Ruby – the fourth dog for you to meet.
My house in Mexico was on the beach. There was a door in the wall of the rear courtyard that lead almost directly on to the sand. Most mornings I would rise before dawn to run two or three dogs together along the shore. It was a good arrangement for all of us!
Next door to my house was a duplex that had been rented out to a family that lived in Hermosillo; the capital of the State of Sonora. Every month or so this family would visit for a long weekend. This family, unfortunately, had an autistic daughter who, when not supervised, would open my front gate that led on to the dusty road so she could come in to play with my cats that lived in the front area of my house. That was fine by me when the daughter was in a calm mood but frequently she had screaming fits that would send both my cats and dogs into a state of frenzy. In addition, the family owned a Chihuahua dog that the daughter often carried as if it were a doll.
One month, the family arrived ‘sans Chihuahua‘ with the news that it had died; adding that their daughter was bereft at the loss.
The following day the mother knocked on my door. She explained that they had acquired a new puppy but that it was not eating. What could they do? Would I help?
Of course I went with them to have a look. Sure enough, they had a small puppy, probably no more that three weeks old. “It’s a Chihuahua”, they said. I replied, “Firstly, it’s not a Chihuahua and secondly, it’s far too young to be without it’s mother – you must take the puppy back to the mother”.
Despite much pleading, I could not convince the family to do this. So I did the next best thing and went back home to get replacement milk formula and a tiny feeding bottle. I showed the family how to feed the little puppy and also how to massage its tummy to help it go to the toilet. I was more than a little concerned, to say the least. I just couldn’t see the family going to the effort of feeding the puppy every couple of hours or so; essential to ensuring the tiny dog survived.
I planned to check up how things were going the following day. But didn’t need to. For when opening my front door I found the puppy left on my doorstep. Not even left in a box. The family had returned to Hermosillo.
That little three-week-old puppy is now Ruby; an eight-year-old 80 lbs Shar-Pei mix. After a few weeks of investigation I tracked down Ruby’s mother. She had had 13 pups and was unable to feed them all.
Ruby suffers from skin problems as do many Shar-Peis. Ruby clearly missed out on the mother-puppy relationship; so important for the development of social skills. Accordingly, she is a bit scatty when playing with the other dogs, frequently bowling them over in her enthusiasm. Luckily the other dogs seem to realise that she is missed out as a young puppy and are very forgiving.
After such a shaky start I didn’t even try to find her a home. With countless puppy feeds in the middle of too many nights, I had bonded too deeply.
The family returned to the duplex a couple of months later with a new Chihuahua in tow. I confronted them about Ruby. Their answer was that they had given the puppy to a couple on the beach and it was they who had left the puppy on my front door-step.
Yeah! And the moon is made of green cheese!
Another week next week – another dog to meet!