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Ruby - R.I.P. September 12, 2001 — December 31, 2015


We got Ruby when Ada was 11. Ada was not much of a playmate for her, and died two years later. Ruby grew
into a very beautiful dog, with a handsome, blocky head and a large nose, which she put to good use.
Rex claimed she could zero in on a banana peel someone had thrown out a car window at least a half mile away.


She had an exceptionally deep, plush coat and would shed literally bushels for 8-9 months a year. She was a constant challenge for the cleaning ladies and there were always black tumbleweeds of fur in the kitchen. She loved all water — rivers, brooks, ponds, pools and puddles. She loved to settle her tummy in any shallow body of water, and in a pool would swim to you, to be held in liquid suspension — the only time she'd relax while being held. But her coat was so thick it was impossible to completely dry, so she mildewed and moldered and then got itchy. She was itchy her whole life, even as a puppy, prompting us to take her to a dermatological allergist, Emily Rothstein, who floored me when she first met Ruby by asking if she was a Chucklebrook Lab. Yes, she was. We worked our way up the price ladder of possible drugs that could alleviate her itchiness, until we arrived at the most breathtakingly expensive one that worked very well for her. Unfortunately, one of its side-effects was an overgrowth of fur, and in addition to cutting her toenails, I needed to cut the copious fur that grew out in between her pads and toes, and made our linoleum kitchen floor very slippery for her.     
She was very sweet and calm and chill. She made friends easily with other dogs, never posing any threat to anyone. Like most Labs, she
loved little kids and let them approach her and pat her and tug on her, even though she rebuffed our affection, hugs and kisses.
Above left, she hangs out on her dear friend Missy's couch with her fierce friend Lucy. And right, offers shelter to a visiting puppy.
After five years of being an only dog, we got Elmer when she was seven, She was very accepting of him as the photos below attest, and she
had many years of gamely playing with him. And she was very tolerant and fond of Tilly, our friend Missy's puppy, who arrived in 2012.

     She was an excellent companion for me when I painted, but she hated insects and would get furious if buzzing flies, bees or mosquitos came near her.

She particularly loved celery, green beans, broccoli, apples and popcorn. But let's face it, apart from spinach, would eat anything you handed her.

She loved cold weather and adored snow. She was never obsessed with fetching sticks and Frisbees the way Ada was and Elmer is. When happy or excited, she'd spin in circles or set off on a wild tear through the woods, weaving in and out of trees and leaping over logs. She liked to get a toy in her mouth and have me chase her around the house, while I roared like a monster that was going to "get you!" Even in her last weeks, she'd pick up a soft little toy and invite me to "chase" her while she waddled around the house.

She loved sleeping with us, and was a big bed-hog, preferring to sleep perpendicular to us, using up the most possible space. Rex usually goes to bed before me, and below is what I often found when I came to bed. Sadly, in her last two years she couldn't handle the stairs. You could encourage and help her get up, but her advancing blindness seemed to take away her depth perception so when going downstairs, she'd pause about six steps from the bottom and then leap! Luckily she didn't break a leg, but we stopped urging her to come upstairs because going down was even scarier for us. Below right: napping with Elmer, "Study in Black & Gray."

In the end, she was quite blind but could make out shapes. She was very deaf, but could still hear my ear-splitting taxi whistle. Her back legs started failing her about 6 months before she died, and apart from just a few accidents, she still had the wits to ask to go out to do her business, which was accomplished by going into the living room and barking in the middle of the night. Through it all she was stoic: still thumping the floor with her tail in the morning; still happy to go for a (short) walk, still demanding meals and ultimately, demanding her pain meds twice a day. She had a great life — never spending the night in a kennel, thanks to the loving care of her friends Missy, Lucy, Tilly, and Tim. She had two daily walks, two daily meals, frequent swims, plenty of snacks, lots of love and annoying kisses from us. She proved her point by withholding her own kisses.

At left: On Christmas day with Missy: Elmer and Tilly sit for a photo while Ruby, with more important things to do, heads for the apples.
Above right: A lovely last portrait by Rex. Note that her nylon collar, once bright red, has now aged to a faded pink.

On New Year's Eve her vet Mark Carlson came to the house and calmly, quietly put her to sleep on her favorite spot:
the corner of the living room rug that gave her a direct view into the kitchen.

I put up this page in 2004 when Ruby was three and in her enthusiastic prime...

Here are some of the things Ruby likes to do:

Go to the beach and get all sandy.

Play in the snow and get all snowy.

In fact, Ruby loves winter, new snow and a snow bath, which involves writhing and wriggling until all fresh and clean!

She can often be found lounging around in bed upside down. We prefer this after a snow bath.

Sometimes she likes to look really serious.

Sometimes she likes to stop and smell the flowers.

She likes to pillage and plunder from the next-door neighbors. They have 4 kids and a dog named Odie. Above, is some of the stuff she brought home one week. At right, another week's haul. Eventually I round it all up and return it, and then Ruby just goes back and gets some more. Let's face it: someone else's toys are always better than your own. As a retriever, she's just doing her job. The penguin is a keeper because the kids used to use it as an archery target. Ruby  l o v e s  the penguin and carries it with her everywhere.

Ruby also likes to pile in the car with her friends (Lucy and Gracie) and drive to Steep Rock
for some fresh air and important smells.

My husband has a cute picture of her as a puppy. And let's not forget about Ada.

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