I know I promised to take some pics of the inside of the house. I am sorry to say that will have to wait for another day. The lighting is not very good for pictures due to the rain and dreary day we are having. Actually it has been this way for two days. Ahhh, I hear another downpour now. We ran the generator for over an hour this morning to make sure the batteries are recharged. That’s life off grid. So with no pics and no work being done I thought I would tell you the story of our darling Ruby.
Ruby is our three year old yellow Lab. She came to live with us when she was seven months old. The family that she came from seemed nice, but when we got her home we found that maybe that wasn’t the case. Ruby had a lot of issues and it was going to take an extreme amount of love and patience to get her right.
Ruby didn’t have any discipline at all. She could sit and shake paw, but that was about it. Taking a walk was a nightmare. Strange people, trash cans, parked cars and crunching leaves were all monsters in Rubys mind. Panic would set in and it was hard to control her. A walk always turned into a battle and was exhausting for both me and her. I needed to see what made her tick.
Fear was Ruby’s constant companion. Leather shoes, especially new ones caused her to constantly pace and growl. She would run if you got close to her with a pair. Could the memory of a beating be the cause? I decided the best thing for Ruby was to face her fears. She couldn’t live in fear of everything. I started showing her that the shoes would not hurt her. I brought them close to her and fed her cookies always talking in a kindly tone. Then I rubbed them on her showing her they wouldn’t hurt her. I actually made a game of it. Eventually I would hide a cookie inside the shoe and she would take it. This was an ongoing process that took months. I am proud to say that just last month Sonny and I bought new leather work boots and Ruby showed no fear at all. She had no reaction we when brought them out, just ignored them as if they always here.
Anytime Ruby was distraught she would pace and growl. The sound of people walking up the stairs outside the apartment, the garbage truck or lawnmowers would set her off. She needed a safe zone. So I put her bed in front of the TV stand in the livingroom. The moment she would begin to get nervous I had her get in her bed and lay down. I had to get her out of that frame of mind before it went too far. This plan worked well too. She often continued to growl a little but she would quickly get over it. After a while she would go there on her own when ever something distressed her. Just about every Sunday we would order pizza. When it was delivered I would tell her “its just the pizza man”. That seemed to calm her. After a while it worked for anybody that came to the door.
It is always best to pet Ruby on her chest. A hand coming toward her head is too intimidating. Just so you know Ruby is not viscious in any way. She is actually the complete opposite. She is very shy and sensitive. I liken her to Helen Keller. She just needed someone to love her and show her how to deal with the world. She has come a long a way. She is no longer afraid of shoes, trash cans or lawn mowers. She was extremely afraid of strangers, but that is improving too. She wants to be friends with everyone, but it takes a little while for her to trust. Cookies seem to help with introductions.
Since moving out here to the country Ruby has blossomed into a great companion. She has learned to face her fears head on and know that not everything and everyone is out to hurt her. She has gained confidence and courage. She stands with her head up and her tail out. She roams the yard keeping wild turkeys and deer at bay. She warns us of any vehicle that may be coming up the gravel road.
Ruby is a different dog from that frightened beat down puppy we first brought home. She is less guarded. Now she even rolls on her back opening herself up for a good belly scratch. It took almost a year for her to allow me to scratch her stomach and we know how much dogs enjoy that. It makes me feel good to see how she has grown into this great dog who has overcome so much. She is not perfect and I don’t know if she will ever be the kind of dog who will just come up to people and allow them to pet her. She will always have fears to face but I think now she has the ability to cope with them.
She is a dog with manners. She patiently waits by her food bowl until I give her the ok to eat. She waits in the mud room until I say she can come into the main house, most of the time. There is a good reason for this. It allows me to towel her off after she has been down in the creek or has muddy feet. She knows all her boundaries even when she goes to cousin John’s farm for a visit. No going into the barn or the donkey stocks. Remember when she first came to us and could only sit and shake paw? Now she can fetch, lay, wait. leave it, drop it, dance with me and sit up pretty. I am proud of her accomplishments. I hope that I can give her all the happiness a dog a could want. She has seventy acres to explore, her own private creek to bath in and plenty of play time. Sonny and I give her lots of love and I think that is the best healer of wounds. In about two weeks she will have a new buddy to play with. I hope she likes him. He has a story of his own, but that will have to wait for another time.