August 16, 2017

I Love Boca


It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy
~
Lucille Ball 

August 14, 2017

The Sweetness of Acceptance


The upside-down perspective of this picture is a perfect representation of how Ruby changed my world, and how our trust and relationship has grown over time. Recently we celebrated four years together, having adopted her in August of 2013.  Just weeks prior, my previous dogs were still alive and adopting another wasn't even a consideration, but I had decided that Ruby Pearl would be a perfect name for my next dog based on a book that I was reading that summer. Life can change in a heartbeat. When I lost both 14 year old dogs within ten days I thought I would wait a while before looking again, but the house felt unbearably empty. I perused the adoption personals. I saw that very first picture. Her name was Foxy Roxy and she looked sharp as a tack - like she might know calculus - and skeptical, like she was holding back the softest parts of herself. She looked like she could be the best kind of trouble. She is everything I first saw and so much more.
 
Losing and finding are two sides of the same coin. I lost my two old dogs and found Ruby. I lost the dream of a dog I could take everywhere (until I adopted the Queen of Chill, Boca, also thanks to Ruby). Instead, I found a dog that inspired compassion and creativity, patience and humility. Ruby gave me a deeper understanding of dog behavior and training, and thereby a deeper understanding of myself. Because of her, I started my blog, met countless other dog people and made new lasting friendships, taught her over thirty tricks, protested the sale of pet store puppies, and helped start a dog rescue. In the beginning, when Ruby's reactivity first began to surface, I was disappointed that we wouldn't be going to dog-friendly patios and participating in agility or flyball. I was frustrated that training wasn't a fast or surefire cure. It isn't that I have given up on training, but that I accept Ruby as she is and rely heavily on management. Once I did this, the frustration faded. Part of that initial disappointment was not being able to share all of her wonderful qualities, but Rubicon Days has allowed me to share her with all of you. Thank you. I'm so grateful to know there are others who stick with their challenging dogs, commit to their needs, forgive their sensitivities and recognize their strengths.

Ruby will always be a reactive dog, but over the years she has become softer, sweeter. She wags her tail all the time: slow, sweeping conversational wags and blurry animated helicopter wags where a tug toy or ball is involved. She lets me hold her upside down for armpit scratches and paw massages. She communicates with what I call her "chicken barks" in addition to a hilarious assortment of grunts and grumbles. She makes sure I get out of the shower alive. She licks my face with an impressive fervor, all the more if I dare giggle. She melts my heart with her pouty lip that is exactly the color of an earthworm. She astounds me with her intelligence. She reminds me how to play, complete with play-growls. She taught me how big love can be. I've known so many animals in my life but Ruby burns the brightest, digging as only a terrier can dig, straight to my heart. I call her Punkin' Pie (it has to be said and spelled that way). I nibble her ears and say "I'll eat you up, I love you so," from Where the Wild Things Are. I emblazoned her onto my arm for all time. I've spent these past four years trying to describe what she means to me and I still haven't quite managed but I expect I'll keep trying. I'm not the least bit embarrassed by any of it - it's who I am, because of her. More than anything, Ruby has taught me that when we feel safe and loved, we can relax, roll over, show our bellies. When we feel accepted, we can be our most beautiful selves.

August 9, 2017

In Search of Treasure


You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. 
It all depends on how you view your life.
~
Paulo Coelho

August 2, 2017

Before I Was Hers


You can know an animal - or a person, for that matter - in an instant, really, 
though your understanding can go on unfolding for years.
~
Mark Doty  

July 31, 2017

Pop Your Pup Helps Fuel My Unapologetic Dog Obsession


Everyone who knows me knows that I'm obsessed with dogs - any and all dogs, to a point, but more specifically, my dogs. I could look at Ruby's adorable face all day, and since she's on my phone, computer, office bulletin board, and oh yeah, on my arm, I can and do! Boca's antics entertain me endlessly and I have no less than thirty photos of her in my favorite potcake posture, the street dog slouch. I jump at the chance to brag about Ruby's smarts and Boca's sweetness, and pity the unsuspecting person who innocently asks "what kind of dogs do you have?" since Boca's breed/rescue story alone is another tale in itself.


I still felt there was potential to level up my passion and Pop Your Pup was the key. I previously reviewed their customized t-shirts and when they approached me for another partnership I gladly agreed. They've changed their look and now offer even more options for proudly wearing the cutest dogs in the world (your own, of course) or turning them into home-gallery-ready works of art in the way of wrapped read canvases!  I mean, how awesome are these? Just in case it wasn't clear, this post has been sponsored by Pop Your Pup. 

July 26, 2017

Summer Wonder

red and white dog in the mountains

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing. . .
~
Mary Oliver

July 19, 2017

Wading


"Look! A trickle of water running through some dirt! I'd say our afternoon just got booked solid!"
~
Bill Watterson

July 12, 2017

The Tonic of Wildness

hiking dog colorado

We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. 
We can never have enough of nature.
Henry David Thoreau

July 10, 2017

On (Im)permanence


As promised, I'm back to share my Ruby tattoo, and to start writing more regularly. This has been the most amazing summer of a most amazing year, and I've been doing a great deal of reflecting on luck, love, loss and gratitude. For perhaps the first time in my life, all that I've experienced seems strung together on the same thread - seemingly unrelated things echo back to each other and sadness and joy nestle inextricably together.

Four years ago in July, I lost both of my fourteen-year-old dogs within ten days of each other. That same year was defined by other losses, but July's hit the hardest and/or compounded all that came before because I had also lost my mother - the person I loved most in the world - in July of 2010. Summer seemed especially cruel for so many years. I believe my reaction to all this loss was delayed, with the year following being particularly dark. At times it seemed that the best parts of my life were in the past. How to allow brightness to glimmer at the edges of absence again? How to love deeply knowing that all you love will eventually leave?

What I've come to know is that is exactly how and why to love deeply. I have always had a close relationship with mortality - I grew up with so many animals that it was unavoidable. Losing was the price of loving. I have never over-sentimentalized this reality when it comes to animals, but more recently it has taken on new characteristics. A preciousness. I have had a few people assume, when they see my Ruby tattoo, that it is a memorial. Ruby will be five this winter and I hope we have at least a decade more together, but I already recognize what she means to me and how she's changed my life. I already know that she is my forever - or my little piece of forever, since forever doesn't really exist for any of us.

Sometimes looking at Ruby's amber grey eyes, or at my ancient little cat Nina's bedraggled frame, or at the beautiful faces of any of the people I hold dearest in my life, I feel my heart could burst. How lucky, to share this space in time with them. There are so many metaphors about loss and heartbreak, about the capacity or strength of that organ being diminished by trauma. The opposite can be true. The heart's chambers can be sprung wider, like the windows thrown open on a perfect summer day. Gratitude has infinite square footage.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that everything will always change. We can count on that. We will experience devastating loss. We will wonder how happiness will ever appear on the horizon again. And then it will. In the form of a brilliant and complicated red and white dog who gazes into your very soul. In the form of a new relationship that takes you on incredible adventures and brings back forgotten wonders. In the form of peace and wisdom that can only come from time and experience, and recognizing that, in the words of Mary Oliver, this is what we get...this one wild and precious life.

June 14, 2017

Natural Beauties

Too stunning not to share these beautiful portraits of my girls, taken by one of my best friends, Steig Ole Lerbakken who is staying with me for the summer. He is available for pet (and human) portrait sessions in Colorado, Arizona and California. 


All is well with us - in fact, 2017 continues to be the best year in a very long time in so many ways. I'm relishing the summer and all of its adventures, and the Ginger Sisters adore our new roommate. I get my tattoo of Ruby in less than two weeks and will be back to share that as well!

February 1, 2017

Should You Need Us


In this unusual picture, the hyper dog is sleeping and the lazy dog is awake. Life is always surprising us...

For my first post of 2017 I'm here to tell you that I'll be taking a break from the blog for a while, to pursue other adventures and to contemplate a new direction and look for Rubicon Days. We are all doing well despite the frightening and uncertain times. Ruby and Boca continue to delight daily, and my nearly-twenty-year-old cat Nina continues to astound the vets with her feisty perseverence. I had an incredible 40th birthday and set some intentions for how I want this year to look, including less time on social media, more music, more long-form reading and writing, and some exciting travel plans. When I am ready to write here again, I expect to return to the style of blog I was first drawn to, filled with rich stories and personal experience. I so appreciate your readership and hope you'll keep us on your radar. Instagram is the best place to follow us now because I won't ever stop taking endless pictures of The Ginger Sisters. I am also getting my first tattoo - of Ruby - this summer, something I'll absolutely be sharing here.

Until then, please love those good dogs (and especially the "bad" dogs) and should you need us, for any reason at all, as Sarah's fantastical companions in Labyrinth say, we won't be far away.