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Family adopts German shepherd, treats rare condition

Dog finds new home, becomes healthy

POSTED: August 26, 2014 1:00 a.m.
CRYSTAL LEDFORD/Times regional staff

Cyndi Herbert pets Lucy-Blue, a German shepherd mix her family adopted earlier this year. The dog nearly died around Christmastime before doctors discovered she suffered from a rare medical condition. With love and special food, she is on the mend.

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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 being surrendered by her former owners to their veterinarian when she collapsed in the office during a visit.

The dog was so starved, she couldn’t walk.

Humane society volunteer Mary Murphy said by the time the dog made it to 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 did not take her to the vet until her ribs nearly pierced the skin and her organs began shutting down.

Murphy said it was touch-and-go when Lucy was first brought to the Humane Society of Forsyth County. 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 four months.

She may have kept Lucy forever had the “perfect family” not come along.

Kevin and Cyndi Herbert and their twin sons, Brandon and Ryan, decided in May to take in Lucy despite her expensive medical costs. Because of her condition, the dog can only eat food that has been treated with a costly medication allowing 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, 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 Ryan’s dog, Nala, and their 12-year-old Shetland sheepdog, Rusty.

The family, which Cyndi Herbert said has always been “animal lovers,” also has 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 it adopted Lucy just so Lucy would have a canine pal close to her own age.

“Now they’re inseparable,” Cyndi Herbert said of Lucy and Nala. “And Rusty’s the old man who tries to referee when they’re playing too hard.”

She 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,” Cyndi 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 the Herberts are 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.”


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