years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
We can still remember when we first met this lovely fellow Lucky, when he came along for our Dr Dog examination a few years ago.
We very disappointed with our low pass rate that day, then suddenly a lovely lady called Ann came in with this gorgeous-looking Mixed Breed – it looked like he had German Shepherd and Chow in him.
He seemed to be very gentle and was calm and content in spite of the “chaos” of the tests and the other dogs – in fact, he seemed to be enjoying it all. We remember how the volunteers in the examination hall were betting on whether this dog would get through the test, and jumped up and down cheering for Lucky when we passed him, even though we had given him a tough time.
We later learnt that Lucky was a village dog originally called Siu Hak from Sai Kung. He was, to say the least, an “underperforming’ guard dog who lived with an elderly gentleman, who didn’t care much for him. When the old man died, Lucky was left alone on his patch of rough ground, sitting eagerly and wagging his tail at everyone who passed by, including Ann and her husband, who gave “Lucky”, as they called him, a biscuit every time they went by on their daily walk. They were eventually able to adopt Lucky and took him to their home.
Lucky was a quiet dog – he didn’t do any tricks, didn’t chase balls, wouldn’t even offer up his paw, but see him “in action” on a Dr Dog visit to an old people’s home and you’d notice that his calm nature attracted them to pat, stroke and brush him, and this relaxed mood was transferred to them, too.
Schoolchildren at Professor Paws visits connected well with him, also – the girls all thought he was very cute (“handsome like a movie star”, as one girl said), but he especially seemed to appeal to boys. On a Dr Dog visit to the Hong Chi School for disabled children, two boys took a real shine to Lucky and spent a lot of time brushing and stroking him. Their teacher later commented that they were the naughtiest boys in the class, who could be very disruptive, but she’d never seen them so calm and concentrated on one task.
At a school for severely disabled children, Haven of Hope, one boy who was blind, confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk, laughed and laughed when we tickled his legs with Lucky’s tail – his helper said she’d never seen him so happy. At the same visit, some of the children were lifted on to the floor so they could sit by Lucky and pat him; one boy who could not sit up simple lay down next to Lucky, cuddling up to him with his arms around him.
Another fond memory Ann has is of a teacher at a secondary school who said of a girl with learning problems that she had made more progress in 10 minutes of playing with Lucky than she had all semester.
As Ann said, “It’s been such a wonderful experience seeing how this scruffy dog who didn’t have a proper home for much of his life has been able to bring so much joy and love to other people’s lives. And the most important thing is that Lucky loved doing it – he’s benefitted too, and it’s made his life richer.”
Almost two years ago, we were shocked to hear that Lucky had been diagnosed with Vestibular Syndrome, which severely affected his balance and he needed to take sick leave. But in his indomitable style, he battled to recover, and despite still being wobbly on his legs, resumed his visits. However, his arthritis eventually got the better of him and he “retired” in late 2010.
We called him “Grandpa” Lucky, a name given to him by kids at Hong Chi Mary Cheung School after they asked about his age – 15 – and how this related to human beings.
On July 1st 2011 we received word from Ann that she had had to make the brave but tough decision to have Lucky gently put to sleep that morning. He had been very sick for a couple of days with a high fever, inflammation and fluid in his abdomen, with serious liver and spleen problems. The vet said that the chance of Lucky surviving surgery was slim, and even if the operation was successful, his quality of life would be severely compromised.
Ann spent about an hour with Lucky before he was put to sleep – she took along his Dr Dog bandana and put it round his neck. Even though he was tired and so unwell, Ann said she thought there was a little twitch of the nose when she put his bandana on him. She had him cremated with it still on.
From all of us, “rest in peace, Grandpa Lucky – we will remember you always!”
Lucky's carer, Ann Williams, explaining to Hong Chi Mary Special School children the difference between a dog’s age and a human's age.
Dr Lucky receiving a Gold Award from celebrity Mr Sharco Kong [亢帥克].
Dr Lucky on stage, listening to children’s questions about him.
Thank you cards from Kei Shun Special School 2011and from Hung Hom School 2008.