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Meant To Be

By Staff | Jan 13, 2009

LUCY THE BLACK LAB has joined the residents and staff at Emmetsburg Care Center as a therapy dog. --Lori Hall photo

It could have been a story with an unhappy ending, but with the help of a few caring individuals, a dog named Lucy has a new lease on life.

Lucy, a ten-year old black lab, is the newest staff member at Emmetsburg Care Center. Lucy began work at the Care Center on Monday, Jan. 5, as a therapy dog. She joins fellow therapy animal, Homer the cat.

While Lucy is brightening the lives of the people around her–residents, staff, and visitors–her life didn’t start out so happily.

Lucy’s former owner, Tami Ness, shared that Lucy just showed up one day at her farm near Graettinger. It was 52 degrees below zero and the young dog looked to be four- or five-months old. Her collar was so tight that it was embedded into her neck and she was infected with mange.

“We found out that she looked so small because she was very malnourished. She was actually a year and a half old,” said Ness, who thought that Lucy was a special dog. “She was more human than animal.”

Recently, Ness moved from the farm into town. As part of her job, Ness was often gone for extended periods of time. Not wanting Lucy to spend so much time chained up, Ness took Lucy to the Emmetsburg Veterinary Clinic.

“It was a sad story,” said Jean Wagner with the Emmetsburg Vet Clinic. “Lucy’s owner thought it best to put her to sleep since she was already ten years old and didn’t think anyone want adopt her. But she was in good health.”

While Wagner was visiting with Ness, she noticed that Lucy was very affectionate with some clients who were waiting at the Vet Clinic.

“She walked over to them and just laid her head in their laps,” smiled Wagner. “I was overwhelmed. I realized what a wonderful dog she is. She has a lot of human qualities in her personality.”

Thinking that Lucy would be a perfect animal for a nursing home, Wagner contacted the Emmetsburg Care Center.

“They tried her out for a day and loved her,” said Wagner. “They said they saw smiles on faces that they hadn’t seen happy in years.”

Wagner continued, “It was a win-win situation for everyone.”

Lucy, who now lives full-time at the Care Center, makes the rounds every day. She greets staff and residents, alike, going room to room to visit.

“She’s a wonderful dog,” said Emmetsburg Care Center resident Ruth Clausen. “What’s not to love about her? She’s such a good dog.”

Martha Hildebrand agreed, “She’s a nice pal. She seems to like everyone and everyone likes her, too.”

Kasey Sandbulte, Rehab Nurse at the Care Center, said that she has seen an increase in the number of residents visiting the Rehab room.

“We have a huge group in the Rehab room now,” laughed Sandbulte. “The residents love petting her and throwing the tennis ball to her. I even had one resident who tried to lie down on the floor next to her. Lucy is a good therapy dog.”

“It’s amazing,” said Lori Morey, Marketing Director at the Care Center. “She won’t go into a room unless she’s invited. Everyone pitches in to help care for her.”

Lucy’s former owner is just happy that Lucy will be able to live out her life comfortably. Morey has shared photos with Ness of Lucy in her new home.

“I think Lucy went to the best place there ever was,” said Ness. “She just looks so happy there. I feel it was meant to be.”