So soon after we welcomed Sheena, Ruby had a severe downturn.
Ruby had had one operation for the removal of a mast cell tumor back in February but we were advised by the vet that almost certainly it would grow back. Late on Saturday Ruby became very tired and went off her food and Jean and I were discussing having to take her to be put down on Monday (today).
Then overnight Saturday it was clear that her breathing was very laboured and on Sunday she was weak and struggling. It was time.
Being a Sunday we had no option other than to go to the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center, or SOVSC. We called them and they asked a few questions about Ruby and then told us to come straight over. They are at Biddle Road, Central Point and it took us 45 minutes to get there.
A little bit from their website:
Our team includes board certified specialists and highly trained doctors and staff, who have been chosen for their skill and expertise, as well as their compassion and dedication to veterinary medicine.
Then a couple of photographs from us.
Ruby was the last of Jean’s Mexican rescues. She will be sorely missed!
When Shauna Darcy first brought Ruby home, the plan was to have Ruby act as a service dog to help her with anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. Ruby was an incredible service dog and companion from the very beginning — and quickly showed Darcy just how far she would go to help her.
“While she was training to be a service dog I noticed that she started picking up on changes in my heart rate and would act funny — for example, paw at me, try to get my attention, get on top of me, etc.,” Darcy told The Dodo.
Picking up on Ruby’s cues, Darcy went to the doctor and discovered she had health issues she hadn’t known about, including a rare heart condition called vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Ruby had known something was wrong even before Darcy did, and her main focus as a service dog quickly switched to Darcy’s cardiac issues.
Every day, Ruby helps her mom with things like monitoring her heart rate and blood pressure, helping her during panic attacks and retrieving emergency medications. She also carries groceries, picks up dropped items and gets things her mom can’t reach, and is trained in deep pressure therapy.
“When I pass out she gets on top of me and applies all her pressure on me and licks my hands and face until I come around,” Darcy said.
Ruby is there for her mom every single day — even when she doesn’t realize she needs her.
Last week, when Ruby started alerting her mom that something was wrong, she had no idea why. At that point, Darcy was feeling fine, but decided to trust Ruby and call an ambulance anyway, just in case.
“It turns out my heart was going into atrial fibrillation,” Darcy said. “By the time the paramedics came, I was in pain and barely conscious.”
As the paramedics rushed Darcy to the hospital, she realized that Ruby had saved her life that day.
While Darcy was in the hospital and the doctors worked to get her stable again, Ruby refused to leave her mom’s side. Even while Darcy was unconscious, Ruby lay in her hospital bed, pressed up against her, hoping her mom could sense she was there and that her presence would make her feel safe.
During their stay at the hospital, so many people stopped by to meet Ruby. She’s always very popular whenever she and her mom are at the hospital and loves saying hi to everyone — but also makes sure that she’s never too far away from her mom. She loves her so much, and her mom loves her just as much right back.
Without Ruby, Darcy’s life would be very different. Ruby helps her mom stay healthy and safe every single day, and her mom is so grateful for everything she’s done for her.
“I wouldn’t be alive without her,” Darcy said.
“I wouldn’t be alive without her,”
I’m emboldening that last statement.
This is a wonderful story.
For Darcy has articulated what millions of other dog lovers know in their hearts. That the relationship between a dog and a human is extra special!
When Paloma died on the 16th, a little over a week ago, and, in turn, just a couple weeks after the sad loss of Casey, she was the last of the ‘kitchen’ group. To explain to newcomers, ever since we moved to Oregon in 2012 we had our dogs divided into two groups: the ‘kitchen’ and ‘bedroom’ groups. Primarily to ensure the minimum of any tensions between what at times has been 12 dogs.
There is a gate between the living room and the kitchen area and we have been leaving that open hoping that Ruby would work out when it was the right time to join the others.
That right time was yesterday afternoon around 4:30.
I grabbed my camera and quickly took a few flash photographs. They weren’t very good because Ruby is upset by camera flashguns. But the following is the best of the set and Jean and I wanted to share the lovely occasion with you.
Why did I choose the title I did?
Because a few moments before Ruby jumped up on to the settee Jean and I had been giggling about something silly.
I am going to republish a ‘Meet the dogs” essay that was written and first published February 25th, 2014.
But before doing so, Jean and I would like to extend our very great thanks to all the staff at the Southern Oregon Vet Specialty Center (SOVC) who have been so professional and so loving and caring.
Here is that essay. It is worth noting that we moved from Payson, AZ to Merlin, OR in 2012.
by Jean Handover.
It is 2011.
Every Friday, the Payson Roundup newspaper would devote a full page to the Humane Society, displaying some of the cats and dogs they had for adoption. I would read about each animal and quietly wish I could bring them all home.
I was particularly taken with one dog that had appeared several times in this Friday page. His name was Casey and he was a six-year-old Pit Bull mix. Unfortunately, at home we were ‘maxed out’ with a total of 14 dogs in three different sections of our house. We just couldn’t take Casey.
I had volunteered to be a dog-walker at the Humane Society dog shelter. But after two sessions walking dogs, I just couldn’t look at these sad little faces without breaking down in tears. I switched my efforts to working at the Society’s Thrift Store. That was great fun and, at least, it felt as though I was still helping the animals. Nonetheless, I was very impressed with the animal shelter. They did their utmost to re-home the animals in their care.
Ruby’s ‘pack’ here at home included Phoebe and Tess, rescue dogs from Mexico. Recently, Phoebe had died with leukaemia and Tess with bone cancer leaving Ruby on her own. Ruby was a dog that didn’t mix at all well with the other dogs, as was explained in last week’s post.
The next Friday, the Payson Roundup showed the Society’s ‘lonely hearts club’, highlighting animals that had been in care for a long time. The first dog shown was Casey. I telephone Chandra, the lady responsible for adoptions, and asked if Paul and I could bring Ruby to the shelter to find a companion for her. When we were at the shelter, Chandra asked us if we had anything against Pit Bulls. Of course we didn’t. Ruby was introduced to Casey and, as they say, the rest was history. Casey and Ruby right from the start were just wonderful together.
Subsequently, I learned from Chandra that Casey had been in care for over a year and, had we not taken him home, his days were numbered at the shelter. There were many cheers and tears when I signed the adoption paper for Casey.
Fast forward to the year 2012 to when we are now living at Merlin, OR.
Casey now lives in the kitchen group here in Oregon: Paloma, Ruby, Lilly and Casey. As with all our dogs, Casey is so happy to have our 14 acres to play in. He is also the sweetest natures of dogs and will try to climb on to your lap at the first opportunity. I have always been a great advocate of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes and have never come across a mean one.
Thus, if you are in the position to adopt a dog, please consider Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes for the Pit Bull is a much-maligned breed.
This is how Casey will be remembered.
Finally, recalling how close and good friends Ruby was with Casey, one couldn’t see a clearer expression on a dog’s face that Casey was being missed than on the face of Ruby. The picture was taken just before 6pm yesterday evening.
Trust me, Ruby’s normal face truly has a smile on it.
Firstly, there was Paloma and then Lilly. Last week, it was Jean’s story about how she found Dhalia. Today, Jean recounts how Ruby came in to the family.
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.