Albino. One-eyed. Rescued. These words all describe Clanay Reza’s 9-month-old mixed breed dog, but none as accurately as the word that became his name. “Lucky” was what Clanay’s 8-year-old sister called the foster pup, and it stuck for good reason.
“When I got Lucky, I didn’t even think he was going to make it. He was severely dehydrated, covered in fleas and ticks, and his eye had a really bad infection,” Clanay tells Dogster.
A full-time college student living at home in Murrieta, California, Clanay’s connection to the 4-pound mutt began as so many do these days — through Facebook. Active in various animal rescue groups, Clanay was scrolling through her feed when she noticed a plea for help from a woman who’d come upon a litter of orphaned pups.
According to Clanay, the woman thought she heard puppies crying on the other side of her backyard fence. When she looked into her neighbor’s yard, she found a dead, bleeding mother dog on top of brand new pups. Clanay offered the woman advice on how to bottle-feed the puppies until the neighbor returned from work.
“I was like ‘let your neighbor know I am involved in rescuing. I can help him out if he needs to get his other dogs fixed. Just let me know.’ Well, he reached out to me the following day, and he asked if I could take the puppies.”
At first Clanay felt sorry for the man, who she says presented himself as a Good Samaritan who fed stray neighborhood dogs. The young animal rescuer agreed to meet up with the man and take custody of the pups, but afterward she received further information from the original Facebook poster describing a backyard breeding operation.
“I now know why he never wanted me to go to his house, because I would have called Animal Control,” says Clanay.
Clanay did not have the man’s address, and her Facebook source did not want to provide it. All she could do was focus on the puppies now in her care.
“Unfortunately, one by one within the first 48 hours, they just started passing away,” Clanay says, recalling a somber trip to the vet.
“I took Lucky home because he was the last one.”
At first, Clanay wasn’t sure Lucky would make it either, but with the help of her family she ensured he had 24-hour care. After weeks of bottle feedings, medicated baths, and antibiotics, Lucky grew stronger, and so did the love he gave and received. Clanay’s other dog, Daisy the Chihuahua, nurtured Lucky too. Soon Clanay realized she wasn’t just fostering Lucky — he was already in his forever home.
The new addition made Clanay’s family home a full house, as her mom already had four small dogs, but the whole family was happy to spoil the cheerful pup permanently. He was closer in size to a kitten than a puppy, with startlingly pink skin, a heart-shaped pink nose, blonde fur, and red-hued, pale eyes because he was an albino.
As Lucky grew, Clanay realized he was bumping into things more often than a puppy should. His veterinarian confirmed he was blind in his right eye.
“One eye is not completely developed, and it had like a puncture in it — a hole,” Clanay explains.
When he was 6 months old, Lucky’s vet recommended removing the eye to prevent pain and infections. The surgery would be pricey, but with the help of Tracey Lystra of the Saving Huey Foundation, funds were quickly raised through a successful YouCaring campaign.
“We were able to raise half of the money, $966, within two days,” Clanay explains, adding that when she went to pick Lucky up after his surgery, she got another surprise. A woman with Lucky Chi Dog Rescue was at the clinic picking up her own dog and kindly paid the remaining portion of Lucky’s bill.
A criminal justice student, Clanay says she hopes to one day contribute to the strengthening of animal cruelty laws. Through Lucky’s Facebook and Instagram pages, she advocates for an end to backyard breeding and the adoption of dogs like Lucky.
“It makes me so happy when I have people message me and say they want to adopt a special needs dog. They see firsthand that yeah, he has his little issues, but he’s so happy.”