|Ruby, Before Her De-Fluffing|
It's Friday- the first Friday of the New Year. It is also Fur Free Friday in our house. I took Ruby, our dog, to get groomed. We did not mean to let her coat get so unruly. I am able to manage her grooming in the warmer months when I can take her out back, drop her to the grass, and shear her like a sheep. But as soon as autumn arrives, the texture of her fur changes making it difficult to clip and impossible to brush. By Christmas, she is dropping tumble weeds and I am constantly chasing after her with the hand held vacuum. Having The Baby, of course, makes things more tricky due to her insatiable need to taste test everything that falls on the floor. On more than one occasion, I have caught The Baby coughing up a hairball on the living room rug.
When I made the appointment, I had not mapped out the complexity of balancing a baby, saddled with a winter bunting in one arm, while holding the reins of an overly excitable dog in my other hand. We narrowly escaped becoming casualties of the ice underfoot as Ruby dragged us along the parking lot. When we arrived, the groomer took one look at Ruby, and I could see the weight of defeat in her eyes. She had her work cut out for her. I apologized profusely for allowing my dog to get swallowed by her own fur. In the back of my mind, I replayed every episode of Animal Precinct and Animal Cops, recalling cases of neglect where owners allowed their animals to become so overgrown that the animal could no longer move its limbs. I wondered if the groomer was also recounting those episodes when she was appraising my dog.
With Ruby at the groomer, I could finally vacuum every surface of the house and enjoy it's fur free-ness without worry. I put The Baby down for a nap; and then, I sat in the middle of the living room and tended to the three looming baskets of clothes stationed there. As I folded, I had an uneasy feeling in my spine- as if someone was whispering against my body. It was bothering me enough that I stopped what I was doing and realized that I was alone. For the first time, my home was absent of all dogs. Oscar, Ruby's companion, passed away in July. But, Ruby was always beside me. The unoccupied space made me uncomfortable. I felt vulnerable and lonely. And, it took me by surprise, because as much as I value Ruby as a member of this family, I also thought that I would be relieved when we were one day freed of her anchor. Thinking about that day, which will inevitably come, made me realize how incredibly heart breaking it will be to lose her. And, I did not mind at all when the groomer called to tell me that Ruby was ready to come home.
|Ruby, After Grooming. She always looks a little bit exasperated when I am taking pictures of her.|
Ruby looked like a deranged Muppet before. But, now she just looks naked. She always walks funny after she's been thoroughly clipped. She fluctuates between a spring in her step and awkward caution-as if she is trying to figure out how to move through space with a new body. The Baby was intrigued by our new pet. She assessed the unfamilar creature before her and concluded that she was worthy to partake in a snack of yogurt bites. And, Ruby, never one to pass up a snack, earnestly accepted the offering.