My first dog was Lucky. She was and still is my pride and joy, even though she stayed with my parents when I moved for university. When she was 6 months old her former owner shot her in the face. She was severely emaciated, weighing slightly less than half of what she should have, and ate a slipper to fill her belly; this was apparently worth a death sentence. She was shot at close range with a scoped rifle, lucky for her the man who shot her did not know that when shooting point blank with a scoped rifle, you must aim 1-2 inches higher than your intended target in order to position your shot accurately. The bullet entered her right side, just under her jaw bone and exited on her left side, slightly down her neck. Then Lucky ran, as she ran she was shot two more times, she was hit once in her left hind paw, and once on the right side of her rib cage. The bullet that hit her rib cage was only a fragment from a ricochet, again she was lucky, if it had been the real deal it would have killed her instantly. So she kept running and running until she came across a friendly face. The woman who found her immediately called police, and Lucky was picked up. Serendipitously, my parents happened by the local animal control officer's truck when the RCMP were taking pictures of Lucky for evidence. My father, being a military doc, immediately recognized that this was only a flesh would as Lucky was eating and drinking fine, and had not bled out within 30 seconds of the original wound. So, he asked what they planned to do with her; their plan was humane euthanasia. My father politely refused and said that he would pay for all the vet care and have me rehabilitate her and find her a loving new home to teach me about responsibility. A week later Lucky came home. I cleaned her wounds and changed her dressings 3 times per day. I also gave her 6 antibiotic pills per day to go along with her 6 small meals. When we first brought her home she still had a hard time walking because she was so weak, I had to hold her hips while she went to the bathroom or the effort of squatting would cause her to fall. She gained weight slowly and steadily, soon she was fit and strong. The physical wounds healed beautifully in a few weeks too, but the psychological scars took much longer. Lucky would growl and bark and any new person, especially men; she wouldn't let me out of her sight and she drove my mother nuts with her crying while I was at school. But, with love and patience her mind was on the mend too. Soon she became friendly with everyone, even strange men. She was a local hero, we were always visiting the neighbors and business owners when we went for our walks, and Lucky soon grew fat with all of the treats she received. One day, my father asked me if I had found a new home for her yet, as that had always been the plan. I told him I had, and that she was staying right here because her home was with me. He just nodded and went about his business, there was no question that she was my dog. I felt proud that I had brought her back from the brink, I finally knew what it was like to love an animal like you would your best friend. Who knew that a few years later Lucky would return the favor? I had always had a difficult time in school, the other kids used to push me around and say horrible things. When I got home my mother would add to the emotional abuse, and my father would refuse to acknowledge the problem even existed. So, at the start of my grade 10 year, I decided to fit in. I bought new clothes, got a new hair cut, and I stopped eating. Things were great for a while, I made tonnes of friends and I finally felt like I fit in. So, naturally I kept losing weight, I thought that if 5 lbs was good then 10 would be better, then 20, then 30, and 40 and 50. By the end of my senior year I had dropped to 75 lbs, I had a BMI of 16. I spend 6 weeks in a rehab facility before I was discharged because of my "severe resistance to treatment"; I was sent home to die. When I got home, Lucky was waiting for me. She looked at me and I knew she didn't see what I perceived to be fat, she didn't see my clothes or my hair; she saw me. All Lucky wanted was her best friend back, she wanted to play fetch and go for walks; so I took her. I can't pinpoint the moment when I decided to get better, or even when I began to get better; I just did. Every time I needed a shoulder to cry on, or someone to vent to, all I had to do was look down and know that Lucky was by my side. Through taking care of Lucky, I began to see how stupid it was that I could have all this care, compassion, patience, and forgiveness for the people, and animals, outside myself, and yet have no care, love, compassion, or forgiveness for myself. It was a long, hard road but I started my first year of university as a healthy, well adjusted, young woman. I have never relapsed. Now, I have a beautiful baby girl of my own, and she has taught me what it really means to be a mother, I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me (baby weight and all), I have a house and a car, and I'm on my way to med-school and I owe all of this to my first dog. I will be forever indebted to her, I owe her my life... Lucky will be 11 on April 1st, and she doesn't move quite as quick as she used to. She needs help climbing the stairs to bed and getting onto the couch. She is in the twilight of her life when I feel like I'm just getting started, and it doesn't really seem fair. But I guess I've had her for 11 years now and she's given so much, I don't get to be greedy when I've been blessed with a friend like her...Some days she doesn't have that spark in her eye that she used to have, other days she acts like she's a pup again. I figure she'll let me know when she needs to rest, and I'll accept that. Even after she's gone I know that I'll always have Lady Luck on my side.