Few know that our “logo dog,” Ursula, was inspired by an actual dog that Patrick, Ruff Wear’s founder, came to know, love, and help rehabilitate through exposure to the outdoors. Here is the heartwarming story of Ursula and her kind-hearted companion, Lynne:
In early June of 1992, on her way out of her Southern California office, Lynne noticed a large black dog cowering in the parking lot. As she approached, the dog slunk away, visibly scared but too weak to run away.
Noting that the dog did not try to run off, Lynne thought this dog had probably been abandoned by her owner. She asked the lot attendant how long the dog had been there, and the attendant replied, “all day,” but warned her not to approach the dog because it looked like a Rottweiler, and Rottweilers were “known to be vicious.” Despite the attendant’s warning, Lynne tried to coax the dog over with gestures and a leftover lunch, but the dog—pathetically thin and filthy—stayed just out of reach.
Finally, a man helped Lynne corner the dog against the fence. They fashioned a harness out of rope and hoisted the dog into Lynne’s Pathfinder. As Lynne drove the bewildered dog away, she peered in the rearview mirror, seeing beauty in this creature despite her mangy appearance.
Once home, Lynne put her in the garage with some food and water, and called the vet. Feeling an instant connection, Lynne decided the dog needed a name, and called her friend Patrick (Ruff Wear’s founder) and asked him to suggest some German names. After hearing the name “Ursula,” Lynne said, “That’s it!”
It quickly became obvious that “Ursula” wasn’t used to social contact. She had the mannerisms of a haggard junkyard dog. The vet confirmed Lynne’s suspicions—Ursula was a young, female Rottweiler with rotting teeth, missing patches of hair, and a shaken, but overall “good nature.”
Ursula’s dependence on Lynne became apparent, and Lynne knew she would have to commit herself fully to rehabilitating the dog if she were to keep her. Lynne contacted a Rottweiler rescue group where she met an extraordinary woman by the name of Beverly Berger, whom she kept in contact with for years regarding Ursula’s rehabilitation.
For the day to day interactions, however, Ursula’s contact was limited to Lynne, Patrick, and Patrick’s 11 year old Labrador, Toby. Ursula felt safe surrounded by these three, and with the help of Patrick and Toby, Lynne learned some basic obedience techniques. Eventually, Ursula was able to follow “come,” “sit,” and “lie down” commands, though her emotional scars were still apparent. To counter her inhibitions, Lynne and Patrick took Ursula and Toby for many outdoor adventures. Looking to Toby for advice, Ursula eventually came to enjoy the wonder of wide oceans, sparkling rivers, and rocky approaches.
Over the years, Ursula’s healing became evident, and like other dogs, she enjoyed the affection that came with a lean and a pat. To this day, people are surprised that a Rottweiler, let alone an abused one, had become such a gentle, loving creature.