By Janet McAfee

The New Year is about second chances, starting over, and having faith that better things are yet to come.  Marvelous dogs teach us to look forward to a happy future, as they live in the moment and forgive much of the past.  A dog named Lucky taught us that lesson when we rescued him five years ago. 

I recently met up with Wayne Karson and the handsome rescue dog he named ‘Lucky’.  Lucky was gorgeously groomed, and happily bonded to his human.  He scarcely resembles the thin bedraggled dog I rescued four years ago in the parking lot of the San Bernardino County shelter at Devore.  Wayne gratefully told me, “You know how much you do for these dogs when you save them, but you don’t realize what you do for the people who adopt them.  He is my first rescue dog, but the best dog I’ve ever had.  Lucky brings joy to my life every day, and I am the ‘lucky’ one for having him in my life.” 

I recalled the January day five years ago when I rescued Lucky, and thought about the contrast between his first home and his ‘luck’ in finding a wonderful second home with Wayne.  I was at the Devore shelter rescuing a dog for Loving All Animals.  A staff person pleadingly asked, “Will you take another dog?” 

A man at the counter was trying to turn in a dog he had in his car, and there was an argument ensuing.  I took him aside and said, “Let’s go outside to the parking lot.”  He was relieved by my offer to take his dog, but only because this public shelter wanted to charge him a $90 owner relinquish fee.  I peered through the tinted car window and saw a small thin bedraggled white poodle who looked to be about 14 pounds.  I prayed the horrid black marks on his face were only tear stains.  In broken English the man explained this happens “when he sleeps at night.”

I asked the dog’s owner, “Why are you giving him up?”  His story stunned me.  “We’ve had him one year and he grew too big.  My daughter got a little puppy from her grandmother, and we don’t want this one anymore.  He grew too big.  He makes too many messes.”  I asked if the dog was neutered, and was not surprised at his response, “What is neutered?”  Did he know this was a high kill shelter, and that his dog might not make it out alive?  He shrugged, not knowing and not caring to know.  I grasped the sweet animal, biting my tongue so as not to say anything to jeopardize the transaction.    

The dog named Chato began to cry desperately scratching at my car window.  I rolled down the window and yelled, “This dog is crying for you.  I want you to see how he misses you!”  I pondered the reality that this small pup had more capacity for love in his heart than the human who discarded him like an old coat. 

Dogs tend to live in the moment, and I could soon feel the love from the grateful dog beside me in the car.  He relaxed, gave me kisses, and enjoyed the view from the car window as we headed down the 10 freeway to the Coachella Valley. 

That night the dog clung to me with incessant hugs, proving to be a sweet animal whose devotion to humans seemed intact in spite of his past. When I visited his foster home, he bounded towards me in the immeasurable joyful connection between savior and the saved.  I hugged my precious boy, and cried a few tears when I heard he was adopted shortly thereafter.  I hoped he got the fabulous home he so deserved after the family who had no regard for him.  I was gratified to meet Wayne Kantor of Culver City soon afterwards at one of our Yappy Hour parties.  The transformed dog he renamed ‘Lucky’ ran joyfully into my arms for a reunion hug.  I shed joyful tears upon seeing what a great life Lucky now enjoyed.   

Wayne reports he and Lucky became best friends instantly.  He recalls Lucky slept at the bottom of his bed that first night, and he awoke at 7:00am to the sweet pup giving him happy kisses.  Lucky dog Lucky gets to go to with Wayne to this office some days, and is an important part of his life.  When he goes out for an evening, the first thing Wayne sees in the window of his home is the head of his loyal dog waiting.   Wayne says, “I love this dog with all my heart.  He’s the most wonderful soul I’ve ever known.  I hope more people understand how giving a rescue dog a second chance is one of the best things you can ever do.” 

Visit Loving All Animals’ adoptable dogs and cats at or call (760) 834-7000.  You can get lucky and create your own happy ending.