Dog’s Eye View: What was I thinking? |

Dog’s Eye View: What was I thinking?

Laura Tyler For Steamboat Today

New puppy, Ruby Monday.

Most of our regular readers and friends know that my dog Skippy died suddenly at the end of July.  The loss and grief can still sneak up on me unexpectedly.  Many have gone through this loss at one time or another.  You know it when they find out and acknowledge with sympathy and understanding and immediately change the subject knowing how easy it is to have that grief erupt like a mighty volcano from the depths of your soul.  And it's true that time does ease the grief as our life schedule is filled with additional activities.

I spent the first month filled with longing and regret and talking to myself about moving on and staying busy.  Then one night I was sitting in front of my computer and decided to look at Pet Finder.  I saw easily over one thousand pictures of dogs in need of homes.  Dogs of every age, breed and size.  It was astounding. I checked back every few days, sometimes late at night when sleeping was a challenge.

I filled out adoption applications for several different organizations as I looked at potential dogs and found some very thorough.  Some required a home visit.  Others, I was not impressed with at all.  I saw the same dog's week after week and new ones added or removed each time I checked back.  I think I personally inquired about six different dogs.   And then I saw this one.   The very day her picture was posted I called the shelter she was in and inquired about her.  She was just transferred from Houston, Texas.  She had been fostered by a family there after being relinquished by her owners.  She arrived that day in Boulder on a transport van.   So, I made plans to drive to Boulder with my dog Max, to do a meet and greet to see if she and Max would hit it off.

They did alright.  He saw stars and hearts. They danced and play-bowed and followed each other about the play yard.  She had been spayed Saturday, and we arrived Monday.  The kicker was that she was in heat when she was spayed, so we had to be extra careful to protect her and monitor play with Max so it didn't turn into a serious date.  He was definitely enamored with this little girl.

I had a very strong feeling that we would be bringing this puppy home and prepared with everything I could think of for the trip.  Kennel crate, harness, warm coat, thunder shirt, comfort zone collar, Through a Dog's Ear music and extra yummy treats.  Yes, I was overly prepared but you never know. Right?  The harness and coat fit, she settled in the kennel like a champ.  When I let her out for a bathroom break, she attempted to crawl inside my jacket with kisses and tail wags.  She had me at “woof.”  My husband too.  He now has two little dogs to share the recliner for naps and TV.

My husband decided she needed a new name, and he picked Ruby.  We picked her up on a Monday, so her official name became Ruby Monday.  Now in the short time we've had her my co-writer for this column has added an alias: Ruby Rocket.  And she's right.  Ruby starts everything on a dead run, learned the doggy door in three days and has been 100 percent with the potty training with encouragement.  She sleeps through the night, and she's a good eater.  By now you might be thinking, oh sure, you're a dog trainer.  Yes, but Ruby is an 8-month-old puppy with great sociability and some limited experience.  I keep an eye on her every minute.  She explored electrical cords (blocked that off) socks, pencils, anything paper and all sorts of outdoor earth covered delectables.   She has no idea that a leash is used to limit options.

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I've missed out on her early puppy social development, so we will play catch up with environmental education.  She went through "scared of everyone but me" the third day she was with us.  That is subsiding as she is exposed to great people taking time to greet her appropriately.  She barked at a fire hydrant Thursday, and the flags flapping in the wind give her pause.  All in all, she's catching on.  I reflect on all the great puppy families I have worked with or had in class and I smile.  I'm here.  I'm doing it.  What was I thinking?  Do I have the energy to follow this little whirlwind and keep her safe and out of trouble as she adapts to our lifestyle?

I watched her run into the yard to flush the roosting birds out of the trees, just like Skippy did.  She runs zoomies around the yard and teases me to join her, just like Skippy did.  There are great similarities, but just as many differences.  Ruby is turning my sadness into joy again.  I look forward to the years ahead as I earn her trust and teach her teamwork.

What was I thinking?  I needed to fill the empty space in my heart with a new K-9 buddy.  And my Skippy dog will always have a special place in my heart.  And now, this one will too.   Welcome home Ruby Monday!

Laura Tyler is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with more than years of experience, and has earned Associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants as well as Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work.  She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC in Northwest Colorado.