NORTH FORSYTH — To see Lucy-Blue today, one would never know what the 4-year-old German shepherd mix has been through.
Lucy, as she’s more commonly known, was turned over to the Humane Society of Forsyth County in December after first being surrendered by her former owners to their veterinarian after she collapsed in the office during a visit.
The dog was so starved, she couldn’t walk.
Mary Murphy, a volunteer with the Humane Society, said by the time the dog made it to the care of the rescue group, she weighed about 22 pounds, which is about half the normal weight of a dog her size.
Lucy nearly starved to death before it was discovered that she suffers from a rare medical condition called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, which keeps her from digesting essential nutrients.
Her first owners had not taken her to see a vet until her ribs nearly pierced the skin and her organs had begun to shut down.
Murphy said it was touch-and-go when Lucy was first brought to the Humane Society. She had even planned out her last meal, a steak with chocolate sauce, in case Lucy was given just a few days to live.
“I’d just never seen a dog that was in that bad of condition,” Murphy said.
But the dog had a fighting spirit unlike anything Murphy had seen and she was soon calling Lucy “her Christmas miracle.” Murphy ended up caring for Lucy in her home for about four months and may have kept her forever had Lucy’s “perfect family” not come along.
Kevin and Cyndi Herbert, along with their twin sons, Brandon and Ryan, decided in May that they would take in Lucy despite her expensive medical costs. Due to her condition, the dog can only eat food that has been treated with a costly medication that allows her to absorb nutrients.
Cyndi Herbert said the medical problems were no issue since the family fell in love with her at first sight.
“My husband was at [a Humane Society spring event] and he called me and said, ‘Cyndi, you need to come look at this dog. She needs a home,’” she said. “And I was like, ‘No, our kids are going away to college and we don’t need another dog.’”
Kevin Herbert, the owner of several Herbert Automotive and Handy Lube facilities in Forsyth and Cherokee counties, kept insisting.
“And then someone sent me a picture of what had happened to Lucy, and I was like ‘no fair,’” Cyndi Herbert said. “So then I went up and we got her.”
Technically, Herbert said, Lucy is son Brandon’s dog. But the whole family loves her, as well as other son Ryan’s dog, Nala, and their 12-year-old Shetland sheepdog, Rusty.
The family, which Cyndi Herbert said have always been “animal lovers,” also have a cat named Tiger.
But Lucy’s best buddy is Nala, a 1-year-old hound and German shepherd mix. The family adopted Nala from the Humane Society the same day they adopted Lucy just so Lucy would have a canine pal close to her own age.
“Now they’re inseparable,” Herbert said of Lucy and Nala. “And Rusty’s the old man who tries to referee when they’re playing too hard.”
Herbert said some of Lucy’s favorite pastimes are visiting Shady Grove Campground, which is near the family’s home, chasing deer and squirrels near the home, going for rides on the family’s boat on Lake Lanier and eating.
“I guess after everything she went through, she really loves her food,” Herbert said. “She still eats like she’s never going to get anything else to eat again.”
Murphy said she’s happy the Herberts and Lucy found each other.
“She really does have the perfect home now,” said Murphy, noting that the Herberts are also active volunteers and supporters of the organization, most recently helping with a major renovation of the Keith Bridge Road no-kill shelter.
“We knew it was going to take a special family to adopt Lucy because of her needs, and the Herberts were it. We’re just so grateful to them.”