Juja has always been good to children, but in the early winter of 1988 her behavior changed dramatically. The dog started throwing himself at people, howling all the time. People did not understand what happened to their pet, blaming the unusual behavior on the fact that the animal could be sick. The very next day, people didn’t care about the dog’s unusual behavior.
On December 7, 1988, the Armenian city of Spitak was razed to the ground by an earthquake.
The multi-story building where Ruben’s apartment was located collapsed after the first tremors. Juja’s puppies, who were very small at the time, immediately collapsed. The dog noticed that among the collapsed structures and broken things, a roll of blankets rolled into the basement. Moved only by instinct, Juja ran after it.
In the blankets was Lala, Ruben’s little sister. The dog dragged the child to a surviving piece of wall to protect her from the falling debris. Lala was frightened, crying and screaming. Juja snuggled up next to the little girl, her presence and warmth helped her calm down. Lala and Juja were lucky – water dripped from a crack in the wall, and they drank, waiting to be rescued.
When the earth stopped shaking, rescuers began searching for survivors under the rubble. The city was ruined, many people had suffered and the rescuers simply didn’t have enough hands to do their job. People came out to help. The first to be dismantled were the rubble where people could be heard screaming. After a few days, the rescuers began to have moments of silence.
The equipment and people stopped working for a few minutes, everyone was listening, trying to understand where people were still under the rubble. Animal howls could be heard from under the rubble, but the rescuers paid no attention to them, they had to save people first. Juja howled and barked, but no help was coming. The dog realized that it would not be able to get people’s attention on its own.
Juja figured out what she had to do. When she waited for the next moment, when all the sounds died down, she did not howl; instead, she bit Lala’s hand. The dog only lightly bit the girl’s skin, but the frightened little girl began to cry loudly. The child was heard by rescuers, who immediately set to work.
When the rubble was removed and Lala was pulled out, the rescuers decided to kill Juja, believing she had intentionally harmed the girl. Ruben stood up for his pet. Ruben was outside when the earthquake began and was not hurt. The boy was convinced that the dog had saved his sister and convinced others of that.
After the earthquake, Juja lived with the Ruben family for more than 10 years. When the dog died, he was buried in the family cemetery with a gravestone with his name on it.