When Ruby Came for Christmas

Last year just about this time I got a hankering for another Border Collie. A female, I decided. And I would name her Ruby, after Ruby Pease, who is an early ancestor who lived in CT in the 1700’s. A charming thought. Why not? It felt like a nice way to honor her, and make my past an even more vital part of my present. I thought she might like that. About a week later my friend Marsha emailed me saying, “Guess what? That breeder up in Oregon is looking for a home for the sister of our Cooper. Her name is Reba.” Gulp. Close enough for folk music, as they used to say in the 60’s. That was fast! I downloaded her photos. Shoot. I was in love. She was exactly what I was looking for. Sweet and gentle and smart.

I would like to portray what ensued as really straightforward. It wasn’t exactly a direct path, but after a couple of swerves in the road where I actually considered MOVING so I could have her, things fell into their natural place and moved ahead smoothly and the next thing I knew the breeder was volunteering to drive her down to us. Very very nice. She arrived at night in a truck driven by a tall lanky drink of water [have I been watching John Wayne over the holidays or what?], an interesting woman, stylish with feminine charms in boots and jeans and a wide, easy smile. Ruby (nee Reba) was tucked in back and was ever so ready to disembark and find her way to her new life. Mind you she was moving from a wildly different lifestyle and design. She had been herding sheep for the previous year or so. She’d been tapped as “the one” in her litter. Her paper trail went readily back to Scotland to a line of excellent sheepherders and trial dogs. It was considered her destiny to continue this skill stateside. But, alas, if truth be told, she hated the sheep and the herding. Should no one have been listening (which they were) she bit the sheep to make her point. “Sometimes God has other plans for a Border Collie, Reba,” her breeder confided she had told her little dog, sad that her vision had not come to reality. And so she came to us in the dark of that evening, right at Christmas.

In excited anticipation, I had prepared for her coming. It truly was like a new baby, even though she was two. I bought the biggest kennel I could find and a new soft big pink blanket. When I’d shared this with the breeder she had ensured me the dog would “be too hot.” Reba/Ruby had up until this time spent her time out of doors, mostly in a kennel, with only occasional forays Inside, and even then, under strict supervision. Things were about to change. Bigtime.

We brought her into the kitchen on a lead. What would Conner think?? Happily,
he loved her instantly. He seemed to know she was one of his own breed, someone who would understand him, and he was right. It is a lovely thing to have companion animals who are on the same wavelength with very much in common. It creates flow. We should take note. Communication between them is effortless. They enjoy the same activities. They are playful together and take delight in each other’s company. They share nicely. They respect each other’s boundaries, support each other’s needs. If Ruby cannot find a ball for me to throw, Conner will pounce on one to help her. If she loses her ball in the woods, he will point it out. If she jumps over his head, he regards this as natural. He adores her and thinks she is the cat’s pajamas. (Where *did* that expression come from??) And I agree.

When she first came and I saw her size I was nearly appalled she had been working herds of sheep. So little. So dainty. So cute, I thought. Then I discovered one morning she had dragged her kiddie pool (she swims!) containing probably a hundred pounds of water half way across the yard. Oh, yes. With her teeth. I told a friend if I ever fall in the snow and can’t get up, this wee thing will drag me to safety. She is one tough thing, immune to bumps, to getting knocked about in play. She is fast, loyal, intelligent and good. And she can pull herself in and quiet herself in a heartbeat. She is inordinately affectionate and dear. All I’d hoped for and more. I live in continual gratitude for what her being, her mind, heart and energy have brought to our family. We feel rounded out now, more balanced. The pack is full and we are happy. And so is she.

Ruby at Christmas

10 Responses to “When Ruby Came for Christmas”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Kathryn! She’s adorable!!! Happy Holidays!

  2. Sweet story, Kathryn. Merry Christmas!!

  3. As a member in good standing in the extended family of dog lovers, I was one that was concerned and anxious to know if acquiring Ruby would work out. I am glad that she did and Ruby is now a treasured member of the Hall Family Pack.

    I often think of all the dogs that have shared my life. Dogs that I have known and loved, and dogs that have loved me unconditionally in return. All different. I run the memories and mentally write about each one and recall the tears shed when they passed on to their reward. A sort of a “Travels with Charlie” . Fortunately there is always another great dog waiting to join us. Even as we speak, Sugar Babe our Jack Russel is considering leveling the woodpile so she can check out what surely must be something special making that exciting noise at the very bottom.. She is a happy being a dog. It is a wonderful life.

    Which brings me back to welcoming Ruby.

  4. Marjorie, thank you so much for your good wishes!

  5. What a great story!! Love reading about the dogs…Happy New Year!!!
    Love Sara
    Conners Grandma 🙂

  6. Hi, Sara! Isn’t she adorable?? And how cute to be Conner’s Grandma! Love it!

  7. I too enjoyed the story of Ruby. You almost pursuade me that I need a Border Collie! Right now I have my hands full with a 7 month old poodle that I love dearly, but I think there is room in my heart (if not my house) for another dog. The problem would be convincing my husband (who grew up on a farm in Wyoming, where the dogs stayed outside). He has allowed Tess to sleep on the bed with us, but two dogs? I’m not sure I could keep my happy home. Maybe I’ll start working on him, see if I can warm him up to the idea of another dog.
    I’m back to work today and catching up on my emails.
    I hope you have a Happy New Year!
    Love Susan

  8. Susan, you do *not* want a Border Collie. If you are not around to moderate they will destroy your house and then, yes, your husband will not be a Happy Camper! BC’s need a TON of exercise. They are the smartest dog on the planet and if you leave them alone they get very creative, but not in a Good Way!

  9. Kathryn I really enjoyed your story about Ruby, love your writing style.

    It’s good to see she has has gone to a wonderful home.

    Border Collies are the most versatile breed of dog once they know they are loved and have formed a relationship with you…we have found that no matter where they live they’re able to adapt.

    Thanks for following us back on Tweeter – border_collies

  10. Hi, Pete! Welcome! I knew you would appreciate this story. I’ve been to your site and see how much we share a love of Border Collies. Ruby continues to be happy in this family–and we with her. A precious being, indeed. And very beautiful and very soft. Kathryn xoxo

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