Friday, November 14, 2008

In Memory of Ruby

Ruby is a small dog whose strength of will and determination will amaze you. He is approximately 2 years old and 26 lbs. Ruby is neutered, microchipped and current on shots. He is an intensely shy boy who has survived horrific conditions and will need an incredible family of his own to teach him what it means to trust, love, and be loved.

Ruby's History
Ruby's owner in Taiwan never really treated him as a member of the family. He was delegated to living outside his whole life. Yet when his owner moved away and uncaringly left Ruby behind, Ruby nevertheless waited faithfully by the gate for his owner's return. It never happened. Instead, a new family moved into the house, one that did not care much for dogs. They continually scared him away.

Starving and thirsty, Ruby wandered to a nearby field in search of food and water. What he didn't realize was that the field was strewn with animal traps. Inevitably, one of his front paws got caught in a trap. He was so terrified and in so much pain that he simply ran and ran in the hopes of freeing himself. But he couldn't. As hard as it had to have been for him, Ruby learned to live with the pain. He often hid among the bushes underneath a high bridge, too afraid to come out until starvation and thirst forced him to seek food and water periodically.

A young man finally spotted Ruby and reported him to the Animal Rescue Team. It took 2 attempts and over 5 hours to capture this elusive and fearfully shy boy. But they finally managed it.

Ruby was immediately taken to the vet. His front leg, still attached to the trap, had become so swollen and infected that the vet had to amputate it. Ruby therefore only has 3 legs now. What he lacks in legs however is more than compensated for in courage and heart.

Ruby Today
Ruby has been boarded at the vet's office in Taiwan for over 4 months now. He has made a little progress with the volunteers who visit him, now taking treats from their hands and allowing them to gently pet him. He still has a long way to go however. Timid and undersocialized, Ruby is still wary of people. He needs a home environment filled with love and gentleness to help draw him out.

Ruby's chances of finding happiness in Taiwan, where strays are rampant and there are virtually no animal protection laws, are almost non-existent. For this reason, the Animal Rescue Team has generously offered to fund his flight to the Bay Area if a loving home can be found.

Not many people are willing to give a dog like Ruby a chance. But after everything he has been through, the torture he has survived, the starvation, and the confusion of being abandoned by the only people he knew, there aren't many dogs who deserve a chance more than this small but simply amazing boy. Will you give him hope?

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Ruby died about a year ago. I only saw him for a couple of a minutes and still I cry to think about him.

Ruby was flown to SFO and was supposed to begin his new life with a young woman named Kaylla. I was not heavily involved in this adoption as it was between Kaylla and The Animal Rescue Team in Taiwan, but I was present at the airport when his flight landed, about 6 hours late. There I saw my only glimpses of him. Such a tiny boy. So fearful, so wanting to trust but too scared to do so.

He went home with Kaylla, and I would get periodic updates about him. Kaylla even asked me to dogsit him for Thanksgiving because her boyfriend was coming to visit and she would have a lot of things going on. Then the communication stopped. Thanksgiving came and went and still no word. I left messages but no reply. Finally, by calling Kaylla's work place, in a very roundabout manner, I was able to get her on the phone.

When I asked her about Ruby, she said everything was great. I questioned her about the problems she had discussed with me before and she said everything worked out. It seemed strange to me that Ruby so quickly overcame his problems, and Kaylla sounded subdued. But she assured me everything was ok, and that was that.

A few days later, I was still bothered by the phone call. What started off as just a seed of doubt grew to a terrible suspicion. It couldn't be possible, she wouldn't, he was still microchipped to ART, but just in case, I called the Sonoma Animal Shelter, the shelter closest to where Kaylla lived. Only their front desk was open for the holiday so I left a message, inquiring about the possibility of an intensely fearful dog with an amputated paw being surrendered.

The following Monday, the shelter called me back and told me that Ruby had indeed been surrendered by his owner 2 weeks earlier. By the time I talked to Kaylla, she had already given him up. She flat-out lied to me. When I asked the shelter why they never contacted ART, who would have surely contacted me and a number of other rescues in the area, they said they did not detect a microchip. Ruby had been put to sleep earlier that day.

While I know better than to completely blame myself for Ruby's death, I do think I could have saved him. I was just too late.

So much went into trying to get Ruby to the point where he could live a happy life. The resources that the volunteers at The Animal Rescue Team put into him, to get him the medical care he needed, to arrange for his flight to the US, the finances and energy and most of all, most of all a piece of each of their hearts. They asked nothing of Kaylla except to care for him. And instead she left him to die.

I wish I could say I don't know why she did it. But I think I do. Despite her assurances, Ruby turned out to be more than she was capable and willing to handle. And rather than just admitting her failure to those of us who cared about Ruby, she took the easier, faster route of just handing his life over to strangers who she knew most likely would do, could do nothing for a dog such as he.

After everything Ruby had gone through, the intense fear, the pain, the confusion, it is not the fact that he died needlessly that is most awful to bear, as horrible as that is. It is the fact that he died needlessly alone and afraid, and not knowing there is a better world.


Sugar said...

Ignorant fools. This breaks my heart. We should create a database of the names & last known addresses of people who should never, ever have an animal under their care. Shame on this woman who treated life as disposable, refused to ask for help, and LIED. A simple phone call to the animal rescue group would have relocated Ruby, and find him a better home. As someone who has adopted a Taiwan dog, I know that instructions on returning animals is very clearly written in the signed contract. Oh, and shame on the Sonoma Animal Shelter. Did they even bother to scan for the chip? Or, did they just take the "easy way out," like the idiot who dumped Ruby on their doorstep? SHAME.ON.THEM.

Well, I'm going to grab a beer & hug my sweetie Sugar. I'm going to tell her that there are people who love & respect her right to live in this world, no matter how many squirrels or deer she attacks. I'm going to remind her that with Judy's unconditional support, Sugar has no need to be fearful and alone. Sugar's world is a much better place since Judy fostered her, and found a forever home. And I know we can always turn to Judy and ask for help.