I love my baby girl

(This was written late Tuesday night for submission to the Opelika Observer.)

I really never know what I’m going to write about until I sit down and start typing.

I wish I was the type of writer who had several articles on stand-by for cases such as this. It would be so convenient just to pluck one from my laptop and send to the good folks at the Opelika Observer. Sadly, I do not. Even if I did have one on stand-by, it’d be hard to find, because congress is more organized than the files on my computer.

Each week, my goal is to write about something educational, motivating, or inspiring with a touch of humor. That’s my goal.

Today, that is hard to do. My mind is focused solely on one thing.

Ruby, my 5 month old chocolate lab, is the most wonderful dog to ever grace these parts. Everywhere I go, people ask, “Where’s Ruby?” She is amazing in every way. I love my baby girl.

She was doing fine for most of the day on Monday. She was running on all cylinders. She had the pedal to the medal. She was being, what I have dubbed, “Hurricane Ruby.”

That evening, something changed. The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression. Before long, there was just a dormant cloud.

The dormant cloud settled her head in my lap for much of the night.

Prior to Ruby’s inactivity, she was sick a couple of times. She moped around and whimpered. I couldn’t get her to eat or drink, which is unheard of.

She was really sick right here...I just didn't  know how sick.

She was really sick right here…I just didn’t know how sick.

I knew something was wrong but assumed she’d just eaten something that didn’t agree with her. We’ve all been there. She only eats high quality dog food but has been known to find some odd makeshift edibles in the back yard.

She would be fine after a good night’s sleep.

Usually, it takes her a while to find a comfortable spot in her bed. Technically, it’s my bed but it’s hers. She just lets me sleep in it. This night was different. She balled up right next to me alongside my torso and didn’t move for the next eight hours. I had to poke and prod her a time or two to ensure she was still with me.

I expected her to have regained her hurricane status upon waking up. Sadly, this was not the case, so I wasted no time in getting her to Opelika Animal Hospital. I love my baby girl.

Thank God I did.

I still wasn’t overly concerned. All animals get stomach aches from time to time. They get sick, mope around a bit, and are back to themselves in no time.

She was being boarded, anyway. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be in Michigan and will have already performed in Ohio. I just dropped her off a few hours earlier than originally planned.

As I was running errands Tuesday afternoon, I decided to drop by the vet to check on my baby girl.

When I walked in, they were getting ready to call me. Ruby had been diagnosed with canine parvovirus type 2, known to most of us as parvo. My heart sank and my stomach immediately began to ache. I felt so bad for her.

In case you’re wondering, she was up to date on all of her immunizations and received them all on time.

I had Chyna, my previous lab, for over 15 years. I had to put her to sleep on July 30, 2012. I was hesitant about getting another dog and didn’t think I could ever love another as much as I loved Chyna, but Ruby has proven me wrong.

June 2, 2103...the day I brought her home.

June 2, 2103…the day I brought her home.

By the time this article is published, I should know one way or another whether or not she’s going to pull through. Hopefully getting her to the vet in a timely manner will play to her favor.  She deserves it, because she might just be the best dog ever.

We can do everything in the world to protect our babies but sometimes that is simply not enough. Life happens.

I feel so helpless. I hate being so far away. I hate that I am not with her, but the show must go on. I have bills to pay. Her stay at the vet for this treatment will likely be a costly one but one that I would pay again and again, because I love my baby and she loves me.

UPDATE: As many of you now know, she will make it. In fact, she is at home with my veterinarian right now. Now I can’t wait to get home to see my baby girl! Here is my update from yesterday! Please take a second to read it.

I'm so ready to pick my baby up and take her home!

I’m so ready to pick my baby up and take her home!

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with 3 tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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Dogs & BBQ: Sometimes, the best things in life aren’t planned; they just happen.

Dogs and BBQ…and why I named her Ruby

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I love dogs and barbeque like old people love Buicks.

Several years ago, I was traveling through Memphis en route to Fort Carson, Colorado, for some high speed Army training and had a couple of hours built in to the rigid itinerary for a pit stop in Memphis.

Renowned for its BBQ, Memphis is on the bucket list for anyone and everyone who loves BBQ.

I made plans to eat at one of the popular joints that had been featured extensively on the Travel Channel.

Upon arrival at this BBQ Mecca, I was so excited. I was like a kid at Disney World. No, I was like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert. No, I was more like an old person with a brand new Buick. Yes, I was that excited.

I wasn’t sure what to get, so I went with the sampler. One can never go wrong with the sampler.

Boy was I wrong!

I hadn’t been that disappointed since the unveiling of New Coke.

I’d made quite an impression with the staff and didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so I politely asked for a carry-out box. Once outside and around the corner, I dumped it in the nearest garbage can.

The next day, while traveling along Interstate 40, I passed a sign just east of Ozark, Arkansas, for Rivertowne BBQ. I took the corresponding exit and made the short trek to Ozark, a small town beautifully set along the Arkansas River.

Rivertowne BBQ is located just off the square in downtown and is not to be missed. The setting was perfect. The staff was incredibly friendly, and the BBQ was out of this world.

Sometimes, the best things in life aren’t planned; they just happen.

While growing up, the thought of enlisting in the Army never crossed my mind, and I certainly never envisioned getting Chyna, my beloved black lab, within a year of separation from my first stint in the Army.

It’s now been 21 years (23 now) since I raised my right hand and took that oath of enlistment that changed my life forever; furthermore, I was so incredibly blessed to have Chyna at my side for the bulk of those years.

I reiterate. Sometimes, the best things in life aren’t planned; they just happen.

I had to make every pet owner’s toughest decision on July 30, 2012, but in the end, it was an easy decision because it was the right decision. Chyna was 15 ½ years old and had lived a good life.

Not a week has gone by that someone hasn’t offered me a dog or sent me a link to one needing rescued.

Although many people offered AKC registered pups at no charge, I’d planned on rescuing one from the shelter, because that was the right thing to do. That was the plan.

But plans don’t always pan out. I was never quite ready to make that leap. The loss of Chyna weighed heavily on my heart, and I was not prepared to put myself in a position to eventually go through such heartbreak again.

My article on Chyna: The Love of my Life

That all changed on Saturday, June 1, 2013, when I received the following message on Facebook from a friend I barely knew:

Hey! I know that you lost your baby a while back. My lab recently had a litter of puppies. I have sold them all except one little girl. It has been weighing heavy on my heart for the past few days to ask you if you would like to have her as a gift. She is an AKC reg. chocolate lab. She turned 7 weeks old yesterday.

Getting a dog hadn’t crossed my mind at any point throughout that day, but I immediately knew that she was the one, sight unseen.

Oddly enough, I also knew her name. It was Ruby.

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It’s a name shared by my late great grandmother, who was a sweet, smart, kind, and caring lady; and by one of our battalion’s great soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice during my first tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. Sergeant Rubalcava, known as SGT Ruby by most, was a beautiful, brave, strong, and loyal soldier.

So far, my Ruby embodies each of the character traits of her namesakes and will be a constant reminder of those for whom she is named.

I simply cannot wait to answer the question, “Why did you name her Ruby?”

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While it is of the utmost importance that we plan some things out, it’s equally important to remain flexible and to let those plans change when and if necessary.

I wasn’t planning on getting a puppy this week, but it happened. Perhaps I saved her from going to a bad home. Who knows? After just fours days with her, I feel it was meant to be. She is a blessing in every conceivable manner. I look forward to the journey ahead.

BBQ is one of my greatest loves, but be it Memphis, Carolina, Kansas City or even Chuck’s BBQ in my hometown of Opelika, AL, it pales in comparison to the love I have for my dogs, Chyna and Ruby, whose unconditional love for me was and is much like Rivertown BBQ; it’s out of this world.

If and when you lose your beloved pet, take your time in getting a new one. Don’t rush into it. You’ll know when the time is right. Others mean well and want to help but it’s ultimately up to you to know when and you will, indeed, know.

By the way, I have it on good authority that Aunt Chyna gives Miss Ruby two dewclaws up. She always was a good judge of character.

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Update: Me and my girl in August 2015

Update: Me and my girl in August 2015

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.