Favorite Daughter

Ruby is up front. Bones is the black one on the left and lil Leah it the one trying to keep up.
My parents' pup Ruby, the one who replaced me as the most important daughter in the house, passed away on Wednesday night. She was diagnosed with diabetes a while back and I'm sure if it wasn't for my parents diligence in care and continual love, she wouldn't have lasted as long as she did. As per what has become a family tradition, Ruby had a steak breakfast and a ride in the car to get some chocolate ice cream for dessert before moving on.

What sucks about living 1,500 miles away is that I can't be there to give my parents a hug or to share stories about Ruby. Stories of her following my parents all over the house even in the last few months when it took her a lot longer to get around and she usually had to take a nap after reaching the destination. Older stories of how she was great at treeing raccoons and how we couldn't say CAT without her freaking out because my dad unalterably had taught her it was a bad word. How she helped babysit and herd the chickens around the yard. How she loved to bathe her new stuffed animals until the "fur" was matted and crispy. How fireworks were her kryptonite and how she had to have drugs regularly to make it through July 4th and New Years. How when she met Latimore for the first time and he and Leah ran all over the yard, she tried her hardest to keep those young whippersnappers in line with her stationary stance and authoritarian, persistent barking.

Mostly though, I can't be there to reminisce how she truly embodied a clear understanding that she was the favorite daughter. How she'd give me the stink eye as soon as she spotted me and my suitcases enter the house, and how she'd put on an air of unenthusiastic annoyance at my insignificance to ensure my role as the new girl vying for attention.

I can't be at home with my parents to tell my dad his favorite story of exactly how the rivalry between Ruby and I first began. How I had just come home after being in Japan for 9 months and how Ruby didn't trust that I was actually part of the family since she joined while I was gone. Our first meeting went fine. She appeared curious and with the exception of her constant biting at my pants and tripping me as I walked, she seemed to accept me.

For some reason that first night back, both of my parents had to go somewhere. From the moment my parents left the house Ruby stood next to where I was sitting on the couch and barked at me. I let her out and then back in. I gave her food and water. I tried occupying her attention with the hundreds of toys my parents had purchased that were laying all over the house. I tried treats. Nothing stopped her barking for more than five minutes at a time. She stared me straight in the eye as I pleaded with her to stop. I tried explaining to her how my schedule was all messed up and I was exhausted. How even though it was early evening I was trying to adjust my sleep schedule. I swear she wore a toothy smirk as she continued her reign of power.

She was quite masterful actually. One bark every minute or so. Maybe every few minutes when she was trying to fake me out and laugh at my pain.

"I'm in charge!"

"Who are you?"

"Why are you here?"

"I live here!"

"Where are MY parents?"

"Don't you have somewhere else to be?"

"I'm their favorite."

"Daughter? Bullshit."

With each minute that passed Ruby barked her thoughts at me. Until my parents came home.

I am not exaggerating when I say she instantly stopped the moment she heard their car. Her little nubby tail moving to prove her excitement and reiterate how she was completely uninterested in my presence. When I told my parents how the evening went, they insisted that there was no way she had barked all night. I insisted that she had. They laughed.

And that is when Ruby knew she won. And that's okay.

I wish I could have said goodbye in person--to let her know I was glad she was there with mom and dad, keeping them company. To let her know no better replacement could have been picked. To ask her to say hi to Bones and Sage and Floyd and Shadow and Zeus. To explain how much I would love to see them all wrasslin' together like a big, happy animal family. To give her a kiss on her shnootz and pat her fluffy little head and tell her it will be alright... to tell her- to promise her- I'd watch after mom and dad for her.

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