PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — A Rhode Island dog whose inspirational story from guard dog to life-saving police K-9 became the subject of a recent Netflix film has been euthanized.
State police said Sunday K-9 Ruby was downed Friday after suffering a “sudden, acute and untreatable illness.” She was 11 years old.
State Police Superintendent Col. Darnell Weaver expressed his gratitude for K-9 Ruby’s years of service.
“K-9 Ruby has dedicated her life to serving the people of Rhode Island and has been a positive influence on every person she has ever dealt with,” he said in a statement. “She became a symbol of hope for all shelter dogs and showed the world what a shelter dog can do when given love and a chance to shine.”
Ruby served with the Rhode Island State Police for 11 years and was treated by Corporal Daniel O’Neil, Weaver said.
Part Australian Shepherd, part Border Collie, Ruby was one of the first shelter dogs to be trained for service with the Rhode Island State Police. She participated in numerous search and rescue missions and made several public appearances throughout her career.
Ruby rose to fame in 2017 when she tracked down a teenager who was badly injured while hiking in the woods. As it turned out, the boy was the son of the shelter worker who fought to keep her from being euthanized.
“She was a total moron,” animal shelter worker and dog trainer Patricia Inman told The Associated Press of Ruby, who was brought back by five families for being too boisterous before O’Neil adopted the then eight-month-old in 2011.
Ruby received national recognition for the rescue — the American Humane Hero Dog organization named her the nation’s “Search and Rescue Dog of the Year” — and her story was made into the 2022 Netflix film Rescued by Ruby.
“She had a fulfilling, happy and wonderful life, not only as a soldier but as part of a loving family,” Weaver said. “She worked to the end and never gave up doing what she loves most — making people smile.”
Ruby lived with O’Neil and his family and is honored privately, police said.
“She was given a chance and she did everything she could to repay it,” O’Neil said earlier this year. “You have this dog that was abandoned and he changed the lives of so many people.”
Despite her vaunted search-and-rescue career, Ruby’s mischievous spirit was unruly: Three years ago, she sped away near a state park and emerged safely after a 19-hour search. She recently returned from a bathroom break with a squirming — and squirting — live skunk in her jaws.
The antics were part of what made Ruby, well, Ruby. Above all, she was a good dog.
“If you show them love and compassion and give them some stability, they show their true colors,” O’Neil had said.