Ruby 3

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the seriesRuby

This is part 3 of a multi-part story.  Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.

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Weeks later, one of the women called us and told my mom that they just couldn’t keep Ruby anymore.  She said that it was all just too much for them to handle.  I suspect that I’ll never quite know the truth of the matter.  Had my mom called them?  Had Ruby just refused to acclimate and accept them as a substitute family?  Had they just decided that a dog just wasn’t right for them?  In hindsight, I’m sure they were more cat people.  Or could it be that they knew something that they didn’t want to deal with?  I’ll never know.

Regardless of the reasons, they brought her back.  They had renamed her Murphy Brown after the TV character (a lesbian hero of sorts at the time).  They said they had taught her some commands, like “walkies-walkies,” which apparently let her know that it was time to take a walk.  Interestingly enough, I never could get her to respond to “Murphy” at all.  I tried some experiments to test it, but she didn’t even appear to hear me.  In fact, it seemed that I could get her to respond to all sorts of words that weren’t even close to her name, but Murphy was not one of them.  “Walkies-walkies” seemed to be no different.

Dogs will respond often more to the tone of voice than they will to the actual words you are saying.  Some research has shown that they only actually hear the stressed syllable of the word you use.  But Murphy and Ruby both have the “y” stressed.  Whenever I’d say “Murphy” it was almost like she’d gone temporarily deaf.  I could say “dog” and she’d look up, or various even made up words that would catch her attention.  But “Murphy” even applying the same tone, and masking my disdain she would never even hear.

They had returned our dog, but something was wrong.  She was lethargic and she wouldn’t eat.  She barely even acted happy to see us at all.  After several days of this, we suspected that something more was wrong.  So we took her to the vet and they did some tests.

Ruby tested positive for canine parvovirus, a serious disease that dogs can get.  A virus, spread through infected droppings and even the soil it has touched, “Parvo” is fatal to about 50% of dogs.  The ones that survive often have lasting problems, particularly in the digestive tract.  Infected dogs must be isolated and medicated.  We left ruby at the vet for treatment and prayed that she would survive.Ryan

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Ruby 2

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the seriesRuby

This is part 2 of a multi-part story.  Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.

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Ruby quickly became an indispensable part of the family.  She would crawl on top of my back and fall asleep as I lied on the carpet watching TV each night. She would also wake up shortly before I would and start scratching at my door to get in.  My mom would usually get to her before that and would lift her onto my bed.  Ruby would wake me up by repeatedly licking my face.

When she grew big enough, she would jump onto my bed herself and wake me up in the same manner.  Or, she’d just jump repeatedly at the side of the bed making a whining noise until I noticed her.  This mostly happened when I was lying too close to the edge for her to get up there.

Waking up to something licking your face is strange.  It is sloppy and startling, but not at all unpleasant.  The blare of an alarm clock is a cold and sterile method as compared to a companion showing you how much she loves you and wants you to be with her.  I have never been able to cajole anyone into waking me in the same manner in my adult life.

She would collect my socks if I left them on the floor.  I’d find them in a pile somewhere later, or under the couch where she’d hide them if they were exquisitely smelly.  I later trained her to put them into the clothes hamper when she found them.

And that was really what made Ruby so special.  She was smart and easy to train, but less so because of her intellect.  It was all mostly because she would do anything to please me.  I never gave her treats as a reward, but if I told her “good dog” and gave her a rub on her chest she would continue whatever it was she thought she’d done to deserve it, and would never forget it.

I loved Ruby.  My mom loved her too, but my mom is really sensitive in a way that I am not.  I insisted that we get rid of Ruby, because we had 2 dogs and a cat already.  Ruby would have to make some other family happy.  So we took an ad out in the paper.

Two ladies responded to the ad.  They came to take Ruby home to their apartment.  A middle-aged lesbian couple (or so I assumed), they seemed nice and answered all of our questions reassuringly.  So we adopted Ruby out and she exited our lives.

My mom took it hard.  I was sad too, but I knew that she would be happy and that we’d get over it.  But my mom never did.  Day after day, and into several weeks my mom was seriously depressed over this.  She’d cry and sulk.  It seemed like she’d never come out of it.  But Ruby’s story, and certainly our involvement in it, was definitely not over.—Ryan

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Ruby 1

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the seriesRuby

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When I was about 8 years old I spent all of the paper-route money that I’d saved up on a red wiener-dog puppy.  We named the dachshund Cassie, and she quickly became part of the family.  She was everything a wiener-dog is.  She was loyal and strong-willed, loud, and heat-seeking.  She would wake up every morning at about 7:30, just 5 minutes before the pool equipment came on, begging to be let outside.  She would then spend the next hour chasing the automatic sweeper around the pool barking.  The neighbors must have hated us and we’d tell her to shut up, but she didn’t care.  It was her game, but truly she did despise that thing.  But this little essay isn’t about Cassie.

As I entered high school it was one of the most difficult periods in my life, and we’d moved to a new house out in the country.  The nearest neighbors were a 5 minute walk from our door.  They had a small male half schnauzer-half poodle that occasionally got out of their yard.  He was wiry and skittish.  I never really knew him at all, but he clearly had an interest in Cassie.

In the country it is easier for mischief, probably because of a combination of boredom and isolation from prying eyes.  But regardless of the reason, something illicit happened in the cover of the olive grove, and several weeks later we noticed that Cassie was growing quite a belly.

She delivered her three puppies one evening before we’d returned from visiting my Great Aunt Ruby on her birthday.  Two of the puppies were larger than I thought would have even fit inside of Cassie, coal black, and stillborn.  The only one that survived was the runt of the litter, a truly odd looking animal.  She was pretty in a unique way, but developed 3 different types of fur in layers, a tail that never matched the rest of her color, and intense light-brown eyes.

Cassie didn’t appear that interested in the new pup, which we named Ruby as our own sort of tribute.  I picked Ruby up in my hands and marveled at the little helpless creature.  I’ll never forget her little ears which were just tiny tabs on the sides of her head, like small extended folds.  Most mother dogs will growl if their puppies are touched, but Cassie didn’t care. In my mind, she was stressed from the birth, so removed from most animal instinct, and really just sad that 2 of her babies had died.  So she just didn’t care that I was touching her puppy.  I know this is anthropomorphizing, but that is what I thought, and I’m still inclined to believe that was true…Ryan

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