Lucky the 3-Legged Dog

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When I was a little girl my Grandfather used to tell me a joke about a man who lost his beloved dog. In hopes of someone finding and returning his dog, the man put up a sign reading “Lost Dog: blind in one eye, missing tail, three legs, recently castrated, answers to the name of Lucky”. The irony of the poor dog’s name always made me laugh.
       A few years back I was working on the television show “Surreal Life”. We had an outrageous cast and decided to go with a circus theme for the season. Next was coming up with visual ideas to sell it. Remembering my Grandfather’s joke, I pitched a “Carny” dog with 3 legs named Lucky for the household pet. The pitch was a success. But that now meant finding a 3-legged dog to be on our show. My boyfriend and I called every shelter in California. It was a weird request asking for a 3-legged dog – I feared people thought I was trying to fulfill some sick fetish. I finally got a yes and drove down to the Inglewood, CA shelter. There in one of the pens was a 3-legged dog on death row. He was skin and bones, tagged with yellow spray paint (they found him that way in a Target) and had almost no teeth left from eating rocks on the street. But when that dog came out to meet me he had the world’s goofiest smile, his tail wagged like a wind-up toy and he ran around me in furious circles of joy. He had big orange eyes and gray hairs around his otherwise beautifully brown furry face. There was no way this dog could go down. This dog was a star! I paid $35 in cash and we left the shelter beaming our way to the car. I didn’t care if Lucky landed the gig on “Surreal Life” or not – he was off doggy death row and on his way to a home! Overjoyed we drove to a groomer where Lucky had his spray paint removed and a colorful bandana tied around his neck. Next it was time for Lucky’s live audition. We drove to the office. My co-workers gathered around Lucky and he promptly walked into the conference room’s glass wall. The crowd cheered with delight. Lucky had gotten the job.
      Lucky turned out to be a lousy actor. He had far more interest hanging out with the crew and running around the set like a bat out of hell (he had – and still has - NO idea that he is missing a leg). He did have one scene in which he tried to hump Jose Canseco’s little dogs and couldn’t keep his balance, but otherwise spent most of his time with us in the production office. After the show Lucky moved into his official home with another Producer from the show. He had a nice house and a big yard. He shot back to a healthy weight and his coat returned thick and beautiful. Five years later our Producer still claims Lucky is the ultimate pain in the butt – non-stop energy and non-stop bark, but the truth is he adores that dog and the dog adores him. As for me, I found rescuing a 3-legged, tagged, toothless goofball proved to be one of the more rewarding experiences in my professional career. He may not have turned out to be the star of "Surreal Life", but he sure did turn out to be Lucky. The same goes for all of us who have come to know and love him.

Lauren A. Stevens