The circumstances of Lucky the dog have changed dramatically from a year ago, when the whimpering pup was rescued by a stranger from the doorstep of a Conway home, surrounded by the rising flood waters of the Waccamaw River.
The 7-month-old yellow Labrador mix was clearly malnourished, scared by pellet shots – one still embedded in his head – and terrified.
Alex Scroggins spotted the puppy while running his boat down the flood-swollen street to help evacuate family members during last October’s record rain storm, and it didn’t take him long to realize that the dog, named Lucky by his previous owner, had been abandoned.
“He started wailing and whining, and looked like he was going to swim off, get swept off by the current. I couldn’t leave him,” Scroggins said.
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Scroggins didn’t plan on keeping the puppy. In addition to numerous health issues exhibited by Lucky’s protruding ribs and what later turned out to be Lyme disease, Scroggins was concerned the animal already was mentally scarred from abuse.
Scroggins, who works full-time at C-Aire Compressors then attends night classes at Horry Georgetown Technical College, had his doubts about taking on a rescue dog that might have more issues than he could handle.
So he contacted several no-kill animal shelters in the hopes of finding another home for Lucky.
“After keeping him for a couple of days and nights waiting for a shelter to open a spot, I kind of fell in love with him,” Scroggins said.
The affection both dog and man have for each other was clear Friday evening as Lucky played outside Scroggins’ mother’s home, which is still undergoing repairs from last year’s storm.
Lucky bounded about the yard retrieving sticks, wagged his tail during a tug-of-war round, and leapt with enthusiasm during a game of keep away. When Scroggins sat down for an interview, the dog stayed by his side and appeared to be smiling.
“Lucky is the only good thing to come out of the flood,” Scroggins said.
“Me and him, we do a lot of stuff together. If I’m not working or at school, he’s pretty much with me going fishing, going on the boat, coming to friends and family’s houses, taking him camping, the dog park, beach.
“Anywhere I go, he goes,” Scroggins said. “If it’s just running up to the store real quick, he’s riding.”
Scroggins isn’t certain what breed mixture Lucky is, but suspects the dog is part Labrador, part pit bull. The paws are webbed, indicating he’s a water dog, but Lucky’s still skittish around the river.
He’s 100 percent part of the family.
Alex Scroggins, Lucky’s rescuer
“He likes going on the boat and being in the water, but once he gets chest deep, he don’t like to swim. He can swim, but I think the flood kind of ruined that one for him, for now,” Scroggins said.
Lucky required a lot of retraining, affection and medical treatment, raking up about $3,000 in care and vet bills so far.
The dog was diagnosed with Lyme disease after he was rescued, and a veterinarian had to remove the metal pellets from Lucky’s head. He was neutered, and Scroggins insisted on a full battery of blood testing to make sure the dog was healthy.
“I wanted to be 100 percent sure he was going to be okay. If he had any problems, I wanted to get him squared away, right off the rib,” Scroggins said.
Although he was initially concerned about the problems he might experience with a rescue dog, Scroggins now has no doubts.
He suspects there are a lot of people who are afraid to take in a rescue animal, especially one that has been abused and may suffer psychological damage to the point of aggressiveness.
But Lucky doesn’t show any of those signs, Scroggins said. The dog is friendly with strangers, children and other pets. Aside from a bed sheet the pup destroyed in his first few days with Scroggins, Lucky has not exhibited any destructive behavior.
He requires a lot of exercise, and isn’t shy about giving Scroggins a 3 a.m. wake-up call for play time.
Along with his roommates and two other dogs in the house – the duck-hunting Labrador retriever named Zeus and Yoda, the Labrador chow mix – Scroggins says, “he gets his fun.”
“I swear, that dog is on crack sometimes,” Scroggins said.
“But, if you’re willing to spend the time, and have patience, and care for them, I think most animals can be turned around,” Scroggins said.
“He’s 100 percent part of the family.”