Abandoned Dog Left For Dead Gets Second Chance Starring In 'Nutcracker' Ballet

Dogs have been featured in many different iterations of "The Nutcracker" over the years. According to Rover, The St. Louis Ballet featured a version called "The Muttcracker" in 2019 with ballerinas and dogs dancing on stage together. This holiday season, The Southwest Virginia Ballet's performances of "The Nutcracker" revealed a special guest: a rescue dog named Luna. The pup made her stage debut weeks after a harrowing experience that nearly took her life.

Roanoke, Virginia animal shelter Angels of Assissi reported that Luna had been tied to a pole and abandoned in the local park. Animal Control retrieved the terrified dog before she found her way to Angels of Assissi. Vets did a thorough workup on the dog they deemed to be in "horrific condition."

In late November, the organization took to Facebook.

"We don't know how anyone could leave her, especially in this horrific condition, but we will do everything we can to help her heal," they wrote in a post. "She is extremely malnourished and has Lyme disease that has started to affect her kidney function. She is in critical condition and is touch and go. Our medical team has her set up on IV fluids to help her kidneys and has placed her on antibiotics."

Luna's fate wasn't known in the beginning but she soon showed a "sparkle of hope in her eyes" they said. By December 6, the shelter had a better, more uplifting update on Luna's condition.

"Sweet Luna is getting stronger by the day. She spent this weekend getting showered with gifts, and she had a few visitors," they wrote.

"She is still on antibiotics to treat her Lyme disease and on a strict feeding regime to help her gain weight. Right now, the goal is to get her stronger and help her gain some weight. Once Luna is at a healthier weight, she will be able to go under anesthesia to have a mass removed from her side and be spayed. We are also VERY excited to announce that she will be going to her foster home later this week to continue to heal out of the hospital environment. Thank you all for your support, and stay tuned for more updates on Luna."

And, while those heartwarming updates are good news enough, Luna — dressed in a holiday vest in photos — was offered the chance to let her personality shine as a special guest star of the "The Nutcracker" at the Berglund Center for a few of their shows.

"Everybody in the ballet has been so wonderful to her," the shelter's executive director Lisa O'Neill, told WSLS. "They've brought treats. They've showered her with love and affection."

Once her work in the play was over, Luna moved from the shelter to a foster home.

"Yesterday was a very exciting day for sweet Luna! She had her final performance in Southwest Virginia Ballet's 'The Nutcracker' and did great!" the shelter wrote in a December 13 update. "Then, her new family came to take her home! As you can tell, she was so excited, and she is already so loved. We are so happy this sweet girl has such a loving home to continue to heal. She will continue to come back for medical care, so stay tuned for more updates."

Nutcracker Ballet
New York Theatre Ballet dancer Alexis Branagan performs an excerpt of the Nutcracker party scene from "Nut/Cracked" during a dress rehearsal at Arts on Site in the Greenwich Village section of New York, December 15, 2020. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images