I read some bad news on Facebook this week. Loren and Sue Pursel, owners of the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, announced the death of their mascot and family pet, Ruby.
I first met Ruby the Rottweiler last winter when I went with my husband, Gary, up to one of the jam nights they hold Wednesday nights at the iconic saloon.
Gary, who has taken almost a decade-long break from playing music, has recently started playing and singing again. He’s a blues man, and I don’t know much about that kind of music, but I’m learning … kind of. I’m still pretty much a fish out of water.
But the jam I’ve always been most comfortable at — and always enjoy myself at — is the Red Dog Saloon.
As is typical for Virginia City, the jam nights are always a collection of eclectic people with eclectic musical talents. You’re always guaranteed a show.
The center of that show was easily Ruby. She first caught my eye as a Rottweiler, the same breed as my Roxy dog. And she was the sweetest dog you’d ever meet. Although they serve food at the Red Dog, she never begged. She was friendly to everyone, but not needy.
Despite the fact her face is featured on the logo and displayed throughout the bar, including on T-shirts and other souvenirs, she remained humble. You’d never know how famous she was.
If she wasn’t following Loren or Sue, you’d likely find her lying at the foot of the stage, just listening to the music or playing with her stuffed Rotty. She’d even drift off to sleep — which is pretty amazing when you consider how loud those bands can be.
In May, Ruby was diagnosed with soft tissue cancer and underwent surgery to treat it.
When I was at the Red Dog earlier this month for the Whiskey Preachers jam, I talked to Sue, who was tending bar, briefly about it. I told her my dog Roxy, who’s around 15, is really showing her age. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have her.
She said she was worried about Ruby, too.
We both burst into tears. (I’m really fun like that at parties.)
Sue posted on Facebook earlier this week the cancer had spread to Ruby’s spleen, lymph nodes, etc.
“We brought her home and are spending time lovin’ it up,” Sue said. “This special girl even had a last beach day, which she seemed to very much enjoy. She’s a trooper! Hard to talk about, our hearts are broken.”
She died Wednesday.
I’m glad I got to know her. Red Dog Ruby will be missed.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.