This story wags the dog: “Rescued by Ruby” tells the story of K-9 | lifestyles

By WILLIAM J. KOLE – Associated Press

NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI (AP) – This is the story of a mischievous mutt who turned out to be a very good girl. Such a good girl, in fact, that she saved a life.

Ruby, an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, ended up at a Rhode Island animal shelter as a puppy because of persistent behavior issues. Five families adopted her one after the other, only each gave her back because she was too impetuous.

“She was a total moron,” said animal shelter worker and dog trainer Patricia Inman, who repeatedly intervened to prevent Ruby from being euthanized. “She jumped and bit her leash. She didn’t want to sit or lie down. She just never stopped moving. She was special and she needed someone special.”

Enter State Police Cpl. Daniel O’Neil who needed a search and rescue dog. In 2011, he was captured by eight-month-old Ruby’s irrepressible energy and intelligence, and after Inman vouched for her, she was trained as a police K-9.

Fast-forward to October 2017 when this story takes an incredible turn: a teenager got lost while hiking for 36 hours, and Ruby succeeded where a human search party had failed – she found the boy, who was unconscious and in serious medical condition. Turns out he was Inman’s son.

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Rescued by Ruby, premiering March 17 on Netflix, tells the story of a troubled pooch who just needed one more take.

“Ruby got a chance to live and ended up saving a life,” said the American Humane Hero Dog organization in a 2018 award that named her the nation’s “Search and Rescue Dog of the Year.”

In another twist, Ruby is played by a canine actor, Bear, another former shelter dog who was saved from being euthanized by the film’s dog trainers.

“This is a real underdog story,” 41-year-old O’Neil said in an interview at his office with the Rhode Island State Police, where he now directs an 18-dog K-9 unit.

“It’s like divine intervention. She was given a chance and she did everything to repay it,” he said. “They have this dog that was abandoned and she changed the lives of so many people.”

O’Neil knew that adopting a shelter dog that was written off as unmanageable was a gamble. Police dogs are typically bred for their work and trained from birth. Most state police K-9s cost $7,500 and come from Europe.

But O’Neil recalls being impressed by Ruby’s determination and focus, and graduating at the top of her class. And as someone with dyslexia and hyperactivity, he identified with Ruby.

“We both kind of know where the other is from,” he said.

On the afternoon of the boy’s rescue, Ruby led O’Neil directly to the teenager who had fallen into a ravine. O’Neil’s radio and GPS were out of range, but Ruby’s repeated barking lured authorities to the scene. The youth, who has since recovered, declined an interview.

As O’Neil knocked on the door of the boy’s home to break the good news, he confronted Inman, “I said, ‘Pat, that was her thank you for saving her life – she has your boy that Saved lifes. ‘ And we both started crying.”

Later, when everything became clear to him, Inman wondered: what if?

What if O’Neil hadn’t taken any chances? What if Ruby had been put to sleep?

“I was so grateful. I was beside myself and overwhelmed,” she said. “So many things had to fit together for this to happen the way it did. The universe works in mysterious ways.”

O’Neil, who stars in The Flash actor Grant Gustin’s Netflix film, said he hopes people will consider adopting a dog from a shelter.

“When you show them love and compassion and give them some stability, they show their true colors,” he said.

Partners for 11 years, O’Neil and Ruby have partnered on numerous successful rescues and helped convict two murderers based on evidence Ruby sniffed out. They also shared some tough days: In 2020, a drunk driver slammed into their cruiser. Ruby escaped unharmed; O’Neil has broken five ribs.

Massachusetts last month enacted new law that underscores the dangers of the job and allows first responders to treat police dogs injured on duty. “Nero’s Law” was named after Yarmouth Police Department’s K-9 partner Sgt. Sean Gannon, who was fatally shot while serving a warrant in 2018. Nero was also shot, but state law did not allow paramedics to treat him. He recovered and now lives with Gannon’s widow.

While Ruby is Ruby, there are still the odd mishap or two.

Three years ago, she sped near a state park and prompted a 19-hour search before reappearing safe and sound. Recently, after O’Neil let her out to relieve herself, she returned with a live skunk squirming — and squirting — in her jaws.

“We should have known. Ruby is a down to earth girl, not a Hollywood celebrity,” wrote the Rhode Island Monthly, which featured Ruby and O’Neil in a cover story for its Rhode Islanders of the Year issue. “It represents something true and beautiful: We can achieve great things no matter where we start in life.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

This story wags the dog: “Rescued by Ruby” tells the story of K-9 | lifestyles

Source link This story wags the dog: “Rescued by Ruby” tells the story of K-9 | lifestyles

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