All three of my dogs came to me needing homes. My beagle Ruby was 2 when I adopted her. Sweetly spoiled and absolutely loved in her first home, Ruby came to me full of beagle energy and vitality. She is a run-around gal. She weighs about 20 pounds and her lithe spirit and demanding nose often lead her astray. The veterinary office knew Ruby by her tag number. After I adopted her, my kids took her to Lake Padden for a walk. A stranger came up to them and said, “Is that Ruby?” At 14 she has a condition called insulinoma, a rare cancer. The tumor excretes insulin from the pancreas and throws dogs into seizures. The condition is controlled by frequent feedings in the early stages, so all of my dogs are fed 4 small daily meals. Despite this disease, she plays and sleeps and still maintains her beagle nose-to- the- ground and squeaky-toy-love-of-life.
Marcie is the bossiest of the three dogs. The little shih tzu quicky gained 5 pounds after the adoption. I was told she didn’t have much personality and that she was clingy. Ruby did not want anything to do with her, but Marcie had other relationship plans. She sat next to Ruby. Ruby left the room. Marcie found Ruby, and sat next to her, and Ruby left that room. This behavior repeated until Ruby broke and Marcie found her place beside the beagle. They are inseparable. Marcie is a rules’ girl: she knows the rules for everyone and does her best to keep us all in line. That a crazy little beagle is the alpha leader is a family joke, but not to Marcie: She defers to Ruby in all household activities.
The third on the leash is Kirby. He is a crested Chinese puff. Ruby’s condition has no cure and life expectancy after diagnosis is months not years. Marcie and Ruby are tethered in spirit, and in the physical world they eat and sleep and rest together. When Ruby has been away, Marcie just looks lost. This worried me because of the facts related to insulinoma. A back burner concern, but real enough, I had thought about adopting a third dog, but then I didn’t want to disturb the ambiance of our household. With all this going on, I was at my veterinary clinic, Maplewood Animal Hospital, to pick up some medicine when I saw a poster featuring a very scared looking Kirby. I asked about him.
Christa, the receptionist said,”He’s right here.” Christa was fostering Kirby; she loves dogs from her purple hair to the stamps of puppy paws that go up her arm. I love Christa.
Kirby was housed in a pink fabric crate behind the desk next to Christa’s standard poodle, Ramond (French pronunciation). Raymond has free reign and occasionally you see his head pop up on top of the counter. Christa told me about the hoarder who kept 50 dogs in a county shed. The humane shelter rescued the dogs of which Kirby was one. He weighed 10 pound and so shy he would not look up. The story — the dog — and my situation created an action. I took the pup on a trial adoption but no one was fooled. Christa had that poster with Kirby’s picture on it down before I left the office.
Kirby cowers and is unsure of himself but each day he is braver. He’s been with us for three weeks now.
Kirby really needs to get outside as soon as he gets up in the morning — usually he waits comfortably until about 7:30 or so before his needs must be met. Ruby sleeps in — at first light she crawls head first under the covers for a last little nap until I get her up any time between 8:30 or 9. Marcie waits for Ruby. As the dog with the shortest legs she cannot make the leap to my tall bed, and she does not trust the footstool approach Ruby takes. Kirby with his elfin legs hurls himself with ease up down and over, but he is third in command. My usual habit in the morning is to get up in time for a Kirby morning call and put on anything suitable for dog walking, wake Ruby up, give Marcie a lift from bed to floor and then crawl onto the bed and get Kirby. Dogs do not like deviation from routine.
This morning I got up before 7 and everyone was resting quietly so I thought, great — I can take a bath and can get dressed — and so I did. As I was getting out of the tub — would that be detubbing? — I heard Marcie start to bark, an indicator that Ruby was up and that she wanted off the bed. Since I am the elevator my services were needed. And yes, the little beagle head came around the bathroom door and Marcie barked louder upstairs. Then Kirby started to cry, little yelps and whistles and a bit of a howl. I threw on my robe and ran upstairs to sort out the demands being made. They quieted as soon as I entered the room. The look I got was strictly, what’s with that?! Kirby could have gotten down at any time but as long as his superior — Marcie — stayed he would not leave. It struck me very funny.
Marcie as vice leader to Ruby’s role as leader is akin to Palin being vice president — except that I love Marcie and she is sweet natured and smarter than Sarah …
A friend asked, if Marcie is vice leader, what does that make you?
I answered, “God, obviously.”