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This post might be tough for some... The Hard Truth About RUTHIE

Yesterday I was sitting on the couch with my sweet dog Ruthie at my feet all nestled down breathing heavy as if she had jumped and played all day, sadly she had not. I started to realize how old Ruthie truly is and it dawned on me she is pushing 16 years old. If you think she lays around all day, you might be thinking correct, but she is much more than an old lazy dog. This canine is wiser than most people I know and certainly more intuitive. I know she won't be greeting me at the door too much longer, she already isn't swimming in our pool, or chasing balls at the park. I started to think about how she wouldn't be joining my husband and I at our mountain cabin for too many more trips and the thought of this coming time is really difficult to think about. I'm writing this because I realize I am not alone in these thoughts and in helping myself I might just help someone else.

My middle son, known for being the wayward pet collector, was given Ruthie as a puppy by a family he worked for. The family had found Ruthie in an alley and because they lived in an apartment they couldn't keep her for very long. It was obvious quickly on why this family was promptly trying to find a home for this hound. She must have pooped on my carpet a zillion times the first 2 days we kept her and I was pretty skeptical about keeping her myself at that point.

My son, who brought Ruthie to us, was famous in our family for bringing home animals that for some reason were going to be abandoned or simply were in bad circumstances. It's hard to tell your good natured son that we couldn't keep every animal he finds. My son had already brought into our family YoYo, a dog one of his friends needed a home for. He also had a cat named Rukus who his girlfriend gave him because the girlfriend's mom was allergic. Actually, it was my youngest son who begged to keep Ruthie. In remembering my own childhood, who was never allowed a dog, I relented and decided to keep Ruthie. My youngest son's argument was quite compelling and considering my middle son seemed to be able to acquire and take ownership of all the pets he brought to our house I felt I should let my youngest claim Ruthie for his own.

Ruthie came to us with a purple collar on so we took her to the pound to see if anyone was missing a puppy and found nothing. We made flyers and posted them all over the neighborhood and yet no response. We figured she must have an owner considering she had a collar on. We took her to the vet and had her vaccinated and checked out. She didn't have a chip or anything identifying who she had belonged to. Low and behold Ruthie became ours, or better stated, my youngest son's dog.

YoYo, my middle son's dog, didn't seem too pleased at first but soon he concluded she was staying so he took her under his wing. He honestly didn't have much choice considering Ruthie ingratiated herself almost immediately. She encroached upon YoYo's personal space by constantly curling up right next to him whenever he laid down and she insisted on using his food and water bowl. YoYo was up in years so he seemed to take all this in stride and we were thankful. Ruthie learned a lot of great things from YoYo. She learned how to stay close when taking walks, she learned not to run out the front door and get lost, she learned how to go to the park and run after balls with out running away. You might say YoYo had her on a short leash. I discovered that older dogs truly do teach and mentor younger ones. It was amazing how YoYo would discipline Ruthie if she stepped out of line. He would put his nose to her and she obviously got the message. Her tail would go down and wag in that way to show "Oops I really goofed didn't I? ". She would sometimes dip her head in respect or roll over on her back to show YoYo's dominance . Ruthie also learned some "not so great" things too. If the doorbell rang she'd bark like the end of the world is coming. That's always a good one. Sadly she doesn't do that as much anymore and I find myself missing the very thing I use to yell at her for. Ruthie also has some things about her she developed all on her own. I knew early on she was an unusually smart dog. She knows instinctively which people were good and which were not. When my grandson was born she watched over him as if he was her own puppy. When he cried she'd come get me and insist I do something. It is uncanny what she knows about people and their needs.

My youngest son loved Ruthie so much. He and his friends would hang out and Ruthie was always part of the gang. She learned how to socialize with different animals and people. She was the favorite of all who came and visited our home. Even my elderly mother, who disliked dogs my whole life, found a soft loving spot for Ruthie. Kids would come over to swim and there was Ruthie jumping into the pool and making things even more enjoyable for all.

After a few years YoYo became ill. My middle son took several trips to the vet to try to save YoYo but sadly YoYo's days were coming to an end. He had been a great addition to our family and had taught Ruthie everything he knew. YoYo and Ruthie had developed a special bond that was obvious to all of us. He was old and his organs were starting to fail, sadly there was only one thing we could do. YoYo was in so much pain we knew we had to somehow get him to the car. We put him on his favorite bed and carried him gently to the car for his very last ride. As we were carrying him towards the door Ruthie did the most amazing heartfelt thing....


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