Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Fate Of Lucy Moon

I used to work within the world of animals.
I was a veterinary technician or "an animal nurse."
For almost 15 years. 
With 13 of those being in the city of Chicago. 
I've seen a lot. 
Dogs that have been shot. 
Dogs that have been starved. 
Dogs covered in maggots. 
Dogs left by the side of the road to die because they were fought and they lost. 
I worked at a clinic that had a pit bull rescue within it's doors. 
I met my husband at this clinic. 
He and I both know the atrocities these dogs have faced when in the hands of dog fighters. 
We have a good understanding of the breed. 
They are loyal to people, but can be unreliable if not trained properly after being in the hellish world of dog fighting. 
We aren't ignorant by any means about pit bulls and the stereotypes and injustices that have been thrown at them.
I truly believe that all dogs are good. 
People make them what they are.  
Purebred dogs can have more of a genetic misfire to behave erratically, but I think they can be fine with the right owner. 
This is my lead up to the one dog who entered our lives that we couldn't help. 

I think the year was 2011. 
I don't remember the season...late summer?  Fall?
My daughter was in the throes of cancer treatment AND had a broken ankle. 
What I do remember is this...
My parents were over and we were eating KFC. 
When lunch was almost over my mom declared "oh, I saw a dog tied up at the fence on Mt Gilead Road when I was bringing over the chicken."
Don't say that to me. 
We decided to go have a looksee. 
I was hoping it was gone or a figment of my mother's imagination. 
It was neither. 
There sitting, and not at all tied up, was a young, white pit bull. 
Small and horribly frightened.
I approached carefully and noticed two things. 
One, female unaltered. 
Two, scars on her face. 
Double ugh. 
I went back home and put our dog crate in the back of our minivan along with some KFC. 
Back to the pup who hadn't moved an inch, she readily ate the chicken. 
I put a leash on her and then wrapped it around her muzzle. 
Then, I could lift her into the dog crate.

We kept her in our barn after contacting several people who wouldn't take her. 
The Humane Society had no room. 
Animal Control would probably have put her down. 
Another shelter had no room. 
A local self-appointed "pitbull expert" had no room for her at her home. 
I put her on a pit bull rescue webpage. 
What I did get was zero interest in her and a certificate from the Humane Society to get her spayed for free. 

By this point she was not growling at my husband anymore. 
If you took care of her, she loved you. 
She loved our girls. 
She was the best kisser and lavished us all with her slobbery tongue at various times during the day. 
She was good at the vet office. 
Too scared to leave her cage after surgery so her "family" had to get her. 
She bounded to my children. 

But she attacked Lola twice in the yard.
A total unprovoked fight both times. 

We eventually let her into the house. 
She enjoyed her dog kennel. 
And the couch. 
We got her a collar and a dog tag with her new name. 
Zoe and Gigi named her Lucy Moon. 
Because she was white like the midnight moon. 

Then she attacked one of our kittens as they stood together next to our stove.
Totally unprovoked. 
The cat had cuts on his head from her teeth as she tried to eat his head. 
But the kicker came when she tried to eat my mother. 
The lady who saw her on the side of the road. 
The lady who had bought the chicken. 

Lucy Moon would growl at my father if he had my children in his lap. 
She would just stare at him and growl. 
And one afternoon, as my mother left the room, she lunged at her and tried to bite her foot, only getting her hard leather shoe. 
I was constantly on edge with this dog. 
She adored our family of four, but she couldn't be trusted 100%. 
We didn't know her history. 
We didn't have the time to devote to rehabilitating her. 
If our daughter had to be hospitalized, which at that time in our lives could happen at any moment, who would feed this dog?
She wanted to eat my parents. 

I had tried finding another place for her. 
My oldest daughter was gravely ill and I had a 3 year old. 
I had run out of options and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if she hurt one of my children. 
So, I took her to our vet to be euthanized. 
I have NEVER had to kill an animal that I couldn't help. 
But, as I tearfully told my wonderful veterinarian, I couldn't help this dog.
If I were 15 years younger, single or it was just Chad and I, and I didn't have a child with cancer, the situation would have been a lot different. 
I didn't know what else to do. 
She was a good dog who needed someone's time. 
And I currently didn't have time to give. 
As I said before, my veterinarian is wonderful!
She said "hang on a minute" and left the room. 
Upon her return she said they would keep her and try to find a home for her. 
Zoe had written a note with pictures of hearts to Lucy Moon saying we loved her.
I left her collar on her, but took her name tag off. 
The veterinarian took her to the back room, along with her note and said she would call me. 
My girls were told that the vet found her a new home. 
They were sad, but happy that she hadn't died. 

A few weeks later I had a message on my voicemail from our vet office. 
One of the shelters who had told me NO had told them YES. 
They would take her and try to find her a home. 

Last year my cousin fostered two puppies (that she now owns!) from the shelter that had taken Lucy Moon.
I was with her one day as we made oogly eyes at the puppies and other dogs at the shelter. 
I asked the lady behind the desk if she knew about Lucy Moon. 
She was cold and looked at me as if I were a very, very bad person. 
I say this only from my vast experience with shelter and "animal people" who seem to always mistrust humans when it comes to rescue/shelter work. 
She didn't believe that I had found Lucy Moon and that I had tried to work with her. 
She thought I was another asshole who had gotten a dog that I couldn't handle. 
I could see it written all over her face. 
She told me that they had worked with Lucy Moon.  
Trained her and that she had been adopted. 
But that she had bitten a child and had been euthanized. 
I have no idea if this is the truth. 
To this day, my children believe she's alive and happy.  

I believe if my life had been at a different stage I would still have Lucy Moon.
She was sweet, but troubled. 
She didn't trust everyone. 
She had been pushed around her entire life. 
She never knew true, forever love from a human, but I hope she knew we did love her.
And it still breaks my heart and brings genuine tears to my eyes that I couldn't help her. 
Sometimes when we are out and about and see a dog that resembles her, my daughters will say "that looks like Lucy Moon!"  
And I smile and agree. 

Part 3 in a series titled "Pets" I'll be doing. 


  1. I know exactly how you feel. Adam adopted Rusty from the same shelter we had to return him to. They told us he was found in the woods and they didn't know his back story. He was biting Adam the day he adopted him but the shelter just said he was hungry. He snapped at me that very same day and I thought, he just needs to know to trust us. Then his aggression got worse. I'd return from a business trip and he lunged at my face, barking, snarling - I've never met a mean dog before. He attacked his trainer for puppy class, he tried to bite the cats. 3 months we tried working with him but I was scared every time a small child wanted to pet the "PUPPY!" I didn't want any one to come over unless he was on a leash or in his kennel. When we returned him to that same shelter we had gotten him from they told us they would give him the help he needed. Instead they put him up for adoption the next day, saying people needed to understand the attention a puppy needed, that someone just needed to jog with him. I've never felt so ashamed and angry. I only hope he is still alive and happy too. It breaks my heart I couldn't help him but sadly sometimes you just can't.

    1. That shelter has some issues if that's what they did. I know how upset you were that you couldn't help him. Same as I felt for Lucy Moon. If I see strays these days, I look the other way if I can. We had a boxer show up in the yard. Animal control came the next day for him.