She’s One Lucky Dog

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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
  1. carol
    carol says:

    Such a sweet story! It tugged on my heart. There is something to be said for that “feeling” we have when it comes to deciding on our next dog. Sometimes you just know they’re the one. Lena’s such a beauty. I love those eyes! I hope it’s a great fit for both of you. I’ve rescued adult dogs twice before and the were both such terrific additions to our home. We’re currently dogless but plan to look for another pup soon. It will be a bonus if our next dog doesn’t mind the sound of power tools too!

  2. Tammy
    Tammy says:

    Congrats on your new family member. We have a dog that has storm issues. The thunder shirt did absolutely nothing. Hope you have better luck. We use doggie anxiety pills instead.

    • Poohla
      Poohla says:

      I have to agree with Tammy. My Australian Shepherd is very fearful in thunderstorms, fireworks and sometimes heavy rain gets her going. The only thing the thunder shirt did for her was confirm that she needed to be freaking out… I get a natural product from the vet that seems to help her. She is 14 and cannot take the medicinal product that some vets give to “mellow” them out. She does well with the natural stuff, but she will sometimes react if the thunder and lightening is really strong. Good luck with your Lena. She has a beautiful face and kind eyes. I hope she feels the love y’all have for her.

  3. Kay
    Kay says:

    Looks like a win-win situation to me. We adopted a 2 year old golden retriever we intended to give to my daughter. 24 hours later there was no way we were letting her go. Love this dog way too much. She is the calmest, most laid back dog I’ve ever known. Good luck with your Lena. She has such a sweet face!

  4. Terri
    Terri says:

    I’m so glad you found the perfect dog! When I started looking for a dog after 14 years dogless, I found my Callie, and she has been perfect in every way. She was also a PetFinder find, and has been with me for 6 years.

  5. Wanda
    Wanda says:

    Congratulations to both you and Lena.
    We recently adopted a dog who is an animal abuse and neglect survivor. She also has issues with thunder and at times seems anxious. A vet had us try ” Composure” by Vetri Science, we buy it at the vets office, and it does seem to help., it is suppose to be natural and comes as a chewable which Hope loves.
    Lena is gorgeous and with time she will settle in with you and your family.

  6. Katie
    Katie says:

    Congratulations on the addition of Lena to your loving family! I have a shelter dog, adopted after being left on a nearby reservations. She’s the best!

  7. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    The Thundershirt doesn’t work for every dog but it helps my Havanese, Tucker. Fireworks are the worst; keep her inside as a friend lost her dog who bolted during New Years boomers.
    Can’t wait to hear more adventures!!

  8. BONNIE (Borninazoo)
    BONNIE (Borninazoo) says:

    Hi Lena from Della (cocker spaniel rescued at 7 months old in November 2006) & Mocha (cocker spaniel rescued at 6 years old in February 2016) & Suzzie (pug rescued at 7 years old in August 2011 and went to the rainbow bridge in October 2015) & our sister Annie (a full bred pug that travelled from Missouri to Michigan) .

    Annie is the only one afraid of thunder and fireworks … but goes bizarre about the sound of Harley. She has a hiding spot under Mom’s bed when those scary, loud noises happen.

  9. Julie W
    Julie W says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for rescuing! I volunteer for a Labrador rescue group here in CA…we actually foster-failed with our current dog Moose – he galloped into the house and my guys fell in love. We tried to adopt him out, but nobody seemed to be the right fit for our gentle giant. Except us of course!

    I’m so happy for you and your family!

  10. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Congratulations on your new family member! We adopted a Doberman, two goats and rehabbed a bird. Lol and bought the horse! Full house here. Oddly the goats are the best dogs I’ve ever lived with! They were for the horse but I’m in love.

    One thing to try with Lena is desensitize her with playing storm sounds. Maybe give her positive reinforcement when she relaxes a tiny bit. Play the storm sounds then treat and go for a walk? Hope you can help her! Good luck!

  11. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    What a great story! This may seem strange. But, I was so excited when you said he was an English shepherd. Our family too rescued a dog about 6 years ago from a puppy mill. We got him as a puppy and we were told it was a shepherd Rottweiler mix. However, as it grew..there was no way, that was the case. We have always wondered what on earth our dog was. When I looked at the pics..I was excited. I thought at the end of your story I’m going to google English shepherd to see if that is what our pooch Rocko is-he looks just like your dog! My favorite part though was when you said that he is not that at all…he’s a mix…golden retriever/shepherd …that is what we’ve always thought rocko wasn’t! Ironicallyhis personality sounds identical too. He’s extremely loyal. More loyal to humans than other dogs. When he walks he is soo excited to see people. He could care less about four legged hairy creatures. Mind you squirrels drive I’m bonkers. He also hates thunderstorms and sleeps in the basement.. Congratulations-you just won the dog lottery!

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Shannon, our previous dog was an English Shepherd. Lena is definitely a mix, we’re not sure what yet. But, I’m thinking it would be fun to check her DNA. Glad to hear you have a sweet puppy of your own.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!!

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. mary
    mary says:

    What a wonderful story; she is such a beautiful dog and I look forward to seeing more of her. I am so glad you rescued her and talked about the organizations that help these animals. I wish more people would adopt animals and give them a good home.

  26. Alanamous
    Alanamous says:

    I’m so happy for you, Lena and your family Brittany. Lena seems like a perfect fit. She definitely looks like she has Golden Retriever in her.

    Button used to be scared of thunderstorms. I made a cover for her kennel out of a flat sheet so that the sides were enclosed but the front could remain open for her to go in and out whenever she wanted. Whenever there was a storm she would crawl into her kennel and lay there as if it were her den. When the storm was over she would come back out and join me wherever I was in the house.

    If I went out of town or went to a friend’s house and brought the pups with me and there was a storm and Button didn’t have her kennel set up she would pace around nervously until I made her a make-shift den. Usually I would create a tent by draping a sheet or blanket from the edge of the bed down to the floor and placing an object on the edge to weight it down. If the bed was high enough I could tuck the sheet underneath the mattress. Lastly, I’d lay her dog bed under the tent for her and she would crawl in and lay down. Instead of using the edge of the bed,

    I’ve also used the back of a chair before and tied the sheet around the tops about 1/3 of the way up the sheet. Then let it drape to the floor against the chair on the short side of the sheet and extend the long end of the sheet away from the chair and place a weight on it to create the tent.

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Thanks Alana. I’m not sure she’ll go for the crate idea. She hates crates and the foster parents discovered that very quickly. They stress her out and she barks non-stop in them. But, when we get home I’ll try to find a comfortable spot for her during storms.

  27. Patricia Jones
    Patricia Jones says:

    I’m so happy for both Lena & your family. I went through a similar experience. I had to say goodbye to my beloved Pomeranian of only 10 years. For an entire month all I could do was cry & slept very little. I knew I would eventually have another dog, but didn’t have immediate plans. Several friends suggested I check out the rescues at a wonderful no-kill shelter in my city. One Sunday afternoon about a month after losing my Pom, I decided to go by & “just look”. Abby caught my eye & after telling a worker twice I was “only looking” I finally agreed to take her into a room & sit with her. I came home with Abby that afternoon & it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. She is so sweet & lovable and definitely helped me heal from my loss. I like to think we rescued each other. Congratulations again on your new adoption.

  28. Lisa A.
    Lisa A. says:

    What a great person you must be to go through all that to rescue a lovely dog and give her a wonderful home and what an amazing example to set for your son. She is a very lucky dog.

  29. Sara
    Sara says:

    Congrats on your new addition! Lena is gorgeous! Our most recent adoption is a rottweiler mix named Crystal. We love her so much! She actually has a lot of anxiety issues, but issues and all, we are so glad we adopted her! Right now we have her and my mastiff mix, Achilles 🙂

  30. Sue
    Sue says:

    Like you, when our dog died we couldn’t stand the emptiness. So we, too, adopted a rescue. His rib cage was showing and he was afraid of everything. We now have this loving rescue. He is family now, and he knows it!

  31. Linda
    Linda says:

    Finding the right dog (or them finding you) is a win-win. May you all be blessed with many years of joy and unconditional love. You might want to look at “Through a Dog’s Ear”. It is bio acoustically created music for dogs. It helps to keep my pups clam and the music is pleasant to listen to. I have had guests over asking about the music because the liked it so much and laughing to find out it was the dog’s cd!

  32. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    This makes me incredibly happy. I have always had rescue dogs since I was an adult. Currently I have four.. Lucky Dog (13yo) – I rescued him just inches off a busy highway… Rosie (12yo) – my husband found her in a c-store parking lot, she jumped right in his car… Bogie (2yo) – got him as a pup as his mom was rescued by a friend and the litter was adopted out #stashpuppies on IG and other social media … Frankie (1yo) – at 6 weeks was found in a ditch, Bogie fell in love with him so we kept him… I have a huge heart for rescues.. for people that adopt even the sick ones. Bless you for opening your heart and home to this beautiful creature!!

  33. Nancy Jean
    Nancy Jean says:

    That is so wonderful, congratulations!! Dogs are the best medicine and she will surely fill your heart again. You are both so very lucky to have been rescued!!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] lovers! I’m checking in with a cool project for the dog and cat parents out there. When I brought home Lena the Lucky Dog, it was quickly obvious that she was much larger than Handy Dog was. Not only did she not fit on […]

  2. […] She’s One Lucky Dog from Pretty Handy Girl – A touching story about their recent dog adoption! We got Crystal through a dog rescue and love her dearly. I’m so glad we adopted her and, when it comes time to add a 3rd, we will be going the adoption route again! […]

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