Have you ever passed by Lincoln Park and wondered about the brown three-legged German shepherd and her two human companions who always seemed to be standing at a 90-degree angle, helping her to walk and sniff trees? Well, that was our incredibly sweet and perseverant dog, Ruby. Ruby passed peacefully and still filled with joy Jan. 17 at the age of 16, in Los Altos, surrounded by her people who loved her.
Ruby was born the dog that no one wanted, near Oakland. Born a street dog, she was captured at age 1 and sent to the animal shelter hoping to be adopted. After being adopted the first time, on the way to her new home, legend has it that she jumped out of a moving car, ran into a railroad yard and got pinned by two trains. That’s what led to her front-leg amputation.
After her amputation, Ruby was adopted by a well-meaning woman in Oakland, but she didn’t have the ability to care for her, and Ruby spent many months living under her deck in the back yard. When I discovered her there, she was so afraid that she barely even peeked her nose out from under the deck to look at me.
Ruby adapted to her missing leg and would go on to run up and down stairs and gallop around the house and parks for 12 more years, but it would take years of love for Ruby to become her true self, confident, social and loving life. Under our care, Ruby’s heart was rehabilitated. She learned to love others, play at the park and make dog friends.
Ruby moved to Los Altos in 2014 with her two best friends, Scott and Joyce. She could be seen driving around Los Altos in the back of her red Tesla every day. She soon became a constant at Lincoln and Shoup parks, found there daily, many times a day. Rain or shine, day or night, she was out there greeting people and pups with squeaks and smiles. In the winters, she was often seen decorating the “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree that while she didn’t plant, still loved to smell and “water.”
As Ruby got older, she was given human-level care with an on-call doctor, a small team of vet techs and a UC Davis pain management doctor, among others.
As you might imagine, it was close to a full-time job for us for the past 18 months to provide her care and help her stand and walk throughout the day, plus the many daily car rides, keeping her healthy and happy.
When she stopped walking on her own in August 2017, her mind and happiness didn’t stop, so we didn’t stop: We became her legs, taking some weight off of her so that she could get around.
She brought us so much joy that we were more than happy to do this and would do it again and again.
Despite her setbacks, which included many life-threatening illnesses over the past 18 months, Ruby beat it all. It was Ruby’s strong fighting spirit that earned us at least 18 months of quality extra time.
Overcoming these challenges, Ruby could still be seen walking around trees every day in the park even on her final day, with the help of her friends, whom she relied on as her faithful virtual legs. With loving arms wrapped around her to help her with her missing leg, she still wanted to gallop, explore and visit with her friends.
Ruby was born “the dog that no one wanted,” but she left this world as a beloved member of the Los Altos Lincoln and Shoup parks community, admired by dozens of human and furry friends.
She’s a shining example for what can happen when someone adopts a rescue animal and shows them tireless love – the profound transformation and the joy they give back is immeasurable.
We will miss you so very much, Miss Ruby, and you will forever be in our hearts! It’s hard to imagine a car drive or a park visit without thinking about you.
Our sadness from no longer having you in our lives is softened only by the deep gratitude that we now have from the joy and companionship that you brought to us for so many years. Thank you for being our friend.
Joyce Hsu is a Los Altos resident.