I have heard many heartwarming stories but this one has to be among the top of the list.
Ruby is an Australian Shepherd. Ruby was about 8 months old puppy – she was about to be put away. Luckily for her – correction — luckily for us – the humans, one lady volunteer at the shelter had not given up on Ruby. That moment had profound impact on the lives of both – Ruby and the volunteer.
Ruby was an active, little puppy that somehow seemed to always get in trouble. She was cute and appealed to every potential human parent that came to adopt a dog in the Rhode Island shelter – her temporary abode.
She would get adopted quickly only find that the owners could not tolerate her antics anymore. She was returned to the shelter not once, not twice but FIVE times. They all thought she was beyond training.
Alas! It was time to put her to sleep. Another 2 hours and Ruby will never wake up again.
Luckily the shelter had a lady volunteer that was an advocate for dogs. It was her life’s mission to make the world more friendly by saving the man’s best friend – the dogs. She was frantically looking for a home for the poor puppy.
But who would want a puppy that was returned by 5 homes in less than 8 months – an extremely poor track record. Ruby may be cute, but her resume’ was far from good. In fact it turned prospects away quickly.
So, the volunteer advocate came up with a bright idea. Ruby needs discipline, she is not fit for most of average pet owners, she is about to go for good and she wants to save her life – why not try a police K9 squad?
She called the Rhode Island Police K9 unit and pitch the possibility of them using Ruby in the police work – what do we have to lose? She laid the facts out – Ruby had some behavioral issues but she was also extremely smart, she said to the chief.
A trained police dog can drain tens of thousands of dollars from the budget depending on the type of training and skill they have.
It was worth a try – thought the chief and Ruby’s life began on a new track.
It so happens that Rhode Island police department had an officer whose dream was to be on a K9 squad – why not pair him with Ruby and let him train her.
One afternoon, Officer O’Neill gets a call from his K9 squad chief Sergeant Matthew Zarrelli, who presents this possibility to the officer and officer O’Neill jumps at it – after all that was his life’s dream!
That is how Ruby came to know Officer Daniel O’Neill. He comes home with Ruby and springs a surprise on his pregnant wife and their toddler.
Ruby was the same old Ruby- she didn’t know that she had come so close to her being extinct and this was her last chance. Upon entering the house, and the usual dog-human greetings and hugs, while officer O’Neill was still busy with his wife and the toddler, Ruby goes to the living room and leaves a not so pleasant “gift” for the family,
That was a clue for officer O’Neill that Ruby was special – she needed more attention than a normal average run of the mill type puppy.
Ever since that moment, officer O’Neill made sure he had Ruby in his sight all the time – 24×7. He trained her for 4 months – hard work but that paid off in multiple ways.
He noticed that the pup’s behavior changed for the better once she found a stable environment, they developed a great bond, and she was making excellent progress in her training. She was picking up and following commands like a pro – very quickly.
She is very very smart – he found out.
It was not too long before Ruby earned her Police Dog batch for her collar and joined Officer O’Neill as his partner / team mate.
Over the past 7 years Ruby had helped her partner respond to 10 missing person complaints. 3 of these 10 are alive and well today -thanks to Ruby.
One of these 10 cases stands out in Officer O’Neill’s mind.
One day he got a “missing person” call from Glocester police department about a missing teenager for the past 36 hours. Officer O’Neill rushed to teenagers’ home to meet the teenager’s mom Pat Inman and create a “victim profile” for the case.
She told him, hiking was the teenager’s favorite thing to do whenever he could and his favorite place to hike.
Officer O’Neill and his partner Ruby headed to the boy’s favorite hiking place in the woods. After walking half a mile, officer decided to split from his dog in order to cover the wider area.
He soon saw Ruby bolt down the hill. Officer changed his course and followed Ruby. He saw a body lying on the ground facing down. Ruby was licking the body’s face in an effort to comfort him/her.
Officer ran to the body, found a young boy, turned him over. His head was badly lacerated, and his pulse was very faint.
Officer immediately radioed the unit for help in moving the young boy, gave them his location details including the GPS coordinates.
They got into the woods, so officer O’Neill signaled Ruby to bark. They told officer on the radio that was very helpful and have the dog continue to bark, which he did. The crew took the young man straight to the hospital and Officer O’Neill went to the boy’s mother’s house to report his findings.
She was extremely grateful when she heard the hopeful news of her boy. Then she asked a very strange question.
She asked the officer “Do you a dog named Ruby?”
The officer was surprised and responded to her query “Yes, of course. Ruby is my partner and Ruby is the one who helped me find your boy.”
She broke down upon hearing this – the officer was confused……until she regrouped herself and continued “I was the volunteer at the shelter that called your police department to save Ruby from being put down.
What a lesson. What a difference a simple stable environment can make to a dog’s life! It saved the life of a dog and in return the dog has saved 3 lives so far and counting……!