Rudy’s Story…A Tail of Rags to Riches

To My Readers, I wrote this story for the North American Post. I wanted to share this with you because it’s my favorite story. I spent time with Ginger’s Pet Rescue, helping unload the animals that were rescued from various puppy mills in Washington state. The heart-breaking moment was when I saw the rescued dogs in the back of a large van as Ginger brought them into a parking lot of her restaurant. Each was scared and shaking so bad that we had to entice them with treats, love and patience to lure them out of their crates. One little poodle dog’s leg broke instantly as he tried to step out of his kennel. This poor dog had never been outside of his kennel in his 2 years of life. Another sickly dog had deceased puppies still inside her stomach that needed to be removed. These poor dogs needed so much medical care before they were ready to go out for adoption that I held a fundraiser in my salon, Studio 904 to raise money to help with their medical care. I am happy to say, over 100 people responded to my call and we raised $10,000 for Ginger’s Pet Rescue.

Here is a story of one very lucky dog…


The minute my eyes connected with Rudy’s, I knew that he was a very sweet and special dog. Sitting inside a small, wire cage, his soulful brown eyes felt like they were piercing right into my heart. His caramel-colored, short hair was shiny and smooth as he quietly sat and pleaded to me, “Please, help me.” On top of his kennel was a handwritten sign that read: “Rudy – 2-Year-Old Male – Mixed Breed.”

As I glanced around the spacious room, there were rows of dogs sitting in small crates alongside about two-dozen other small breed dogs. They were all at an adoption event that was sponsored by Ginger’s Pet Rescue. The reason I decided to attend this particular gathering was to see Cesar Millan, the world famous “Dog Whisperer.”

But, back to the very beginning…This whole thing started a few hours earlier when my niece, Geri Lynn called and asked, “Aunty Kay, do you want to go see Cesar Millan at the Ginger’s Pet Rescue event? Can you call Uncle Gary to see if he’d like to go with us?”


When I called and invited Gary, he said, “Why do you want me to go? You know that I’m not looking for a dog.”

I don’t usually do this, but I begged him, “Oh, please, come with Geri Lynn and me; I want to see Cesar Millan. Don’t you want to meet him in person instead of simply watching him on TV performing his miraculous, dog behavior modifications?” After a lot of arm twisting, Gary reluctantly agreed to join us.

When we entered the large exhibition hall at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in downtown Seattle, I immediately saw Cesar Millan. He was surrounded by dozens of people who waited in line for their turn to meet and ask him questions. There was no way that we were going to get close to him, so we decided to head down the aisle where all of the rescued dogs were lined up inside a variety of kennels.

At the moment we passed in front of Rudy’s cage, a young woman approached us and said, “Hello, I’m so glad you came.”

“Where do these dogs come from?” I asked.

“Many were rescued from puppy mills and some were brought up from California, where the kill rate is very high. That is the reason Ginger calls them “Ginger’s Death Row Dogs.”

“Death Row Dogs?” I inquired.

“Yes. Rudy is one of those dogs. He was just a day away from being euthanized and was lucky that Ginger’s Pet Rescue arrived just in time. Ginger transported these two dozen dogs up to Washington with the hope that she would be able to find a loving family for each one of them,” she explained.

I already had two dogs, so what could I do? The only logical thing was to talk cousin Gary into adopting Rudy. I looked at Gary and he immediately sensed what I had in mind. He backed off by saying, “No way! Not me! I lost my last dog two years ago and that was a painful experience.”

Gary was beginning to walk away, so I quickly asked the volunteer to take Rudy out of his crate. Geri Lynn and I ran after Gary with Rudy cradled in my arms.

“Please Uncle Gary, just hold Rudy and you’ll see what a sweet dog he is,” Geri Lynn said, trying to persuade him by using her sweetest voice.

The rest is history. Rudy locked eyes with Gary’s and it was love at first sight!

Anyone who knows my cousin Gary will agree that he is one guy who has everything, including all of the best golf equipment anyone could ever hope for.

Since adopting Rudy, however, Gary has transferred all of his attention to making Rudy happy. If you visit the pet store next to my Studio 904 salon, the staff will tell you that Gary has bought at least one of everything in their store for Rudy. He visits the store every week to stock up on premium raw dog food and anything else that Rudy might need. More importantly, Rudy has become Gary’s constant companion. He is always in the car with Gary, greeting everyone with a cheerful bark and a wagging tail. Every time I see Rudy, he gives me a couple of quick barks, as if to say, “Thank you for saving my life. I am the luckiest dog in the world. My job now is to bring joy to Gary’s life!”

Unfortunately, this story is only about one lucky dog. There are so many other dogs that won’t have a happy ending like Rudy’s. We must, however, rejoice in the dogs we are able to save. This is typically how dog rescue works – we save only one dog’s life at a time, but if more people become active in the rescue effort, it turns into many saved lives.

In my rubber stamp collection, there is a stamp that says, “EVERY DOG NEEDS A HOME AND EVERY HOME NEEDS A DOG.” My hope is that this will become a reality. Maybe, someday it will.

My heartfelt thanks to Ginger’s Pet Rescue and other animal welfare organizations like it for fighting against animal cruelty and doing the difficult work of rescuing and bringing animals to safety.

Kay Hirai is the author of Yumi’s Life Lessons. She hopes that her book will help to encourage the humane treatment of animals and motivate others to help animals that are desperately in need of a home, attention, and most importantly, love. To support Kay’s ongoing commitment, a portion of the proceeds from each book sold will be donated to various organizations that support the welfare of animals. To date, Kay has donated over $7,000. to help animals through the sale of her books. Yumi’s Life Lessons can be purchased at Kay’s salon, Studio 904, on Mercer Island; at Amazon; and at Chin Music Press.

How do you feel about rescuing dogs and animals? Do you have any stories to share? I would love to hear from you.


Donna Levin

Thank you Kay for working for the rescue of dogs. They are truly our companions here!


Donna, thank you for making a comment on Rudy’s story. Yes, the work of rescuing abused animals is never-ending and heart-breaking work.
I hope the readers of this story will support the rescue organizations such as Pasado’s, Ginger’s Pet Rescue, The Old Dog Haven, Seattle Humane Society, Paws, and many others out there who are making a difference.