It took awhile to write this post because it’s the hardest thing I’ve yet to do. Ruby found her peace passing with her family at a pet hospital on July 17, 2015.
From the beginning, Ruby was a sassy fighter; trouble was that we didn’t know her beginning. This fact always surprised people who met her because they could not fathom how a dog like Ruby could be abandoned. But abandoned she was, walking along the side of a highway almost 5 years back. Through divine grace, Ruby was rescued by a good Samaritan named Linda who plucked her from the high-risk shelter in which she was deposited; we met Ruby at Linda’s house on Thanksgiving weekend 2010.
Strangely, it was not love at first sight. Ruby growled at my wife, who was smitten with her spunk and size. Ruby’s hair was shorn after braving difficult conditions through rescue and shelter that severely matted her hair. Ruby was slightly malnourished and had tapeworm - frankly, a bit of a sorry sight. But Ruby would not let you believe that fact with her alertness, energy, and personality. Sassy fighter, remember?
What made Ruby ours was the fact that she took to me that first afternoon, seemed comfortable somehow in my arms and relaxed as we walked her, grew less anxious as she sat in my lap on the drive back to her new home. We could help Ruby and maybe she sensed that. Of course, it was a tough transition for her, being roughed up and alone for that period of her abandonment. You could tell she was loved by a former owner by the way that her left eye was treated and removed - a permanent wink we came to describe. We’ll never know how she ended up on the side of a highway, but we were lucky she did.
It took 6 months for Ruby’s anxiety to lessen and then she became the center of attention that she always was. By that time, I couldn’t tell if friends wanted to visit us or hang out with her. Of course, Ruby favored us unfailingly and made that clear to almost everyone that approached her. Sometimes, I thought it was clever license to get what she wanted, like meandering walks that would go for miles (literally - hard to believe, right?) or choice chicken bits in her food or her favorite: watermelon bits & juice after dinner.
That’s why it was hard to believe that her health would falter so soon. True, It got a little harder for Ruby to breathe, her stair climber routine started to wane, and the walks meandered a little closer to home. One day earlier this year, her zest for running back and forth across the driveway caused her to yelp and faint, and we had a sense for where this story might end.
Too cruel that Ruby’s heart, so bursting with love, could give out on her, but that’s what happened. On that fateful evening a couple of weeks back, her breathing became increasingly difficult, and we rushed her to the hospital; that’s where she remained for her last day, in an oxygen tank to relieve the difficulty of fighting through heart and lung failure. We were forced to make the decision nobody ever wants to make, made even harder by the hope that Ruby created for ourselves and the doctors with her valiant battle. Sassy fighter, remember?
In the end, we can only hope that those who love us most will be there with us and for us. In the end, that’s all Ruby ever wanted from us. We were able to grant her this last wish.
My wife and I tell ourselves this to make it through the adjustment period that has followed. I still go through the motions of taking Ruby outside and checking on her under the desk, my lazy office supervisor who made the day brighter. I know there are so many wonderful memories that vanquish this sad moment, but it will take more time for those memories to dissipate the sadness. 4 years, 7 months, and 19 days with Ruby was just too short.
Although Ruby is no longer here, she will always be with us. In the end, her heart was just too big.