Vale Ruby

It was just before the Sydney Olympics when we made the trip to Sydney’s South-West to be interviewed by the breeder to see if we would qualify for one of her precious puppies.  A few weeks earlier a litter had been born and now they were almost old enough to be adopted.

So sweet

So sweet

A very beautiful but nervous (and probably exhausted), first-time mother was in an enclosure with four enthusiastic and very playful puppies leaping around her.  The puppies were unbelievably cute and I fell in love with all of them, instantly.  I wanted to take them all.

Our beautiful puppy

Our beautiful puppy

We passed our ‘interview’ and were handed a female puppy.  I saw the size of her very large paws and thought she might have been a bloke but no, she was just going to be a big, strong girl.



A few weeks later she was old enough to leave the life she had known and come to live with us, 90-minutes away on the coast.  Throughout the journey home I held our dear little Ruby in my hands and talked to her ceaselessly as she began to whimper for all that had once been familiar.

A most beautiful puppy

A most beautiful puppy

While we were already very much in love with our new addition, Ruby was miserable and fretting terribly.  A couple of days later and with little improvement I was in tears.  I called the breeder and said, ‘She’s miserable and I think she hates us.’

‘She’ll be fine’, said the breeder, ‘give her time’.

Being stoic about having a bath

Being stoic about having a bath

By the end of the first week Ruby had reluctantly adjusted to her new life and we settled in to ‘bringing her up’.  I took her to puppy classes and while she loved the contact of the other dogs and the very shy dingo, she wasn’t terribly interested at being in school.  Ruby had a mind of her own and didn’t care to follow human rules.  I thought that was terrific and loved her fighting spirit and strong personality.

A beautiful puppy

A beautiful puppy

I always thought it would be nice for Ruby to have a litter of puppies.  When she was about 18-months old I arranged for her to have a weekend back where she was born with a well-chosen suitor, Big Red.  When we arrived Ruby remembered her old surroundings; she hesitated and didn’t want to go inside.  When I left, she tried to follow me back to the car.



I collected her two days later.  The homestead was situated in the middle of an acre with a perimeter fence.   As soon as Ruby saw me she knew I’d come back to collect her.  She was so excited she ran around the perimeter fence at top speed.  That was when I knew, Ruby hadn’t resigned herself to living with us, she loved being a part of our family.

Greatly adored

Greatly adored

Ruby had an excellent pregnancy.  A week before her due date I took her to my vet who, like a prophet of doom, said, ‘She’s only having three, she’ll probably go into labour in the middle of the night and I’m sure she’ll need a caesarian’.

Ruby and her puppy, Rosie

Ruby and her puppy, Rosie

Drew made her a whelping box and we set it up in a room for her to give birth.  She went into labour on her due date.  The puppies were born in the afternoon, she gave birth naturally and she was carrying six puppies, not three.  I was the over-excited midwife and I did all I could to comfort her.  Ruby knew she could trust me and allowed me to handle her puppies but for everyone else, they were off-limits.

Rosie, her daughter, playing in the sand

Rosie, her daughter, playing in the sand

Ruby was a completely natural and amazing mother.  She looked after all six puppies brilliantly.  There were three boys and three girls; two were black and tan, two were red and two were shaded cream.  Helping Ruby raise her puppies was one of the happiest periods of my life.  I took on the task as a full-time job and there was nothing more wonderful than watching those puppies grow.

The young mother of six

The young mother of six

But then came the time when we needed to sell them.  I wanted to keep them all but Drew reluctantly only agreed to let me keep one.  While it was an incredibly difficult decision, we decided to keep the runt of the litter; the little girl who looked so defenceless and needy.  I thought she’d miss her mum too much if we didn’t keep her.

Rosie playing in the dishwasher

Matilda playing in the dishwasher

I had to advertise the remaining puppies for sale.  It was the hardest day of my life when the time came for them to be taken to new homes.  And it was long overdue; the puppies were now over 12 weeks of age, Ruby had done her job and was keen for her life to return to normal, and I was becoming far too attached to them.

Ruby and Rosie with Matilda, one of Ruby's puppies

Ruby and Rosie with Matilda, one of Ruby’s puppies

Farewelling Ruby’s puppies was extremely difficult and I cried every time I had to part with one of them.  Ruby, however, wasn’t sad at all.  She had brought them up and now it was time for them to be on their way.  I’m sure there was also an element of jealousy with all the attention we were showering on the puppies.

Such a loving friend

Such a loving friend

And then it was just Ruby and her runt, Rosie.  Ruby would often look at me as if to ask, ‘When is this one going?’  Initially she didn’t seem pleased that she had to share us with Rosie but as time ticked by and as she understood Rosie was here to stay, she and her puppy developed a very unique, close and very strong bond.

Rosie's love for her mother

Rosie’s love for her mother

She and Rosie loved to play with each other and they invented what I called, ‘The Silly Games’.  They would bark at each other at full volume and run and chase each other, scampering about and playfully biting and pouncing on each other.  It was a joy to watch.

Worst day of the year - bath day

Worst day of the year – bath day

Ruby was an excellent hunter.  This is not something we taught her, it was pure instinct.  And we certainly didn’t encourage her nocturnal hunts.  We had quite a big backyard and just before we would go to bed I’d put the girls outside to do their business and then they’d come back into the house to sleep.  But not always.  Sometimes I’d be calling and calling Ruby but she wouldn’t come and so I’d be out there with a torch trying to find her.  She was also good at hiding.

A favourite friend

Christmas Carols, 2014

So I’d go to bed and Ruby would be out there having the time of her life chasing possums, cats, bandicoots, rodents and anything else unlucky enough to be paying us a visit.  At about 3am I’d be woken by loud barking.  I’d get up to let her in and she’d be puffing and panting with her tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth and a huge grin letting me know she’d really enjoyed herself.

Perfecting her dog-paddle

Perfecting her dog-paddle

She also chased the postie and took a particular dislike to Thai takeaway delivery men.  One of the men was so scared he wouldn’t come to the front door and instead would ring us from his car to let us know he was outside the house.  Although the delivery boys believed otherwise, she seriously meant them no harm.

The girls love an outing

The girls love an outing

She loved to chew.  As a puppy she re-fashioned the legs of our dining room table and chewed a number of other precious things all belonging to Drew.  I don’t know why but everything she ‘re-fashioned’ seemed to be something of his.  He’d be seething.  So I used to buy her pigs’ ears.  While good at sharing, pigs’ ears were off-limits and if you ever came near her stash of pigs’ ears she manifested into a ferocious, possessive, attacking beast.  We loved her for it.

Where's our dinner?

Where’s our dinner?

Ruby and Rosie weren’t just pets, they were important family members and as such, as much as possible, we took them with us wherever we went.  They came on holidays to the beach or to our friends’ farm, we bought baskets for our bikes so they could sit in the baskets while we cycled, we took them out on our boat where Ruby loved to dive off and swim but Rosie preferred to stay dry, we took them to outdoor Christmas carol events, to all of Archie’s rugby matches and rowing regattas, for walks on the beach late at night when the Rangers had gone home and to all extended family events.

Taking in the sites

Taking in the sites

As she aged, Ruby no longer went on her hunts, she could no longer run at such a breathtaking speed, The Silly Games lessened in frequency and intensity, her once acute hearing faded and her knee joints gave her trouble.  But her loveliness only increased and the value we placed on her intensified as the realisation struck that she was ageing faster than we were.

A relaxing birthday

Too many cuddles were never enough

In her later years Ruby remained adorable and loving and couldn’t get enough of us.  Instead of going on hunts she preferred to be inside and lie in the sun, or curl up on my pile of clean washing, make a nest on a valuable item of clothing someone left on the floor, or sit by the heater and nap.  She adored being in our arms, she loved cuddling up to all our visitors and demanding tummy rubs, (and if you stopped you were given a nudge to keep going), she enjoyed being taken for a ride in the car, and a favourite weekend treat was to spend some time with me on my bed.

The girls love a sibling catch-up

Close enough is never ‘close enough’

It’s ridiculous to think your dog will be with you forever and while we saw signs that let us know she was in the winter of her life, I did hope she would die from nothing worse than old age.  It was devastating to hear she had an Ruby that gave her no hope.  It made her final weeks so challenging for her and she didn’t deserve to have her life end that way.



Ruby coped with the Ruby Has Rallied in her jaw bravely and stoically.  Despite all the medication I was giving her, I’m sure she was in a lot of discomfort; she couldn’t yawn or bark and eating and drinking was a complete challenge.  Her favourite meal was BBQ chicken and so I’d buy her a hot chicken, bring it home and take off the softer parts of the meat and chop it until it was almost powder.  I’d put it in front of her and where once she attacked her food heartily and with great vigour, now she hesitated.  I would sit on the floor and pat her head and encourage her to try and eat.

One last cuddle

One last cuddle

As the amount of medication I was giving her had to increase and as her weight was dropping and as she was spending more and more time motionless and just cuddling up with me on the couch and sleeping, I knew, that even though Ruby wanted to live on, we had to intervene.

Nearly 15 years old

Nearly 15 years old

When we took her in the car to drive off to the vet she was excited to be going on an outing.  She was sitting up and looking out the windows.   When we arrived at the vet she sniffed all the new smells.  It was unbearable and I so wish she’d given up the will to live but she was too strong-willed and courageous.

It was the great betrayal.  I hated how premeditated it was and how unsuspecting she was.

Beautiful to the very end

Beautiful to the very end

Of course the vet told us we were making the best choice for Ruby; that the tumour was hideous and that as strong and willing as Ruby was, it was unfair to ask her to cope with increased suffering.  I know we did the right thing but I’ve never felt so mean.

'Parting is such sweet sorrow'

‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’

I read something a while ago that said, ‘A dog is with you for a part of your life but for a dog, you are their whole life’.  And I did try to give her, her best possible life.

Flowers for Ruby

Flowers for Ruby

Ruby:  13-05-2000 – 29-04-2015


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  1. Danielle says:

    Oh Charlie, I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss. What a lovely, heartfelt tribute to a beautiful being, your sweet Ruby. RIP. Xx

  2. 🙁 tears Charlie… xxx

  3. I’m so sorry. 🙁 *hugs* to you and yours.

    You did the right thing by your Ruby, even though it was difficult to make that decision. And by the looks of this post, you did give her a fantastic life.

  4. I am so very sorry.
    Rest in peace Ruby.

  5. I am so so so very sorry for your loss, I couldn’t imagine the agony of making that decision.
    Thinking of you today Charlie. XOXO

  6. What a beautiful story ~ Ruby was one lucky dog to have you all love her so much. I’m so sorry for your loss but hope that Rosie helps you in your grief xxxxx

  7. What can I say except that you brought tears to my eyes without even knowing her or you personally. It is terrible to lose a pet, especially to illness, I have been there, but you did a great job and she couldn’t have been gifted with a more loving family.

  8. By the way, how is poor little Rosie coping, she must be devastated too…

  9. Oh my heart is breaking for you. So very sad. All the best to you. Xx

  10. I’m in tears at that photo of you and Ruby. My love to you and Rosie – what a difficult day for you all. xx

  11. Oh Charlie you loved her so much and she hung in there as long as she could. What a lovely tribute to a very special member of your family. xx

  12. Melissa Batten says:

    Oh God Charlie I’m bawling . So sorry you had to let Ruby go, it is THE worst thing in the world isn’t it xxx

  13. Such a beautiful tribute to a loving friend.

  14. Hearing all about Ruby’s life makes me all the sadder to hear she is gone from your life. She does sound like she was loved and had a good life. So sad to hear the end was difficult but I hope there is a small comfort that she is out of pain. I was surprised to hear that you felt she didn’t seem to want the company of her pups once raised. I have heard that it is good to have 2 dogs so they have company. I hope Rosie is coping as this must be hard for her as well as the rest of the family. Condolences and warm wishes.

  15. Charlie I’m so sorry for your loss. This is so sad. RIP Ruby. It was lovely to read about her life – she seemed like such a precious gift. xxx

  16. You gave Ruby such a wonderful life and I know she loved you for it!! Thinking of you chica.

  17. So sorry to hear this, and glad you could be there for her with hugs at the end so she knew she was always loved. What a wonderful life she had with you. Hope there are some smiles remembering in amongst the sadness.

  18. Charlie, so sorry to hear that. You were both lucky to have each other for so long. What a special relationship. XO.

  19. Oh Charlie, I am so very sorry for your loss. You wrote the most beautiful tribute to your special girl.
    I have shed tears for you today, I shall toast in Ruby’s honour this evening.
    Healing love to you all across the ocean.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  20. Oh, Charlie, I am sorry. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet Ruby. And that last image of you with her is heartbreaking, yet tender and full of love.

  21. So, so sorry, Charlie. You knew it was time for Ruby to go, but it’s such a hard decision, isn’t it? I’m feeling for you — I know how hard this is.

  22. This post has made me teary, and I didn’t know Ruby directly – so I can only imagine how hard it is for you. What a beautiful post Charlie, and a beautiful farewell to a wonderful, adorable, much loved family member. My thoughts are with your family xox

  23. Oh Charlie – I am sending big hugs your way – my heart is breaking for you right now – this must have been so so hard – I have 2 dogs and I don’t know if I could be strong enough to make this decision – I hope you take comfort in knowing she isn’t suffering anymore – and I love that quote. xx

  24. I knew when I saw your title it was a mistake to open this at work. I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face, because I can just feel the sorrow in your life, and in the lives of the whole family. It doesn’t help at all, I know, to hear that you gave her such a wonderful life, but I just loved reading about how she came to be such a cherished friend. She gave all the love right back to each of you, too. The photos you shared mark the time well, showing that Ruby was a major part of your children’s lives—they don’t have many years “before” Ruby. I’ve been wondering, so thank you for sharing so quickly. I pray the time for mourning will be balanced between tears and sweet memories. It’s just tough. Anyone who doesn’t know this hasn’t had a pet that was truly a member of the family. oxo Debra

  25. Such a beautifuly woven tribute… are gifted Charlie, and so is little Ruby who got such a loving family. And so are you and your family, who got to spend some of the most precious times of their lives with this beautiful little dog. I am sure she is wagging her tail at the rainbow bridge, and knows you only had love for her.

  26. Oh Charlie, I am so sorry……..such a beautiful tribute to Ruby. I know you gave her the best life anyone could. Take care, Cheri

  27. Oh, Charlie, what a heartfelt and loving tribute. May she rest with the angels, and may you all find peace. Loving thoughts go out to Ruby and all of your family.

  28. I’m so very sorry. So hard to lose a faithful and loving member of the family, and even harder to do the right thing to ease her suffering. I’m so glad she had such a wonderful life with you all.

  29. RIP Ruby – a lovely post Charlie – I had tears running down face by the end even though I knew what you were going to tell us. Take care – Charlie.

  30. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of such a well-loved member of your family, Charlie. Rest in peace, Ruby. Your family will join you in time and then there will be Silly Games and hunts in the middle of the night once again.

  31. Carolyn says:

    I am so sorry Charlie, such a sad, sad loss for you and your family. It is wonderful that you knew how much Ruby loved you and ran to you after that weekend. That is something special that you will always have, she truly belonged to you and your home was very much her home and where she wanted to be. She is at peace now, take care x

  32. Charlie, so sorry to hear about Ruby. She was a beautiful dog, and I know how it wrenches your heart when they go. This post made me laugh and cry by equal measure. Hugs to you all.

  33. What a lovely, lovely tribute to your dear Ruby. Hugs to you all. xxx

  34. Thank you for allowing us to share such an incredibly painful but important family happening. Ruby has no more pain . . . that is the most important matter of all . . .may that in the family lessen day by day . . . beautiful writing, Charlie . . .

  35. So sorry for your loss Charlie. Such a beautifully written tribute to a beautiful member of your family, you gave so much love to Ruby and had a wonderful life together. Take care xx

  36. Ruby sure has been a special part of the family. My heart is in pieces. I know how difficult that trip to the vet feels. I’m so sorry for this difficult time. Hugs.

  37. Oh Charlie…my eyes are filled with tears as I read your post…I am so sorry for your lost…and glad that you all gave Ruby so much love as she was an important part of you family…sending lots of hugs…

  38. Hamish Salburg says:

    Just one of the most wonderful tributes I have ever read.

    Strength and nothing but precious memories to you all.

  39. Such a very heartbreaking decision Charlie and I feel for you. Been down this path twice. Signing out now as it makes me feel too sad. xox

  40. What a glorious life your Ruby lived Charlie. She watched her baby and yours grow up together and become family. How heartbreaking to say goodbye. Lovely words for your lovely friend xo xo

  41. says:

    A half of box of tissues I needed to read your beautiful tribute to your best friend. We have Spike – a jack russell who will be 15 next month – the same age as your lovely friend and know that his time is coming so this was heartbreaking to read. She had a wonderful life and your I children will have fabulous memories of her. Thank you for sharing even though you have made me cry…no sob!

  42. What a beautiful eulogy. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. Rest in peace precious pooch. Condolences to you and your family.

  43. Your images ‘taking in the sites’ and ‘besties’ will stay with me for a long time…RIP Ruby, I am so very sorry for your family’s loss. Xx

  44. Charlie, my heart bleeds for you. I have 3 aging dogs and absolutely dread the day you speak of. Be reconciled by the fact you were able to give Ruby a long and happy life.

  45. Oh Charlie I’m so sorry to hear that Ruby has gone. This is a lovely tribute to her and just from reading it I know she had such a wonderful life with your family. x

  46. Oh Charlie I am so so sorry. Ruby had a wonderful life and couldn’t have been taken in by a better family. RIP Ruby. xx

  47. So sorry to hear about your loss Charlie. I know how much Ruby meant to you and how much she meant to your whole family xxx

  48. Wow,I just finished reading your wonderful tribut to a family member who provided you with unconditional love and devotion.
    As I just learned one of our swimming dogs has a tumor in her skull that is inoperable, your words gave me some more courage to handle that which I know will be inevitable soon.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, Camdy. It’s shocking to hear of the number of dogs who are getting tumours. I do wish you and your swimming dog all the very best. It truly is so very hard to part with our precious friends.

  49. I’m so sorry for your loss! I lost my dog when she was 15 yrs old too. She had a tumor on her leg. My thoughts and prayers are with you to not suffer so much!

    • Hi Jan, thanks so much for letting me know. Fifteen years for a dog is a wonderful, long life however, we both know it goes by all too fast. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

  50. This post brought tears to my eyes it is so hard to let your loved one go … you did the right thing and have your precious memories to always remember your Ruby.

  51. How brave of you to do the right thing for Ruby. Those puppy photos are so sweet, and you tell her story with so much love. How lucky she was to go to such a good home and to become part of your lives. I bet you shed some tears when writing this post. I certainly have moist eyes.

  52. You gave Ruby a beautiful life. And she was such a dear, special friend to you and your whole family. My heart is aching for you, my friend. Thinking of you. xoxo

  53. Very sad story, and beautifully written

  54. Gorgeous tribute to your precious Ruby…Like many of your readers, I am crying…Our furry friends are family <3 Sending prayers to you and yours, Charlie <3

  55. My thoughts and prayers are with your family at this very difficult time. Ruby will always be a part of your family and she was very lucky to have your family for 15 beautiful years. Take care of your self.

  56. Such a sad time for you and your family, Charlie but that was such a gorgeous tribute to your beautiful Ruby. My thoughts are with you x

  57. Such a beautiful post, Charlie. Much love to you all at this difficult time. xxx

  58. So sad for you all and brings memories of similar partings – but what a wonderful tribute to the love filled life of Ruby.

  59. I have only just been able to read this Charlie because even though my Ruby dog has been gone for a year and a half I still feel as raw as the day I too had to make that choice. Even though you know you are doing the right thing, those little trusting eyes and that love, so much love that they give is all that makes sense and all you can feel. My love to you my friend. xxx

  60. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    I’m so sorry. I remember the day we had to put our last dog, Ezra, to sleep. It was one of the hardest days of my life. She had a good life and was obviously well loved.

  61. It is just so so sad when a pet passes away, both times this has been out of my hands which I have been grateful for. RIP dear Ruby.

  62. What a lovely tribute to Ruby. I often wonder if they lived human length lives if we would take them for granted, but because we are reminded that they live such short lives, we love them so intensely and make sure they have the best lives we can give them. They are special family members and their unconditional love takes over a part of our hearts that cannot be filled by humans. The last time I had to put an animal to sleep was when I was a teenager. The entire family was there. I know exactly what you mean when you said what you did about it being premeditated and her being unsuspecting. I felt the exact same way. Heart wrenching. Prayers to you.

    ~ April

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, April. I know how much you love your dogs and what excellent care and attention you give them. Still remember you driving them from one side of the USA to the other!

  63. I’m sorry for your loss Charlie, this is the only truth is our life… we always have to part with the dears ones :(. She was such a lovely, adorable and full of life friend who shared many memories with your family. At least now she is relieved from all pain she had to go through.

  64. You are a brave woman Charlie. Thank you for opening up so quickly after Ruby’s passing, I know it must have been hard for you. And if the tears are running down my face from just reading your beautiful tribute to your beautiful baby girl, I can only imagine your tears. How’s Rosie coping? Take care of yourselves

  65. I’m sorry I’m only responding to this now, but I’m so so sorry, Charlie. This post made me cry. I know how hard it is to have to say goodbye to your best four-legged friend, and nothing makes it easy even if you know that they won’t be suffereing any longer. You did make the right choice, and Ruby led a full and VERY LOVED life. What a lucky lucky doggie she was 🙂 I hope you and your family are doing ok…

  66. Charlie, am sure Ruby’s fond memories are so precious. Don’t worry, stay strong, that’s he cycle of life and we all know it could be heart wrenching. What a beautiful tribute page. Thanks for sharing with us. God bless..


  1. […] my kitchen and everywhere else I go, is Rosie.  Five weeks on from the loss of Ruby, she is managing quite well.  With the cooler weather and living in a house that’s dark and […]

  2. […] also made me a Christmas decoration that is very sparkly and has a touch of Ruby about it.  It looked beautiful on the tree especially when lit up by all the flashing […]

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