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An Ode to an Old Friend

I lost one of my best friends last week. I know this is a site about beer (which has been a bit dormant the last few weeks), but I feel compelled to write about her. Plus I promise there is a beer connection at one point in the story. So bear with me.

Her name was Ruby (full name Ruby Tuesday). She was my dog for the last 14+ years. She was a labrador-poodle (some call them Labradoodles but I find that name lacks dignity) and she was smart, gentle, friendly and fun. Everyone says their dog was the best dog ever, but she really was.

Up until my new job this month I worked at home. Which meant that for the last eight years or so, Ruby and I spent every single day together. She was where I was. Our rhythms were in sync. I developed the habit of narrating my day to her as things happened. She never once said I should shut up, even when she was trying to nap.

Our lives were inter-linked and I am finding it hard to be without her. Which is why I decided it might be cathartic to tell the world what an amazing friend she was. This may not be the best venue, but at the moment it is the only venue I have.

Ruby was the smartest dog I have ever seen. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t train her to do. She could clean up her own toys, she could search for a family member somewhere in the house, she would anticipate the trick you wanted her to perform with amazing accuracy.

At one point I worked on teaching her how to read (this is actually a thing – dogs can recognize the shape of letters and make associations). She was getting it and it was only my lack of consistency that caused the project to fail.

She was also my longtime brewing companion (here is where the beer comes in). In her younger years at our old house I brewed on the patio in the backyard. She developed the most uncanny ability to drop her tennis ball right in the place where I next needed to do some work, thus forcing me to throw the ball before I could engage in my task. Dozens of times a brew session I found the ball in my way and her looking up at me with expectation.

A few years back we moved to a new place and I began brewing on the back driveway. As she was getting up in years she would spend most of the day laying on the driveway pad happily watching the world as I brewed. However, the foxy imp, what she was really doing was waiting for the moment when my attention was diverted to a problem or involved task that required full engagement. She would take advantage of my distracted moments to wander down the alley on a garbage finding adventure. I can’t remember how many times I had to put my brewing on hold to walk through the neighbourhood to find her feasting on a choice bit of garbage and haul her back home, completely unrepentant.

Her garbage adventures notwithstanding, she was a remarkably well-behaved, well-socialized dog. She loved people, was very skilled at navigating other dogs and never missed a piece of chicken falling on the kitchen floor. In her later years she slowed down a bit but we never stopped getting comments from strangers in the dog park about how great a puppy she was – they truly thought she was a young dog due to her high energy (walks were her singular favourite activity). I loved that she fooled people so well.

She was healthy and happy right up until her last day. Literally. We went for a run with her the morning she died. The last few hours were hell as her systems went haywire. Most of the family was present when we had to say goodbye.

She was my best buddy. I did everything with her. I miss her terribly. And I wish each and every one of you had met her because I know if you had you would immediately understand just how special a dog she was.

Goodbye, sweet Ruby. I will miss you.

Thank you everyone for your tolerance of this self-absorbed missive. I will try to post some actual beer stuff soon.


9 comments to An Ode to an Old Friend

  • Lorne

    Dogs are the best, sir. Thanks for sharing.

  • Cody

    Sorry for you loss. Garth Steins “The Art of racing in the rain” would be a good read for you to always remember your unforgettable journey with her. Cheers

  • Your friends at Red Shed Malting

    What a beautiful tribute to a well loved friend. So sorry for your loss.

  • Haydon

    Oh Jason – so sorry to read this. As an owner of an older dog I’m dreading this day. She was lucky to have such a loving and dedicated best friend. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brennan Henrion

    Well written. Sorry for your loss.

  • Barry

    Thanks for sharing your stories about your friend Ruby. I too lost a family member, Frodo (aka Frodo the Wonderdog), in November. Frodo was a labrador x border collie and your stories of Ruby’s temperament and intelligence echo what we saw in Frodo. Like Ruby he lived a full and happy 14 years, but left us too soon. As the months pass the sorrow lessens, but the memories will always be there.

  • So Sorry to hear about your Ruby…we have a Maggie and understand the sadness that’s going to follow when we lose her. Dogs are the most loving, accepting creatures on earth. It sounds like you helped make her life full and rewarding, she was a lucky dog 🙂

  • Chris

    Well deserved tribute. I feel for you, and can tell she was a great friend. Take comfort in the good life she had with you.

    ~from a long time reader

  • Darrell

    Sorry to hear about your loss, but thanks for sharing those memories. Ruby sounds like a great companion…& I heartily second the reference The Art of racing in the rain…terrific book!

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