Kevin Mazur/Getty, Kenny Chesney/instagram Kenny Chesney; Ruby
Kenny Chesney is not just honoring his dog Ruby with his latest track, but "every dog in the world" just like her.
The country star has officially announced the release of charitable single "Da Ruba Girl," a standout from his No Shoes Radio station on SiriusXM dedicated to his pup who died Sunday. Releasing on Friday, the song is about his late friend Ruby, and proceeds from it will go toward Stray Rescue of St. Louis — one of the largest rescue shelters in the country.
"I wrote 'Da Ruba Girl' about Ruby, because she was this spirit who had so many different pieces to who she was," Chesney, 54, tells PEOPLE exclusively about the new track. "It was a fun song, and I'd recorded it, but never included it on an album. Instead we'd play it on No Shoes Radio, where it became a fan favorite. People loved the song, I think, because they all knew a dog who had the same kind of spirit or heart, you know, the kind who was an underdog, who wasn't the obvious choice."
Warner Music Nashville
While Ruby may not have been an "obvious" choice, she was just that for Chesney, who explains that when it comes to rescue pups, sometimes "it seems like they rescue their people far more than they're actually rescued."
"They give so much love, so much joy and loyalty," Chesney says. "People don't realize that, so these dogs have a much harder time getting adopted. It's one of the most wonderful things about the Stray Rescue of St. Louis shelter is the way they find the dogs people abandon and throw away, who may have been abused or just left somewhere and they heal them, then find them homes where all that love they have can be returned."
The song is an emotional tribute to Ruby, with lyrics that touch on the bond she shared with the country star. "You needed her, she needed you," Chesney sings. "To hold, to help fill a space/Last in line, last cage at the rescue/Was a love that no one could replace/Lying there like a lost string of pearls/Was da Ruba girl."
Outside of proceeds from the heartwarming track going to the shelter starting Friday, listeners are also encouraged to make additional donations on the shelter's website, while noting that the gift "In Honor of Da Ruba Girl."
"When a dog dies, it's a hole like no other, and as much as you love your dog when they're alive, you really understand how deep that bond was when they slip away," Chesney tells PEOPLE. "For every dog in the world like Ruby, I hope 'Da Ruba Girl' can bring them new homes, raise money for the shelter and remind people there's a really profound love that happens when you adopt a rescue who truly needs a home."
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Chesney has been a champion for rescuing animals throughout his career, notably bringing 1,400 needy cats and dogs to new homes following Hurricane Irma, when he removed the pets from shelters in St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Vieques, Puerto Rico, just a few years back. Love for Love City Foundation, Victory Air and Big Dog Ranch Rescue all teamed up with Chesney and his assistant Jill to help relocate the animals.
As for Ruby, Chesney paid tribute to his late friend on Instagram earlier in the week, calling her a "very good girl" and remembering her "ancient, calming soul."
"We loved you and thank you for teaching us how to love unconditionally," Kenny wrote. "You were one heaven of a dog."