By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff
This month we share the story of Ruka, whose adventure with Tracy and Andre began back in 2007 and has been non-stop ever since!
What made you decide to adopt from a shelter versus purchase from a breeder?
Adopting from a shelter was an important one for us. It is heart breaking the reasons why so many people give up on their animals. With so many great animals, we knew there would be a match for us at a shelter.
What was it that most attracted you to Ruka?
We didn’t know about Ruka going into the shelter. We talked to PAWS staff about what we were looking for. A dog who was game to go places; to work, on vacation, to the beach, to the park, out and about, anywhere and everywhere. I used to play a game – “If I Had A Dog” – and would imagine all the fun stuff we’d do together. PAWS staff said Ruka was our boy.
When Ruka got out into the play area, he started to prance! We would throw a toy and he would run up and stop it from moving, then prance around the play yard! When we went up to him, he leaned into the affection. He has a big personality. His intake papers said he was “friendly, but somewhat hyper”. All true.
Is Ruka any particular breed?
PAWS called him an Australian Shepherd mix. We genetically tested him. If you believe there’s weight to those tests, he came back as 100% dog and a mutt. 1/8 Beauceron, 1/8 Golden Retreiver, 1/8 Corgi, 1/8 Pug, 1/8 Irish Setter, 3/8 unknown. So not a breed, just a dog.
How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
PAWS was a great experience for us. The staff really knew their animals, and animal behavior. The notes we read and the conversations we had about Ruka really described him. We were prepared for the friendly hyper pup we were bringing home.
Tell us about your first journey home and how you settled in together.
We were so unprepared! Ruka didn’t have a bowl or a bed or any toys… we had no idea when you adopt a dog from a shelter they can be ready to go home that day! He had a hectic first few hours driving all around Seattle buying supplies.
By the time we got him home he was pretty nervous, and started to tip things over – his water bowl, plants… anything that could tip, he tipped it. We got him into manners class fairly quickly, we knew it would be really important for bonding. There was an adjustment period – we all had to learn to trust each other and get on the same page. To understand him and for him to understand us.
Share some of the highlights of life with Ruka.
Ruka has moved with us from Seattle to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to the Berkshires, back to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to Aspen, CO and now from Aspen to Vancouver, WA. He’s been to 29 of the contiguous United States and has swum in both oceans.
One of his most favorite activities is to eat. Anything. He will train for lettuce! He’s very food motivated which makes him easy to train. He also loves to play fetch. He didn’t use to like fetch. But sometime around age 4, he decided he loved it when we bought a Chuck It.
Can't see this video of Ruka playing fetch? Try watching it on YouTube.
We adopted Merlin, his dog sister, in 2011 from a shelter in Pennsylvania. She makes a great companion for fetch, reliably retrieving the ball while Ruka carries his around in his mouth and smashes it in his teeth.
We discovered Ruka could sing! And that his favorite song is Black Horse and a Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall. On the way home from the beach one Thanksgiving, probably a year or two after we adopted him, the song came on the radio and Ruka started to howl to the woo-hoos! It’s his jam.
How has Ruka changed your life?
Ruka makes everything a bit better: vacations, naps, coming home, and even the bad times. He has brought us to the present through his enthusiasm for training and life in general, and this has made both me and Andre more intentional, thoughtful and compassionate people. Ruka introduces us to people through his good natured friendliness and we’ve made friends in every neighborhood we’ve lived in. Both Andre and I are better people and more active because of Ruka.
Any fun things you’re looking forward to?
We just moved and are settling back in the Northwest. Every Thanksgiving we go to the Oregon coast and spend days on the beach throwing the ball for the dogs. About half the vacations we take are actually dog focused and we’re looking forward to exploring new places with our canine companions.
What would you say to anyone who isn’t sure whether to adopt a shelter dog?
Shelter dogs aren’t used cars or clothes. They’re living things. They deserve second chances and forever homes.
Breeders don’t ensure you know what you’re getting. Every dog, like every individual child you have or friend you make, is different. You work on the relationship together, no matter the origin.
There are a ton of statistics on animals in shelters or rescues needing homes. You can even find purebred dogs. We get asked a lot of the time what kind of dogs our two rescues are… and we say your guess is as good as ours, but they’re 100% love! And they’re 100% dog!
Tracy and Andre, thank you for sharing such a wonderful update. We wish you another seven years filled with happiness and adventures!
If, like Tracy, you found your perfect match (or matches!) at PAWS, we want to hear about it. Email us to be featured in PAWS Where Are They Now.
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Find your Ruka today – adopt.
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