It was Dec 31, 2005. My wife and I were invited to ring in the new year at a small club in Ramona Ca. The weather was rainey, chilly and the roads had a thick marine layer. On the 45 minute drive out I saw several animal carcasses along the roadway as visibility was poor. We arrived at the cluba t about 9:00pm. A live band was playing and we ordered dinner. While waiting another customer walks in and behind him wanders in a wonderful older dog. Our party of course thought the dog belonged to the genltman coming in, but the bar owner quickly shooed the dog back outside.

I went outside and another customer was sitting with the dog. He was totally drenched from the rain as he had been walking around the area asking neighbors about this dog.

My wife and I had recently adopted a dog from a rescue and so we agreed to take this dog home, at least to get her off the street, and I could take her to the shelter in the morning. She was most pleasent on the way home, but when we arrived back home we could see that she had been cared for. Her nails were trimmed, teeth were clean and her coat defintely looked cared for. Although spayed it was clear that she had at least one litter of pups.

The next morning I dropped her of at the shelter. I kept in touch as I wanted to make sure she was ok. I found that after a few days they had transferred her to another shleter closer to the area we had found her. She was in a shleter 3 blcks from where I worked. I spent a weeks worth of lunch hours visitn her, and giving her treats in her cage. She was one of the sweetest dogd I had every met. She was around 9 or 10 years old.

After talking with my wife we put a finder’s hold on her. I so kept hoping that her owners would claim her, yet also looked forward to bringing her into our household. Finally Jan 14th, she came home with us.

The name of the band playing at the club was the Rugburns. In their honor we named her Ruggy. We spent a week socializing her, going to the local dog parks and meeting people. She was a real people pleaser. Her greatest joy was walking up to a person and looking up with that “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers” look that just melts even the coldest of hearts. We decided that she would make an excellent therapy dog for visiting hospitals, and elder care facilities. We worked hard over the next 7 months and in August Ruggy earned both her CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and passed er therpay dog evaluation at the San Diego Humane Society. We had really grown very close and bonded with Ruggy, more so I believe than most of the dogs I grew up with. In September we noticed she was having more difficulty walking around an brought her into the vet.

Her x-Rays not only showed her arthritis getting worse in her spine, but her leg and lower back had some very dark areas on her back legs and areas of her spine. Areas where cancer was eating away her bones. At the time of its discovery her bone mass in her the worst part of her leg was so severe, the vet thought she could have a spontaneous fracture. We immediately pulled her from the therapy dog program as her prognosis was not good. We opted for hospice care. She only lasted another week. I remember Saturday night a trip to the emergancy room to provide pain relief. We wanted her comfortable until we could help her pass with our regular vet. For two days my wife and I hand fed her and carried her out for bathroom trips. Even with narcotics it was obvious that she was ready to pass on. That Monday, my wife and I made the appointment. The staff at my vet were tremendously supportive and gave us all the time we needed to say our final farewell, and to hold her close as she passed. When all was said and done there was not a dry eye at the practice. Everyone knew what a special dog we had. I still find myself weeping over her loss. We only had her for about 9 months. I can only thank God for the joy she brought in such a short time.