17 October 2008

For better or for worse.

I take Ruby for granted a lot. How often do you come in here, start reading, and think, Oh that Ruby. What a wacky, crazy butthead. Can't learn her weave poles. Does political analysis and shivers? Like, never? What do you even know of Ruby, other than agility makes her tired and creaky some days? Ruby, I write her off as my good citizen of the family, stick a gold star on her ass, and off we go, on and on about whoever is hopping around in the spotlight at that moment. Sister Mary Ruby quietly sleeps on a bed at my feet, does what I ask of her, and that's that. She's 8 years old. You can look at her face and you know she's wise for her years. And somehow that wisdom said she should let herself be completely controlled by Otterpop.

We should all have an Otterpop in our lives. To plan our schedules, decide when we should go outside, where we should sit, where we should sleep, what toys we get, and where we walk. If only Otterpop could cook and knew how to wash the floor. Not sure why Ruby decided that Otterpop got to be in charge, but she did and just follows orders quietly, from the back row. Even though Ruby is twice Otterpop's age, bigger, taller, and the pretty one. For fun times, Otterpop usually plays with Gustavo, and Ruby might play along, or might wander off to eat some seaweed or lay in the dirt. Playing takes a lot of energy, and Ruby likes to conserve hers. She also knows you are not supposed to run off after deer or into seal carcasses or jump into trash cans, and Ruby prefers to play by the rules. Has a look of mortification on her face when anyone does something oh so naughty.

Other than that, Ruby and Otterpop are joined at the hip. It's hard to find photos of just one of them. They are always together, conjoined dog unit. They have a whole dog run at work, but spend all their time wedged together in an old plastic crate on a saddle pad. Could not conceive of not riding in the car together in their blue crate, sleeping on top of each other. Sleep at night rolled up into one ball. Share and share alike, as long as using Otterpop's definition of sharing which is way more creative and dictatorly than what Jesus would do.

Not that they're perfect. They've had tussles in their past, 2 evil bitchy gangster girls with switchblades, where I've had to pull 'em apart. Ruby can only take so much. The terrier in Ruby, and the cattledog in Otterpop sometimes butt heads. Otterpop has seperation anxiety, she always will. When she gets anxious enough, she gets freaky and weird. I locked them all in a friend's horse trailer last night, took some horses out on a low tide sunset beach gallop. Otterpop had a total meltdown, and decided to attack Ruby when we got back and let them out. Freaked me out big time, having my own 2 dogs start a fight. Right back to best friends later on. Those times are few and far between though, and it's rare I don't call them in the house by hollering "RubyOtterpop!"

No one else seems to be able to tell them apart. I always explain the thing about the tails, that Otterpop's is long and Ruby's is a stub, and that Otterpop is speckly and sort of squat. Most people just see 2 bat eared little black dogs and think that they're one and the same. Both jump 12", because Ruby's in Performance now, and Otterpop does Championship. Ruby has a weird jumping style and long legs, Otterpop looks like a tiny little tank motoring around the course. Where I would put the front cross in with Otterpop, I might put in a rear cross with Ruby. Once you know them, they are so different. Otterpop is a loudmouth, demanding, Courtney Love on meth but SO DAMN FUNNY about things she will make you pee in your pants. Ruby is subtle and smart and has Etiquette.

I think about poor Ruby sometimes, what her life would have been like without adding an Otterpop to it. Ruby and I spent a few years with a lot of togetherness. She was kind of feral, and kind of aggressive. She was why I needed to learn about training dogs, and why I spent a lot of time trying to learn about why dogs do what they do. Timmy and the dogs before him, just had nice and happy dog minds. Ruby's mind scared me, it was like having a potential serial killer in the family whose next move you just couldn't predict. One minute cute and bouncy, the next disemboweling a squirrel or launching an attack on an unsuspecting skateboarder. Shrewd and calculating, and always in a deathly fast stealth mode.

Ruby's the one I hand off to toddlers now. Give to anyone to run agility with. Can park somewhere when I have to go off into brush tracking down wayward other dogs and know she'll still be sitting there in the same spot. Everyone else is getting yelled at for whatever sin they just committed, and Ruby just waits quietly, off to the side. Doesn't complain. Doesn't howl. Doesn't bark. Not a comedian, never talks back. Waits for everyone else to be tired of fetching until she takes a turn to bring the tennis ball back, and will bring it right to me every single time. Until Otterpop sees, and takes over the game again. Or just removes the tennis ball because she has just decreed Ruby isn't supposed to have it.

It makes me super happy to look up and see Ruby running with some huskie or lab on the beach or stealing Gustavo's toy and chasing him around the living room. See her letting Black Beauty lick her ear. See her take off her serious nun habit and let loose sometimes. Why I still love to do agility with her, because when we practice, it's me and her and she goes wild but in such a good dog way. If it's a super good day, she'll come over to me, and jump up in my lap. That is a really good day in my house, because that's not something you always get from Ruby. When you see those two next time, give Ruby an extra treat, she's the one that will come over to you and take it out of your hand, because Otterpop thinks you are about to poison her and will just kind of hunker down and glare and maybe want you to throw it at her from a safe distance. Tell Ruby you KNOW she is a really good dog. That you know because I told you so. Maybe sometimes, she's so quiet and busy doing the right thing, I forget to tell her enough. Ruby, you are moving into some big shoes to fill here, but I think you might be Ruby Best Dog.


Elf said...


You know, sometimes there are people like that. Two people whom I thought were bestest of best friends, or maybe more, because they were always together. And then you'd find out that, maybe not necessarily, one of them just sort of showed up on one's doorstep one day and just never left. And sometimes the relationship is healthy and they're both better for it, and sometimes not. No knife fights that I've seen, yet, though.

Simba said...

awwwww. *sniff*


Gussie said...

Love that pic of the two gels together, smiling. Aww.