Ruby’s Lessons

“Over the years I’ve come to appreciate how animals enter our lives prepared to teach and far from being burdened by an inability to speak they have many different ways to communicate. It is up to us to listen more than hear, to look into more than past.” 

Nick Trout, Love Is the Best Medicine: What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian about Hope, Humility, and Everyday Miracles

I’ve learned over the past few months how much I didn’t know about dogs–it is yet another example of not knowing what I didn’t know.

I’ve also been blessed by meeting several people who’ve helped me through the illness of my Ruby. Their kindness, knowledge, guidance, and support as I waited for the genetic confirmation of her illness is something I will always remember.

As a tribute to my precious Tibetan Terrier, I want to spend time sharing Ruby’s story and the lessons she taught me. By doing this I hope I can help anyone who’s thinking about adding a dog to their household.

It didn’t take me long to figure out even after having dogs most of  my adult life, I’d shortened some preparatory steps or side stepped some entirely.

Ruby taught me that it is very important to do breed research.

We’d had Lhasa Apso dogs for many years and I anticipated Ruby to be just a big Lhasa. I quickly skimmed the breed description and saw that the Tibetan Terrier (TT) and the Lhasa do have similar characteristics. For me at that time, I felt that was all I needed to know. I was ready to forge ahead.

I did not investigate any health issues this breed may have or may be prone to develop. I did not know the hereditary diseases breeders are supposed to screen their dogs for before they breed them nor did not know the screening breeders are supposed to do on the puppies before selling them.

Ruby taught me to dig deep when doing breeder research.

Breeders have become very sophisticated in how they present themselves. I did not know breeders can make themselves look very reputable when they are not. The biggest mistake we made was becoming obsessed with finding a puppy. There were no puppies available in our area so we broadened our search area. Finding a puppy became the focus. We had no idea how critical a good breeder is to the whole process. We ignored many read flags because we wanted a puppy.

Ruby taught me to visit the kennel and see that environment before making any decision.

We found Ruby on the internet. The pictures of her and her litter mates showed beautiful, healthy looking puppies. The breeder’s website told us about her kennel and the history of her champion dogs.  She had published reviews praising her business, the beauty of her dogs, and how happy each owner was with their entire experience. We could not find a negative review.

Ruby taught me to listen to my gut.

For a very long time Ruby tried to tell me something was not right–my gut agreed but my heart told me to let it pass.

Ruby’s lessons:

  • Be patient. Learn before so you aren’t surprised later.
  • Don’t rush. Make that life long commitment slowly and seriously. I’ve had people tell me the dog will find you. In a very clumsy way, I do believe things happened exactly as they were supposed to–Ruby really did find us. I would not change having her in my life–my only wish would be for a much different outcome.
  • If you have not seen the puppy in person and seen where the puppy was raised, pass on the deal. I have heard breeders are showing their puppies in rented places so the buyer does not see their actual kennels. Be wary.
  • Go to The American Kennel Club, http://akc.org, for general breed information, general trading education, reputable breeders listed by state, and links to other websites for more specific information.
  • Go to The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, http://ofa.org, for breed specific health information. This foundation also has genetic registry that has history for each reported genetic disorder in individual dogs in an effort to stop breeders from using these affected dogs in their breeding stock.
  • Check out social media for owner’s groups. You will find out a lot of information shared by other dog owners. This type is unfiltered information is incredibly valuable. Thanks to this network of loving people, I have some great things to share in upcoming stories.
  • If your gut tells you something is wrong, believe it. The genetic disorder Ruby had, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis or NCL, is not very well known. I learned about it only after I reached out for help from other TT owners.

“We who choose to surround ourselves

with lives even more temporary than our

own, live within a fragile circle;

easily and often breached.

Unable to accept its awful gaps,

we would still live no other way.

We cherish memory as the only

certain immortality, never fully

understanding the necessary plan.” 

Irving Townsend

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

Mother Nature

Yesterday started out quickly and dramatically in Hibdonville.

My husband, Michael, was out watering the plants. I was sleepily wandering into the kitchen when I heard some unusual sounds coming from the backyard. I was a little slow realizing that what I was hearing was serious–a pretty big error on my part.

To understand this tale better, I need to tell you that we live between two small communities in the hill country of Texas. We are not in town but we are not really in the country. We have undeveloped lots around us, which gives us the chance to observe some wild life: raccoons, foxes, occasional coyotes, many birds, including our favorite, the road runner and our least favorite, a very LOUD nocturnal bird called, Chuck Will’s Widow, many feral cats, and quite a few deer. The weather this Spring has been exceptional with new babies arriving daily. The fawns visit at least once a day,  jumping and running through the lots, making us laugh at their antics and marvel at their speed and dexterity. The two new litters of feral kittens provide hours of pure entertainment. We are not cat people so it’s taken awhile for the cats to work their way into our hearts. They have been very successful. So much so Michael named the newest members. The oldest litter of three: Moe, Larry, and Curly. The newest litter of two: Thelma and Louise.

Yesterday, tiny Larry enlarged his circle of exploration a little to far. The sounds I heard earlier came from behind a very large and dense persimmon bush. Larry either crawled under or through our fence. On our side of the fence stood our very gentle Lhasa Apso, Duffy. He had been watching patiently, anxiously awaiting the arrival of what I think he saw as the best new toy ever. A toy he grabbed excitedly, carrying the tiny white bundle further behind the shrubbery.

As fellow dog owners know, trying to take a toy away from your dog often does not go well or quickly. This was the case yesterday. It did not end well for Larry. We were devastated.

This left me wondering if there was anything I could do to prevent this from happening again? I cleaned around the perimeter of the fence, putting rocks in places where I thought something could crawl under. I walked away at the end of the day feeling I had probably discouraged something from crawling under the fence, but any small animal could still crawl through. I had done what I could. I needed to acknowledge that and let it go.

Sigh.

I did not see any kittens today. My guess is both mama cats moved their little ones further away from the newly perceived “danger zone.” Even though I miss seeing them, I hope they are away until they get a little bigger and a lot more street smart.

Mother Nature can be hard to understand sometimes. I’m just a “town kid” trying to figure it all out. I do realize I cannot fix it all and know I have a lot more to learn.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace