It’s funny how things can change in an instant. About three weeks ago I was looking through my Twitter feed and an author that I follow, Gretchen Rubin, posted a question on her feed — “When was the last time you cried in front of someone?” I thought to myself that I had not done this in a very long time. Was it when I lost someone? I am not afraid to cry and find it therapeutic to release my tears. But life has been so good to me lately that I hadn’t needed tears.
Remember my birthday post from August 29? I started the day so grateful and excited to begin a new year of life, excited for what was in store me in the next 365 days. I had no idea that as the hours eased into August 30, I would say good-bye to my beloved Ruthie.
In 2007, Miss Bee began asking for a puppy. I was extremely experienced in the cat department, but dogs were a foreign entity. In high school when I asked for a dog, my parents sent me to the pound and I came home with a mutt we named Lexie. But, about 24 hours later Lexie decided he liked my dad better and I got busy with my teenage life and that was the end of my dog business. Lexie lived until he was about 20 and had a nice, long life as Daddy’s dog.
With Miss Bee’s request, I got busy researching the best breeds. At the same time a co-worker’s Dachshund just had delivered three puppies. I had read that Dachshunds were a great breed for families, didn’t necessarily need (or enjoy) walking, didn’t shed and were low maintenance. So, the week of Thanksgiving we gifted Miss Bee with Ruthie. My parents were living with us at the time and she was the perfect addition to our family. During the day when we were at work and school, my parents babysat Ruthie. Each keeping the other company. I took her to puppy school at PetSmart and she earned the Miss Congeniality award among her classmates. I took her for walks, taught her to sit and stay. Mr. Bee taught Ruthie to roll over. She was very snuggly, lap dog extraordinaire and a great companion.
Along the way, Ruthie and our cat Wilson became fast friends. We would find them spooning in the sunshine and sometimes find Ruthie on top of Wilson chewing on his ears. Wilson’s cries of protest told us he didn’t mind the attention much.
Late one summer, Daddy kept commenting about how fast Ruthie was when she would run to fetch a toy and thought he should enter her into the rodeo. I decided a better option was to enter her in the Weiner Races at an OktoberFest taking place in a community near Fort Worth. For several months, we practiced in the backyard having her run from one side of the yard to the other. I was convinced with the proper coaching we would come in 1st place and return home with a giant trophy. It was an unseasonably hot day in October and she was in the last race of the day. When the gun went off, Ruthie sat down looked around at how lame everyone looked and walked over to me and came in last. Needless to say we never entered her into another race.
Dachshunds were bred to hunt for badgers. They would dig snout first into badger dens and pull them out with clenched teeth. They are extremely oriented to scent. This proved to be comical and irritating. She got into everything despite our best efforts to “Ruthie-proof” the house. She loved getting into the litter box. We had a baby gate permanently installed to the entrance of the laundry room just so she could not gain access, but try as we might, if someone (Miss Bee) left the gate open, it was an all-you- can-eat buffet to the cat box. The suspect always denied this when she was questioned despite physical evidence.
She’s managed to eat a box of birdseed from Mother’s closet which produced very “seedy” poop that we could not seem to decipher until Mother came to me one day with an empty box of finch seed wondering if that could be what was the matter…Thanksgiving turkey carcass, chocolate, Easter candy and grass, foil, a red foreign substance in her poop which $100 vet bill later yielded a diagnosis of a red, foam clown nose, an entire package of wintergreen gum that netted Miss Bee $20 when I dared her to smell it to see if Ruthie’s poop smelled minty (it did.) We had to quiz every guest who entered our house “do you have gum, mints, granola, or any kind of food product in your purse?” Kind of like they do with your bags at the airport. If you brought edible gifts for us and sat them by the Christmas tree, I never got to eat them and if you never received a thank you note from me that is why. I am sure they would have been delicious.
This is Ruthie’s face, literally, after she ate an entire sheet cake from my favorite bakery and I asked her if it was good.
At the same time she was irritating, she was a faithful companion. She always wanted to be where we were. She loved sleeping in the sun behind Daddy’s chair when he would sit in the study listening to his books on tape. She loved to sit in Mother’s lap in her rocking chair while she read. Ruthie loved to snuggle under the covers with me while I took naps and this was especially nice during the winter months because she was the size and temperature of an Easter ham.
In 2013 after Mother passed away I had a momentary lapse of reasoning and adopted Hazel from PetSmart. Ruthie reluctantly went along with it and they got along famously swapping bones, toys and snuggles. I am so glad we have Hazel to help mend our broken hearts both when Mother passed away and now.
As I sat in the animal hospital in the early morning hours after my birthday, holding Ruthie the last moments of her life, all these memories came flooding by. The most bittersweet part of this is that it ended a chapter in our family. Ruthie and my parents came to live with us in 2007. A package deal. Mother and Daddy are gone and now it was time to send my weinerful Ruthie on to meet them. I could totally see my parents at the of the rainbow bridge with arms open waiting for her to run to them, ears flapping. As I leaned in, whispering into her ear as she floated off to heaven I said, “Run like the wind my girl. Grandmother and Papa are there waiting on the other side and you can eat all the treats your heart desires.”
Ruthie lived life with gusto and never looked back or regretted a thing. Who knew that a 13-pound Weiner dog could teach us so much about living the best life possible.