The Ruby in Our Hearts

February 16, 2011  

By Kara Kerpan

A few years back, I moved from Portland to Phoenix with my boyfriend so he could learn to become a motorcycle mechanic.

In the meantime, we had to support ourselves, so he found a part time gig at the local humane society.

He saw lots of sweet dogs who didn’t get adopted, but one stuck out more than others. The shelter named her Dana, but to me she looked like a Ruby.

I learned she was just a pup – only 2 years old – and she had previously been in a foster home and pregnant. Turns out, someone had left her in an apartment all alone with puppies on the way.

Thankfully, the landlord found her.

This time she wound up in the shelter and was running on borrowed time. She had a few strikes against her: she hasn’t been socialized with cats, kids, or other dogs, and on top of that she was pit bull, a breed that’s often difficult to find a new home for.

If I adopted her, I’d lose my house. But if I didn’t, she’d die.

Still, she was sweet and the staff was pulling hard for her. My boyfriend didn’t have the heart to see her put down, like so many other pit bulls. He knew her fate. She’d be packed up in a van and shipped out, never to return.

His heart was troubled; after all, she was shy and behaved as if she was frightened at the shelter. So he started slipping her his lunch though the kennel door.

To encourage someone to adopt her, the humane society dubbed her a member of the “Lonely Hearts Club.” This meant it was only $35 to adopt her. We wanted her so badly, but we only lived in an apartment and there was a lease.

I e-mailed the management, begging and pleading because I knew Ruby was going to be put down. They didn’t care. I was appalled and conflicted. If I adopted her, I’d lose my house. But if I didn’t, she’d die.

I started dreaming about her. I mean, I know this sounds cheesy, but I had this dream that we were running through a field, and when I awoke, I threw caution to the wind and forked over the $35 to bring her home.

We snuck her back to the apartment and kept her kenneled until we could think up a better plan.

Ruby was even featured by local news outlets as a shining example of training demonstrations.

We decided to scramble to find a new place so we broke our lease and moved. It wasn’t easy. We slept on the floor of our new place for two weeks with no utilities.

Still, Ruby was worth it. She started gaining weight right away and it warmed our hearts to see her transform from a shy dog into our beloved friend.

We put her in several dog training classes and, much to our delight, Ruby was an excellent student. She was even featured by local news outlets as a shining example of training demonstrations.

Our old landlord was still pretty miffed about how we snuck out. We ended up getting sued by the apartment complex for thousands of dollars, but we settled the dispute.

In the end, it all sorted itself out.

That was seven years ago, and we’re still the proud owners of 9-year-old Ruby. Oh, and we’re back in Portland.

I know we sacrificed a lot for that dog – lawsuits, parts of our lunch through the kennel door and living without utilities – but she was worth it. She was the best company when I was living in a strange city, when I had to study long hours in college, and now she’s still my best pal when we’re walking through Portland. In return for her friendship, we make sure she’s spoiled with lots of love, an all-organic diet, and lots of exercise.

Ruby has taught me more than anyone can know. She was patient in the kennel until we could spring her out, she was patient when we were sleeping on the floor without lights, and she’s still a patient friend.

Nowadays, we’re not on the floor anymore. She shares the bed with us now.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, she steals the covers and she keeps stealing our heart.

« « Big Mama Jubilee | Best in Glow! » »


13 Responses to “The Ruby in Our Hearts”
  1. marga says:

    Oh my gosh! I’m so glad you guys took a chance on Ruby! She’s beautiful! We have a little pit girl, too, and I know I’d give the world for her. Much continued love to and for you guys!

  2. Susan says:

    What a beautiful story! Thanks for caring enough to do it for Ruby!!

  3. Allison says:

    Love this story. My husband and I would do the same thing. 🙂 yay for ruby and pitties!

  4. Kara Kerpan says:

    Thanks so much, she is definitely one of the best things to happen to me. I appreciate all the nice comments people have left.

  5. Debbie says:

    This is a beautiful and heartwarming story.
    Effort changes futures.
    What a visionary you are to see…

  6. Alena says:

    I love you and I love Ruby and I miss you three. This is so touching and sweet. Kisses!

  7. Shelly says:

    Very touching story!

  8. Martha says:

    Wonderful story. My Daizee steals covers at night, too.