Once abused and aggressive toward humans, Ruger now works alongside an anti-poaching unit in Africa, catching illegal hunters and putting them behind bars.
A bad chapter in life doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story, and this is especially true for a dog named Ruger.
In 2014, conservation biologist Megan Parker ventured to a pet shelter in Montana. Her aim was to find a dog that had unique qualities which might make him an asset to an anti-poaching unit in Africa.
She wasn’t disappointed when she came across Ruger, a Labrador retriever and German shepherd mix who was unloved as a puppy and, as a result, was angry and aggressive toward humans. He wasn’t considered an optimal adoption for families in the U.S., but with the right training, could be ideal for catching illegal hunters in Africa.
“Bad dogs have an overwhelming desire to bring you things,” said Parker. “Dogs love telling you what they know. They have an inability to quit.”
Since being employed with Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C), the so-called “bad dog” has done some extremely good work. So far, he’s helped catch over 150 poachers and put many of them behind bars.
The Guardian reports that he was trained by Parker and others at WD4C. When Ruger has spotted weapons or ivory, he will signal his human teammates by staring at the place the contraband is hidden.
Amazingly, his failing eyesight has only made him more valuable, as it’s improved his other senses, such as smell. During a recent demonstration in Zambia, he found a tiny piece of ivory hidden in a matchbox in less than three minutes.
Some of the spectators were sure his prowess was a result of some form of witchcraft, as some in Africa are want to do.
This formerly abused and unloved dog is now a model for other canines with the organization, who are being trained to fight poaching around the African continent.
Said Pete Coppolillo of WD4C:
“He’s a hero who’s responsible for dozens of arrests and has convinced many skeptics of his detection skills.”
On his days off, Ruger is rewarded with his favorite game: tug-of-war.
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