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.


  1. Acceptance. I think it's really all any of us wants. I just love this story. Ruby changes the world. One wag at a time.

    1. Once again, your words inspired the title/theme!

  2. Yes!!!

    Chris from Boise (and Habi)

  3. Dogs make us feel safe and loved just by being dogs.

  4. Happy gotcha day Ruby! You are one special girl! Thanks for sharing her with us on your blog, Lara!

  5. This is a beautiful post! She's so lucky to have found you (and I know you feel the same way about finding her!).


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