Little creatures are great teachers

Dogs can talk and if we listen we can hear what they have to say.

Keeping a safe distance at the dog park

I’ve never met a dog that couldn’t talk but some have a lot more to say than others do.  My girl Ruthie told me just a second ago how much she loves being loved.

Oh she’s the sweetest, and I mean THE SWEETEST 4-legged I’ve ever met!

She talks all the time.  She tells me dog stories.  Mostly they consist of her great insect-hunting adventures.  There isn’t any insect that gets by her, which is at times frightening to me.  She doesn’t say much about the snake I wouldn’t let her kill, which she found underneath my bookcase in the living room.  It was rightfully hers and the animal control officer who I called to come and help me said exactly that.  “You ought to set that dog loose in there.  She’d take care of it long before I could get there.”

No way was I going to set my dog loose to capture that snake!  My friend who has spent a lot of time in Africa ended up coming over, dressed in his Safari hat, which was pretty funny.  He was able to get the snake to exit through my sliding glass door.  He also enjoyed making fun of me for being scared of what he called a little black snake, but believe me, it was not so little.  I guess if you’ve seen African cobras it was little.

I had a mouse in the same apartment as the snake was in until Ruthie came to live with us.  She sat up for two nights straight, just sitting in the kitchen, watching the place where I knew that mouse was.  He, or she, left.  I guess it simply couldn’t find a way out.  Ruthie is as good as any cat.  I never heard from that mouse again.

As to insects, she hasn’t told me yet how she knows where they are, especially in the middle of the night when the lights are all off.  Suddenly I’ll wake up to her running from the bedroom where she sleeps to the kitchen or living room.  I’ll get up and I find her in a corner where she has either discovered or captured an insect.  I can’t figure out if she hears them crawling or smells them and like I said, she has not told me her secret yet.

She’s a great insect hunter with natural eye-liner that gives her a Cleopatra kind of look, earning her the royal title of an Egyptian Beetle Hound.

I don’t know where Ruthie came from before I met her, which was at the local shelter, other than she had been recently returned by a family who had adopted her two weeks before I did.  They had a toddler who was allergic to dog hair, or so they said.

Ruthie was certainly shedding when I first met her.  Within an hour of her being inside my home the floor was nearly covered in dog hairs, which comforted my grieving heart.

I’d lost my Free girl only six or seven weeks before I met Ruthie.  Free is the gorgeous black lab in my post, I AM FREE.   There were still some of her hairs in the corners of my living room.  I had purposefully missed those spots while vacuuming shortly after she had to leave this earth.  I tried to keep any  reminder of my girl around for as long as I could, especially her scent.  I missed everything about her.

When my apartment began to have that kind of house smell that comes with homes without dogs, I felt like it was sterile and empty.  Lifeless.

A house without a dog is a sad lonely place to me.  I learned I definitely don’t like it.  I found myself downtown helping homeless people at strange hours of the night.  I’m really not cut out for that.  It isn’t my passion.  It was however, better than returning to a home without my beloved Free girl.

The first day I got Ruthie I couldn’t wait to show her where she would be living.  I knew she would like it better than that dirty shelter.  She was totally psyched!  She knew it was her home too.

Ruthie knew I was her new owner as we walked out of the shelter.  I didn’t know at the time she had most likely been abused and the shelter couldn’t tell me that information.  I would soon learn that she was scared of people until she knew if they were okay or not.  She was scared of just about everything, except our other dog, Tiny.  Looking back to the day I adopted her, knowing now how scared she was of the world, I’m happy to know that she jumped into my car as quickly as I had opened the door.  The look on her face said let’s get the heck out of here.  She didn’t look back as we drove away.

I needed a shower after the several hours of the adoption process, which had included a trip to my favorite pet store to get her a few toys and of course, I wanted to show her off to the owner.  I was quite proud of my new friend.

She barked at the entrance to the bathroom and ran in circles the entire time I showered.  While I dried off she was calm.  I walked into the living room and saw where she had enjoyed a bit of wine tasting from a glass that was sitting on the fire-place hearth from the night before.  Then I noticed a pack of cigarettes, lying on the middle of the floor, completely shredded.

Ruthie looked quite proud of herself.  She was lying right beside of the tobacco strewn across the floor with the same look Free had the time she brought me a dead bird as a gift after I scolded her one day.  I know… that poor bird.

I had a suspicious feeling that someone had taught Ruthie to shred a pack of cigarettes.

The next day it happened again.  She barked at the shower, ran in circles, and got quiet while I was drying off.  There she was again, lying beside of her destruction and again, with a look of pride on her face.

After only a couple of days the shedding and shredding stopped and I’ve had her four years.  I think she’s allergic to toddlers and that was why she was shedding so much.  She’s still scared of all people less than about four feet tall.  She urinates and then lies on her back when she sees a little person.  I never let her get close so everyone stays safe.

A scared dog is a dog that might bite.

Free always showed me how I needed to be.  She showed me what it was like to be free.  She really did live up to her name.  She was a sweet girl too.  Mostly Free was happy.  That’s what everyone who met her would say, “That is about the happiest dog I’ve ever met.”

Ruthie is different from Free.  She shows me who I am.  She shows me how I am.  She shows me how I feel.  Everyone says, “What a sweet dog.”  One woman who met us said, “She is your tender heart isn’t she?”  I realized she was right.

Ruthie has such a tender heart that if someone gets upset, especially me, well, so does she.  The first signs of her being upset are revealed in her gut, just like mine.  She was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome not long after I got her.

A couple of days ago Ruthie had blood literally pouring from her rectum.   I immediately called the vet.  After several tests the doctor said she believes Ruthie was responding to stress.   The vet said some dogs who get boarded there have this same reaction.  I was certainly glad to hear that Ruthie is okay, but it made me sad to know that my getting upset earlier that day had apparently caused this reaction in her gut.

I can’t protect her from life.  I try hard not to let her know when I’m upset, but she knows anyway.  She’s much better now.  I played with her, rubbed her silky coat, and basically showered her with hugs and kisses.   We are both better now.

Ruthie is a teacher, just like Free was.  She teaches me to calm down.  She shows me when I’m getting too upset and my love for her makes me want to feel better so that she will.  She shows me about forgiveness too.  She loves my son, no matter what.  She wants peace.  Most dogs do I guess.

Ruthie shows me what stress does to the body.  She shows me myself.

Free would show me how I could feel differently if I would only follow her advice, which was to go outside and play with her.  If I didn’t listen she would get a ball, usually a dirty one, and toss it in my lap.

Free would fight too, although the times were few and I was always there to stop her.  She would fight over tennis balls, sticks, toys and for sure, food.  I had to keep a close eye on Free.  She would slip off every chance she got and she got better at this with age.  She’d hide behind a tree while I worked in the garden, staring at me as if I couldn’t see her.  I’d play along with her, but if I went more than two minutes without looking she would be gone.

Down the winding paths she would go and in the mountains a dog’s route is faster than a human’s is.  Sometimes I’d have to get into my car to go fetch my dog.  She knew every house in the neighborhood that lived a dog.  She would go into their yards, especially during the day when the owners were away and the dogs were in the house and steal their toys.  If I caught her doing it she would have the toy in her mouth, her head would drop and she looked pitiful.

Free had a strong spirit.  If she had been human then she would have been an activist who gets put in jail from time to time.  She fought to protect what was hers, what she believed in and what she wanted.

Ruthie is not like that.  She is a tender heart.  She doesn’t fight and instead gives and walks away.   She has shown me once that if a person does something that seems intentionally harmful to her that she will protect herself.  Otherwise, Ruthie is sensitive, extremely loving, funny and has a cautiousness about her that I consider a smart trait, one worthy of my attention.  If she was a human she might be a nurse.

When we go to the dog park she gets a little scared, but she also loves it and runs the other way if I say let’s go.  She keeps her distance from the other dogs.  Ruthie likes to walk around the edges of the fence, which is a good distance from the center of the park where the dogs play together.  She’ll play if she finds the right dog but she’s choosy.  She likes dogs about her size or a little smaller.  She freaks out when a pack of dogs surround her, even though they are usually smothering her with kisses.  Even the dogs know Ruthie is the SWEETEST one in the park!

Free loved the dog park too, but she liked the tennis balls better than the other dogs.  She would gather as many balls as she could get, put them in one big pile and then plop down on top of her collection, daring the others with her growl to come any closer.  The other dogs fortunately did not challenge Free, probably because she could never get all the tennis balls.  She sure tried though.

Ruthie is my little drop of heaven.  I believe Free kissed her from heaven, which is why Ruthie’s snout is black.  She was kissed by an angel.

I’m so glad that child was allergic to my girl Ruthie, who is now, Ruthie Mae.

My dog can talk.  She just told me that she doesn’t care much for the time I spend on this computer.

Little creatures really do make good teachers.

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16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on January 4, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    i love the stories about your dogs, what fun to hear about!!!!

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  2. My little girl, Sugar, talks a lot too! She makes these cute little moaning noises when I hold and pet her as if she’s in total heaven….so content. I don’t know what we would do without our dogs!

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    • Oh I’m so glad to hear about your dog! I almost asked and wondered if she made it through her favorite tree training or where she finally decided was the perfect spot to go, other than inside 🙂

      That’s so sweet that she makes the little noises. It sounds like she has brought you lots of love and joy. Give her a pet for me.

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  3. This post reminds me of a conversation I had with my daughter this week about how dogs communicate and what certain body movements mean. She found the whole thing fascinating.
    They certainly get their point across, even without words.

    🙂

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    • Hi Debbie!
      It’s so much fun watching and learning from our wonderful 4-legged friends! I too am fascinated, pretty much constantly by them. I turned on some music this morning and the older dog suddenly became quite cheerful. He started wagging his tail and kind of dancing around. It was hilarious. He was happy when he saw that I was enjoying that music. I’m sure of it. 🙂

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  4. I loved hearing about Free and Ruthie. I have always been more of a cat person, but only because that is the only pet I could have for many years. But, our dear departed Rascal was the best damn cat-dog-human you could ever meet.

    We are in a holding pattern right now because of our impending move. Don’t know when that will be–next spring–next summer–next fall??? My husband has said that as soon as we get a house he wants a dog, a real dog, not one of those purse size dogs, not one of those yippy dogs, but a real dog! (his words).

    Its not particularly fun having a dog in the desert–so damn hot! Our back “yard” is mostly rocks with cactus and “native” plants that are having a hard time staying alive back there. Dogs need a real backyard, not a xeriscaped yard.

    I envy you in NC!

    Hugs,
    CJ

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    • Hi CJ!

      It sounds like Rascal was a cat? One of our dogs acts a lot like a mountain lion. I’m with your hubby as to real dogs. I love them all, of course, but I’ll probably always have a real dog too 🙂

      Where are you moving to? It would be nice to see a pic of the dessert backyard you have. I’m very glad to live with many trees. It’s humid here in the summer and I used to always go camping in the mountains for the best part of July and August — before fibro. Now it’s too much work. I sure miss it. I lived in the mountains for five years and it was absolutely beautiful!

      I hope you are doing okay. I seem to be having quite the flare of pain lately. Very severe 😦 No good sleep and a low spirit. Too tired to think again. I may have to go see my doctor but really, what in the world can they do? Sigh…

      hugs2u2,

      Miss Dogkisses.

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  5. Posted by MyFoggyBrain on July 26, 2010 at 10:39 PM

    That’s so cool! She keeps you in line to make sure you don’t get overstressed… that is a seriously cool dog, I don’t think ANY medicine would work that good! My dog definitely helps de-stress me, but keep me from getting stressed? Surely not. 🙂 I have noticed that wherever my girl lived before they must have yelled a lot or been abusive because she definitely doesn’t like any of that… she goes directly to the back of her kennel anytime anyone raises their voice.

    She’s a cuddly girl though for the most part and she is the best medicine for pain. Your 4-leggeds are so good for you! Things could be so much worse… it’s a good thing we have these guys to help us through the difficult times.

    Ruthie catching the bugs is extra cool, as long as they aren’t left behind somewhere and you don’t think about her eating them… my dog likes to just catch and torture and leave the remains behind. Just kinda gross. LOL! Thankfully, nothing beyond a small insect. She’d love to catch a bird, a mouse or the occasional creature outside… but I am really hoping that never happens (please do not ever let that happen!).

    That was such a nice post!! I should have read YOUR post before writing mine tonight… then mine would not have been so depressing! Oh well…. another day…

    Take care!
    Tamiko

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    • Hi Tamiko,
      Your post was not depressing. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about my beloved companions. Ruthie is extra sweet. It is true, she does keep me calm. It’s because I love her too much to see her get upset. She is actually legally my medical companion animal for exactly this reason but she is not a trained service dog. I wish she was.
      And it is gross about the insects. I get to them as quickly as I can. She got a rat outside once. That was the worst, and I mean the worst! Yuk. No blood though. The vet said she knew what she was doing if there wasn’t any blood.
      Your baby is beautiful. She’s lucky to have you. I was looking at her picture again tonight. So pretty. I like her fluffy tail too.

      Peace to you and yours,
      dogkisses.

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  6. That’s a nice sweet post. Indeed dogs are man’s best friend…..sometimes the only family!. Enjoyed knowing about immense love you have for your four legged treasure!!
    http://dharbarkha.blogspot.com/

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  7. Oh yes they do! I’ve always said that my house is run for the comfort of my dog and it’s true. Every dog I’ve had is a rescue dog. They’re wonderful and loving and have great stories.

    Ruthie is one smart cookie!!

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    • Hi Rose!
      My house is for the dogs too 🙂 So is my life it seems. I’ll tell Ruthie what you said about her. She’ll like that.

      hugs and dogkisses

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  8. This is a lovely post.

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