By Naomi Hersh Clackum
A very happy Lucky on his first day in his new home, 1990
Lucky had no memory of where he came from or where his last home had been. He remembered only that one hot sunny afternoon he woke up on the edge of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Not long afterwards, a large vehicle stopped and a human gently picked him up and placed him in the back of a truck, cramped with a dozen other dogs and cats. None of the other animals would talk to him, for like him, they were afraid of the place they were going, that place where dogs and cats were taken when nobody wanted them. They traveled for what seemed like hours when finally the vehicle stopped in front of a large brick building and the human who picked them up opened the doors and let in warm fresh air. Two humans came out of the building and led Lucky and his companions into small cages that lined the walls.
Lucky did not know any of the other dogs there, but one of them nuzzled him and offered her friendship. He was relieved to have some companionship. He wondered why he was there and as he looked around the room he could see there were plenty of bowls filled with water, and some of the dogs even had their own blankets on the cold hard floor. He could not remember if he’d ever had his own blanket before but maybe, if he were good, one of the humans would give him one. He lay down and left side of his body hurt terribly though he did not know why. Lucky watched the humans go in and out of the room with dogs, some of them on leashes, some were excited and jumping around, some were so tired and worn, and the humans were carrying them instead of making them walk. Lucky was so tired; he closed his eyes and thought he could sleep forever.
It was light when Lucky awoke and for the first time in days, he smelled food. He could not remember the last time he had eaten. Most of the other dogs around him were eating hastily, some were fighting over the food and the humans were raising their voices trying to calm them. Poor dogs, the humans did not understand that they were just so hungry they could not get enough to eat. Lucky trudged to the metal dish in his pen filled with food; it was dry but good. Anything was better than not eating at all. He began eating slowly because he did not want to eat it up all at once. When he had finished every bite, he stepped over to the water dish and slurped it up. The water was so nice and clean and cold; it felt good to him.
As he lay back down to rest, he felt uncomfortable as he itched terribly and his skin was very irritated. It hurt when he scratched and he ached for someone to brush him and clean his coat. He knew if the humans noticed him scratching they would give him a bath. Ugh! A bath! He did not like to get his face wet but he was willing just once if it meant he would stop itching. Then he wondered how he remembered he did not like his face to get wet when he could not remember anything else. Lucky still hoped one day he would remember what had happened to him before the human in the vehicle had found him. But for now he wanted a bath and to find his new friend.
Lucky had been sitting for a while when a lady with a friendly smile and a soft voice approached him with a leash. As she bent down and slipped the leash around his neck, Lucky could tell she was nice because her touch was soft on his neck. She did not try to drag or pull him; he was so surprised, and so he went with her out the door and into the sunshine.
To his delight, Lucky saw there was lots of grass and nice big trees. He noticed the humans had a fence all around, but as long as he could lie on the grass and be close to the trees, he could be happy here. The nice lady walked him around for a few minutes and then bent down and took the leash off. He just stood there and looked up at her and then realizing it was okay, he lay down on the grass and started to roll around. It felt good to scratch like that. He just rolled back and forth and when he was done, he lay there looking up at the clear blue sky. He thought if the humans would let him stay here, he would be happy; maybe he would make new friends with the other dogs. Then he remembered the new friend he had made on the truck! He looked all around, but did not see her anywhere. He wondered where she went. He really hoped he would see her and be able to play with her out here in this nice garden the humans had made for them.
Suddenly, Lucky heard the lady calling. He turned around and saw she was kneeling down and had a ball in her hand. Lucky could feel his tail wagging with glee and he wanted to play! She threw the ball and he took off running after it. It bounced once, twice, and he caught it in the air before it hit the ground again! He thought to himself that this was going to be a fun place to live.
The lady played with Lucky for a long time and then she picked up his leash and put it around his neck once again and walked him back to his pen. Some of the dogs were sleeping quietly, while others were just sitting and looking towards the door, as if they were waiting for something to happen.
A man opened another door and took one of the dogs away. It was some time before the dog came back, and Lucky wondered where he had been. Then the man walked through the door again and said something to the nice lady who had played with Lucky. The nice lady took him out of his pen again and walked through the open door to a table on the other side. She and the man bent down, picked Lucky up, and gently placed him on the cold, hard table. The man started to pat him on his head, which he liked very much. He had something shiny in his hand as he lifted up one of Lucky’s ears and looked into it. It felt cold at first but it did not hurt. Then the man looked into the other ear and when he finished, he placed his hand on Lucky’s mouth and said in a kind voice, “Okay boy, open up and let’s see those beautiful teeth of yours.” Lucky felt his mouth being opened gently by the kind man. Then he watched carefully as the lady as she came towards him with something in her hand he didn’t recognize. She gave it to the man and as he held it up, Lucky heard him say, “Good boy, now this isn’t going to hurt, so take it easy… there we go, all done.”
They lifted him from the table and gently placed him back on the floor. He could hear other humans talking as he was going back into his pen, and when he looked toward the voices, he saw more of them and there were children too! They had come in and were walking around looking at all the dogs lined up and down the room. Some of the dogs got excited and started to bark, he could tell they were happy. It was then that he saw her, his friend that he had been looking for all day long. She was with a human and they walked by his pen. When she saw him, she gave him a wag and stopped for a moment. Lucky had never seen another dog quite as pretty as she was. She nuzzled him through the pen and then they sniffed each other in greeting. He watched as she and her human started to walk away. He wondered if she would be allowed to go outside and play with him sometime soon. Lucky went to his water dish and drank; being with the humans had made him thirsty. He lay down and closed his eyes. He did not sleep, but thought about his friend and what would become of them.
As Lucky rested he could hear the voices of the humans as they moved about. He could also hear some of the other dogs barking and panting as they were taken in and out of their pens. It certainly was a busy place. Soon he fell asleep and some time had passed before he woke. He opened his eyes and then realized he had to go and he knew he had to do it outside, for it was not proper to go inside. And so he paced his pen and barked loudly. Soon the nice lady came to him and asked, “What’s the matter boy, do you have to go?” Lucky wagged and his whole rear end started to wag too. The nice lady opened the pen, put the leash around him and took him out. He felt so much better when they came back in. They had not been outside very long, but he noticed as he walked past the other pens, some of the dogs were no longer there, and he wondered when they had gone. He had not seen them outside. All afternoon and into the night Lucky wondered where his other companions had gone.
He slept good that night and when he awoke the next morning, Lucky heard much commotion. He knew from the loud sounds of the other animals, something important was going on. The two Dobermans in the next pen were jumping up and down excitedly about something. There were humans walking around and Lucky just had the feeling that this was going to be a happy event, whatever it was. Dogs just had a good sense about these things. Lucky sat there looking around and waiting to see what would happen next.
All of a sudden, the big double door at the front of the room opened up and in came a large group of humans Lucky had never seen before. Some of them had children with them as they came over to the pens and looked at the animals, talking softly and sticking their hands into the pens to pet them. All the humans were smiling as they went first to one pen and then another. In a little while, some of the dogs were taken out of their pens and brought up to the front of the room. Then one by one, they left along with the humans who had come to get them. Many of the dogs who had come in with him were being taken away by the humans. The humans were smiling and the dogs were wagging their tails so Lucky knew that must be a good thing. He noticed his friend’s leash was being held by a human and Lucky was sad to lose his new friend but he could tell from her bark and her wag that she was happy.
The day passed slowly, and eventually all the humans were gone. There were several dogs remaining in their pens and most of them were very quiet. Lucky wondered why had no one come to his pen to pet him; it made him feel sad. He was lonely and wanted a human companion and a home where he could run and play. With that thought, he lay down and closed his eyes.
Just as he was about to fall asleep he heard a faint sound near the front door. What was going on? He stood up and tried to see past the other pens, as two humans came through the front door and were looking around at the remaining dogs. It was a lady and a man talking to one another and Lucky could hear one of them say, “Let’s see if there are any shepherds today.” Lucky knew what he was and it certainly was not a shepherd and so he became sad thinking that some other dog would be the lucky one to go home with them. So there he sat watching as the two Dobermans in their pens began jumping up and down and barking for attention. The lady kept walking up and down the aisle, but then she turned and said to the man, “I don’t see one single German Shepherd in here.” Lucky detected a sad tone in her voice. Then the man said something to the lady and she turned around to look at the Dobermans, at least that is where Lucky thought she was looking. But no! She was looking at him!
The lady and the man approached his pen and the lady said, “He looks just like a little gentleman sitting there so quietly.” Lucky wanted to jump up and lick her hand, but he stayed where he was. The man whom the nice lady called “Larry” bent down, put his hand in between the holes in the pen, and tried to touch his nose. Lucky started to pull back, but decided to move towards the man’s hand and let him pet the tip of his wet, black nose. His tail started to wag, and Lucky knew this was a good thing to have happen to him. Then the nice lady whose name he heard was “Naomi” stepped closer, put her hand into the pen, and petted him on his head. Gently, she stroked Lucky’s fur, and he thought he would just fall over he was so excited. Then the man asked one of the ladies who worked there if they could take him outside. Outside! Lucky thought. Oh boy! The lady smiled and together all three of them went out into the garden. Lucky was so excited he started to jump up on the lady, but she did not seem to mind. Instead, she knelt down beside him and with both hands, stroked him and talked to him as no human had ever done before. Lucky listened to every word as she petted him and said,” You really are a good dog, aren’t you, I bet you’d like to come home with us?”
Then the man whose name he learned was “Larry” and the lady Larry called “Naomi” looked at each other and smiled knowingly, and Lucky sensed that this was good. He could hear them as they talked, a tone of excitement in their voice. The lady who worked there told Larry and Naomi in a very serious tone, “He really is a lucky dog, this was his last day.” Lucky wondered what she had meant by that, but decided he was too happy now to wonder about anything else but his two humans. His humans. He liked the sound of that!
Larry took hold of Lucky’s leash, and took him outside where Lucky saw something that frightened him– a big blue van. They were walking him towards it. Lucky did not know why this scared him so much, and when he tried to pull away, Larry picked him up gently, and talked to him to reassure him. And then he placed Lucky in the backseat. Then he and Naomi got into the front, closed the doors, and soon they were moving. It was very cool inside the van; Lucky felt safe and secure and began to relax.
It seemed to him they had been moving a long time and he listened intently as Larry and Naomi talked about what to name him. Naomi said, “Let’s call him Lucky, because he really is a lucky dog to have found a home today.” Larry said, “Yes, I like that, it’s a good name for him.” Hearing that, Lucky laid his head down on the seat, closed his eyes and felt happy and safe, as they continued the ride to his new home.
As he woke up from his rather restful sleep, Lucky could feel the van slow down. He lifted his head up and looked out the window. They were turning down a long driveway, and what he saw made him feel happy indeed. There was green grass as far as he could see and trees everywhere. He heard birds chirping and smelled clean fresh air. For the first time in what seemed a very long time, he felt happy. The big blue van finally stopped in front of a home with a porch. Lucky noticed the pretty red flowers growing by the porch and started wagging even before the door was opened.
Larry let him out of the van and did not even take hold of his leash! Lucky jumped down and followed them both up the steps and into the home. As he carefully entered the strange place, he looked around and realized he had never been inside a human’s home before. The only memory he had was one of being outside where it was very hot and dry and sometimes very wet and cold when it rained. The floor was soft on the pads of his feet as he slowly walked around and looked at everything in sight. There was so much space and many soft things to lie on. He heard a squawk, turned around and there sitting by the window was a bird! The bird was small, but he made a lot of noise! He was grey and had little orange circles on his cheeks. Lucky just did not know what to make of this bird. “Don’t worry Lucky, that’s just Mr. B, our cockatiel”, said Naomi, laughing. Lucky liked the sound of her laughter; it made him feel warm inside. Next, he decided to venture to all the other rooms. He took it all in, sniffing and investigating everything.
As he made his way down the long hallway, he noticed a large sunny room with a bed and many little animals. Upon closer inspection, he saw that they were not real, but stuffed! There was a puppy with black spots on both of his eyes, and a little bear, and something else too… Lucky was not sure about what this was. It had purple spots on it and was long like a snake, but it was smiling and fuzzy like the rest of the animals. Oh well, he thought, there is much more to see, and he turned around and went to explore another room. This next room had many plants like the ones he had seen outside. He walked over to a window and caught a glimpse of the yard and all he could think about was how much room there was for him to run and play, and maybe even chase some other animals. Then he heard his name called, “Lucky, where have you gone, boy?” He left this room with all the nice growing things and followed the voice. Naomi was kneeling down and had her arms out and he knew she wanted him to come to her. When he went to her, he sat down and held his paw up for her. “Look Larry, he knows how to give me his paw!” Lucky wasn’t sure how he knew to do that but it seemed to come naturally. Naomi took his paw in her hand, leaned over, and kissed him right on the top of his head. No one had ever kissed him before in all his life. Well, he recalled being licked on his face by other dogs, but he never recalled being kissed by a human! Lucky did not quite know how to react to all the good things that were happening to him on this day. He could not remember the last time any human had shown him such affection.
That first day in his new home, Lucky spent the day exploring everything inside and outside the house. He looked under every piece of furniture and around every corner. By the time he finished exploring, he had wandered all over the place that was his new home. Lucky had never seen so many trees and flowers before. He saw a squirrel sitting under one of the big trees, eating a peanut, and so he decided to chase it, but the squirrel was fast and Lucky could not keep up. Lucky had never hurt any little animals before; he just liked to chase them and wanted to play. Maybe they thought he was just too big for them! He hoped they were not afraid because he wanted to make friends with all the animals out there.
After some time exploring, he heard Naomi call his name and he happily followed her into the house. She led him into the kitchen where she put down a big bowl of fresh water and next to it a bowl filled with food. Lucky was hungry but with all the excitement of learning his way around his new home, he had completely forgotten about eating. He sniffed the food and it smelled good. He enjoyed every bite and when he had licked the bowl clean, he took a big drink of water to wash it all down. Then he went into the living room where the bird was and laid down for a rest. It had certainly been a long day and he was very tired.
Before he closed his eyes, he took one more look around and then, feeling happier and more content than he could ever remember feeling, he drifted off to sleep. That night he dreamed that he was chasing squirrels and rolling in the soft green grass, warmed by the golden sun high in the bright blue sky.
Naomi & Lucky