Rescuing Ruby

Happier Days

Happier Days

This wasn’t what my mother had in mind for her dog when she had a mind.

In the same way we believe that nothing bad will ever happen to us when we are 18 and immortal, when Mom adopted Ruby, she never anticipated she would get Alzheimer’s. Mom never thinks she’s old, either, but that has more to do with vanity than the deterioration of her cognitive and motor skills. Mom was about 79 when she adopted Ruby, who was two. In fairness to my mother, none of us argued with her desire to have this little dog. We all thought it was a great fit. In that moment. And so it was for several years.

But no one asked what might happen to the dog as my mother aged. No one thought to make a plan for Ruby in the event Mom died. Or worse. And worse happened.

If you read my post from September about Mom and Ruby you will think that my mother’s sad story had a happy ending for Ruby. My nephew wanted to take her into his family. On paper, great. In the real world, not so much. Ruby doesn’t do well with 4 year-old boys whose love is expressed in an exuberant, physical way. She snapped at the boy, the boy’s mother (rightfully) nixed the deal, and Ruby came back to my sister’s house. With her two Yorkie Poos. And Ruby doesn’t really love other dogs. She snaps at them, too.

She wants what she was accustomed to — her human, her home. What she has is confusion and a lot of time in a crate right now. She has my stressed out sister who has a hellish schedule. What she must be thinking.

When my mother lived near me, both she and Ruby spent a lot of time at my farm. After my mom fell ill, I took Ruby for extended periods. She did just okay with my dogs (BP — Before Puppy). She has an autoimmune medical condition that requires daily meds for the rest of her life, and she is not a spring chicken herself. Flying her back here is not an option any more.

The upshot of this is that Ruby is going to an Italian Greyhound Rescue Organization foster home, maybe for the rest of her life. I am as horrified and heartbroken and guilt-ridden as I am grateful and relieved that these fine people are so dedicated to their volunteer mission that they are doing for Ruby what we cannot. I have never surrendered an animal in my life. If my mother knew the truth and understood it, she would be shattered. My sister and I decided it was best to lie to her and tell her that Ruby was going back to California to live with the cousin that gave her to Mom in the first place.

I know a little about where she is headed, having checked out the organization and spoken to the foster family, a retired couple who have been in rescue over 20 years. I tell myself to have faith that Ruby will find happiness and love there. And permanency. Faith is something that doesn’t come very easily to me. Lose your husband, your best friend, your father, your health, a few dozen friends to the scourge of AIDS in the space of a decade, and you begin to understand the point of view of the Pharoah a little bit when all the plagues were raining down in Egypt. Still, when all the other options are spent, faith is what is left.

When I had a health scare years ago, I made a will and a trust. I put all of my animals in as property in my trust as well as a fund for them. At the time, I had horses, so it was more elaborate than it is now. Like kids, each of my dogs has a guardian who has agreed to take them for the rest of their lives. It’s unlikely that I will bring any more animals into my home (or at least I won’t go out searching for any). Willow (if she lives as long as Martha has) and I will be old ladies together (I’m still on the fence about her chances of staying out of that much trouble but with age, hopefully, comes wisdom). Going through this with Mom and with Ruby has taught me that a part of our responsibility to our pets is also knowing when not to have them.

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10 comments

  1. cindy knoke · January 19, 2014

    she’s adorable!

  2. Mungai and the Goa Constrictor · January 18, 2014

    So sorry to hear about your mother, Lisa. But I think you have done the right thing. Ruby will find a loving home again and be happy, and her needs will be met. You’re absolutely right, though. Most of us don’t give enough thought to the future when taking on animals. Perhaps we should. Nice post – thank you 🙂

    • Going To The Dogs · January 19, 2014

      Thanks, Amelia. I appreciate your thoughts. Lisa

  3. Kimberly M. Ringer · January 16, 2014

    Your post while sad, also holds so much truth and love. Yes, it is sad that Ruby can’t be with her person or her persons family, but you have found a place that specializes in what Ruby NEEDS. They will find that and she will be happy and healthy….. And in the end, isn’t that what your Mom would want?

    • Going To The Dogs · January 16, 2014

      Thank you, Kimberly. Ultimately, I would like to think so, but it’s so hard to let go for all of us. Lots of mixed emotions.

  4. CityGirl · January 16, 2014

    Beautiful and poignant.

  5. Marcela · January 16, 2014

    I am so sorry about your mom and Ruby. You are right, many pet parents do not think nor prepare for the time when we may not be able to care for our dogs anymore. I will be talking to a lawyer and financial advisor soon for I’ve been meaning to put everything in order because I asked myself, “what would happen to Alex, my 11 1/2 year old pit mix, if I am not here anymore?”

    • Going To The Dogs · January 16, 2014

      Thank you Marcela. It’s a smart move. And if your dog has a god parent or someone willing to take him should you need that, be sure to put all that in writing.

      • Marcela · January 16, 2014

        Will do. Thanks for the advice and information. My girlfriend, Cynthia, would be first on my list, but I always want to have a second and third choice at a minimum.

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