'Worst Dog in America' Turns into Prize-Winning Pooch

We've all heard the popular phrase, "bad to the bone," but Lucy, an adopted husky mix, is so bad, her unmatched destructive nature earned her the title prestigious "Worst Dog in America."

When Eve Memmer, of Greenville, S.C., adopted Lucy more than two years ago, it wasn't until the dog managed to chew through her metal crate they knew she was a prime candidate for Camp Bow Wow's contest to find America's worst of the worst.

Lucy gnawed her way to the coveted crown. The prize was a year of pet "rehab" at Camp Bow Wow, where she began training in summer 2012, getting to work on focus exercises and group play.

"Not only did she display all the behaviors that typical parents have with their dogs, but to a degree that really needed some expert intervention," Laura Roach, Camp Bow Wow's director, told ABC news.

But this bad dog behavior is a real issue in homes across the country. "It's responsible for 80 percent of all animal abandonment in animal shelters," veterinarian Ernie Ward explained.

Two months into Lucy's training, she was making progress as her energy was immediately subdued with a musical CD for dogs.

And after four months, Memmer said she and her husband felt "a lot more comfortable and content with her behavior."

The same dog who once dragged her owner down the street now calmly strolls along.

"Lucy is now very manageable," said Memmer. "She will listen to instruction and relax, whereas before, we could never have that."

After more than a year of reining as the "Worst Dog in America," Lucy may finally be able to pass the torch to a more deserving pup.

Here are some tips dog lovers can use at home on their own cantankerous canines:

  1. Choose the right dog: "Too often I deal with people who have this great big dog in a very small apartment," Ward said.
  2. Work out your pup: "If you could go out and walk and run and play briskly with your dog for 30 minutes a day, most of these behaviors magically disappear," Ward said.
  3. Be selective of what goes in their bowl: "Many of the dogs are being fed foods and treats that are filled with sugar and simple carbohydrates that have been shown to change the behavior," Ward said.
  4. Quality time: "You must be willing to dedicate time, energy and effort to make sure they behave properly because they don't come ready made," Ward said.