Dog Aims For Aviation Merit At TAC Air In Fort Smith

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) — A golden Labrador likely has a new accomplishment under her collar that only eight other dogs in the country have achieved.

It’s called the "master trekker" merit, and Stephen McMurray and his dog Ruth felt confident Wednesday (May 10) they were ready for it at TAC Air.

The duo have been bonding through the Wildrose Adventure Dog Program for about a year now. So far, Ruth has achieved 11 out of 14 possible achievements through the program. After that plane ride Wednesday, McMurray is hoping to make that 12.

In order to receive the merit, Ruth had to master a set of five skills on a 30 minute flight:

  • Fly quietly
  • Demonstrate good behavior before, during and after the flight
  • Show no signs of fear
  • Enter and exit the plane on command
  • Accept help with no problem if it’s needed.

“Even the few bumps we took landing, she had no issues with it, so I was very pleased to say the least,” McMurray said.

Ruth is a diabetic alert dog. McMurray has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since the age of three. He said Ruth can detect his blood glucose levels better than any form of technology.

“She's saved me numerous times,” he said.

In addition to being a live-saving service dog, the pilot approved of Ruth’s airplane behavior.

“Ruth was a fantastic passenger,” JD Williams said. “She did great.”

All McMurray has to do is submit videos of the experience with Ruth on the aircraft via text message or through the Wildrose App.

The only skill sets left to achieve for McMurray and Ruth are snow-trekking and equestrian merits.

The program is not just for service dogs. Any canine and their owner can get involved. To learn more, click here.