My Vicktory dog story: Volunteer Betty Grieb

It’s been 10 years since 22 dogs seized from NFL player Michael Vick arrived at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. We dubbed them the Vicktory dogs, because even after they’d been through terrible abuse and exploitation, they not only survived, they thrived.

Their amazing resilience and journey back to health and happiness proved that there's no such thing as "too damaged" or "beyond hope," that no dog is inherently vicious (no matter what the breed or background), and that every dog should be treated as an individual.

In celebration of 10 years of the good life for these deserving dogs, we’ve gathered stories and memories from some of the people who know them best. Read them all here.

Here, Best Friends volunteer Betty Grieb shares her story.

Betty Grieb and her grandson walking in Strut Your Mutt with another dog

As a volunteer I am familiar with five of the Vicktory dogs. They changed my perception of pit bull terriers (in general) and fighting dogs (in particular) — all to the good.

My fondest memories are of two dogs: Ellen and Lucas.

Reading to dogs

Ellen the Vicktory dogEllen was a very special girl. It was 2009-2010 and because of her red collar (in Dogtown’s color-coded system), only staff could go into her room or yard. I could only read to her from outside the gate to her run. She was always full of tail wags and enthusiasm, which made me feel welcomed and loved.

My very fondest memory of Ellen was the day in 2012 when she was made purple collar (meaning adult volunteers could handle her). I was the first volunteer to interact with her. I was greeted with wildly enthusiastic tail wags and lots and lots of dog kisses. That day, I also got to take her for her first trail walk. What an honor.

I continued reading to her (now from inside her run), and the attention, kisses and love continued.

Ellen was a very special girl who loved people and was happiest giving and receiving love from people. After all this time since she passed away, I still miss her.  

Cuddling with Lucas the Vicktory dog

Lucas was also a very special dog. While I was reading to Ellen, he must have been listening. Later, when he was in a different Dogtown area and had his purple collar, I was able to go in his run and visit. He must have remembered me because I was greeted with lots of tail wagging and kisses. When I visited, we would sit in his outdoor yard and he would cuddle on my lap. We both enjoyed the attention and love.

The Vicktory dogs were (and are) wonderful dogs — only needing time, caring and love to bring out their true natures.

More about the Vicktory dogs

Photos by Best Friends staff