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Happy Tail - Ruger, the Three Legged Dog

Ruger, the three-legged Australian Cattle Dog had a zest for life like no other. He was adopted this past week after a 4 year stint at Sugarfoot Farm, and is gone to live with a new and owner and is healing a broken heart. Rescue.
Happy Tail, Horses: Black Pearl, aka Whitney

By Peg Schaeffer
Sugarfoot Farm Rescue

In October, 2009 I got an email from a woman looking to place a 1 year old male Blue Heeler. She told me how they had lived on a 60 acre horse farm and the dog, named Ruger, had been kicked by a horse. They had a plate put in his leg and he got his dew claw caught in the rug and tore the screws out. He shredded the bone and the only alternative was to amputate his leg. The leg was healing and Ruger was adjusting to maneuvering on three legs. As a result of the cost of Ruger's surgery they had to move from the horse farm and into an apartment. Anyone who is familiar with Australian Cattle Dogs knows the breed is not meant for apartment life. They said Ruger had too much energy to be kept inside, despite having a missing leg. Plus they said he was barking at any and all noises and they were afraid they would be evicted from their apartment.


Ruger is the coolest dog

So Ruger came to live with us. He was the coolest dog. Happy, alert, and energetic Ruger loved life on the farm. He could keep up with all of the dogs without a problem. He could catch a Frisbee and a ball and loved to play tug of war. He also had quite a love of water. Whenever you turned on the hose Ruger would be there. He would drink the water as it came out of the hose. If you squirted him he loved to catch the water. If the dogs bark too much we have a squirt bottle that we spray them with. It works on all of the dogs except Ruger. Once he sees the squirt bottle he gets all excited. When you squirt him he just tries to catch the water.

Never another dog with such a zest for life

I've never seen anyone with such a zest for life. We often joked that when Ruger had his leg removed they also performed a lobotomy. Nothing would squash his good nature. I often take Ruger with me when I speak to youth groups. I want them to see how the handicap didn't affect him at all. We had gone to the library one time to talk to children and I gave them tennis balls to toss. Ruger would race around the room and catch the balls and return them to the kids. He has entertained cub scouts, VoAg students and even the senior citizens.

Never another dog with such a zest for life

Ruger can often be VERY annoying. Once he gets wound up there's no quieting him down. We have several dogs that prefer to stay downstairs. They have a pet door so they can go in and out and they prefer the cellar to the upstairs. They have their dog food bowls downstairs which are kept filled so they can eat whenever they get hungry. The computer is downstairs so when I work on the computer some of the "upstairs" dogs come down with me.

Stairs are never a problem for Ruger

Stairs are never a problem for Ruger. It's just Ruger that's the problem. He will sit and the foot of the stairs and decide he wants to eat out of a certain dish. It doesn't make any difference that there are other dishes to choose from - he wants the dish another dog is eating out of. So he sits on the stairs and barks, and barks, and barks (it's like fingernails on a chalkboard) at the dog that's eating. Then he races over, grabs a mouthful of food, and drops it on the stairs to eat. I'm trying to concentrate and it's Ruger - bark, bark, bark. I get to the point that I'm screaming at him to shut up and it has no effect on him.

I have a whiffle ball bat that I carry with me. It's a great deterrent at times. If the dogs are barking I'll bang it on the table to get them to stop. It doesn't hurt anything - it just makes a lot of noise. If I leave the bat within Ruger's reach he'll grab hit and run around the room shaking it furiously. Then when he tires of it he returns it to me.

Ruger loves empty water bottles

Ruger's other love is empty water bottles. Whenever we finish a bottle of water we toss the empty bottle into the air and Ruger catches it. He loves to chew on it because of the noise it makes. It will entertain him for hours. One problem - don't put down a bottle of water, soda, anything within his reach. He doesn't care if it's empty or not he'll take off with it. I can't tell you how many times he's grabbed a half full bottle of water and taken off with it. Plus while you're trying to drink from the bottle he'll just stare at you until you toss it. The longer you take to drink it the more frustrated he becomes. It gets to the point he'll grab it right out of your hand.

One of the plusses about having a dog with three legs is that Ruger doesn't lift his leg to pee on things like most male dogs do. I've heard that when you have a body part amputated you can still feel it. Ruger will often lie on his side with the stump of his leg going like crazy while he's trying to scratch. It's sad and funny at the same time. But you know what? It doesn't bother Ruger at all. He's always a happy camper.

We can learn a lot from Ruger. Life is what you make of it

We can learn a lot from Ruger. Life is what you make of it. Despite the fact that he has only three legs he hasn't let it hold him back. He can run, play, and annoy you as well as any four legged dog. He also can love you just as much as any other dog. Dogs don't feel sorry for themselves - life goes on.

Someone called me this week to say they had lost their Blue Heeler earlier in the week. He was 14 years old and they had to have him euthanized. There were still tears in his voice as he told me about it. He wanted to know if I had any Blue Heelers. I told him about Ruger. (Although he's been with us for 4 years) and sent him a picture.

He called back to tell me that Ruger looked just like his dog that had just died. He was concerned about the fact that he only had three legs. He said he had a bad back and didn't want a dog he'd have to carry up and down stairs or lift in and out of the car. I assured him that would not be the problem with Ruger.

Ruger had a new home

So he came to meet Ruger and was not disappointed. Ruger was his comical self and entertained him. They played together and it was an easy decision to make. Ruger had a new home. He bounced to the car and jumped in. Ruger's new owner has called to tell me how much he loves him. He said he can tell he misses his home but he has been very loving and entertaining. The funny thing was he wanted to know if because Ruger has only three legs is that why he doesn't bark? Ruger not bark - I can't believe it. I told him not to worry - enjoy the quiet while he can.

It's sure quiet here without him

It sure is quiet here without him. There's no one grabbing water bottles. No one annoying me while I'm working on the computer. No one shaking the bat. That's the hardest part about rescue - you fall in love with each dog - good or bad - and when they're gone you miss them. But Ruger is at a new home helping to mend a broken heart - I'm sure he'll do a great job.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email: sugarfootfarmrescue@yahoo.com


This story was posted on 2014-04-06 02:52:52
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Happy Tail: Ruger, the Three-Legged Dog



2014-04-06 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer.
Ruger is an amputee - He's a three legged dog whose been a four year resident at Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, but was recently adopted. "It sure is quiet here without him. There's no one grabbing water bottles. No one annoying me while I'm working on the computer. No one shaking the bat. That's the hardest part about rescue - you fall in love with each dog - good or bad - and when they're gone you miss them. But Ruger is at a new home helping to mend a broken heart - I'm sure he'll do a great job." Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675. email: sugarfootfarmrescue@yahoo.com

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