When Vicki Perry was an elementary school principal in the Southfield Public School District, she shared a common love for books with a friend who supported efforts to help children become confident readers, even though she herself couldn’t read.
That friend was a black labrador named Lucky. Perry says Lucky was an appropriate name for her companion for a couple of reasons. Two decades ago, during a heatwave in Detroit, Perry purchased Lucky, then a tiny puppy with no name, from some guys who asked $5 for the dog. “We gave them $10 and took her to a vet around the corner and waited 90 minutes to get her in. She was beautiful but sick. Our $10 turned into about $900,” she says.
With a lot of care, Lucky recovered. “She was lucky that we took her to the vet because she probably wouldn’t have made it,” Perry says. “But we were lucky to have found her because she was a wonderful dog. Smart, smart, smart.”
Lucky’s gentle nature made her a perfect reading companion in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms at the schools where Perry worked. “She went to work with me a couple of times during the week. She had her glasses and a book bag and the children would take turns reading to her, and I think they really enjoyed it because Lucky never told them they mispronounced a word. She never corrected them. She never judged them,” Perry says.
Five years ago, after nearly 14 years of companionship, Perry said goodbye to Lucky. But just prior to this farewell — and during a walk near Perry’s cottage in Canada — Perry noticed in a neighbor’s yard a special bookshelf dedicated to a beloved pet. “It had a sign that said ‘Feel free to take a book,’ and I thought that’s so wonderful,” she recalls. Ever since then, Perry has planned to create a Lucky Library to honor her own pet.
“I needed to retire and research it and I was finally able to purchase the library,” says Perry, now an assistant to Southfield Mayor Ken Siver. “With the assistance and wonderful responsibility of Kyle Bryce and Terry Croad in the planning department and the Southfield City Centre Advisory Board, it was approved.”
The library was installed on Thursday, August 13 and a ribbon-cutting took place on Sunday, August 16. “I put the first books into the Lucky Free Library, and they are all about dogs,” Perry says. The library sits on the southwest corner of Evergreen Road and Civic Center Drive and exists to support literacy in the community.
“The books I purchased years ago as a reflection of my dog, and in the library will be books of all genres and for all ages,” Perry says. Soon, she hopes to adorn the library with a nameplate that says “The Lucky Library.”
While Perry does not have a new dog to take Lucky’s place in her family, she says she does enjoy “timesharing” Oliver, a dog that belongs to family members and enjoys long visits with Perry throughout the year. In fact, Oliver and Lucky met briefly, and Perry says she likes to think Lucky passed a message to Oliver — in whatever dog language they communicate — to step in whenever Perry may need him.
“Oliver is such a perfect dog. He’s so good,” says Perry.
Take a book, leave a book, enjoy The Lucky Library. It’s on the southwest corner of Evergreen Road and Civic Center Drive in the Southfield City Centre.