Labradoodle Provides Service and Support

Jennifer Plamondon, Staff Writer

Ruby is not just any normal labradoodle. Despite being a loving family pet, Ruby is also a working service dog.

Four-year old Ruby is a 60-pound F1B labradoodle that is owned by Ludlow High School teacher Tracy Blair. Ruby helps Blair, who was diagnosed with Menieres Disease – an inner ear disorder which causes episodes of vertigo —  with her hearing.

“She acts as my ears and my anxiety controller,” said Blair, “Ruby can alert me before I would even hear things.”

Ruby is at work first thing in the morning when Blair has to wake up for the day. When the special education teacher’s alarm clock goes off Ruby jumps up and nudges her to wake her up. Ruby also will stare right at Blair and she says she can sort of feel Ruby staring at her waiting for her to get up.

When someone pulls into Blair’s driveway, Blair might not hear the car. Ruby will bark to alert her. Ruby will also run to the window to see who is there. She knows the difference when it is just one of her sons or husband coming home, versus someone less familiar.

Ruby doesn’t just stay at home; she travels to many places whether they are simple trips close to home or very far away. When Blair is walking through the aisles of the grocery store each time she stops to look at something Ruby knows to stop and just sit by her side until she is ready to keep walking.

Ruby also has very good table manners, unlike the typical dog that sits by the side of the table and begs to get a bite of your food. Since she is a service dog, Ruby gets to go into restaurants where she knows she has to lay under the table.

Ruby stays alert of her surrounding at all times and knows when there is traffic. In areas such as Boston that have a lot of busy traffic Ruby is more cautious of her surroundings in order to keep Blair safe from anything she may not hear coming.

Ruby is also not a stranger to the good life when it comes to taking vacations. Ruby has been on lots of road trips and beach days. She is never left out. Mrs. Blair even buys her a plane ticket when they are traveling far so that she has space to be comfortable when traveling. Mrs.Blair says, “Ruby is going to Nashville next summer for vacation and to see family.” Despite being a dog, it seems as if Ruby has gone more places than some people actually have.

It is important for Ruby to be with Blair at most times because other than the fact that she helps her hear things, she is also an anxiety controller. “Ruby is even clingy before I get attacks that I do not know are coming,” said Blair. Blair also goes on to tell us that she wishes she could bring Ruby to school with her but feels that people would not respect the fact that Ruby is working.  “The only problem with having a beautiful service dog like her is everyone wants to touch her,” says Mrs.Blair.

In order for Ruby to be able to be a service dog she has to have a good temper, be calm, and go through large amounts of training. Ruby is still being trained all the time. Some ways this can be done is through videos and also by taking Ruby to a dog behaviorist. One of the many things Ruby has learned from this process is hand signals. She can sit, speak, and even be told to greet people with these hand signals.

Ruby definitely has the best of both worlds when it comes to being a family pet and also a dog who has a job it takes pride in. “ Ruby does a lot for me so I try to give back to her,” says Blair.  It is pretty clear Ruby is well taken care of and loves doing what she does every single day.