|watching deer at Garden of the Gods|
I had last week off from work and so Ruby and I got to spend nine days together. We settled into an easy routine, and she was usually ready for bed before me! I love those times on the sofa when she is all warm and soft and squishy, making little squeaks and grunts if she has to move. Our time included a bit of everything: relaxing at home, traveling to friends and family, and having company.
Monday I was up early to pack up the car with presents and prepare for a long day with many stops. Ruby wore her ThunderShirt (appropriately festive green!) in the car and did not bark at anything, even people walking dogs! I'm not ready to deem it a miracle yet, as she was also car-sick, poor girl, but every little bit helps. Ruby went in to the feed store with me to pick up some senior feed for my horses and some Whimzees crocodile chews, and greeted some other patrons. We stopped at my best friend's house to exchange gifts, where Ruby and my friend's one-year-old son were very interested in one another, but since Ruby can be mouthy we didn't let them together. Next I visited my dressage-trainer-turned-friend, who has a whole house and barn full of animals. Ruby gets along splendidly with her black labradoodle, (the second in her life!) and seems to think they are giant living chew toys. The humans discussed dogs and writing while the dogs capered through the house. It was a really lovely visit. I delivered treats to the horses' caretakers and spent just a few minutes with them as it was already getting dark. My ultimate destination was my aunt and grandmother's home in Old Colorado City - my cousin had arrived at my aunt's house and we went out for Mexican food that night, then stayed up quite late talking with 'The Lone Ranger' in the background while Ruby wore out her second labradoodle of the day.
On Christmas Eve, after donning our matching shirts and hats and having a little photo shoot (which yielded my last post's pictures), we took the dogs to Garden of the Gods for a hike. I was quite worried it would be crowded and too much for Ruby, but she did so well! I was really proud of her. She didn't bark at any people - I think she feels safer with a group of dogs and people that she knows. Luckily we only encountered one husky on the main part of the trail, and I just picked her up. She screeched and whined but it was manageable. On the way back to the parking lot we were basically just in a big crowd of people, strollers and dogs. I continued to pick her up and tried to turn her or cover her eyes as we passed dogs and that was fairly effective. Not the most "correct" solution I know, but I was really just trying to avoid any major meltdowns. It was a gorgeous day and wonderful to be outdoors. Ruby happily wore her Santa suit on our outing and around the house, delighting my grandmother. The rest of the day was spent eating, visiting, watching the dogs play together and opening presents. Ruby received the driving/car version of Through A Dog's Ear, and we gave it a try on the way home. She passed out immediately, but I think that may have had more to do with non-stop-wrestling. She also got a new ball from my best friend - purple, spiky, and seemingly quite durable! It's become her new favorite.
My dad visited for a few days and Ruby impressed him with her latest tricks ("spin" and "gimme ten"). We've had some incredible family dogs over the years and he thinks she is the smartest he's ever met. She really seems to like having company - more people to throw the ball! We had some riotous games of tug and went on quite a few walks, although I was sorry to see that her increased confidence around approaching people did not carry over from our hike. Perhaps I'll have to get another dog? I'm mostly kidding, although I do stalk Petfinder regularly...
As the year winds down I reflect on its lessons, losses and gains. My little red-and-white honey has certainly been one of its highlights. She makes me smile and laugh and play daily and astounds me with her intelligence. I am so glad I picked her picture from the many, that I couldn't stop thinking of those giant ears and inquisitive eyes. I miss my two girls that I said goodbye to this year. I miss Lasya's calm constancy and Freya's exuberant affection. I look at the spots in my house where they took their last breaths, and try to get it right with Ruby in their honor.
I hope you all enjoyed some extra time with your loved ones - canine and otherwise - this season, and Ruby and I will see you in 2014!