Tucker’s story of survival began in May 2019. His family went on vacation to Tennessee and left Tucker in Lincoln with pet sitters. Although Tucker was nervous without his family, all was going well until one day the pet sitters let him outside without watching him, and Tucker slipped underneath their fence.
His family cut their vacation short to look for their lost dog. Ellen spent hours “pounding the pavement, showing his picture and often breaking down in tears.” As best as the family can put together the pieces, Tucker ran across a busy road onto a golf course looking for them. Passersby tried to catch him, but he ran from them in fear and hid.
When Tucker took to the road again, the worst happened: he was hit by a car. From the cockleburs found on his body when Tucker was rescued, it’s believed he crawled into a wooded area to nurse his many wounds. He has open gashes on the top of his head and under one eye, his skull was fractured, one eye was ruptured, and many road rash wounds.
Fortunately, Tucker came out of hiding a few days later, where he was found by Denise Jackson and Kyle Andrews who took him to the humane society. A staff person discovered his microchip and called his family, who immediately drove to pick him up. At first, they almost didn’t recognize him. According to the Journal Star, his white head had turned nearly black, due to the oil sludge from the car that hit him. “I started crying and then he started to cry,” Ellen told the Journal Star. “He knew it was me. He cried in a real soft whimper in my arms and laid his head across my chest.”
ALLISON: Tell me about Tucker.
ELLEN: Tucker is a two-year-old Maltipoo that we bought from a breeder. He has always been spunky, sassy, loving, and just fun and goofy, and very protective.
ALLISON: Describe your bond with Tucker.
ELLEN: Our bond started when we first brought him home. Like a newborn baby, Tucker wouldn’t sleep without being held. I needed sleep and so I laid him on my chest and he slept through the night. He quickly became my shadow and snuggle buddy.
ALLISON: Share any cute or embarrassing stories.
ELLEN: Tucker loves to be held by me. He will jump and jump and jump in front of me until I catch him in my arms and carry him around like a football at my side.
ALLISON: How has your life been changed by having Tucker?
ELLEN: Tucker has changed my life for the better just by being. He doesn’t judge; he loves me and accepts me the way I am. He also has an incredible sense of determination that has served him as well as saved him.
According to Ellen, his vet believes Tucker was hit a few days into his misadventure based on the size of the maggots in his wounds. “The community of Lincoln searched with me to find him, and the world prayed for him to be found, and then everyone prayed for healing,” wrote Ellen on Tucker’s Facebook page. Tucker had to have two surgeries to save his life, and donations were collected to cover his vet bills. “His spirit and will to live, along with so many people supporting his journey to live and return home to his family is what his story is about,” wrote Ellen.
ALLISON: How has Tucker been since being found?
ELLEN: Initially, after Tucker was found he was clingy, lethargic, and easily startled. He’s improved so much from that point that he’s pretty much back to his old self.
ALLISON: Have there been any long-term effects?
ELLEN: Due to being hit by a car, he still jumps at the sound of loud vehicles. He will always have scars and probably a bald spot. I will never leave him with anyone again.
ALLISON: How is Tucker now?
ELLEN: He’s continuing to heal, but other than losing his eye and having scars, Tucker “is pretty much back to his ornery little self.
ALLISON: Why did you start a page about Tucker?
ELLEN: Tucker was saved by a community. They prayed with us, searched with us, cried with us, and financially gave us the means to have his surgeries. People have followed Tucker’s story from the time he was lost. They want updates, to see how he’s recovering, and we owe them updates because they helped save him. I can’t even say thank you enough for what everyone did for us.
ALLISON: Anything else you’d like about Tucker?
ELLEN: Tucker wanted to live, he wanted to come home, and he did. He has inspired hope and given inspiration. Tucker showed determination and has fighting spirit. Tucker has taught me so much through this ordeal; to never give up, to be strong, to be resilient, and to believe in so many things. He is my little hero! We’re blessed to have Tucker and his love in our lives.
On October 16, on Tucker’s Facebook page, Ellen shared this with Tucker’s fans: “Tonight I am reflecting on our journey over the last five months. We were just another family with a beloved pet, and now we have an entire extended family out there. You all were with me as we cried and prayed for Tucker’s safe return, then again when CHS placed a beaten, battered, half dead pup in my arms, and every vet visit. I know you shared my pain and heartache, embraced every step forward, and felt every set back with me. I’m laying here with Tucker snuggled safely on my lap because of each one of you. This is why I’m doing what I can for rescued animals. I never want any animal to feel the pain and suffering Tucker did for days waiting to be found. I never want a pet owner to feel the heart wrenching devastation we went through. I still feel blessed to have Tucker, and I feel privileged to have met some of the kindest, most giving and sincere people in the world. Tucker’s story isn’t over. Thank you for being a part of his amazing journey.”
True to her word, Ellen has since Tucker’s recovery held a meet-and-greet, created a t-shirt bearing a sketch of Tucker, and hosted a Halloween party—with all proceeds going to animal rescue. As another sign that Tucker’s story continues, on November 17, the family adopted a Maltipoo from Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue. Ollie was rescued from a puppy mill where he and his siblings that weren’t adopted were going to be killed.