"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Meet Ruth

Yesterday the sun showed itself again--after 8 or 9 days of hiding. And happily, another type of sunshine came into our lives. Far sooner than we ever had a right to hope, we found a dog. Shadow has really been beaming down good vibes and love for the people who miss her so. She would adore Ruth.

Our Ruth is a Border Collie mix, and a very small girl (about as high as a Sheltie, a breed I'm familiar with.) We're already teasing her about being a new breed, the "mini-Border collie". Her coat is shorter than a BC, but she has the traditional black and white colouring and markings. Her face, limbs and paws are delicate. Her ears are silky smooth, break nicely, and are a trifle large for her face, which is quite cute. She displays none of the hyper characteristics of a purebred BC. In fact, her behaviour indoors and out seems impeccable. She's very much a people pup, but gets along great with our other dog. She's good natured, inquisitive, intelligent, affectionate, and shy. She's about one year old, so it goes without saying that she's lively and playful. Yet she settles down in my office and naps by my desk.

The organisation we adopted from is Great Dog Rescue of New England. Everyone we came in contact with--by phone or email or in person--was wonderful. Ruth was originally rescued by Paws and Claws in Arkansas. So she has Southern roots, just like me!

**I should add that I met Ruth and everyone in her life so far through the amazing Petfinder. We're now true believers in internet matchmaking!

We found out about Ruth just as she was making a transition into a new foster situation. Because everything I knew about her sounded so right, yesterday morning I drove downstate to pick her up. My route took me along the Merrimack River, which is a total flood zone. The interstate wasn't affected, but I had some shocking views of historically high water.

Ruth and her overnight foster mom met me in a Target parking lot. The night before on the phone, making arrangements for the pick up, I'd made jokes about the transfer resembling a "drug deal," only to find out that I was talking to a police officer! Ooops. I quickly made it clear I only knew about drug deals from watching tv and films. I must've been convincing--Kristen showed up with the dog, and let me drive off with her.

Ruth behaved beautifully during our first ride together, very comfortable on the dog bed in the back seat of the car.

I phoned my husband to say we were about 5 minutes away, so he could put Lola on the leash and bring her to meet us. (It seemed better not to startle her by coming right to the house.) Ruth and I got out of the car at the lakeshore. She waded right in and had a sip. (She also peed in the lake, after her long ride, but we won't tell anybody! Not even the fish!) Soon Lola arrived. It was a friendly meeting, very calm. Ruth and I walked back to the house with them. We strolled around the front of the house.

They decided right away that they're going to be buddies.

Ruth is so little, she can walk underneath Lola, who has extremely long legs. And if Ruth is in her way, Lola can sail over her in one graceful bound.

She was a bit daunted at first by what she found inside the house. There's a lot of space, and high ceilings, and she's such a wee doggie!

We took both dogs for a long walk late in the day, before dinner. They amble along very companionably. In the evening, they snoozed on the floor at our feet while we switched between American Idol (so long Elliot) and the finale of Survivor (yippee, the hippies won!)

Later I changed my original plan and made up Shadow's bed for Ruth. It's so nice, covered with the McCallum tartan--specially chosen because of my McCallum ancestry. Didn't know what to expect. Soon as I put it down, the puppy curled up right in the centre--and slept there comfortably till morning. She coughed a fair amount in the night (she's on antibiotics for it), but quickly went back to sleep.

This morning we were all up a little earlier than usual, hardly surprising with a toddler in the house. After breakfast, we had another moment to thrill my heart. A chipmunk was sitting on the front steps. I took Ruth to the door to see it, and explained that the Border Collie-type dog in our household has a very important job--keeping an eye on the rodents running everywhere. Not that Ruth needed to be told. She was totally into it from the first moment.

Next I filled the chipmunk feeding station on the deck, and put Ruth out there to continue her education. A couple of customers some came round. The pup stood there, mesmerised, giving 'em that unflinching Border Collie stare.

Shadow must be dancing in doggie heaven. Lola seemed pretty impressed, too. She's not into the chipmunk management duties so much, she has more important stuff to handle.

We played around this morning and had some productive trips out to the backyard. Ruth climbed on the sofa--the one dogs are allowed on--to grab the stuffed Border Collie sitting (supposedly) out of reach. Before putting it even more out of reach, I let her keep it for a minute.

I'm pretty sure this is called cannibalism.

Or just natural excitement at finding something around here smaller than she is. Besides a chipmunk.

We had a great time watching a chipmunk mom and her baby in the front yard, while listening to Leftover Lunch, the midday alt-rock oldies show on WFNX-FM from Boston. She's a fabulous "hanging out together" dog, just smaller than any of our other ones. With an equally winning personality.

While I was writing this, I heard the pitter patter of little feet on the stair. Then silence. I peeked into the adjoining sitting room to see what Ruth was doing and discovered this:

That was Shadow's favourite place. If she wasn't lying in my office, she would nap on the couch. I tried last night to let Ruth know she was welcome to that particular place, if she wanted it, but she didn't seem to be a furniture dog. I guess she finally figured out on her own--from the scent, the dog hairs--that it's the right spot for her.

Lest it appear that we were seeking some sort of Shadow clone--definitely not. It wouldn't be fair to her or Ruth or any other dog we inquired about. But I won't deny that we are charmed by some similarities.

As well as the many differences!

Admittedly, I'm not getting much writing done today. But now I'm headed over to the sofa to join my pup, with a fat research book.

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