Rudy, a 10-year old pit bull-shepherd mix, will climb back in the cab of a big rig and take to the road to be reunited with his owner in Riverside, Calif., thanks to a little help from the Ellis County SPCA.

The dog was stranded in Waxahachie when Grant Hilton lost his job with a local trucking company and was given a one-way bus ticket to return home, but had no way to transport his traveling companion back with him.

“It came as a shock when I lost my job – I didn’t expect it. I knew the bus company wouldn’t let me take Rudy with me,” Hilton said. “I would have hitch-hiked home rather than abandon Rudy. I didn’t want to see him put down.”

Hilton first encountered Rudy at a pet adoption event at a California truck stop, but didn’t have the money to adopt an animal. However, earlier that day someone had paid Rudy’s fee, but then couldn’t adopt him, with Hilton able to take him home.

Upon becoming jobless in Texas, Hilton took the dog to the SPCA, explaining he had no money and didn’t know what to do.

“We said we would take him and try to place him in rescue, since we can’t adopt out a 10-year old dog,” said Christian Parker, SPCA director. “The shelters were full, so he has been living in my office for two weeks. I wanted to get the dog back to this guy.”

Parker said Hilton left the dog at the facility without leaving his name. The staff called the phone number on the dog’s tag and learned the location of the owner.

“No one had the money to fly the dog home, so we put out flyers at truck stops in Weatherford,” Parker said, saying Operation Roger in Joshua, Texas, a group of truckers that organized after Hurricane Katrina to deliver lost pets to their owners, helped to coordinate the effort. “We’ve had five offers (from truckers) to get him home and someone else even offered to pay to fly him back.”

The offers came from truckers who were headed to the East Coast and agreed to pick up the dog on the return trip.

Rudy departed with one of the drivers Friday afternoon and was scheduled to be reunited with his owner Sunday.

“When I got the call, my spirits soared. I’ve been depressed about the job,” Hilton said. “Christian and his father Lud (Jones) have called every day to let me know the progress.”

Hilton said the response has restored his faith in the trucking industry with so many drivers wanting to help. He was thrilled his loyal companion would soon be home.

“The dog is so sweet. Everybody at the shelter has fallen in love with him,” Parker said. “At the end of the day, the owner should have the dog. We are pleased to have a little part in getting that accomplished.”

Contact Rebecca at rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-517-1451.