Community steps up to support Navajo Nation veterinarian
Since she was 8 years old, Dr. Adrienne Ruby knew she wanted to be a veterinarian.
She also had dreams of living a cowboy lifestyle where she'd tend to cattle, ride horses and enjoy all the outdoors had to offer — which is quite the opposite of her upbringing as a lawyer's daughter and city kid from Oklahoma.
"I always liked an outdoor life, when I was a kid I would stare out the window in school. ... (and) I always considered the best part of school summer vacation, when I could be on the river and in the woods the whole time," said Ruby.
Now, at 76, Ruby is living out her dream working as one of only a handful of veterinarians on the Navajo Nation.
At least once a week, Ruby will see clients out of her office in Dilkon. Those work days mostly consist of spay and neuter surgeries on cats and dogs or check-ups on horses brought to her.
The rest of Ruby's workweek takes place on the road.
On average, she'll drive her 2001 Ford F-250 100 miles one-way to park it on a street corner or next to a laundromat in a rural community on the Navajo reservation, where she's often met with a line of people who need treatment for their animals.
"I have a lot of sick animals brought into me when I go out ... the busiest place I go is Tuba City and when I get there, in the late morning, I stay till after dark usually because there are a lot of people waiting for me," Ruby said, adding that all of her work out of the truck is done outdoors.
From dogs and cats to horses, sheep and cattle, there's almost nothing Ruby isn't prepared for. Stocked with a utility bed, her truck holds all the medications and tools a mixed-practice veterinarian might need.
Ruby's truck was gifted to her by the Christian Veterinary Mission two years ago.
Since then, it's been used to travel on an almost daily basis from Ruby's home base in Dilkon to various rural communities on the sprawling Navajo reservation that are often a hundred miles away, or more.
The truck, however, has been out of commission since June. It needed a new oil pump and other things addressed, according to Ruby.
To Ruby's surprise, a GoFundMe campaign was created July 3 by Tempe resident Marissa Chee, raising $7,575 within a few days.
Chee said she started the campaign because she knows Ruby's travels throughout the reservation have put a lot of miles on her truck and her wallet.
"I just wanted to be able to contribute in some way to help ease the cost," Chee said in an email, adding that she was grateful to those who contributed thus far.
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