A Rescued Dog Story – Lucille

A Rescued Dog Story – Lucille

Lessons Learned from Lucille, a Senior Dog

When searching for inspiration for this blog, I didn’t have to look too much further than my couch. Actually, I didn’t really have to look at all, because my senior foster dog Lucille is always by my side, and she snores. Loud.

I heard about Lucille through a fellow rescuer, Laura Oliver of Lionel’s Legacy. She was languishing in a shelter in Orange County. For a 9-year-old pit bull with extensive muscle atrophy and a smell that belied a vicious infection somewhere in her body (it turned out to be her anal glands), this was pretty much a death sentence. Thankfully, Lucille’s charm and sweetness shone through her myriad health problems. She quickly won the love of shelter staff and volunteers, and she gained a strong Facebook presence. Laura spotted her and kept an eye on her, and when I told Laura I was ready to foster for Lionel’s Legacy, she asked me to consider Lucille.

I will admit that I had my reservations. First of all, Lucille was not well. Years in a backyard doing nothing but apparently having puppies and sitting on her backside had left her whole hind quarter weak and almost unusable. Upon initial examination, Lucille’s new vet told Laura that she had most likely been hit by a car sometime in her life and had not been properly treated for her injuries. By the time Lionel’s Legacy got to her, her spine was completely fused and her hind legs were extremely unstable. The pain must have been almost unbearable.

And boy, did she stink. All those years of sitting, and probably holding her pee and poop because it was too painful to go more than once or twice a day, had left Lucille with extremely infected anal glands. The word “gross” does not even begin to cover that situation.

I had two other main concerns about bringing Lucille into my home.

The first was that I have two dogs of my own, including my own senior lady, who is very selective about her canine companions. We have had our share of fosters at this point, but none as old or dominant as Lucille. The second, and I have trouble admitting this, is that Lucille is a pit bull looking dog, with cropped ears and all, and while I have known the breed to be loyal, smart, and loving, I was worried about what other people’s perceptions might be, and what kind of feedback I would get trotting this gimpy girl around.

Laura brought Lucille over a few days after Christmas to meet me and my dogs to see if fostering with us would work. My old lady did her usual bluster and fuss, trying to make sure Lucille knew she was #1. My younger boxer boy tried to get Lucille to play, which she did not appreciate. Our initial meet and greet was not exactly a love at first sight kind of situation. And did I mention her smell? Good lord, she smelled. Bad.

But, I decided to give Lucille a chance. Laura left me with Lucille and all the supplies I needed, including anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and pain meds, several blankets, and Lucille’s own dog bed (my dogs wouldn’t go near anything she touched because of her funk). I ran out and bought all the air freshener I could find, and Lucille, apparently oblivious to the olfactory discomfort she caused the rest of us, happily settled in.

And when I say settled in, I mean SETTLED IN!

Once she realized this was going to be home for awhile, she found her spot and took a deep, blissful nap. She relaxed. We relaxed. It was going to be OK. As for my fears of the “kids” not getting along, those were soon put to bed too. Lucille has a dominant personality, but in her old age, has learned to appreciate the important things, namely love, sleep, food, and walks, in that order. Once we had those four things established, she happily let the rest go, and my dogs followed suit. And once her infections were cleared up (it took a couple of round of antibiotics and three flushes), snuggling and sharing of beds and the couch ensued.

As for the pit bull issue, shame on me, mostly. My concerns have been largely unfounded. Once I came to realize that Lucille was pretty much unflappable in the face of other dogs, new people, new places, or pretty much anything period, I started to bring her out. Her (and my) favorite outing was to The Home Depot, where she got a lot of “hey mama”s and head pets, and even made a friend with a nervous miniature poodle. People seem more concerned about her puppies (she has obviously had her share) and her limp than her breed. The comments I get are things like “Where are her puppies?” (ie, “How could you breed that poor dog?”) and “I hope her limp gets better” (ie, “You better take care of this dog lady”). Once I explain her story, people are heartened and relieved, and Lucille basks in it all.

The ASPCA has a great online article titled “10 Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog” and it’s pretty much right on the money. It all rings true, especially “#1: What You See Is What You Get”, “#3: Seniors Are Super Loving”, and “#4: They’re Not a 24-7 Job”. After loving Lucille, and watching my own girl grow older, I can highly recommend adopting or fostering senior dogs. Although their time with you may be shorter than a young pup, their needs are so much simpler, which leaves a lot more time for the good stuff.

Like snuggling and snoring on the couch.

Katie Michelmore
Co-Founder of The Rescued Dog

The Rescued Dog proudly partners with Lionel’s Legacy, a San Diego based senior dog rescue and humane education program for elementary school children.




I got my start in dog rescue by using Facebook to help network dogs who were in high kill shelters in San Bernardino, CA.  While that was fulfilling, I really wanted to be more hands-on and interact with the dogs who were being saved.  I wanted to personally see the transformation from a scared shelter dog to a happy and adoptable dog.  So far I have fostered four wonderful dogs for The Rescued Dog and hope to foster many more!  I also love volunteering at the adoption events and watching when a match is made between a dog and their new owners.


My design thesis in my senior year of college revolved around re-designing the animal sheltering system. I spent hours and hours a day volunteering at a handful of shelters. I saw someone bring in a terrified dog as he screamed at shelter staff: “I just don’t want the damn thing anymore..” That was the tipping point for me… Also, this is my favorite quote…ever: “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”


Life has so much to offer if we remember to look beyond ourselves. I volunteer because it continuously teaches me something new about people, about cooperation, about compassion, and about myself. I have a great passion for animals. We have three rescue dogs that came to us in 2008.  Since then I’ve wanted to work with an origination that helps save dogs and put them in forever, loving homes so when I came across this opportunity with The Rescued Dog to help I jumped at the chance.  I am passionate about their mission to save dogs from high kill shelters and I truly believe that help comes in many forms, volunteering is one way to accomplish what we are supposed to accomplish in this lifetime.


I started volunteering with TRD in 2015. Volunteering has been great. I love dogs, I mean who doesn’t right?! However, I do not own a dog…not yet. I live vicariously through the rescue. If you can’t afford to adopt a dog or don’t have the ideal living situation to have a dog, like me, you can still “scratch your itch,” that’s a great thing about volunteering with us. So, the irony is I have been telling you about how great it would be to adopt a rescued dog and save them from their unfortunate circumstance and put them in a happy and caring home, and in my case, I didn’t know it then, however, the rescue saved me. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be a part of and for filling my need to be around so many furry friends.


I was introduced to rescue as a child when I met a greyhound rescue organization one night at Balboa Park and convinced my parents to adopt one.  Our family greyhound Bookie and I were best buds for the ten years we had him.  Since then I have been a sucker for rescue dogs.  I am so glad I was introduced to TRD by a friend and fellow foster, and have had a chance to work with some great people and dogs, and found my little buddy, Madison!


I was introduced to The Rescued Dog while working at a local shelter.  I was excited about their mission to save dogs from high-kill shelters & wanted to participate with this mission.  I love working with the TRD team and fosters to get these pups out of the shelter, into a great foster home and finally on to their furr-ever homes!


I have always been a firm believer that doggie cuddles could save the world. So, when my mom said she wanted to start fostering dogs I was very excited. In the short period of time I have been volunteering with The Rescued Dog I realized I want to be an advocate for change. I took on this role not only to push myself but to also be a bigger voice for all of the shelter animals, since they can’t do that on their own.


The bond I have with my dog, Otis who I rescued about 2 years ago,  is that of a family member, a best friend, and a companion. Saving dogs from high kill shelters is a rewarding task, but adding a new member to someone’s family is life changing. Rescued is truly the best breed.


I got involved with rescuing dogs when my own dogs and animal loving kids got a touch older and realized I had a tiny amount of free time to fill! My kids begged for Chihuahuas, Daschunds, Huskys etc….so naturally I thought fostering would be great!  Once I got in, I was hooked and wanted to do more to help shelter dogs find the forever love my own dogs had. In regard to volunteering, I believe that if we all give a little we can accomplish a lot!


10 years ago I took a road trip from Philadelphia to San Diego with my beloved English Bulldog.  As a travel nurse, I was given the opportunity to move across the country, and with working only three days a week, I had time to volunteer with my first passion, rescue dogs.  Through volunteering, I met an amazing group of women who shared my same vision, so we collaborated The Rescue Dog!  I am so proud of our accomplishments and I look forward to continuing to educate and save lives!


I was fostering for the SD Humane Society but was looking for a rescue I could become more involved in. A friend foster failed with TRD so I filled out an application. I feel like I’ve found my calling! There is nothing like getting a dog right out of the shelter and making him feel safe. Now as an adoption coordinator I get to see the rescue through to the end, a great family and a forever home!!


I rescued my first dog in 2010 and started volunteering with a rescue a year later and loved it! After meeting a few amazing friends, it became evident rescue work was more than just a fun hobby. I truly believe the best dogs are rescued dogs and have come to find my true passion in life is in dog rescue. Fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have and I highly recommend it to everyone! I can’t imagine my life without dogs, and thankfully I’ll never have to. I’m so excited to be working with such a fantastic group of people and I can’t wait to see what The Rescued Dog accomplishes!



It is easy to buy a dog from pet stores, online ads, or from dog breeders, but rescuing a shelter dog is definitely more rewarding.  How can you not admire that once sad dog, now all waggy and happy because they’ve been given a second, sometimes third chance at finding their forever home?  The ability of these pups to recognize and embrace their new life never ceases to amaze me.  The Rescued Dog saves dogs from high kill shelters and prepares them to meet and be adopted by a loving family.  TRD fills the corners of my life and it makes me happy to know I’m doing something worthwhile for these sweet pups.  Having rescued – and been rescued – by my own dogs proves that rescued really is the best breed.


My passion for rescuing dogs comes from my great experiences with rescue dogs in my life. I personally have had my life brightened by many great rescue dogs, and I have seen how having pets, and dogs particularly, has improved the lives of my friends and family. For me, the best part of dog rescue is seeing the connection that dogs and people make, and knowing that when we connect the right dogs with the right people, we are improving the lives of everyone involved, both human and canine.