A Gemstone Amongst The Rubbish

I first heard the story of Ruby, the heavily pregnant golden Labrador/Staffordshire bull terrier cross on the early morning news in July 2006. I wasn't really paying much attention to what the broadcaster/journalist was saying, until a familiar English accent came on air. It was Lesley Butler from Nassus Animal Shelter. ( I have known her and Teresa for about nine years, as I used to support their shelter.) Apparently a dog that they have since named Ruby, was found in a skip bin at Himatangi Beach, by a member of the Cosmopolitan Club, who went to clean the club and throw out some rubbish. After discovering the dog in a skin and bone state, he rang the SPCA inspector who picked the dog up, and she contacted lesley and Teresa who agreed to take Ruby. Lesley also said on the news that Ruby was severely malnourished, and had been neglected and abused.

Horrified by what I had just heard, I rang the shelter for some more details, and Teresa said they thought that Ruby may have been hit over the head, had a sore paw, a scar on her nose and that she walked with a limp. She also mentioned that the vet reckoned Ruby was due to give birth over the next few days, and said that they had her on a high-protein diet, and that she (Teresa that is), Lesley and their voluntary workers were giving her a lot of tender, loving care. They kept her in a big sheepskin-lined kennel in the shed at night, and she spent time inside with them during the day. Teresa said that very loving Ruby was a little apprehensive for anyone, particularly males to touch her in the beginning, but that she was gradually becoming more used to it.

Three days later on the Saturday evening (which was the 15th of July, and just eight days after she had been found in the skip bin), Ruby went into labour at about ten pm, and by eleven pm she'd given birth to three puppies, then another three by two am, and by 7am she'd had the last three. Everything went very smoothly. She had three girls and six boys. All were born very healthy, and on the same day Teresa contacted the media, and Ruby and her beautiful and very cute, fat family of nine puppies appeared on channel one's evening news. When I saw her on television behaving in such a loving and attentive manner towards her puppies, I wondered how anybody could abuse and try to harm such a lovely animal!! They also appeared in the Manawatu Evening Standard and the Feilding Herald newspapers. So dearest Ruby was a star, and gifts and donations from people in the community started to pour into the shelter, including pocket money from children.

After the puppies were born, they decided to feed Ruby every three hours to help her regain some weight and strength, and to help prepare her for the two hourly feeds.

Ruby's remarkable ability to swing from an abused animal, to a survivor of abuse, and into a wonderful mother in such a short space of time, absolutely amazed everybody at the shelter, and outside of it.

As the days gradually turned into weeks her puppies just grew and grew. Their father is a Mastiff, so they have chunky bodies, thick legs and wrinkly faces. Some are sandy, while others are golden, some are tan and one is dark brown. They developed into medium to large dogs.

I went to see this beautiful dog and her family on several occasions with Karen, who had very kindly contributed some food to the collection that I did for Ruby. She is the most remarkable animal that I have ever had the great privilege of meeting. What a lovely personality she has, despite her terrible, indescribable past!! I loved patting her and telling her what a lovely dog she is, and as I held one of her puppies in my arms and he kept licking my face, I couldn't help but think that Ruby is an absolute credit to her family, as they are well-behaved and loving just like her.

One of her puppies was euthanased because she was very wobbly on her legs, but homes were found for the remaining eight, and Ruby fully recovered from her injuries, and is with a family who have two children.

The photograph of Ruby and her beautiful puppies that was given to me by one of the volunteers, is one that I will treasure for life. It sits on my piano, just along from the more recent photograph of her. The day that Ruby was found, was the day that I prayed about all abused, neglected and rejected animals.

Elizabeth Krammer
Fifty seven years.
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