For years she lived the dark, but these days Lucy the Rescue Cavalier is thriving in the spotlight and making sure folks in the UK — and around the world — can’t ignore how puppies end up in pet store windows.
“I didn’t really know anything about puppy farming before,” Lucy’s human, Lisa Garner, tells Dogster from her home in Warwickshire, England. “Lucy was my first rescue.”
A long-time lover of Cavaliers and a doggy boutique owner, Garner was fully immersed in the world of pampered pooches before Lucy came into her life by way of the internet. With a couple of Cavaliers already at home, she wasn’t looking to add to her pack when a link led her to Lucy’s profile on a rescue website, but something about the little dog just took hold of her.
After six years of living in cramped cages and delivering litter after litter, little Lucy was in rough shape. Tipping the scales at a little less than 8 pounds, the tiny Cavalier was shockingly underweight. As a fan of the breed, Garner knew Lucy should have been in the 10 to 18 pounds range. Without the extra weight needed to keep her warm, poor Lucy was shaking like a leaf in foster care.
Touched by Lucy’s profile, Garner packed up some warm clothes and treats from her shop and sent them to the dog’s foster home. Lucy’s temporary guardian sent back pictures of Lucy enjoying her new gear, and a relationship blossomed. Already falling in love with Lucy from afar, Garner inquired about adoption and eventually went to meet the little dog in person.
“She didn’t even look like a Cavalier,” she explains. “It broke my heart.”
Where a normal Cavalier would have long, silky hair, Lucy had bald patches. Her little feet were stained from years of standing in her own waste. Years in a cramped cage had left her with a severely arched her back, and her hips had fused. She needed medications for severe dry eye and epilepsy.
According to Garner, Lucy had been so mistreated she wasn’t ready to accept affection. The dog had been neglected for so long, and preferred the comfort of her dog bed to that of human arms. Garner understood why Lucy would be less than enthused about cuddling humans, and decided to give her the time she needed to warm up. In March 2013, she signed the adoption papers and took the raggedy little Cavalier to her new forever home.
With love and patience from Garner and her pack, Lucy quickly transformed. She learned to play with toys, sleep in the human bed, and even gained enough weight to warrant a warning from her veterinarian.
As Lucy thrived, Garner created a Facebook page to share her success story and educate potential puppy buyers about where pet shop pups are coming from. To her surprise, Lucy’s Facebook following has grown to include more than 62,000 fans.
This little dog who grew up without a name is now famous for advocating against puppy mills. In September 2014, Lucy was named “Britain’s most heroic dog” at the National Pet Show in Birmingham, and the following year saw her featured on television and in newspapers, her own calendar, and even a children’s book. She’s raised money for several rescue organizations, including C.A.R.I.A.D, Friends Of The Animals RCT and PupAid.
Thanks to Lucy, countless Brits have thought twice about where their puppies come from, and many families have welcomed a rescue dog in her honor. Nowhere is the impact of Lucy’s rescue legacy as evident as it is inside her own home. An enthusiastic adoption advocate thanks to Lucy, Garner was accompanying friends to a shelter to complete their adoption when she came across another Cavalier in need. She’d planned to just visit the shelter’s dogs while her friends finished their paperwork, but she recognized a little bit of her Lucy in a dog the shelter was calling by the same name. Soon, that little dog had a new name — Annabelle — and a new home.
Together, Lucy and Annabelle continue to attract social media fans and inspire people to give shelter dogs a second chance. Garner says she’s been bitten by the rescue bug and now can’t imagine getting a dog any other way.
“They make amazing pets and are just so grateful for a home.”