OPELIKA, Ala. — It’s not uncommon to see a dog loving their time in the pool. Well Lucy May McDaniel’s trusty dog, named Chicken, is well known for the way she gets into the pool. In fact, Lucy May and Chicken became National Champions at the annual “Ultimate Air Games” competition which takes place just outside Nashville, Tennessee. Lucy May’s mother, Dorothy, beams with pride to see her child and their adopted dog achieve so much.

“It’s really gratifying to see as parents but also as people who work with dogs and foster dogs, to see a dog that no one wanted to being this dog that had so much potential. And we were able to find a way to work with it,” said Dorothy.

Chicken’s journey to her national titles with Lucy May wasn’t always a high flying one. In 2021, Chicken was actually abandoned outside a shelter and tied to a tree. When the McDaniel family saw her picture, they stepped up to foster her. Eventually the McDaniel’s made her part of the family.

“I remember we got her as a foster, and then I don’t remember much about fostering her but I remember when my parents told me that we could adopt her and I was really excited,” said Lucy May.

After Chicken was officially part of her new pack, the McDaniel family took her to obedience training at the Harvard K-9 Facility in Opelika. That’s when the idea of dog diving was planted, and also when team “Flying Chicken” was born. The McDaniel family was so excited to see how much Chicken loved this sport. As parent, Dorothy loved what she was seeing from her daughter.

“But what I think was striking to us was that Lucy May was committed to training her. She was committed to coming out every week. And learning how to work with the dog. And learning to how to teach the dog different cues. Even how you properly throw the lure,” said Dorothy.

During the season, Lucy May and Chicken are out at the K-9 Training Facility every Sunday practicing and perfecting their craft. That kind of dedication made Lucy May’s parents so proud, but consistency wasn’t always there.

“When we started working with her yea I just wanted to stay home,” said Lucy May.
The McDaniel family hopes that this Chicken’s redemption story can open up people’s eyes to what adopting a pet can do for them.

“Maybe one or two other people might think hey we don’t have to have a specific breed of dog. Maybe we can go and see what they have over there at Paws,” said Dorothy.

You can also tune into WRBL News 3 Midday to as we introduce a new “Pet of the Week”. It’s a pet from the Paws Humane Society in Columbus, Georgia.