02 December 2010

Where I say some nice things about Ruby while she's resting.


Before I pulled Ruby out of the shelter I used to volunteer at, I asked my friend, super dog expert Charlie, if it seemed like a bad idea to bring home a feral jack russell. That was black. She thought that sounded fine. Who wouldn't want a feral jack russell? That was black.

Right away, I realized the direness of the situation at hand. Ruby could leap in a single bound on top of the refrigerator to forage for food. She chased down anything that moved. Cats, skimboarders, joggers, little kids, people in general. Wasn't picky. If it moved, she'd chase it down. Eating out of food bowls confused her and made her frantic. She was good around horses, knew instinctively how to stay out of their way. And gopher death. Very expert in that field.

Agility started because of Ruby. I was bewildered how to train her. My dogs had always been so normal. Ruby was like having a wild animal in the house that was constantly speaking in tongues to the mothership. I found a dog agility class in a tiny yard on a busy street after dropping out of dog obedience school where the teacher tried to get her to lay down by yanking her head down to the ground with a choke chain.

Beginning agility class was on a busy street where she'd bolt along the fence line after any motorcycle or biker or skateboarder that went down the road outside the little yard. Ruby used to run away and steal everybody's food. She ran really fast. She tried to attack the other dogs. She didn't like the way the weedy pricker grass felt on her feet.

I have no idea why I stayed in that class. I think I used to cry all the way home most of the time. Then email psychotic, unibomberesque, epics to the teacher begging for help on how to train my dog.

The teacher had limitless patience.

We kept on keeping on. Started other agility classes, went out to the park with my little plastic jumps on Tuesday afternoons and pretty much tried to get her to not run away. Started a rocky career of dog agility trials. Masochistic, humbling, ego bruising lessons of shame is what I recall now in hindsight.

We had ups and downs. Ruby marches to the beat of her own drummer. Eventually, she needed just a handful of legs towards her ADCh. She could knock out these beautiful runs, then on others mysteriously bolt off the startline and run away. Super embarrassing in the Masters ring. She used to knock bars like a sunnuvabitch, taking off super long then just CRASHING through them. Never really thought seriously about her eyesight. I moved her down to the lower jumps of Performance, and the same thing kept happening. Got worse and worse.

She also would come up lame. Then be sound. Then lame again. Then sound. Over and over again. Never knew which Ruby you would get.

Somewhere along the line she turned really sweet. No more chasing. No more meaness to other dogs. Gophers even became tolerable. I can't even recall when this happened. She just stopped doing anything wrong. Little kids could walk her. Poke her in the eyes if they wanted. She took on this new sainthood persona. Like all religious and mystical and shit. We don't really know what she sees. She's a visionary.

Ruby is so full of good that she gets taken for granted a lot of the time. Doesn't have the manic need for impulse control like Otterpop. Steadier head on her shoulders than Gustavo. She patiently sits and waits for everybody else, always happy to have a turn. Walks silently at my boot heel in the forest. She's a stealth operator, flies low under the radar. Endures.

I think she'll be just fine. She just needs to recover. I just thought I should make sure you know what a good dog Ruby is.

9 comments:

Mary said...

You haven't made me cry over coffee in a long time. I'm sure by now everyone knows that YOU have four personas (counting the one tatooed on your arm), so I don't need to point that out. I'm not saying multiple personalities! SIMULTANEOUS personas (which is a lot for one body, which, I might add is looking more svelte-y champion-y all the time). I am a triple Leo; so we both have excuses. I do notice that you make me cry when the Ruby persona is dominant.

Amanda said...

What a lovely tribute to Ruby. I think taking a feral dog to sainthood is pretty damn champion-y in its own right.

Samantha said...

What a great post about a wonderful dog. I wish Ruby a speedy recovery, and hope the Team is back soon. I'm also going to go home and hug my dog; thanks for reminding me what an important role he plays in my life.

Celeste said...

Beautiful Rubyness. Thank you!

Elf said...

A great story of how not giving up is often the very right thing to do. For you and the dog.

Anonymous said...

"her eyes spin, wild pinwheels of crazy, as she locks in on magical bunnies that no one else can see."

What I tell people about my middle dog. She can weave, nailing any entry, and the next day be mystified by the concept of a single jump. She can sound like
a rabid jackal , but then snugle me to sleep. Who knows!

Anonymous said...

From prior reading of your blog, I had no idea Saint Ruby had such a wayward past; I had only heard of her saintliness. All good saints need dastardly pre-conversion selves so that their post-conversion saintliness is all the more remarkable. Feel better, Little Ruby of the Forest and Beach.

debbie in socal said...

I loved hearing the story of Ruby. She IS a good girl, just had to take a winding road to get there. Reminds us to not take our good dog for granted...and with me also, my good dog wasn't always so good. She still surprises me, one way or the other, about every other time we run.

team small dog said...

Ruby is having a hard time with this injury, it really hurts. When she's painful she starts to go feral again and screams. Boy does she scream. And then look at you like you have 3 heads, and try to bolt underneath furniture and hide.

No one wants to see their good dog like that. Or any dog. Or anybody. Try to get well soon Ruby!