Ruby, a two-year-old American Bulldog mix, is spending her summer frequenting the beach and playing with the many toys provided by her foster family. It’s a well-deserved reward for this hero dog who lost her eye, but gained a chance at a new life.
“She is such a goofball,” says Ruby’s foster mom, Rachel Shperber. “She loves to play, but she’ll trip over her own feet.”
Ruby is living a life of leisure now, but back in the spring she was staying in a San Jose, California, homeless camp and her reality could not have been more serious. She was with her human when he was attacked by someone wielding a machete. Ruby could not stand by and watch as her person was threatened, so the loyal dog jumped in to save her guy, and the attacker then turned on her. When it was all over, Ruby was injured and bloody, and her homeless owner rushed her to an emergency animal clinic. Ruby needed surgery to remove one eye, and she was turned over to San Jose Animal Care and Services, where she would remain for her recovery.
The city-run shelter cared for Ruby for weeks, and made efforts to stay in touch with her human, who did not have an address or telephone number at which he could be reached. The man Ruby had tried so hard to save did visit once during her recovery, but shelter staff weren’t able to find him again when Ruby was ready to go. Given Ruby’s past, the shelter decided she couldn’t go into the regular adoption pool. They knew she wasn’t compatible with little kids, cats, or even other dogs. Things were looking grim for Ruby when the busy shelter was forced to add her to a list of animals scheduled for euthanasia. As the clock ticked for Ruby, shelter staff started working the phones, trying to get this hero dog into a foster home.
“They reached out to us as one of their many rescue partners and asked us to consider taking her into our rescue organization,” explains Melissa Lisbon, the co-Founder & President of the Silicon Valley Pet Project.
“We were thrilled to be able to help her because, of course, that story was just heartbreaking, especially the fact that she lost an eye as a result.”
Luckily, the Silicon Valley Pet Project was able to match Ruby with the perfect foster family in the nick of time.
“It was her last day, and there was just no way I could see her be put to sleep after all that she’d been through,” says Rachel Shperber, who took Ruby home from the shelter on May 4, 2015.
Shperber and her husband, Itai, were mourning their 13-year-old German Shepherd (who had passed away in April) when they learned about Ruby.
“She needed a very specific kind of foster home, with no other dogs, no cats, and no kids. I said to my husband, ‘I think we’re probably one of the only families who can do that,’ so we just put in an application,” Shperber recalls.
Soon, Ruby was being whisked out the shelter and into a loving home — likely the first she had ever known.
According to Lisbon, Ruby’s last day at the shelter was an emotional one for the folks at Silicon Valley Pet Project, along with relieved shelter staff who were so happy to see her go.
“Even the animal control officers who were first on the scene were there to wish her well,” she remembers.
“From the day we took her out, she was so friendly and so full of that optimism that dogs have about the future,” says Lisbon. “I think she was just shows tremendous resilience and we couldn’t have found a better foster family for her.”
The admiration goes both ways, as Ruby’s foster family says they couldn’t have found a better dog. Shperber wasn’t sure what to expect from a two-year-old dog who’d never lived indoors.
“She took us by surprise in a good way,” she explains, adding that the active and playful pup loves people.
“She adjusted to life in a home very quickly. She knew the rules. She knew to go to her dog bed, she knew what was a toy and what wasn’t toy, she was perfectly house trained right away. She took to us immediately, she just wanted to play and to be loved.”
As the weeks went by, one-eyed Ruby continued to impress her foster parents.
“It’s like she was born without an eye,” says Shperber, who adds that Ruby has no further medical issues as a result of the attack, and doesn’t show the aggression some would expect from a dog with her past.
“Most of all, she’s just very eager to please her family and is incredibly affectionate.”
As Ruby is busy enjoying trips to the beach with her foster folks, the Silicon Valley Pet Project continues to spread the word about the dog, organizing adoption events and promoting Ruby through her own Facebook page.
Despite gathering many enthusiastic fans, Ruby has remained in foster care longer than her foster mom initially expected.
“We thought she would be snatched up so quickly, especially once we saw how good she was and how affectionate and loving,” says Shperber, who is often asked why she and her husband aren’t adopting the funny, loving, and easily trained dog already in their home.
“Because we were able to get her out, she now gets to live. We want to get her ready and get her to the right home so that we can open our home to another dog who is in a similar situation.”
If Ruby can find her forever family, the Shperbers can save another dog from euthanasia, so the couple continues to take Ruby to adoption events and to post her adorable pictures on Facebook. Ruby’s adoption fee has already been sponsored by a Good Samaritan, so all that’s left is finding the right match.
“We will keep her until that perfect family comes along, but I am surprised it hasn’t happened yet,” says Shperber.
“She’ll make some lucky family very happy when the time is right.”
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.