WICHITA, KS (KCTV) - Lady has had a tough life in recent months, but a Florida heiress who loves animals is vowing to make the lab's golden years truly happy.
The grizzled black lab made national headlines when she walked 30 miles to return home to owners who had given her up and refused to take her back.
As word spread on social media, heartbroken dog fans swamped the Chautauqua County Animal Shelter telephone line as they sought to adopt the older dog.
After learning of her plight, Wrigley Gum heiress Helen Rich Rosburg flew a private jet to Kansas on Thursday to whisk the dog to her Florida sanctuary for neglected animals.
The dog tale goes back to 2012. Lady, who has also been called Ma Kettle, saw her owner die in 2012. No one wanted the dog so she wound up at the shelter in Sedan, KS.
Shelter worker Kelsey Loyd told KWCH-TV Thursday that a family adopted Lady. She was living a good life, but was rough with the family's puppy and didn't get along well with little dogs.
So the family returned the dog to the shelter. Earlier this summer, a woman in Independence, KS, adopted Lady.
But Lady's desire to return to her previous owner was overwhelming. She escaped from her Independence home and the aged arthritic dog walked 30 miles to Sedan.
The family with the little dogs wouldn't take her back. And the Independence woman also decided she didn't want Lady back.
So back to the shelter she went with an uncertain future.
Loyd said Lady is an amazing dog.
"Super dog. Gentle, calm dog," he said. "If I had to pick a dog, this would have been the dog I would take."
Cindy Barclay Powell posted about the dog she called Ma on Facebook, begging for someone to adopt the animal.
"The senior lab walked nearly 30 miles to come home," Powell wrote on Facebook. "Is there anyone out there who can give this girl a home? She may not have many years left. She is spayed, house broken, leash trained, mellow, having problems walking (so her travels back to Sedan amazed me)."
Powell's post was shared nearly 7,000 times across Facebook. It went viral after Examiner.com picked up the story Wednesday.
Rosburg, the great-granddaughter of the founder of the famous gum, is a self-described animal lover. She has used a portion of her inheritance to help neglected and abandoned animals. She has built a 120-acre farm in Odessa, FL, that houses 300 animals including rabbits, pigs and goats. She even built an on-site home for a trainer to work with dogs dealing with behavioral issues. She reportedly has a staff of 15 to care for the animals, and eventually adopts out some of the animals or they are trained to be service dogs.
When Rosburg learned about Lady's plight, she stepped in. The plane was sent to Independence and a car ride was made Thursday afternoon to Sedan to pick up the tail-wagging Lady.
Rosburg sent her assistant, Chet Ragsdale, to pick up Lady.
"She's going to think she's gone to heaven," Ragsale said.
Rosburg has vowed to give Lady a pampered life, and she will join the cats and dogs already inside Rosburg's home. She will have plenty of room to play outside.
Ragsdale said it's a privilege to work with the Florida woman.
"It's a blessing every day to do a lot of nice things for her. She does a lot of great things for the community at world and through the world actually," he said.
The heiress has made headlines before for helping out dogs in need.
When a Marine was facing losing his two dogs because he couldn't fly them on commercial flights to his new base, Rosburg chartered a plane to take the dogs to him.
Lady's misfortune has also garnered a new home for a dog at the Sedan shelter. A woman who heard about Lady went to the shelter to see about adopting her. Once she got there and learned that Lady had already gotten a new forever home, the lady adopted a similar-looking lab.