US dog lover travels all the way to Bressay to scatter dogs’ ashes

Sir John Scott (left) with Fred Ruhland at the back of Bressay. Photo: Rosalind Griffiths

Sir John Scott (left) with Fred Ruhland at the back of Bressay. Photo: Rosalind Griffiths

An American with a passion for Shetland sheepdogs has been in the isles on a sentimental journey – to scatter the ashes of his two beloved pets.

Fred Ruhland, from Cincinnati, Ohio, arrived last week after planning the 7,600-mile round trip for six months.

He has owned Shetland sheep­dogs since 1970 and became so attached to Indy, 15, and Blaze, 13, that he wanted to lay their remains to rest in their ancestral homeland. This he did on Monday in Bressay.

Fred had never been to the UK but felt he “owed” it to his “hardworking” dogs, which were pedigree reg­istered with the American Kennel Club. Both Indy and Blaze had worked as pet therapy dogs.

Travelling with the ashes of his two pets, and with special permission from the airline, he flew via Paris to Aberdeen, then by  ferry to Lerwick, where he was staying.

The retired college maintenance worker contacted VisitShetland to ask about suitable sites for the send-off, and the staff helped
him to contact Sir John Scott, of Bressay.

Fred said: “The VisitShetland tourist people gave me his [John’s] email and he said he would be more than glad to help me dispose the ashes of my two beloved Shelties on his sheep farm on Bres­say. He said he had an honourable place for me to do this, and it would overlook the North Sea and Noss.”

Fred had also contacted other organisations working with animals, and Cats Protection worker Carol Ann Ritchie was able to show him round the isles, and support him at the “funeral”.

The touching ceremony took place on chill and showery Monday morning when John met Fred and Carol to go to the site on the east side of Bressay, a spot that John said was one where he used to gather sheep.

He said: “It’s one of my favourite places. I think they’ll be happy there.”

Fred scattered the ashes, which were blown down the peaceful hillside, across the grass and event­ually out to sea. Sheep were grazing in the distance, which seemed very fitting.

It was an emotional moment for Fred, who lives alone since the two sheepdogs died within the past year. He said: “They [Blaze and Indy] had never seen a sheep but I’d often wondered about their land of origin.

“The view, the sheep, and being in Shetland – I owed them this.”

John said: “Every time I go there I’ll think of them.” He said he understood about the attachment to dogs, having had collies all the time when farming, and said: “It was like your right arm.”

During his time in Shetland Fred managed to see a lot, including Mousa, Hillswick and a show at Mareel. But just making the journey from America was a great adventure – his only previous visit to Europe was in 1998.

He travelled home on Tuesday to continue volunteering at an animal rescue centre. He has no plans to replace the dogs.

See this week’s Shetland Times for more.

During his time in Shetland Fred managed to see a lot, including Mousa, Hillswick and a show at Mareel. But just making the journey from America was a great adventure – his only previous visit to Europe was in 1998.
He travelled home on Tuesday to continue volunteering at an animal rescue centre. He has no plans to replace the dogs.
 

About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

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3 comments

  1. Fred Ruhland

    I want to thank all at The Shetland Times for the coverage of me disposing my two Shetland Sheep dogs ashes on Bressay. I felt very honored to bring Indy & Blaze back to there land of origin. It was very nice of Mr. John Scott to allow me to do this on his Sheep Farm. Having Carol Ann Ritchie from Cat Protection there for support was very comforting. A animal lover herself, understood why I needed to do this. I left with the great memories of my dogs and now they are at rest in the best spot I could ever dream of. Made many new friends thru out the Shetlands and would like to return one day.

    Reply
  2. David Spence

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the image of a shetland collie (sheltie) is this of a ‘ miniature boarder collie ‘ and this has been the case since the early 19th century?

    However, as far as I am led to believe, this image of the sheltie is wrong?

    I was of the understanding that the ‘ true sheltie collie ‘ was a broader, shorter muzzle, wider head, stockier build and the colour’s being grey, black and white with the shoulders being a ‘ spotty grey ‘ blending into black?

    As far as I am aware, and correct me if I am wrong, the ‘ true sheltie ‘ was crossbred with the boarder collie for marketing reasons. This being the looks of a boarder collie but the stature of a sheltie. In otherwords, a more attractive ‘ toy dog ‘ for people to have as a pet.

    As said, I may be wrong, but today’s version of the sheltie ‘ a miniature boarder collie ‘ is a misrepresentation of what the sheltie truly is?

    Reply
  3. David: The picture of the two dogs are my two Full Blooded AKC Shetland Sheep dogs. Many call them Toy Collies or Miniature Collies. Please take a look at the AKC, American Kennel Club website to see a picture of the breed and specifications. http://www.akc.org/breeds/shetland_sheepdog/index.cfm
    You don’t see many bi-color, black Shetland Sheep dogs and they are confused to be a Boarder Collie.

    Reply

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