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Ruby at Home: Six Months On

by Owen Santos
What is it about sleeping babes that warms the heart so? Maybe it’s the soft, slow, rhythmic breathing (or snoring) that draws you in. Maybe it’s the meditative mood you fall into as you sync your  breath with theirs. Maybe it’s the calm expression on their faces that relaxes you, such that no matter how frazzled you were all day, one look at their angelic faces and you remember that all is well.

sleeping 1 in bed

As Ruby burrows her snout deeper into the cushions, I marvel at the fact that this beautiful creature is now home with me, dozing off on my couch with not a care in the world. How would life have turned out for her and nearly 300 other dogs had they not been rescued from a dog fighting syndicate? I shudder to think of the grim possibilities. I’m eternally grateful to the women and men who came to their rescue, and also to those who continue to nurture them back to become the best canines they will ever be.

Rescue day, March 31, 2012, is now what I consider Ruby’s “rebirth” day. I will never know when she was born, or how she was raised.  Her vet estimates she may be three or four years old. Maybe slightly younger. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is Ruby’s finally home.

ride home 1

Hello to a new life

ride home 2

Saying goodbye to her past

Homecoming day was February 24, 2013. A country girl through and through, Ruby came home wide-eyed, ears up, and a bit nervous—all the scents and sounds of the city may have been overwhelming. The ride home was probably new to her as well—safely strapped in with a pet seatbelt restraint, she was on all fours for the first few kilometers of the trip, surveying everything we passed, with her nose furiously sniffing out the scents from outside.. Then she figured out that sitting or lying down was a much safer and more comfortable position to take. And, when we reached home, what’s this? Stairs?!?  She also couldn’t figure out what the television was—she stepped back and let out a few tentative barks after I turned it on.

first pets

Me at two years old with the family’s first pets

I was nervous as well because I haven’t had a dog for some time. Our family has always had pets when I was growing up. But when I moved out and started working, my schedules were so crazy that I wouldn’t have been able to care for any pet so I chose not to bring one home. Ruby is the first dog I’ve had since I was in college.

at pup culture

In training at Pup Culture with Jennie Fajardo-Panes and Eddie

We’ve both gotten the hang of living under one roof, though, and I’d  like to think we’ve adjusted well. Ruby is still a little nervous around other dogs, but she’s slowly, slowly learning how to behave around them, including the rude ones. She knows some of the basic commands (sit, stay, down), can wait until I give a signal before devouring her lunch, and is friendly with most anyone (including the taho vendor). And she seems to  know how to feign innocence when she lets out one of her insidious farts (thankfully, she’s not flatulent).

make a wish

“When I open my eyes, the world will be a better place…and full of doggie treats!”

Some of the people we meet on the street (including big, burly men walking itty-bitty doggies) move out of our way and mutter the myths to their companions under their breath (locking jaw, vicious, matapang, etc.). Middle-aged and senior ladies smile and, sometimes, say hello or even strike up a conversation—with some of them telling us about their beloved pit bulls who have now long gone. It’s a fascinating world.

squished in

“I’m ready for my chest rub now.”

So here we are, with Ruby squished under my arm, lying on her back (a signal for me to start giving her chest rubs). She stares into space, unmoving, her breath steady. What could she be thinking? One can only guess. What I do know is that I’ve been given the opportunity and the privelege to provide this survivor a shot at a better life, and I am very honored that Ruby has chosen to trust me with that.

happy as a clam

  Happy as a clam while visiting friends at the Laguna Pit Bull Rehabilitation Center.

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