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 and border collie mix, landed in a Rhode Island animal shelter as a pup. Five families in turn tried to give the gal a home. And each brought the rambunctious stray back.
“She was a total knucklehead,” says shelter volunteer and dog trainer Patricia Inman. “She jumped and bit her leash. She wouldn’t sit or lie down. She just never stopped moving.” Still, Inman intervened when others suggested putting Ruby down.
Enter state police Corporal Daniel O’Neil, who needed a search-and-rescue dog. Police dogs typically are bred for the work and trained from birth. Most state police K-9s cost $7,500 and come from Europe. Ruby was a rescue and hard to manage, but Inman vouched for her. O’Neil liked her energy and intelligence. He chose to take a risk. Ruby trained as a police K-9 dog.
Fast-forward to October 2017. A teenage boy got lost for 36 hours while hiking. Ruby led Corporal O’Neil straight to the teen, who had plummeted into a ravine. The boy was unconscious and in grave medical condition, and Corporal O’Neil’s radio and GPS were out of range. Ruby’s repeated barking drew other authorities to the scene.
Afterward, Corporal O’Neil knocked on the door of the boy’s home to deliver the good news. He found himself face to face with the boy’s mother—none other than Patricia Inman. She had saved Ruby, and now Ruby had saved her son.
This irresistible underdog story has been turned into a film. Around the same time the film came out, the state of Massachusetts enacted a new canine law: First responders can now treat police dogs injured in the line of duty. “Nero’s Law” was named for a K-9 dog that was shot in 2018. State law at that time didn’t allow EMTs to treat dogs. Nero’s human partner, Sergeant Sean Gannon, was also shot. Gannon did not recover. Nero did, and now lives with Gannon’s widow.
O’Neil and Gannon are heroes. So are Ruby and Nero.
Deep down, we each know we need a hero to fix the broken world—and our broken hearts. That perfect hero exists, and His name is Jesus. Perfectly selfless and willing to sacrifice, Jesus died a horrible death so we don’t have to. Earthly heroes give us a hint of who He is. Maybe that’s why we can’t resist a true story of heroism like Ruby’s.
Why? People love stories about heroes—even furry ones—because we are made to long for the ultimate hero, Jesus.