Ruby’s new book a finalist for book of the year! (Paws crossed!)

I’m back after being ill for too many days. But when I was at my lowest point, this arrived!….

Foreword’s 2013 Book of the Year Award Finalists Announced
Review journal narrows the field in its search for the best indie books of 2013
TRAVERSE CITY, MI, March 13, 2014 — Foreword Reviews, the only review magazine solely dedicated to discovering new indie books, announced the finalists for its 16th Annual Book of the Year Awards today. Each year, Foreword shines a light on a small group of indie authors and publishers whose groundbreaking work stands out from the crowd. Foreword’s awards are more than just a shiny sticker on the front of a book; they help connect the best indie books to readers eager to discover new stories written by previously unknown authors.

In the next two months, a panel of over 100 librarians and booksellers will determine the winners of these prestigious awards. A celebration of the winners will take place during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas on Friday, June 27 at 6 p.m. with awards in over 60 categories, cash prizes for the best in fiction and nonfiction, and widespread recognition.
Finalist:
-Adult Nonfiction
-Pets
Ruby’s Road by Patrick Bettendorf

Ruby'sTale&Ruby'sRoadposter

Travels with Ruby

Ruby’s message isn’t so much “See what a pit bull can do!” as it is “See what wonderful things can happen with a rescue dog.” Ruby’s accomplishments shouldn’t be seen as an aberration…..a one in a million dog with the “Right Stuff”. There are countless legions of dogs who could do the same thing to one degree or another…..never mind the breed. Of course it comes down the the individual dog and it’s personality. Okay, I’ll admit, Ruby seems to a have a unique combination to traits that work well together. But then, so do a lot of dogs. The big difference is that She has been given the time, the training and the opportunity to blaze one hell of a trail…This is not rocket science. Every minute a person spends time developing a relationship with their dog….Every hour spent in a obedience class with that furry family member, returns big dividends and worth every ounce of effort.

On a flight home from Philadelphia, This recent widow was thrilled to have Ruby in the middle seat!

On a flight home from Philadelphia, This recent widow was thrilled to have Ruby in the middle seat!

Depending on who flies us, Ruby sometimes get her own seat. Other times she is at my feet.

Depending on who flies us, Ruby sometimes get her own seat. Other times she is at my feet.

Independence Hall in Philly. The Ranger held back the next tour group so I could get a quick shot of the Rubster.

Independence Hall in Philly. The Ranger held back the next tour group so I could get a quick shot of the Rubster.

The rangers nick named Ruby "Yankee Doddle Dog"

The rangers nick named Ruby “Yankee Doddle Dog”

Ruby felt quite regal when she was brought to Chicago for a photo shoot

Ruby felt quite regal when she was brought to Chicago for a photo shoot

The little Diva even had her own driver!

The little Diva even had her own driver!

Now, down to business.

Now, down to business.

The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago treated Ruby royally....Not bad for a little dog left to die in an abandoned house...

The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago treated Ruby royally….Not bad for a little dog left to die in an abandoned house…

Work-A-Day Ruby

They say a picture is worth a thousand words…..If that’s true, and it does seem to make sense, I’ll save a ton of writing on this post and let the pictures speak for them selves. So then, here is the “Rubster” in her super calm demeanor, doing her job at books signings, schools, libraries and senior citizen residences. One dog saved and making a difference…..Foster, Adopt, Volunteer. You can make a difference!…in a dog’s life….In your life, and who knows where it can go? Stayed tuned, coming up: more Photos!

A Seattle Barnes & Noble and some kind folks from the Seattle Humane Society

A Seattle Barnes & Noble and some kind folks from the Seattle Humane Society

Mall Of America Barnes & Noble...This young Lass is a cancer survivor. She wanted to meet Ruby, who is also a survivor.

Mall Of America Barnes & Noble…This young Lass is a cancer survivor. She wanted to meet Ruby, who is also a survivor.

Rochester Minnesota....This dear woman's dog had just passed away. She spent a lot of time with Ruby.

Rochester Minnesota….This dear woman’s dog had just passed away. She spent a lot of time with Ruby.

Ruby kisses the hand of a young man in a wheelchair. (MOA)

Ruby kisses the hand of a young man in a wheelchair. (MOA)

A  happy "Ruby Groupie" discovered Ruby's van in a Barnes & Nobel parking lot.

A happy “Ruby Groupie” discovered Ruby’s van in a Barnes & Nobel parking lot.

Ruby chills while I sign a book....

Ruby chills while I sign a book….

This lovely senior insisted on getting down on the floor with Ruby. It was her favorite thing to do when she had a dog.

This lovely senior insisted on getting down on the floor with Ruby. It was her favorite thing to do when she had a dog.

This dear woman always told Ruby stories...

This dear woman always told Ruby stories…

Always time for a kiss....Just ask!

Always time for a kiss….Just ask!

Ruby in the community

Ruby works one on one with a young lad...."We wanted to thank you so much for your volunteering your time at the Library. Both of our boys have Autism and anxiety/sensory issues. They both have had a lot of therapy and support since their diagnoses. We are very proud of them and look forward to them doing even better in the future. Meeting and reading to Ruby was a very BIG deal to them. They loved meeting her and felt very proud of themselves after their reading time. You and Ruby made their day! Many thanks from the (Name withheld) family. Todd, Jenny, Turner and Camden"

Ruby works one on one with a young lad….”We wanted to thank you so much for your volunteering your time at the Library. Both of our boys have Autism and anxiety/sensory issues. They both have had a lot of therapy and support since their diagnoses. We are very proud of them and look forward to them doing even better in the future. Meeting and reading to Ruby was a very BIG deal to them. They loved meeting her and felt very proud of themselves after their reading time. You and Ruby made their day! Many thanks from the (Name withheld) family. Todd, Jenny, Turner and Camden”

From a parent: "Turner has had a fear of dogs in the past. We were very happy to see how calm he was around Ruby."

From a parent: “Turner has had a fear of dogs in the past. We were very happy to see how calm he was around Ruby.”

Just one of the kids at a school, Ruby watches a film about her life and the  rewards of rescue

Just one of the kids at a school, Ruby watches a film about her life and the rewards of rescue

Let’s continue, as I attempt to bring folks who may not be familiar with Ruby’s story up to date.
Can’t believe my little girl is going on eleven years old! We have had a hell of a run at life together! So many adventures over the years, and that time has flown by with terrifying speed. But I have memories with her that will be with me till my last day.

Ruby’s multifaceted involvement in the community leaves me breathless. Her resume’ reads far better than my own. A a therapy dog, Ruby visits senior residences, and nursing homes, hospitals, hospice, rehab centers. She works with special needs children, and visits schools to talk about dog safety, humane treatment of animals and rescue. Works with kids in “Read to a dog” programs at schools and libraries.
Ruby has made personal appearances around the U.S to campaign against Breed specific legislation at symposiums. She also does fund raisers and book “Paw Printing events”. (72 of so far) She has also donated hundreds of her books to animal rescue groups to auction off, schools and military personal in harms way.
Ruby really enjoys doing theater, (I’m serious!) Both community and professional….All of these a involvements are a great way to show the public what wonderful things a rescue dog can do. That she is a pit bull is a bonus. You can read about Ruby’s

A professional production "Of Mice and Men"

A professional production “Of Mice and Men”

SONY DSC

65380039onstage antics in either of her books which are read in 17 countries
But my heart is breaking for Ruby as she is showing her age more dramatically, than say Tiger who at sixteen has had an almost abnormally healthy life since his rescue. Ruby, with her cancer surgeries, two disintegrating discs, thyroid issues, loss of muscle mass and most recently, concern over her enlarged spleen, is becoming frail.
Happily, she gathers up her strength and has an occasional case of the “zoomies” in the back yard or attacks a squeaky toy like a Rat Terrier. These episodes don’t last long and then she is done-in for the day. But how fun it is to see Ruby flash past, grab a ball, tease me and run off seemingly free of pain.
We are told Ruby will eventually lose control of her back legs. Our hope is that day can be postponed through medications and supplements and reasonable excercise. We are also looking at other possible treatments, though the doctors say there is no cure. For now, Ruby still travels well and each day is a gift, as it is with all of our dogs. But Ruby’s story isn’t ending….It will go on. Like the old saying, “She still has a dance or two left in her” seems appropriate. When full retirement comes, Sugar is waiting in the wings and she’ll have a tale of her own…

And now, the final two…..

As we continue to share our furry family members, these two characters complete the “Tribe” as we are called….That nickname goes back a ways. I’m still a little fuzzy on how it got started, but someone compared us to the tribes on the television show “Survivor”. Anyway, meet Sugar and Blue…..

Sugar (rescued Pit Bull/Boxer mix, 2009- )
Our newest and youngest tribe member has her own chapter, so I won’t share a lot here except to say she has been a mostly hilarious addition to our family. Sugar has her own distinct personality to be sure. From those crazy ears, goofy teeth and gorilla eyes, to her involvement in everything in this big wonderful world, and the funny sound she makes when she’s excited—kind of a “ffffitt”— Sugar keeps us human members of the tribe well entertained. The other canines? . . . They’ve done a great job of putting up with her youthful exuberance. Us humans? You just can’t stay mad at that face!
Oh, there have been times when she’s earned our displeasure, mostly when she has attempted to rise to Alpha position. Not only Ruby, but the other dogs take a dim view of this. And Sugar quickly discovered Ruby has other, higher ranking allies. Lynn and Me!
While, she has been slower to mature and find her wisdom than Ruby did, Sugar possesses deep intelligence and is doing exceptionally well in obedience classes. In some things, she does far better than the Rubster. Then there are her eyes that so often have the expression of working an angle, figuring things out. You dog owners know what I mean. Her skills with people and other dogs are exquisite.
Someday Sugar will carry the torch for Ruby, but in the meantime there is much to learn from the master. . . We’ll soon share Sugar’s unique rescue and most interesting attempt to adopt her out.

Never can stay mad at Sugar more than a few moments... Luckily, she's a good dog.

Never can stay mad at Sugar more than a few moments… Luckily, she’s a good dog.

Blue is a first rate snuggling couch potato. He doesn't like to put out too much effort for fear of losing weight.

Blue is a first rate snuggling couch potato. He doesn’t like to put out too much effort for fear of losing weight.

Blue (rescued Pit Bull, 2007- )
Brrringgg! I answered the phone.
“Pat? It’s Dana From Rescued Tales.” Her speech picked up speed so I would not have a chance to say no before she finished. . . . “I have a Boy that really needs a good foster home. He sounds like a perfect fit for you guys—loves kids, other dogs and is super calm and laid back and is a real snuggler. He comes from a city that has breed specific legislation (BSL) and is a surrender. Blue is his real name, he’s between 5 and 7 years old, and he needs to get out of there now! When I heard about what a good boy he is, I thought of you and Lynn right away.”

Hmmm, this would not be the first dog Dana has talked us into fostering or adopting. Ruby comes to mind, for instance. I told her I would check with Lynn and get back to her. Within five minutes I had an answer. Lynn had readily said yes, but this time positively only as a foster.
Blue came in from another state, so we met the transporter about an hour’s drive from our house. The driver helped him down out of his crate – what a sight to behold! Sure, he was happy, cheerful, gentlemanly, and certainly laid back; but it was his physical appearance that took us by surprise. We had seen pictures, but they did nothing to prepare us for meeting him in the flesh . . . errr . . . fur. He was STOUT! Massive muscles through the shoulders, back, chest and neck. Blue’s head was approaching the size of a bowling ball. He was wide. . . You could land an f-14 on that back for crying out loud! Yet his legs were ridiculously short. They sort of looked like little thick pegs. Blue was both imposing and a cartoon character. We were in awe and giggled at the same time as Sadie piped up “He’s put together like the Tasmanian Devil on TV!” That pretty much summed it up. Except, that he was also one of the kindest, sweetest dogs I had ever met. We understood that losing their family and being thrown into a facility is traumatic for a dog; and many times their full personality doesn’t come out for weeks or even months. But there was something about this boy that told us what we were seeing was what we were getting. I mean fostering.
As with Tiger many years before, Lynn’s eyes washed over Blue again and again, surveying every movement, every nuance. She spoke first. “I think we should keep him.” Yikes! I nearly snapped my neck to look over at Lynn. She wanted a rescued Rottie as our next dog, and besides we weren’t quite ready. Unbelievably, uncharacteristically of me, I was the one who back-pedaled on keeping him! . . . At least for a little while. He seemed to be relatively well cared for; most certainly, Blue was well fed. Although he was brought in with fleas and some fractured teeth, it appeared that he wasn’t physically abused.

Each day brought a delight and a surprise. The lovable lug was beautifully crate-trained, house-broken, trained to go potty while on a leash and comes immediately when called . . . a great help when traveling! He loved riding in the car and cut quite a figure peering out the window of the back seat, looking every bit the school boy. His kind, sweet personality shines through and that calm, steady demeanor makes him a joy to be around. An odd thing, Blue is camera shy, or simply doesn’t like them. If he is outdoors and something has his attention, no problem, I can snap away. Indoors is another matter. He will turn his back to me every time he spots a camera in my hand. The other evening as Lynn was sitting on the floor with Mr. ‘Stubby’, she called out to me in another room—“Bring the camera quick!” The second I entered the area, Blue got up with a heavy sigh and left the room. When I left, he returned immediately but kept a watchful eye out for this Paparazzi. I don’t know what his living conditions were, but Blue seems amazed at the world around him as he studies everything so carefully with a soft curiosity. Not one of the other Tribe members felt threatened by the big gentle soul, but still, Blue would live in the ‘Penthouse’, a finished-off room above the garage until his slow transition into our house with the “Tribe” was complete. That transition only took about two weeks, and it was a done deal. Blue had become part of us. He wasn’t going anywhere. Welcome home Mr. Blue. But there is more . . . the backstory of his being saved twice. It’s a story worth re-telling.

We’ve already established Blue was spirited out of a city that had laws against owning his breed. The Humane Society that temporarily took in Blue had to find him a good, safe, loving home. If it weren’t for the employees of that organization, poor Blue might well have met a fate far worse than death by a needle.
Just a few days before we agreed to foster the big boy, a small group of some ‘very unsavory’ types came in to adopt him. Judging by their blatant conversation about Blue’s future, a nervous, but brave employee refused to adopt him out. They left, but as the employees watched through the window, they observed the group of young men that just tried to get Blue talking to their buddies in the parking lot. The second bunch came in and they were just as unsavory; and her answer was the same . . . No dice! Now everyone left. But they weren’t finished. They returned later that day, and this time they numbered fifteen by her count. They tried to intimidate, bully and cajole her into giving up Blue. It speaks volumes about her integrity and courage that she stood her ground and refused to budge. When they left, the employee immediately had our future family member locked in a special room where just a select few had the key. Blue was on his way home . . . to our home.
So there you have it—our tribe, our pack, our furry family. We have no illusions. Most of our tribe is rapidly aging and we are bracing ourselves for the dramatic changes that will and must come with the passage of time. It won’t make it any easier. We have lost entire families over the years before and know well the terrible, empty pain . . . the hollow feeling in the heart. If you’ve ever loved a pet, you know exactly what I mean.
In the end, it will have been a pleasure to know each one of them and an honor that we were able to share their lives. . . .

Time to meet another furry family member….

Molly (Rescue Pit Bull/Black Lab, 2007 – )
Molly was the youngest member of our “tribe,” as some of our
family and friends affectionately called us. She was the unintended,
unexpected, unprepared for, unwanted adoption. Lynn and I had
never held up our work with Pitties and Rotties for all to see. We
never had a public campaign to say, “Bring us your down-trodden,
your poor, your hungry, your huddled shivering, flea-infested, abused
dogs.” People just seemed to have heard about us.
Molly was found by a couple, not far from their home in St.
Paul. About six to eight months old, she was tied to a fence, her
collar so tight she could hardly breathe. This couple happened to
go to the same training school as Lynn and I. They didn’t know us
personally, but our reputation was at work. Word on the street was
“Oh yes, Pat and Lynn will take any dog of those breeds [Rotties
and Pitties]. They’ll say no at first but just work ’em over awhile and
voila — the dog is no longer your burden.”
These temporary keepers of Molly called us after sneakily
obtaining our unlisted phone number. They pleaded her case . . . how
they had found her . . . what a nice but somewhat timid girl she
was . . . and so very cute! They would absolutely keep her except their
dogs didn’t like her. Taking Molly to the shelter wasn’t an option.
Being a black dog, there was not much hope of adoption, and most
likely she would be put down. “We know you have class tonight.
Could you just take a peek at her?”
This time, both Lynn and I dug in our heels. Yes, we would take
a peek, no we would not take the dog home! Arriving at the school
a little early, we met the dog we said no to. They were right: She was
cute. Molly was all black with a nice, white blaze from under the
chin spilling down her chest with feet that seemed too big. Pit bull
feet are compact and look like bulldog feet, which also look like
boxer feet. These were large, webbed black Lab feet. I thought out
loud. “She ought to do well in snow. Sort of a doggie version of a
snowshoe hare!”
The comment was met with faint smiles and half-hearted nods.
Ignoring my poke at humor, the “Molly keepers” moved in for the
coupe de grace and opened up a rapid-fire barrage. “She has her
first set of shots. We’ve got a big bag of high-quality dog food and
a really nice new toy. She’s very smart. We can’t keep her. Nobody
wants her. We don’t want her to die.”
Whew! The attack left me swaying like a punch-drunk pugilist.
I looked up at Lynn. She walked away stiff legged, knowing what
was about to happen.
Then the couple, like car salesmen sensing a deal was at hand,
threw something else into the pot that they hoped would be the
clincher. “We’ll for sure help find her a permanent home. Molly
just can’t stay with us. Right now she’s living in the dark, unheated
garage, and it’s getting cold!”
That did it! I thought of our family snug in our beds at night.
Now if I said no, Molly’s shivering little face would appear in front
of me every night, every day, every time I . . . Oh hell! All the time!
All right. Okay, you can stop now. I’ll take the dog!
“Great! Your dogs don’t know Molly, so after class we’ll follow
you home. Oh! By the way, she gets car sick.” It was a long ride
home with Lynn. The only words spoken eluded to my mental condition,
the fact that she was going to China next month to pick up our
adoptive daughter, Sadie, and we did not need this, this thing! Then
followed the dreaded silence. I deserved her prolonged significant
anger. I admit — I was a sap, a sucker, a sentimental fool, prone to do
such inconsiderate things. When Lynn left for China, I tried to make
up for my indiscretion by deep-cleaning and reorganizing the house.
The result was that Lynn could not find things in a nice, clean house
when she returned. She did appreciate my efforts, though.
In the meantime, Dr. Rice, our veterinarian who was familiar
with our mom-and-pop rescue efforts, donated his services to spay
Molly. Getting her rescue dog discount, she started her beginner
obedience classes at Total Recall. Because we already had Carla
and Ruby in intermediate training, Molly was handled by Kathy,
a good friend with a lot of experience. Molly was smart, learning
everything quickly. She excelled at heeling and recalls. Her downfalls
were jumping happily up on people or a loud, annoying whining
when there was a lull in the class. These were two items that
needed extra attention. And then a disaster demonstrated that we
needed to redouble our efforts to curb that jumping. Kathy came to
class dressed for comfort in a nice comfy sweatshirt and sweatpants.
Comfort was always a good idea. One evening at a most inopportune
moment during class, Molly jumped on Kathy as if to say, “Hey!
Am I doing okay?” Her paws caught inside the pants pockets. Kathy
commanded, “OFF!” Molly retreated downward, taking the pants
partially down with her.
Since Molly joined our family, she has been a wonderful ambassador
for pit bull mixes. Though slow to mature, with a higher
energy level than the others, Molly turned out to be a good, obedient
dog, blending smoothly into the family unit. Molly loved to
roughhouse with Tiger. He would return the favor to the best of
his ability given his advanced age. When Ruby felt it was too much
horseplay, she put an end to it, pronto. Ultimately, Molly respected
and was drawn to Ruby. They were very close, sleeping together a
lot. They fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Molly can still learn much
from Ruby.
As for the couple who was going to help us find a home for
Molly, neither hide nor hair has been seen of them. They even quit
the obedience school. Next time: Meet the final two

Okay, so she was cute! But adopting her was out of the question.

Okay, so she was cute! But adopting her was out of the question.

Another lost soul finds a home......OURS! Molly grew up strong, sweet, beautiful and obedient

Another lost soul finds a home……OURS! Molly grew up strong, sweet, beautiful and obedient

And now…..Meet the Tribe.

As we bring you up to speed on our Tribe, here is a little bio on each of our foster failures. And while Ruby’s accomplishments have captured the most headlines, each one is a valued family member….A spoke in our wheel. We love them all!
Carla (Rottweiler, 2001 – )
A smallish example of the breed, Carla is the class clown. Sensitive,
smart, pretty, cute, and fun, Carla was the youngest household
member until Ruby arrived. A momma’s girl, she would lay at
Lynn’s feet all day as Lynn telecommuted in her front porch office.
Life was good for Carla.
She had not a care in the world until her best friend, Hannah,
died not long after Ruby’s arrival. Just recovering from that loss,
Carla was then struck with Katie passing away eight months later.
BOOM! She spiraled down a dark tunnel to a place that was sad
and terrible and frightening. She became withdrawn, skittish, fearful
of everything, and snappish with strangers. She even nipped a
cop on the hand when he reached down to pet her. Lucky for us all,
he was a fan of the breed, understanding her sad tale.
Carla’s eating was spotty. The happy brightness had left her
eyes. She was truly like a ship without a rudder. Carla mentally left
us for more than two years, living among us like a ghost. It was so
heartbreaking and the damndest thing I had ever seen.
But Carla battled back, enduring some serious health issues
along the way. At eight years of age, she began acting like the young,
happy dog she used to be. The light returned in her eyes and was
beautiful to see.
Another delight to see was Carla taking on the responsibility
of nanny to the little girl we adopted. It was a job she relished with
great care and tenderness. If Carla has a fault, it is that she watches
too much television and doesn’t much care for dogs on the screen.
They don’t even have to be barking. Another thing she hates is people
who sneak up on something. This is met with a low, nasty growl.
Watching her watch television is more entertaining than anything on
the tube. Carla is now an older dog, and we know time is not on our
side, so we live each day grateful to have her back.

Tiger (Rescue Pit Bull, 1998 – )
We met the dog that would change our minds about pit bulls at an
adoption day function years before Ruby came along. “Mr. T” was
five years old and sharing a pen with a young black Lab. Tiger was
wrestling, with his tail wagging and mouth agape in a big happy smile.
With a beautiful light tan brindle coat, Tiger was low to the ground
and broad across the beam. His ears were nonexistent, cropped tight
to his skull, and he had a strange, unsteady gate — a kind of weird
side-to-side waffling motion, frightening really. But his eyes were soft
and kind with traces of sadness. I liked him! After I petted and played
with Tiger for awhile, the volunteers told me that he needed a foster
home. I hunted Lynn down in another part of the store. “Honey, I
want to show you something. Ta da! Isn’t he pretty?”
Lynn clearly wasn’t as impressed. “Well, sort of. Scary looking,
too!”
Uh-oh, I hadn’t planned on her noticing that part. “He’s really
sweet. Can we foster him?” As most guys in a situation like this, I
behaved like an excited young boy.
Reality quickly followed. “Patrick, are you out of your mind?!
A pit bull?!”
I pleaded, “It’s only to foster!”
Unmoved, Lynn uttered, “Unh-unh . . . no way!”
I slunked away, defeated, to pout for awhile.
Starting that night, I read everything I could about the breed. A
lot of it certainly wasn’t flattering. A lot of digging was required to
disseminate fact from fiction from urban legends.
A couple of weeks later, we were at yet another adoption day
event. There was Tiger in the first pen for all to see! “Hey look,
Lynn, there’s my buddy.”
This time, she lingered, her eyes washing over Tiger again and
again, surveying every movement. Finally, “Well, he does seem like
a good boy. Gets along with other dogs.”
Not wanting to bring up that foster word again, I casually asked,
“What do you think?”
“Well, okay, we can give it a try.”
Wow! That was too easy! Tiger was able to come with us immediately
— the animal rescue group was familiar with Lynn and me
because of our experience with Rottweilers. We signed a few papers
and were off to meet some friends at a dog show in downtown St.
Paul. In our hurry, we did two really dumb things that would definitely
fall into the “What were we thinking?” category.
Katie my Rottweiler, was waiting in the car out in the parking lot. I held Tiger
on a leash while Lynn hooked up Katie. In the middle of the lot,
they had a quick meet and greet. The two got along like fast friends.
Katie jumped into the car first, and then Tiger followed. She was a
perfect host. He respected her. This, however, was not a good idea,
and things could have gone very badly. Once we arrived at the dog
show, we at least had the presence of mind to know that the two
shouldn’t be left alone together.
“We can’t leave Tiger alone in the car,” Lynn said. “We don’t
know if he’ll chew up the seats.” So it was Tiger who would come
inside with us, but how to get him in? Quickly, a half-baked plan
was hatched. We took turns without Tiger entering the building,
buying a ticket, going to another entrance, getting stamped, meeting
back at the car, grabbing Tiger, and re-entering via the exhibitors’
entrance that was manned by an unsuspecting teenager. Oh, we felt
like criminals.
Once inside, the challenges changed. People were frightened by
Tiger’s appearance with that wafflely gate and the hack job on his
ears. Then they would turn their attention to us with an expression
that clearly said, “How could you do that?!” Yet, there was
puzzlement. We didn’t act or dress like the pit bull owners depicted
by the media.
A couple of judges picked up our scent and followed us. Finally
they closed in. “Excuse me,” the beefier, middle-aged judge panted
out as if he had run a marathon. “That dog doesn’t belong here.
How did you get in?!”
I said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Aren’t we allowed to bring the dogs into
this area?”
He asked, “Where did you come from?” Taken aback by my
instant answer and sugary sweet concern, he was confused.
I responded, “We’re doing doggie demos over in the retail arena.”
Seemingly more confused he retorted, “What?”
I had him on the run as I smoothly answered, “Agility demos. To
share with people the fun they can have with their dog. Today we’re
using rescue dogs.”
“Oh,” they both seemed satisfied.
I made one final stab at bravado. “It’s break time now, but stop
by later and we’ll show you what agility is all about.”
The older one spoke this time, “We know what agility is!” They
moved on. I thought to myself, Dear God, I’m going to hell. No
trial. Nothing. Lynn and I made a hasty retreat to the real agility ring
where we sat up high and out of sight in the balcony. Our friends did
find us that day, but were left wondering why we enjoyed sitting up
so high. It’s embarrassing to think about this little adventure today,
and it bothers me to think that there are a couple of guys out there
who have my image in their mind’s eye as a rogue and a liar.
As usual in rescue dogs, we knew nothing about Tiger’s past, but
in the coming months and years we caught glimpses. Motorcycles.
He loved motorcycles. Anything that sounded like a Harley-Davidson
woke something deep within him. If we were out for a walk and a
Harley started up with that signature blast, Tiger would pull up short,
with tail wagging and head bobbing, to see if there was anyone he
knew from his past. When the motorcycle roared off, he would watch
until it disappeared. It was a sad sight to see.
We called him “the locksmith.” Gate latches, doorknobs, double-
hung window locks, and sliding window latches were all of great
interest to Tiger. He would poke and prod, even try using a tooth to
manipulate them. This was just one of the unsolved mysteries of Tiger.
Tiger was thin coated and hated the cold. If the house was the
least bit chilly, we would find him curled up tightly, shivering. The
first time we saw that, Lynn said, “Poor guy, let’s put a blanket over
him.” When I attempted to cover him, Tiger rocketed out of the
room, running to the back porch and hiding under the table, not
budging for two days. We couldn’t tempt him with food, water, or
meaty treats. What terrible thing happened to the poor guy?! It was
a couple of weeks before things were more or less back to normal.
Tiger’s waffling gate was the product of enormous muscle mass
on a hodgepodge skeletal frame no doubt caused by bad breeding.
He also had a notch in his spine caused by a blow from a pipe or
board, which caused untold problems. So there you have it . . . an
abused rescue dog with issues, both physical and mental, leaving the
adopter to pick up the pieces. With love, patience, and direction, the
big lug led a good life after coming to live with us. We are proud to
know him and grateful that he allowed us to live with him and be
part of his life.
Tiger lived up to his namesake, very cat-like and independent.
Always a gentleman, if one of the girls finished her food before him
and approached his bowl looking for more, Tiger always stepped
aside to let her chow down. Always. So, we sat beside him at breakfast
and dinner, guarding his meal from those canine sirens. In his
old age, his bones started to betray him, making his strange gait
even more pronounced. Slower and tiring more easily, he was nonetheless
content and happy. And on chilly nights when we covered
him up with his blanket, Tiger gave us that little snorting noise
Lynn and I came to know so well. It was an approving “Thank you,
everything is okay…..Next post, you’ll meet more family members!

Front row, L to R: Sugar, Tiger, Ruby, Molly, Blue Back row: Carla and our daughter Sadie

Front row, L to R: Sugar, Tiger, Ruby, Molly, Blue
Back row: Carla and our daughter Sadie

The little throw away dog finds a home

Just a few days before Thanksgiving 2003,

At a year old, Ruby was thoughtful and wise...

By the time Ruby turned one year old, she was thoughtful and wise…

Lynn and I were preparing
to have the holiday at our house, a small, one-and-a-half story,
white clapboard house built by Swedish immigrants in 1910. Except
for mechanicals (wiring, heating system, windows), it still appears
inside and out pretty much as it did when new. Though the house
is just a thousand square feet, the traffic flow is great, which is why
it works with the number of dogs sharing our lives. Still, there were
a lot of guests coming on Thursday — friends, relatives, and even a
couple of passersby who had nowhere to go. The place would be
bursting at the seams.
The phone rang. It was the animal rescue people telling us the
boarding kennel where  6 month old Ruby stayed was booked for the upcoming
holiday weekend with regular-paying customers. The rescue dogs

had to be put up elsewhere. Could we take Ruby the pit bull just for the holiday?
Lynn was firm. No! Sorry, but we’re slammed, too.
It was the first of three calls over two days. By the last one, they
were desperate. “There’s just no room at the inn!”
Lynn’s resistance had been worn down. She reluctantly agreed.
“Just for the weekend. Monday, she goes back. We’re not going to
foster her!”
I naturally professed agreement. Lynn had a legitimate point.
We did have enough dogs, but I secretly hoped Ruby would win
Lynn over.
Thanksgiving Day arrived. The wonderful aroma of turkey,
freshly baked rolls, and pies wafted through the air. This was not
lost on our dogs Katie, Carla, Hilde, Venus, and Tiger, as we banished them,
disgruntled, to the upstairs bedrooms. Ruby had her own crate on
the enclosed front porch with a view of the entire dining area. After
dinner when most of the guests were feeling lethargic, Lynn suggested
I let Ruby out of her cage.

“Let’s see how she does.”

Slipping out of the crate, Ruby did a little skip-run that seemed
to be uniquely her style. Instead of blasting to where the action
was, she skipped from room to room, giving everyone a quick once
over. “Hi, I’m Ruby! Oh you smell good. I’ll be back. Hey, you
look like fun.”
After the initial greeting, she went back to each person to get better
acquainted. She was showing manners — impeccable manners, in

fact. She did not leap on and off the furniture like a gazelle. She did
not try to snatch food from the table. Ruby hopped up between two
people on the couch, carefully turned to face the room, and sat quietly.
She seemed to be carefully studying the room and the guests. It
was as if she were formulating some kind of plan.

“If I play my paws right, I’ll be running this place in six months.
When I meet the pack, my being submissive and happy will win
them over. Then, it’s rise through the ranks, not by fierce fang and
claw. But I’ll outsmart, outwit, and outplay them. This behavingwell
business seems to be working on the humans around here.
Oops! The hosts are watching me. If I curl up on this guy’s lap and
pretend to sleep, it’ll be really cute.”
Even with all the company, Lynn and I observed Ruby’s wheels
turning. We thought it was a hoot.
My mother-in-law piped up. “You can’t send her back! She’s the
perfect dog. Awww, look at the poor thing sleeping on your father’s
lap. How sweet!”….”And it’s a pit bull!”
Holy cow! Help from an unexpected source. Outgunned, her
resistance once again flagging, poor Lynn couldn’t hold out much
longer. She clearly was not entirely happy with the prospect of
another mouth to feed, more veterinarian expenses, and increased
care in general. Lynn was always the practical one about such things.
“She is awfully nice.” A long pause. “Oh sure, what’s one more?
Five, six, not much difference.”
It was a done deal! Ruby had found her forever home….

Ruby’s new road…..she goes E!

46630049Okay folks here goes….Ruby, Sugar and I are new to the blogging world, but we hope to make up for lost time. ( Even if I am Jurassic with this stuff.)

Follow along on Ruby’s most wonderful odyssey that has been her life. She has taken our family along for the ride, and what a hell of journey it’s been!  Over the coming days we’ll reach back a bit and bring you along and up to date as her true story continues, Ruby takes a turn as a “professional” actor, wins countless friends in her  72 book signing events, as she travels around around America by commercial airliners and motor homes. She is drawn into an intrigue and a mystery, embarks on more adventures, takes on a protege (“Sugar”), and even excepts an invitation to an Ivy League  law school and more. Ruby also works with kids in schools and libraries, special needs children, visits hospice patients, and senior residences.

But before I go on too far, let me say this……least you think me a crazed parent to a furry kid. While she does have some outstanding traits, Ruby is not the best dog around. She’s not. But, Ruby may be one of the luckiest dogs. She’s been able to positively touch lives across America and around the world.

Thanks for visiting our Blog, come on along for the ride, there’s always room for one more on our Road trip!

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