Regular readers of this column know that I’m head over heels in love with my pet. Our dog, Riley, has offered us countless hours of love, joy, laughter and fun as we played with him or as he acted remarkably like a person. We have had our share of scares with the dog too. He’s not a nice dog to people he doesn’t know and so he doesn’t run free unless he’s in the fenced-in back yard.
But our beloved pet is no more special to us than other animals are to their people.
On Saturday, I saw that love and excitement first-hand at Roxboro Fire Station 3.
You may remember a story we published in January about Ruby, the stray who had befriended the firefighters at Station 3 on North Main Street.
The dog, after a couple years of visiting the fire station regularly just up and disappeared. Firefighters found her about a week later under an abandoned old house where she had given birth to a litter of five puppies.
Firefighters sent the animals home with Cindy Martin, who volunteers with a local animal rescue group, where they were to stay until Ruby weaned her puppies.
That day arrived Saturday and Ruby strolled around the fire station like she owned the place. Some of the firefighters might tell you she does.
Trailing along behind were those five puppies, each one cuter, fluffier and more adorable than the one before it.
While Ruby and the puppies were at the Martin home, firefighters came to visit, bringing toys, blankets, food and other dog stuff to make Ruby’s stay more comfortable. I would argue Ruby is among the top five most pampered strays in the history of, well, forever.
Firefighter John Hamlett worked out a deal with Martin. The fire department only wanted Ruby back after she weaned the puppies. But if firefighters could adopt all the puppies out, they could return to the fire station also to meet their new families.
As it turns out, firefighter families adopted all five puppies.
On Saturday, as the firefighters, their families and the crowd of dogs gathered for a group photo, I noticed Hamlett already seated on the front row, holding one of the rambunctious puppies. The look on Hamlett’s face, as he wrestled to control the animal, told me all I needed to know about the excitement coursing through the entire group. Hamlett’s smile was a wide as his face.
Perhaps not as surprising, but equally as cute was watching the children who were about to take the puppies home.
One boy lay on the floor and at one point, I saw four of the five puppies on top of him, each puppy sniffing and licking, all to the obvious delight of the young boy.
For the past couple years, Ruby has brought a lot of joy to the folks at Fire Station 3. Now, she and her family will spread that love across the county as the puppies go their separate ways. The puppies don’t know it, but they have all fallen into the lap of luxury. Never again will they have to worry about where a meal’s coming from. Never again will they have to find shelter against the cold. Never again will they have to rely on their wits to get by.
And, all that is because of this: Dogs are lovable rascals that endear themselves to us without really even trying.