Monday, August 01, 2011

Is It Ever Just A Dog?

By Rubydad

Grief is a bleak, colorless world. The only thing that feels alive in it is our heartbreak, stirred awake each time we forget that Ruby is gone and pick up the leash, add fresh meat to the shopping list, set aside a crumb on the plate, expect to find her waiting inside the front door, or wonder why we don’t hear her bark when Christie starts up across the street. It is hard to believe she is not just around the corner, somewhere out of sight, snoozing or stretching herself before coming to greet us.

Yet we are immeasurably grateful to have found deep comfort in the posts, emails, cards, flowers and visits from so many of you. Our Ruby had legions of admirers, in whom she seemed to bring out the best. She could look a stranger in the eye, wiggle her butt, do puppy paws and make that person feel like they were the most loved being on the planet. She transformed me from a lifelong cat lover into a doting, eyes-for-her-only daddy who now never even looks at a cat. Except to try to find one for her, something she always wanted.

And here’s the thing. As special as she was, the reason she appealed to hundreds of clients, friends, fellow dog persons, Facebook and blog followers and thousands of people she met only briefly on a trail, at the creek, outside a supermarket or elsewhere, is that she spoke a common language we all understand.

All dogs speak it. To say that Ruby was not unique in no way diminishes my appreciation of her. The beauty of sunrise will always come second for me to the light in her eyes.

Every dog has a different job to do with its own people. Some excel at affection, some at guarding, some at intuiting the needs of others, some at clowning or problem-solving or a host of other skills. Every one allows us to love it as best we are able, and considers that sufficient. Each in his or her own way shares the same precious gifts that Ruby gave us.

We know all of you have experienced the amazing and profound wonder that we have: a dog has loved you unconditionally. A dog has seen you for who you really are, not in the least distracted by your personality, your mood, or however imperfectly you may sometimes behave.

The thousand daily sweetnesses we held so dear – look at the way she cocks her ear; see how she’s lying with one paw underneath her; look how cute she stands when she’s eating; ohhhh, she’s rolling on her ba-ack; her soft head on our laps, her deep contentment in the tent; the feel of her downy cheeks; the soothing, all-is-right-with-the-world sigh as she stretched out peacefully for a delicious nap – these and hundreds more we know you understand too. Even that irresistibly perfect spot to kiss her on her third eye…

Friends have said so many kind, insightful things to ease our journey. They “got” Ruby because she got them, and because their own dog or dogs get them too. As one friend said the other day, the bond we share with our dogs is every bit a beautiful love affair. We never forget, we never completely get over it, and always, we remember those precious moments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Letter to Ruby

We have had close to 200 messages, emails, cards and comments this past week from people sharing their sadness over Ruby's passing. Many have shared their own Ruby stories and I have been touched by each and every one of them. For now I am posting just one, from my dear friend Serena. She was Ruby's sitter when I went away for work last year, and joined us in many massage sessions. I think Ruby recognized in Serena a kindred spirit.



Dear Ruby,

Thank you for sharing your love and beautiful energy with all of us who were fortunate enough to know you. You are profoundly missed and deeply adored in our hearts!

I keep thinking of some of my favorite memories of you. I met you in 2003 (two houses ago for you). I felt a bond with you from that moment! A kindred spirit connection and a mutual protection or guidance. We shared many massage experiences. I loved how you said hello to me! I loved how you looked at your mom and dad so adoringly and respectful and with much admiration and strong spiritual love. I love how you treated each client with open paws and hospitality. I remember your breath during massages and the energy you gave. And you smell sooooo good!

Some of my other favorite memories with you were, one night when we were hanging out (September 2010) at your house and a praying mantis landed on your forehead near your third eye. It was so funny and cool and sweet!!! I laugh out loud thinking of it! Your dad saw too. Your mom was in California doing a workshop. I'm so grateful too for our last day together at Chavez when I looked up during meditation in the sun and you were so still in meditation too. It was a beautiful, very still moment that I will always cherish.

I loved walks with you in the morning. You had such a relaxed yet alert strut that I just loved to watch. I love how you embraced and received love. You taught me a lot, I hope you know! You were a very strong, gorgeous, kind, brilliant, funny and loving being. I'm so grateful and honored to have been in your life! I know you had such a blessed, amazing life with your mom and dad and all your friends. Congratulations on living a full, adventurous and fun, beautiful life!

You are so loved and missed.

Bless you Ruby baby, with love from my heart to yours. You are such a lady.

Peace be with you.

-Serena

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Off To A New Adventure

Ruby's Mum here. Our sweet red rock adventure girl left us yesterday for adventures in pastures new. It came out of the blue and was very quick, leaving us shocked, but grateful there was no long, drawn out suffering, and that we were both there with her. We think it was a heart attack.

Ruby left the way she lived, with no dilly dallying. The day before she had an acupuncture session, visited the staff of OfficeMax, then spent an hour fishing at the creek. She was the liveliest we've seen her in the water for a while.

She slept outside with me that night, and slept in for a little in the morning, both of us enjoying the cool morning breeze, until Dad came to take her for a walk at Long Canyon. In her usual way, she made friends with some Japanese girls walking the same path, and when she was ready, told Dad it was time to come home for breakfast. A couple of hours later, we heard her scream. She struggled for two breaths, and was gone.

Ruby touched more lives than any dog I've had. Just a couple of days ago I was walking with her in our neighborhood, when someone in a car that Ruby seemed to recognize, stopped to say hello. They of course greeted Ruby, not me, but as if she were a person. "Hello Ruby, how are you? I haven't seen you in a long time. You're looking good."

I had no idea who this person was or where they might have met Ruby. This happened on other occasions too, to the point that we thought maybe Ruby was leading a parallel life and meeting these people without us. The strangest one happened when we were on holiday in California a few years ago. Some people stopped us in the street and greeted Ruby by name. To this day, we have no recollection of meeting them anywhere before.

Emails and Facebook notes have been flooding in, and we are so very touched by the depth of feeling people have for our girl. She has been my constant companion and workmate for almost 11 years. Today was my first day giving a massage without her. I sorely missed her trotting out to the gate and giving the client their first greeting. This was clearly her job and she never liked to miss a session. Once the greeting part was done, and she had led the person to the studio, she would take her place on the kitchen floor and stay there until a few minutes before the end. She didn't like me running over time, and would let me know when she thought I should be done by getting up and stretching, and shaking her collar so the tags jingled.

Many a time I would reenter the room when the session was over and find the client down on the floor with Ruby, having a heart to heart. People connected with her on a very deep level. One of my friends, who never met Ruby in person, sums it up perfectly.

"All people and all creatures have their intrinsic worth, but some people, and especially some dogs have a special luminosity. I think Ruby Red girl was one of these special beings. And she seemed to have chosen you to communicate her love to the world and other human beings. I will miss your wonderful stories about her."

There are a few stories yet untold, and when the rawness of it all has subdued, I'll share them here, along with some more pictures.

With boyfriends, Robert and Gabe, in California. The boys were training to be service dogs. Only Robert made the grade and lost his battle with cancer just a few months ago. Gabe still lives with his trainer parents. Ruby learned a lot in that week.