it evokes. It is wonderful indeed. –David Posner

Storytime: The 13 Days that Will Last Our Lifetime

Read this and other wonderful rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Dachshunds


Featured Rescue: Dachshund Rescue of North America


The 13 Days that Will Last Our Lifetime

We adopted Baron and his sister Abby from Hearts United for Animals when they were six years old. Baron had been an expensive dog – requiring back surgery for Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) at the age of four – and so the pair was surrendered by their owner due to financial hardship. Baron also had a heart problem and contracted a virus the week before we went to get him. He was so sick that he refused to eat and lost four pounds (he was only a 13-pound dog to begin with).

We brought him home and hoped he would recover, but his heart could not take the strain the illness put on it. Two visits to the highly skilled vets at Texas A&M could not reverse or lessen its devastating effects and on the morning of his 13th day with us at 8:14 am, Baron crawled into my arms to give me the first kiss of our association and the last one of his life. He put his head down on my chest, his heart gave a stutter and a thump, and he was gone. He tried so hard to stay with us but passed of a massive heart attack.

Though it had been only 13 days, Baron had a lasting impact on our lives. We believe that Baron knew it was his time and stayed with us just long enough to give Stomper, our other disabled Dachshund, the courage to walk again, and to ensure his sister Abby was safe in a loving home.

Stomper swam very well using his back legs but refused to move them on land. By putting his nose under Stomper’s rear end, Baron was able to lift Stomper up and push him around. To our surprise, Stomper started walking again, which he might not have done if not for Baron. He’s wobbly, but we’ll take it!

With that first and last kiss, Baron demonstrated that he knew he was home, loved, and in our hearts forever. Baron is buried in our front yard with a rose bush that is forever to be known as Baron’s Rose. A beautiful, red rose bloomed a week after Baron’s passing, and the bush continues to bloom throughout the winter, reminding us of the lasting impact Baron’s few days with us had. –Southwind Kane

Storytime: Eyes Only For You

Read this and other wonderful rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories of Adopted Boston Terriers


Featured Rescue: MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue


Eyes Only For You

I didn’t grow up with dogs, and never really wanted one until my kids started getting older and more independent. I realized that my growing unease was the all-too-common “empty nest” feeling parents experience as their kids become adults. I decided a dog might be just the thing to create some new noise in our home. My plan was to begin researching breeds so that in six years when my youngest graduated I would maybe have found the right dog and be ready to adopt (yes, I’m a planner)…

Although I thought a dog would be a long ways off for us, I kept an eye on regularly to see what dogs were available for adoption. After only a few weeks, I narrowed my search down to a few different breeds. I decided to go with a Boston Terrier, not only because of all their wonderful qualities, but also because it was the breed that my now-deceased mother had when she was a little girl. I was looking for a dog with a medium build that loved walks and car rides and people in general. There was only one hitch—I couldn’t stand the big, protruding eyes! They just freaked me out.

After weeks of looking through Boston Terrier profiles online, I came across a story of a 3-year-old named Odie who was surrendered because his family had had a baby. His side view portrait showed a cute, shmooshed face and stocky build, and from what I could see in the pictures, his eyes didn’t seem to protrude. Though my youngest was still in school, I couldn’t help but change my plan and apply for this dog. He looked like he had so much spunk and would be fun to have around!

I went to his foster parent’s home to meet him and there, from the top of the stairs, he stood smiling at me… with eyes that looked like they were about to fall out of his head! They were so “googly” that I couldn’t even tell which way he was looking! My heart sank, but before I knew it, he was in my arms, washing my face with slobbery doggie love.

After such an outpouring I was helpless but to “look the other way” about his eyes and take him home. Today Odie’s eyes are my favorite part of him. I think they are beautiful. They talk to me! I even made a song up about them to the tune of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. It goes “Sweet Odie Pie, you’re the cutest little guy, you have the most beautiful eyes, sweet Odie pie.” Something like that…

I really lucked out on such a great dog with amazing character and expressive eyes. These days I wonder whether he thought I was the one with the weird-looking eyes when I first met him. If so, I’m glad he was able to overlook it because I couldn’t “see” a future without him!

Kirsten Lahr

Storytime: Bustered

Read this and other wonderful rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pit Bulls


Featured Rescue: It’s the Pits



Let me introduce you to Buster, a seventy-pound lapdog with the attitude and personality of Scooby Doo. He loves to eat, runs from danger, and will be your best friend for a few hugs and snacks. He was born at It’s the Pits Rescue in San Diego after his mom was pulled out of an abusive situation. He weighed a measly thirteen pounds when we met him and I wasn’t really looking to adopt that day, but Buster really picked us. My girlfriend (now wife), Lisa, and son fell in love with him instantly, so what’s a guy to do?

I have to admit Buster is a very smart dog, as most Bullies are. He has learned to sit, speak, lay down, shake, and even eat on command. I was impressed at how quickly he learned to do things, but there was one person he loved to mess with: Lisa. I swear they have this funny, love-hate relationship thing going where they tease each other like crazy.

It was New Year’s Eve and we had friends over at our house celebrating, so we crated Buster in the bedroom. As midnight approached we decided to go out to get coffee before counting down the New Year. Lisa stopped in the bedroom to check on Buster and say goodbye. She gently teased and laughed at him, since he is rarely crated in the house. He just smiled back, looking content.

Several hours passed, and with coffee cups emptied, we headed back home. As we arrived, Lisa noticed the blinds moving in our bedroom window and, of course, we were curious to see what the commotion was. We opened the front door and made our way into the bedroom to see Buster, innocently sitting inside his crate…with the room a total mess! Lisa had forgotten to lock the crate and Buster had wreaked havoc, now pretending that it had nothing to do with him. We were amazed at the chaos, but what caught our attention most was that he only destroyed Lisa’s shoes. He ate two pairs of tennis shoes, one pair of heels, and one pair of flip-flops. In the end, Buster got the last laugh, and Lisa got new shoes.

What can I say, about these dogs? They are awesome when treated with love and respect. Despite his mischievousness, Buster is a great addition to our family and still messes with Lisa to this day. He always manages to find the one thing that drives her crazy, but in the end they look out for each other. Buster is part of our family: when times are tough he is always there, when you want someone to listen he won’t talk back, and he is the first to lay in the middle of the kitchen floor so you can trip and drop your food for his enjoyment.

Ahren Nunag

Storytime: The Great Christmas Feast

Read this and other wonderful rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Beagles


Featured Rescue: Cascade Beagle Rescue


The Great Christmas Feast



The door closed, and I looked over at Paris.

“So what’s the deal here?” I asked.

“Oh, so you can talk to me,” she replied. “I wasn’t too sure. You looked pretty bad when the people brought you here.”

“Of course I looked bad,” I barked back. “I’d been in that shelter for two weeks, I’d just had surgery, and I had kennel cough and a tapeworm!”

“The people looked worried about you. I’ve seen that look on their faces before.”

That was interesting. “Oh yeah?” I said, trying to get her to elaborate.

“Oh, yes. The previous dog was with the man for 84 years,” she said. “Before she left, she was pretty sick, too. That’s when they looked worried. When she was gone, I think it was especially hard on the man.”

So there was another dog here, I thought. Now that my nose had recovered, I’d smelled, but not seen, traces of the other dog: a tricolor Beagle like Paris.

A rather mundane dog, I thought to myself, unlike my distinctive red-and-white markings.

Paris continued. “Maybe you’ve heard of her? Lucky? Of the Great Christmas Feast?”

Now I knew she was just playing with me. Every dog has heard the legend of the Great Christmas Feast, but mostly through stories told to us as pups. Besides, you meet a lot of dogs named Lucky, and they all act like they’re part of that tale. Paris probably thought that because I’d been sick I was a pushover.

“Oh yeah, right,” I said. “Sure. Lucky of the Great Christmas Feast lived here.”

Paris gave me the coy look I’d seen her give the woman when she wanted a belly rub.

“Believe it or don’t; it’s all the same to me,” she said. “How about I tell you the story and let you decide for yourself if I’m telling the truth?”

Knock yourself out, I thought.

“It was a long time ago, before I joined the people. In fact, Lucky said it was before I was even born. One day she went for a ride with the people to another house. When they got there, Lucky said, it was the most amazing thing you can imagine. There were people of every age, from very young to very old, in every room. As it turned out, she was the only dog there, so she got lots of attention. But even more important were the smells. Lucky was a Beagle in the finest tradition of Beagles, and she said there were almost too many smells to count: people walking in and out from all over, carpet smells, furniture smells, and food smells. There was even a tree the hosts had brought in from outside. Lucky told me it took her over a half an hour just to get the smells all sniffed and another hour before she got them all sorted out. She sniffed everywhere. Lucky was great that way: very thorough. No smell got past her, especially not food smells. She taught me a lot about Beagling and sniffing.”

Paris adjusted herself on the couch and took a glance outside to make sure no one dared walk on our sidewalk.

“Anyway, she spent most of the day working the rooms. Lucky was a professional at this and a pleasure to watch. She had 56 years of experience on me, and I’ve seen her charm the last bite of a sandwich out of the people more times than you can count. She just went from room to room, laying those Beagle eyes on people, and they’d give her a tidbit. She said it started small at first: a piece of potato chip here, a crumb of cookie there. But as the day wore on, she kept getting more and more. Pretty soon she was eating entire cookies! She told me about something the people called “Chex Mix.” Apparently it’s a mixture of all sorts of tastes and smells, each one better than the next: pretzels, nuts, M & M’s and two types of cereal.”

I’d heard the Chex Mix part of this story before, but only in Spanish from a Chihuahua. No one had ever described it in such detail. My mouth was salivating at the thought of it, and I began to suspect Paris was telling the truth.

Paris continued.

“Later that day the people gathered in one room and gave boxes to one another. Inside the boxes were all kinds of things the people called gifts. The boxes were covered in colored paper, which they ripped off and threw on the floor. Being a devoted dog, Lucky knew her job was to tear that paper up, of course. Lucky said she had a lot of fun with the paper, but although she went about her task with gusto, there was so much she couldn’t tear it all.”

Hmm. The paper reference was definitely part of the legend, but I hadn’t heard the gift and box parts before. Either Paris was embellishing, which is always frowned upon in the telling of dog legends, as you know, or she had the real story.

“After the boxes were all opened, the people moved into another room, bringing out food they had been cooking all day and sitting around a big table. There were mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, bread, corn, peas, gravy, creamed onions, stuffing, ham, and turkey. But here’s where the story gets even better. Since Lucky was the only dog there, she got every bite that dropped on the floor. Some of them even gave her bites right from the table. And when they were done, she got to lick all their plates—there were 20—and eat all the leftovers they didn’t want to save!

“Well, as you can imagine, even Lucky had a limit. She told me that after that she became pretty choosy about the tidbits. The people would offer her food, but she would only take it if it was a really big piece of cookie. Toward the end, she said, she even turned down Chex Mix. When the man went to pick her up to come home, he thumped her belly and laughed at how big it was. I guess she was completely full. She fell asleep on the way home, and the man had to carry her into the house.”

I sat in disbelief. Until that day, I really thought this story was just a legend. No dog had ever done so well. No dog had ever eaten people food until they couldn’t eat anymore, especially not a Beagle. (A popular joke among other breeds is “How do you know when the food is all gone? The Beagles have stopped chewing.” They think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard.) At any rate, I finally believed Paris. I was truly in the house of legend: the house of Lucky of The Great Christmas Feast.

Kasey Hodges (Translated by Tim Hodges)

Storytime: Cool Hand Luke

Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Great Danes.


Featured Rescue: Great Dane Rescue of Minnesota


Cool Hand Luke

“So why did you choose him?” my mother asked.

It was a reasonable question. Of the countless Great Danes in need of homes, why did I narrow my choice to this one particular boy with Paul Newman eyes? I had to think about it for a moment. The truth was I had always wanted to rescue a Great Dane. My husband and I had two littermates at home already, a male and female, bought from a reputable breeder nine hours away. In my area there were no rescues at the time, and for understandable reasons, very few were willing to adopt outside of their region.

Then, almost three years later, a new rescue that would work with me was founded two states away. Happy to finally be able to give a needy Dane a loving home, complete with back yard built for zoomies and enough couch space to accommodate twelve giant paws, I scoured the pictures and profiles, searching for the dog that would be a good fit for all of us.

“Every time I looked at his picture,” I told Mom, “I caught myself smiling.”

It was true. There were larger, stronger, spunkier dogs than Luke. Some most likely with better health and bloodlines, but regardless of what he had been through and despite being the short, shy guy in a house full of tumbling, ball-snatching Danes, Luke had a joyful aura about him. He would bend but never break.

Luke came to us in the dead of winter. After a grueling half-day road trip, he refused to get out of the transport car. I peeked in at him and saw his head tucked under the seat, his body shivering. I tried to coax him out with my voice. He wouldn’t budge. The woman from the rescue also attempted to lead him out with treats. Nothing would convince him to leave the safety of the volunteer’s vehicle. Finally we decided to click a leash onto his collar and gently escort him to the door.

There was the initial greeting with “the twins” as I call them, paperwork, and an exchange of information with the woman from the rescue. “He speaks Spanish, and I guess you do as well, so the vet advised you try that for a while to make him feel comfortable.”

Luke cowered behind his driver for over an hour. He was a shell of a dog, frightened of every noise and every movement. He even jumped sky high when I blew my nose. Finally, when I thought he wouldn’t startle, I knelt down and said, “Hola, Lucas. Es un perro muy guapo.”  (Hi, Luke. You are a handsome dog.)

He peeked around the woman’s leg and gently wagged his tail. I continued to pet him, softly speaking in Spanish every so often, as we completed the adoption process. By the time the rescue volunteer left, hours later, Luke was hiding behind my leg instead. That made me smile.

We thought it would put him at ease to slip into our household routine right away. He ate, played, and slept when the others did, silently observing their every move. Watching. Learning. He still cowered when I moved too fast and still jerked at simple sounds like the faucet running, but he grew more confident with each passing day. Luke learned so quickly, in fact, that I decided it best to let him guide me to his needs. Ten days later he did.

We had taught our dogs to obey commands before receiving food. On this afternoon, like every other, I gave the commands to the two English-speaking dogs. Then I spoke to Luke in Spanish. He flashed his eyes to Thor, his new brother. Then, he shocked me by stubbornly standing still, his face a question mark, as if he had no clue what I was asking him to do. I repeated the “sit” command in Spanish. Again, Luke did not move a muscle. He was holding up the line, risking a correction from his brother and sister. It was a bold move since he was the most submissive in the pack, and I had to tip my hat to him.

“Luke,” I said firmly, “sit.”  He did.

Since then it’s been the little things that make me smile. Like the first time he found his voice and barked (he hasn’t lost it yet). Or when a strange dog lingered outside my office and he growled, deeply and seriously. (I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was his own reflection). Or the Sunday morning the twins lead him into our bedroom for wake-up kisses. All of those moments made me smile. Every day he makes me smile.

But the day he taught me a lesson—that sometimes dogs know best and everyone just wants to fit in and feel like they’re part of a family—that’s the day I cherish most.  –Barbra Annino