It's hard to believe it's already been a year since I drove home in a torrential downpour and resounding thunder with a little red pup in the back of my car. Ruby is a high-energy, high-drive, super-intelligent dog and challenging in so many ways, but I adore every last ginger and white hair on her body. She has required me to be a much more educated, engaged dog owner than I ever was before, and opened my eyes to new training methods, new hobbies and new friends.
Things look different than they did in August 2013, and much of that is attributable to my sweet, crazy, clever little 18 pound Border Jack. Here are some of the ways that Ruby has changed my life:
- She has introduced me to trick, clicker and positive reinforcement training
- I am a very skilled Defensive Dog Walker.
- I know a great deal about reactive dogs. I now know that Freya was an easy one!
- I go for two to three walks a day - no exceptions!
- I have gone off the beaten path to find peaceful places to hike.
- There are more dog toys, treats, collars, harnesses and leashes in my house than I ever thought possible.
- I share my bed with dogs, and they are superb snugglers!
- I do my best to shop force-free.
- I started this blog - which in itself is huge because I had been interested in blogging for quite some time but couldn't decide on a niche. Ruby makes sure I always have something to write about.
- I take pictures constantly, because how can I not?
- I have met so many wonderful rescue folks, trainers, dog moms and pet bloggers - too many to list here, but special mention to Colorado Animal Welfare League, Delightful Doggies, Jessica of My Imperfect Dog and Kimberly of Keep the Tail Wagging for all of their support! See my reading roll on the sidebar for a sampling of the other amazing blogs I follow.
- After five years of living in my townhome, I finally turned my patio into an enjoyable space for humans and dogs alike. Summer evenings have improved immeasurably.
- We have so many great doggie playdates with the corgis and the labradoodles!
- I'm suddenly a morning person. Ruby is the most reliable alarm clock I've ever had, she does not have a snooze button, and I've come to love our sunrise walks and my productive weekends.
- I adopted Boca, who could not be a more perfect addition to this little family.
- I am always researching better food, safer equipment, and current wellness information.
- I cook for my dogs.
- I used to shy away from dog kisses. Ruby gives the best ones, and she is so enthusiastic that it is futile to resist.
- I have become one of those people. (case in point: I love the way she smells, especially behind her ears)
There are so many more, but what I most want to say in honor of this one wild year, is that Ruby has taught me how to love more. I have loved all of my animals, and it's no secret that she has not been an easy dog, but it is exactly in those ways that I've been pushed to be more patient, more compassionate, more aware, more sensitive. Sometimes I look at her when she's curled up next to me with her little pink lower lip sticking out and her nose twitching in a dream and feel that my heart might burst. She has taught me how to love every dog, most especially the one you have.
Happy Gotcha Day, Little Sister.