Roxboro Fire Station 3 was the scene of a joyous reunion on Saturday.
Ruby, a local stray that firefighters at Station 3 had befriended, returned to the fire station after a one-month stay with a local rescue group.
Ruby was the subject of a rescue by firefighters just before the new year started.
After having been a daily visitor at the fire station and a handful of other businesses in the local area for about two years, Ruby had become something of an unofficial firehouse mascot.
She went missing around Christmas.
Firefighters happened to spot her one night, making trips across North Main Street from a convenience store to an abandoned house next to the fire station.
The next morning, firefighters checked out the house and discovered Ruby – and her five new puppies – nestled under the house trying to ward off the cold.
Ruby’s firefighter friends sent her and the puppies to Cindy Martin, who volunteers with an animal rescue group called Vintage Racers for Rescues. Martin cared for the animals until Ruby had weaned her puppies.
In the meantime, firefighters visited the Martin home regularly to check up on the dogs. They brought food and other pet accessories to make Ruby’s stay comfortable and to relieve some of the burden on Martin and the rescue group.
Martin also began looking for a home for the puppies. She didn’t have to look far.
She agreed with Roxboro firefighter John Hamlett to let Station 3 firefighters have the first opportunity to adopt the puppies. And they did. All five puppies were adopted by firefighters and their families.
The scene Saturday at Station 3 was chaotic but celebratory, as firefighters, their wives and children milled about in the fire truck bay, while the five inquisitive puppies ran around exploring and sniffing everything they could reach.
For her part, Ruby watched her puppies and the people quietly tethered to one end of a leash held on the other end by firefighter Troy Blalock.
Moments earlier, Blalock had been outside with Ruby giving her a chance to explore the new dog house that was donated for Ruby to use at night. “Two years ago, you couldn’t touch her,” Blalock said of Ruby. “Now look at her. She’s as comfortable as she can be.”
Martin said caring for Ruby and the puppies has been a rewarding undertaking. “When we brought them in they weighed two or three pounds each,” Martin said. “Today they weigh anywhere from 10 to 13 pounds.”
Hamlett says Martin has been one of the real heroes in Ruby’s rescue.
“She’s been a godsend. Ruby is very special to a lot of people around here and she was able to take care of them and get her through this time,” Hamlett said.
The story’s happy ending, according to Hamlett, is a boost for the people who work at the station. “Just look at all the smiles around this room,” Hamlett said. “People love Ruby and they are happy to be able to have a little piece of her to take home with them.”