written by Connie Versagi

We all will say how much we love our Airedales.  But how many of us can say that our Airedale has truly given us our life back?  Leslie Eiler can.  That Airedale’s name is Roofus.

It seems as though Roofus was always meant for a life of service.  He started out as a police K-9 unit, trained in drug detection.  His career with the police force was cut short when his human partner was seriously injured in the line of duty.  Being smarter than the average Airedale, left in a kennel scenario while his partner healed, Roo had too much time on his hands.  Oh, what a smart dog will do to amuse himself.  In this case, out of boredom, missing his handler, lack of challenge without his work, maybe all of these, Roo started ingesting rocks from his kennel.

In stepped John Carr, with Rocky Mountain Airedale Rescue, who had been Roo’s groomer.  Roo’s police officer partner called John for help when he heard that Roo wasn’t doing well at the kennel.  John found Roo near death when he got there.  RMARC got Roo the care he needed and John took him as his foster kid.

John knew that this was a very special ‘dale.  Quick to learn anything and everything John asked of him.  After six months with John, a young woman named Leslie in North Dakota was brought to his attention who needed a service dog.  Her breed of choice was an Airedale after having been raised around Airedales. Leslie had been deemed  to be disabled from narcolepsy, which  made it impossible for her to function on a daily basis without help waking and staying alert.  Well, no one had tried service training like this with a ‘dale before, but with Roo’s intelligence and willingness to learn, John thought sending him to Leslie was worth a shot.

Roofus quickly learned how to wake Leslie in the morning, remind her to take medication at the appointed times.  As a service dog, Roo proudly dons his vest and attends college classes with Leslie, giving her the sense of calm and stability that makes life more manageable for her.  He goes to restaurants with impeccable manners, knows how to wake her if the smoke alarm should sound while she is sleeping.  He watches when she drives the car, ever vigilant to keep her alert.  Brings the phone to Leslie if it rings while she is sleeping, doesn’t let her nap too long if she takes a break from her busy schedule.  This allows Leslie to live independently, and for the first time not need home health care assistance while she is busily taking college classes and getting through her vocational rehabilitation training.  Roo truly has allowed her to get on with her life.  She recently packed up Roofus and was able to drive out of town for the first time in four years.  They’ve gone on a wagon train trip and there was a recent sighting of Roo & Leslie sitting in the front row at a rodeo.  Leslie would tell you that RMARC/ATRA rescued Roo when he got in trouble, but Roo has surely turned around and rescued Leslie.

Recently, when out with Leslie shopping for a new place to live, Roo very uncharacteristically strayed from Leslie’s side.  When he didn’t come back she became frantic to find her guardian.  After several long minutes of searching she found him, unable to walk on a leg that was bleeding badly.  After rushing him to the emergency vet, Leslie was told that Roofus had suffered a leg fracture.  It was a very bad break of a back leg, in three places, needing surgery from a vet with special orthopedic training.

ATRA found out about what had happened to Roofus and how understandably upset Leslie was and has stepped up to help get Roofus back on the job, where he is so very much needed.  This boy has important work ahead of him and a full life being at Leslie’s side.   His surgery is now complete and he is under “house arrest” in his kennel at home, trying to be patient enough to let things heal.  So far, his recovery has been right on track.  Leslie, of course, is doting on him.


Roofus completely healed from his surgery and is back to "work".

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