Lucky Diamond: One Lucky DogPublished April 25, 2012
Courtesy of Wendy Diamond
In 1999, Wendy Diamond, a media personality who was making a name for herself as an advocate for the homeless and a bestselling cookbook author, had her life changed forever—by a small puff of white fur. Wendy was told about someone who was giving up a young white Maltese dog.
Diamond, already the proud owner of a Russian Blue adopted from New York City’s high kill pound, decided to take Lucky, as she would call her, before the little dog might end up in the same place.
A friend brought Lucky, who was then called Chloe, to Diamond. It wasn’t exactly adoration at first sight. “She was very hyper, and running in circles. I thought, sarcastically, ‘How lucky am I?’ and that’s how she got her name.”
But soon Diamond was smitten and Lucky became the face of her new endeavor, the animal welfare magazine Animal Fair. Diamond’s idea was to make animal rescue glamorous by corralling her celebrity pals into the cause. “At that time, animal rescue was far off the radar,” she says. “I knew that by bringing celebrities into the mix, pet adoption could move to the forefront of the media.”
She was right. Soon everyone from Renee Zellweger to Beyonce posed on the cover of Animal Fair with their pets.
Little Lucky was also photographed with hundreds of celebrities—everyone from Kristen Stewart to Bill Clinton. So many luminaries “got lucky” with a photo with the pooch that she was named the dog most photographed with a celebrity (363 times) by the Guinness Book of World Records. According to Diamond, Lucky’s favorite star is Betty White. However, she adds, “Her crush is [The Artist star] Uggie.”
Lucky has also become a celebrity in her own right—she has thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers and has appeared on numerous television programs. A recent Facebook status update by Diamond went like this: “Average day in Lucky's life! Breakfast with Nicholas Sparks, coffee with Zac Efron and lunchtime with Blythe Danner! Yes Lucky is a Lucky One!”
“She’s my business partner, my roommate, and my best friend,” says Diamond. “We’ve traveled all over the world together, and she’s seen me through my father’s death, and many different relationships. She’s my family.”
But in February, Diamond received the shock of her life. After waking up early in order to catch a plane to fly to see the Super Bowl, Diamond was horrified to discover the normally perky Lucky sprawled out on the kitchen floor, in obvious pain. Diamond rushed her pup to a nearby veterinary emergency room.
The diagnosis was dire—a tumor had exploded in Lucky’s stomach and she had cancer of the spleen.
“They gave me an hour to decide whether to do surgery, but even in that case, they didn’t give her long to live,” says Diamond. “I felt my whole life suddenly fall apart.”
According to Lucky’s oncologist, Dr. M.J. Hamilton, the life span for a dog diagnosed with spleen cancer is anywhere from a couple of weeks to almost a year, but only with surgery and chemotherapy.
Diamond wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Lucky forever, so she decided to move forward with the expensive treatment, which can run into the thousands of dollars.
Lucky had her spleen removed and a blood transfusion. She also started weekly chemotherapy sessions at Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists. Diamond also gives her a daily chemotherapy pill. “It’s radioactive, so I put on a glove,” she says. Dr. Hamilton says that, generally, dogs react better to chemotherapy than humans do, and most don’t suffer any hair loss or sickness from a course of treatment.
Beyond the traditional methods of trying to treat Lucky’s cancer, Diamond has also changed Lucky’s lifestyle. “The first thing I did was get rid of all toxins in my home,” she says. “A dog’s nose is very close to the ground, so it sniffs up everything that’s there.”
Diamond replaced all of her household cleaners with green brands and all of Lucky’s toys with natural ones. She also jettisoned Lucky’s dog food and hired a dog chef Kevyn Williams to prepare home cooked meals for the pooch and overnight them from his home in Baltimore.
“She eats better than most people,” Diamond admits, ticking off fresh chicken, yogurt, vegetables, natural oils and probiotics as staples in the new grub. She even dispensed with Lucky’s tap water and now orders weekly batches of ionized H2O. “I changed her entire life,” she says.
For now, the change has worked. Lucky’s latest ultrasound revealed no trace of cancer. While Dr. Hamilton stresses that there’s no “magic diet” or “magic pill” that can cure cancer, Diamond is ecstatic with the improvement: “She looks better and has more energy than ever before.”
Lucky’s illness has also prompted Diamond to spend even more quality time to spend with her pup: “She was my caretaker for a decade, and now I’m hers.”
And Lucky, showing no signs of wear and tear from chemo, keeps up a hectic schedule of travel, parties and celebrity greetings with her human caretaker. In fact, Lucky is soon getting “married”—though Diamond has yet to select the “groom.” Prospective spouses are applying on Lucky’s Facebook page and Diamond says that the winner could be a male or female pooch—or even another species altogether. “She’s very open,” Diamond laughs.
But Diamond is aware that Lucky’s marriage could be a brief one. Spleen cancer is aggressive and, in all likelihood, it will return within a year. If that happens, Diamond will continue with chemo as long as Lucky’s quality of life is good. “One day I’m going to wake up and my dog won’t be alive,” says Diamond. “That day will be more of a death sentence for me than for her.”
Until then, Diamond gives Lucky an amazing life—and Lucky gives it back.
“Our relationship is better than ever,” she says.
Editor's Note: Lucky Diamond passed away on Tuesday June 5, 2012.