When I walk down the street with, or bring my dog essentially anywhere, people pay attention. It’s not often that you see a happy-go-lucky pouncing 50-pound lab…at least not one who only has three legs. Gunner came into our lives through happenstance. We were not looking for another dog; we had adopted our little Kensington about a year prior and were so happy to have “lucked out” with finding a great rescue dog. No way was I messing with that dynamic. I believed the odds of finding another well-adjusted, happy pet from a rescue would be astronomical. We all hear how rescue dogs were abused, malnourished, unloved…that’s how they got to the rescue, right?
When thinking about adopting a pet, people assume that they are inheriting an animal who wears the abuse he’s experienced. No one knows if the dog will be aggressive, or timid, or have some sort of unknown trigger and lash out. That’s scary for anyone – of course it is. But we tend to forget there is an intermediary place for them. We forget about people like Ruby, who purposely looks for those dogs—the hurt, scared, sick, or left behind. Ruby, the woman who has saved literally HUNDREDS of lives, and absolutely saved my sweet Gunner’s life... We forget about the foster families.
Ruby began fostering dogs about 3 years ago. Her journey also began through a bit of happenstance; an act of kindness at a drive-through that changed her life and the lives of hundreds of dogs. Waiting in line, she noticed the car in front of her feeding a stray dog. After getting her order, she opened her car door to share some of her own food. The pup, having other ideas, jumped into the car, and that was that. Ruby had her first foster dog, and Junie had a new chance at life.
Opening your home to these dogs isn’t easy. Many are timid, uncertain of how they will be treated. The personalities Ruby welcomes are the very ones of which adopters are wary. She knows to study their body language, to give them space, time, positive energy and praise, and most importantly love. Ruby is the person who teaches them how to trust, maybe for the first time in their lives. She gives them structure and routines to provide boundaries and to prepare them to successfully transition to an adoptive home.
Through her patience, Ruby sees pups flourish. Even a simple tail wag can be an exciting sign of a dog who is starting to trust. Ruby spends her time teaching these dogs things that we as adopters need to see to feel confident bringing a dog into our home. She trains them to like their crates – showing these dogs that there is a safe place to rest. She walks them – sometimes it’s the first time they’ve even worn a collar. She socializes them – exposing them to situations they very likely have never experienced, but that we may want to share with them in our homes. She loves them at their worst and nurtures them back to their true best selves. Then, she lets them go – to us, to our homes.
It’s very likely that everything you have read thus far is information you logically know on some level. I think one thing that many of us, especially here in New England, tend to forget is that shelters everywhere are full, and we are lucky to live in an area where shelters are standardly no-kill. But it isn’t like that everywhere, and dogs are euthanized every single day due to overcrowding. Gunner was one of these dogs. When Ruby found Gunner, he was next on the list to be euthanized. He was in the shelter in pain with a shattered leg, because someone had shot him. He still has the bullet fragments in his shoulder now, though you would never think it. Ruby found this sad guy, and decided she needed to save him. After reaching out to as many connections as she could, A Place for Ace stepped up. Together, Meagan and Ruby got Gunner out at literally the last minute.
Gunner is about 2 years old. No one really knows what his life was like before he met Ruby. We know he wasn’t the friendliest of dogs when she first met him, and perhaps that is because he was in so much pain, but we will never know his whole story.
What I do know is that since March, he’s been loved like nobody’s business. He had his leg amputated and was nursed back to health by Ruby before we adopted him. He THRIVES in a house with three crazy active boys, a feisty terrier who will not leave his side, and two adults whose hearts he owns. I often wonder what the life he had was like, and honestly, it infuriates me to know someone hurt this sweet, gentle pup. I try not to think about part of his life too much. Instead, I think about his life with Ruby, his angel.
I’ve come to know Ruby a bit – we keep in touch because of how much she loves Gunner. She inspires me. She saw Gunner--a sad, injured, scared body of a dog. But she saw Gunner, the sweetest, most loving soul of a dog, and brought him back to life.
Ruby didn’t just save him physically. She gave Gunner the love and space to be himself. He didn’t have to live in fear; he could run and play; he could jump up to the heavens; he could give hugs to strangers; he could demand more pats when she stopped; he could love and trust.
That’s the thing about fostering—it isn’t about just preventing dogs from being euthanized. It’s about restoring a dog’s trust, and giving him the confidence to be man’s best friend. It’s about showing a dog that someone can love him just as much as he loves a person. Ruby does that, really really well. Thank you, Ruby. From my family and the hundreds of others your beautiful heart has brought together. Our gratitude to you is endless.
Jerry was adopted in November 2019! Jerry has been loving life in his forever home with his mom and dad. He has made so many new dog friends and loves spending time with his 5lb dog sister, Lucy! Jerry recently became a big brother to a beautiful human baby and loves every minutes of it!
Kora (F.K.A. Hermione) was a very quick "Foster Fail"! As soon as our foster, Jillian picked her up, she knew that she was the one! Kora loves to give kisses and be the center of attention. She has turned herself into a 50lb lap dog! She loves to play and nap with her doggy siblings and friends. She enjoys her vacations to Lake Winnipesaukee, where she can swim until she is tired and after that enjoy a nice relaxing boat ride. She also loves the vet, in her spare time she will try to assist with answering the phones!
Chewie (F.K.A. Dean) was adopted in December 2019! He has continued to grow from a small pup into some slightly larger shirt sizes! He loves cuddling with his mom and running around wild with his toys. Playing hide and seek with his treats is a favorite activity, it's always a surprise when his mom finds them!
Anthem was adopted in July 2020! Anthem had an unfair start to life but has moved on to many beautiful and amazing days ahead for the rest of his life! He enjoys camping, hiking and walking the beach with his forever mom! When he's not exploring the outdoors, he enjoys lounging with his cat siblings!
Roo (F.K.A. Mouse) is loving her new furever home! She spends all of her time with her big sister, Lu. She enjoys walks with her family, car rides to see her grandparents and training with her Moms. Her favorite time of day is her after dinner treats and playtime. Her favorite toy is her pink elephant. She’s excited for her first Christmas with her furever family!
Daisy (F.K.A. Vixen) has been enjoying her first summer with her new family to its fullest! She now enjoys swimming adventures, rides in the canoe and hiking trails all over! She loves snack time and her favorite treats are carrots and watermelon. Daisy loves to play and show off her great acrobatic skills when she meets new dog friends!
Hank (F.K.A. Taco) has been learning a lot since being adopted in February 2020! Hank enjoys going to the dog park and playing with his dog friends! He is super smart and enjoys solving puzzles for treats. He just recently celebrated his first birthday and enjoyed his puppy cake. In Hank's free time he likes to help advocate for justice and equality!