Scott Vuletic and Ariel brighten lives in Lansing
by Alex Wondaal
LANSING, Ill. (May 19, 2018) – After many serious injuries, Scott Vuletic found himself a companion that would brighten the days of many Lansing residents, and that would brighten his own life in the process.
In his 57 years of life, Vuletic was a union ironworker on a myriad of Chicagoland projects, including skyscrapers, bridges, and schools. He also captained yachts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and on Lake Michigan. “I was really blessed in life with lots of opportunities,” he said.
Vuletic has a large, strong, blue-collar frame, the intimidating face and hair of a rockstar, but the soft, kind eyes of a loving father.
Unfortunately in 2008, he lost the ability to work after several health incidents, including second- and third-degree burns, six knee surgeries, a spine injury, and a four-month coma. “When you’re an ironworker, you’re gonna get hurt,” he said with a chuckle.
It was at this low point when Vuletic received a call from Craig Satalic, president of the Chicago Ironworkers Union. Satalic, who had persevered through his own trials with help from a dog, encouraged Vuletic to find a furry companion.
Vuletic soon found Ariel in a newspaper ad, a half poodle, half maltese bundle of joy.
Vuletic and Ariel became great friends over the next six years. Their bond would prove to be essential for Vuletic when an indescribably dreadful hardship came his way—the loss of his wife to brain cancer on March 27, 2014.
Struggling not to choke up, Vuletic said of Ariel: “That dog saved my sanity, and my life. When you find someone you can connect with, that’s a gift from God.”
Vuletic and Ariel now spend their time visiting hospitals, old folks homes, colleges, schools, and libraries. “Statistics show they [college students] do much better on exams when they play with dogs beforehand to calm their nerves,” explained Vuletic.
“When people ask me what I do for a living, I simply reply, ‘I drive my dog to work,’” he said.
Ariel’s favorite spot is on top of Vuletic’s shoulders. “I think she picked up on my balance I got from iron working. I wear real fur, but PETA’s got nothing on me,” he joked.
One of Vuletic’s favorite stories is about a time he was at Ace Hardware with Ariel on his shoulders and a woman approached him. Startled, she jumped back. “It’s alive!” she screamed.
After she calmed down, she held Ariel and began to weep. “I just really needed her today. Thank you so much,” she told Vuletic.
Vuletic lives for moments like those. “Ariel picks up the spirits of everyone she meets. If you’re in a bad mood, you can spread that bad mood on, like a ripple effect. Ariel and I like to do the opposite,” he said. “She puts a smile on everyone’s face.”
Sadly, 11-year-old Ariel went blind due to glaucoma over the winter and now requires two shots of insulin every day. “I’m not sure how much longer she has,” said Vuletic.
In the meantime, Vuletic and Ariel will continue their mission of brightening life for everyone they come in contact with. “Our motto is Peace and Love, man, nothing more,” he said.