National Love Your Pet Day

February 20 was National Love Your Pet Day. Who knew?

I don’t really need a special day to love my dog but it did give me something to write about.

Ruby, my 10 month old chocolate lab, has been such a blessing. When Chyna, my 15 ½ year old, died in July 2012, I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a dog again. The pain was immense, but time heals all wounds, as does puppy breath.

The day I got her. She was so tiny.

The day I got her. She was so tiny.

She begins each day by licking me all over my face; however, she’s very respectful of my sleep. She will sit there and stare at me like she’s trying to steal my soul until I open an eye, but once that eye is open, she’s on me like a duck on a June bug.

On sunny days, she likes to play in her “high dolla” Walmart pool that I purchased for her last year.

Skinny Ruby right after she whipped Parvo's booty in October.

Skinny Ruby right after she whipped Parvo’s booty in October.

Regardless of weather conditions, I leave my back door open the majority of each day giving her free will to roam in and out at her convenience. Be that as it may, she chooses to stay at my side for most of the day.

In fact, she’s at my side right now with a tennis ball in her mouth. Apparently, she wants me to throw it.

Ruby tennis ball

When she does go outside, she likes to bring the outside back in with her. Too often, my floor is covered with worms, spiders, sticks, rocks, and clumps of dirt. Hey, that’s what vacuums are for. I won’t tell you what else she occasionally brings in. That’s just gross, but I still love her.

She loves to ride in my car, too. It doesn’t matter if we’re going to the vet or just taking a spin around the neighborhood. All I have to do is pick up my keys and she starts going berserk. I don’t take her for a ride every day, but I do most days.

Ruby riding

She loves to watch The Andy Griffith Show with me. Well, at least the opening sequence. It seems she’s drawn to the whistling. She peps up for Barney Fife, too. The show was always better with Barney. Even dogs know that.

I’ve probably thrown the tennis ball a dozen times since I mentioned it just four short paragraphs ago.

Like her master, she eats well. I drive all the way to Lee County Feed & Seed in Beauregard for her special dog food.

I do my best to keep her water bowls filled, but, on occasion, I fail. She doesn’t complain, though. She simply drinks from the toilet. She adapts and overcomes.

Speaking of the toilet, she goes wherever I go. Like I mentioned, she seldom leaves my side.

Ruby sometimes makes a mess in the bathroom and beyond. No, not that kind of mess. Sometimes, she’ll get ahold of a roll of toilet paper and spreads it all over the house. She is an Auburn fan, so I can’t blame her. We like our toilet paper.

One day, we'll roll Toomer's Corner together. War Eagle!

One day, we’ll roll Toomer’s Corner together. War Eagle!

She loves playing in the bathtub, and it doesn’t matter if it’s empty, filled with water, or filled with me. I don’t take baths often, but when I do, she thinks she should be in there, too. Once, I let my guard down, and she jumped right on in. She has no shame.

Ruby jumping in the tub

She loves me unconditionally, and I love her. I just don’t want to love her in the bathtub.

National Love Your Pet Day should happen more than just once a year. In fact, I propose a resolution that it’s recognized on every day that ends in Y, and I’ll make that proposal right after I throw this tennis ball.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three 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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The Love of My Life (Updated)

Update: Originally posted Valentine’s Day 2013. What a difference a year makes!

Valentine’s Day 2013 has come and gone and for the first time in 15 years, I spent it without the love of my life.

We had a special kind of love, one that didn’t include things of a materialistic nature. In all the years we spent together, I never once bought her roses, chocolates or jewelry, although she might have gotten into my chocolate a time or two. What lady hasn’t acted upon that temptation?

I never took her to a fancy restaurant, but she did eat the best food money could buy.

We never once shared a bottle of wine. She was one of those girls who preferred water over anything else.

Traveling was a passion that we both shared. There was nothing we enjoyed more than hitting the open highway with the windows rolled down and music turned up. We both enjoyed the freshness of the air as it blew in our faces. I don’t think she cared for my music but she never once complained about it.

I’ve spent every Valentine’s Day since 1998 with my girl, excluding the three I spent while deployed. She was always very supportive and understood my duties and obligations as a soldier.

When I returned from my third all-expense paid trip to Iraq in 2011, she was fully supportive and happy to see me but I could tell the repeated deployments were taking its toll on our relationship. I vowed to repair any damage that had been done.

For the next year and a half, our love blossomed like never before and grew to heights that I never could have imagined on March 31, 1997, when we first met.

She wasn’t the kind of girl that needed to be showered with lavish gifts. She simply needed to be showered with love and affection.

Sometimes her breath smelled like death warmed over but I would still kiss her on the mouth as I scratched behind her ear. She really liked for me to rub her belly.

She was one of 11 Labrador Retrievers born on Jan 31, 1997. Choosing which puppy to take home that day proved to be a very difficult choice, so I walked away with hopes that one would choose me.

By God’s good grace, one of the pups, one with a little white patch on its chest, chose to follow me and would continue to do so for the next 15 plus years.

Her name was Chyna and she was the love of my life.

Fancy food in 2005.

Fancy food in 2005.

I’m not overstating that. She really was. I got her when I was just a 24 year old boy but she stayed with me until I was a 40 year old man.

I learned so much from her. She never judged me and always taught me to love unconditionally, even when she was leaving streaks on my carpet by riding her invisible motorcycle around the living room.

Even at 14 years old, I treated her like a lady and had a mole removed from her forehead :)

Even at 14 years old, I treated her like a lady and had a mole removed from her forehead 🙂

In early 2012, her age began to catch up with her. It’ll happen to the best of us. I could see the writing on the wall. It was inevitable.

I had a scare in the spring. I thought the time had come to make that dreaded decision. I even dug a hole in my back yard. I vowed to never let her suffer in order to support my selfishness.

Fortunately, this was not her time. I was blessed to be given a few more months with my girl. I planted a crabapple tree in that hole and referred to it as my “Chyna tree.”

"50 Shades of Gray" with the wind blowing in her face.

“50 Shades of Gray” with the wind blowing in her face.

On July 30, 2012, I had to make the decision. Although incredibly painful, it was an easy decision to make. I knew the time had come.

I cried on the way to the vet. I cried as I carried her in and laid her on the table. Heck, I’m crying now.

I held her in my arms as the vet injected her with the concoction that would take away her pain and send her to heaven.

I’m not sure how long I stayed. It seemed like an eternity. I didn’t want to leave her, because she was the love of my life.

Love isn’t measured by material things. Chyna didn’t need to keep up with the Jones’ dog; she simply needed to be loved.

We all need to love and need to know what it feels like to be loved. Pets are no exception.

By the way, if your dog is riding his or her invisible motorcycle around your house, please let your veterinarian know so that it can be taken care of. It’s a smelly, yet inexpensive, procedure but your “best friend” will love you forever.

This is Jan 27, 2011...I'd just walked in the door after returning from my 3rd tour in Iraq.

This is Jan 27, 2011…I’d just walked in the door after returning from my 3rd tour in Iraq.

Update:

Fast forward to Valentine's Day 2014 and I've never been happier with Lucy, the two-legged one, and Ruby the 8 month old 4-legged one. Life is great but I'll never forget Chyna.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 2014 and I’ve never been happier with Lucy, the two-legged one, and Ruby the 8 month old 4-legged one. Life is great but I’ll never forget Chyna.

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

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I am thankful

Ten years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in a flooded tent in Kuwait. This year, I am thankful I am not spending Thanksgiving in a flooded tent in Kuwait.

I have so much to be thankful for this year and every year.

I am writing this from Hotel Capstone on the campus of the University of Alabama. I am thankful I am only here overnight, because I felt safer in Iraq.

I am thankful for Alabama fans. They make me feel better about myself.

I am thankful for my mother and brother, even though they’re Alabama fans.

I am thankful I know the difference in they’re, there, and their.

I am thankful for lucky 73 yard touchdown passes on 4th and 18.

Auburn’s Ricardo Louis (5) made a stunning 73-yard TD catch to beat Georgia. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

Auburn’s Ricardo Louis (5) made a stunning 73-yard TD catch to beat Georgia. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

I am thankful Auburn didn’t lose to a team from Mississippi this year.

I am thankful I know the difference in lose and loose.

I am thankful for this double chin, because it means I’ve been eating well.

I am thankful for a dog that wakes me each day at the crack of dawn with a bony elbow in my chest.

My sweet Ruby loves to lay on my chest...

My sweet Ruby loves to lay on my chest…

I am thankful for Google. Try it. You’ll be amazed and what you can learn and what you won’t have to ask others.

I am thankful for toothpaste, mouthwash, and Tic Tacs. If you are unfamiliar with any of these products, please Google.

I am thankful for Q-tips. Very few things in this world are as unappealing as a dirty ear canal. Friends don’t let friends walk around with dirty ear canals.

I am thankful for my nose hair trimmer. Now that texting is illegal, it gives me something to do while driving.

I am thankful for baths that allow me to soak away my worries even if only temporarily.

I am thankful for a dog that jumps in the bathtub while the water is still running to ensure the water is at a safe temperature for me to soak away my aforementioned worries.

Video of Ruby testing my bathwater…

I am thankful for your kids.

I am thankful I know the difference in your and you’re.

I am thankful for a dryer that can be restarted over and over so I don’t have to iron.

I am thankful I don’t keep up with the Kardashians.

I am thankful for my uniqueness.

I am thankful for fresh white bread and cold milk, because without either, I’d have no use for peanut butter or jelly.

I am thankful to have a vehicle that does not require Duct Tape. Been there. Done that.

I am thankful for a dog that immediately cleans my floor of any and all stumbling hazards, otherwise known as food.

I am very thankful for high definition television. I can no longer lower myself to watch standard definition, although it was just fine the first 39 years of my life.

I am thankful that I haven’t bitten my fingernails in over 20 years. It makes scratching so much more pleasurable than before.

I am thankful I know the difference in than and then.

I am thankful for a dog that brings in worms, spiders, centipedes, leaves, shrubbery and clumps of dirt so that I am able to get maximum use out of my “high dolla” vacuum cleaner.

I am thankful for XM radio so I don’t have to listen to local car dealership commercials. I don’t care if they are “selling cars like candy bars or trucks like Reese’s Cups.”

I am thankful for soft toilet paper. Being an Army guy, I’ve used enough John Wayne toilet paper to last a lifetime.

I am thankful for a dog that turns down the covers each night before I crawl into bed before settling down right on top of my pillow.

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I am thankful to our Veterans who have served this nation so honorably.

I am thankful for unanswered prayers. Otherwise, I might be in my 12th year of selling furniture in Montgomery.

I am thankful I get to do what I love for a living.

I am thankful I have the opportunity to write for a great local newspaper.

I have so much to be thankful for, but most importantly, I am incredibly thankful for my faith, family, and friends and, last but certainly not least, I am thankful for my dog.

If she only knew she was a dog…

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three 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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The unlikely perfect day…

Monday was just a normal day for me. I woke up late, had lunch with Adrian, and then came home and started working. Ruby, my 5 ½ month old chocolate lab, was normal, too; she was wide open.

Late that afternoon, that changed. Long story short, I could tell she was sick.

After showing no signs of improvement after a good night’s sleep, I took her to my vet within a half hour of waking up. We didn’t sleep late on this day.

That afternoon, I found out that although Ruby was up to date on all her shots, she had parvo. It was not pretty and I was a nervous wreck. Parvo can be fatal, but I had hundreds of people praying for my sweet baby.

I had to fly early Wednesday morning to Ohio for a show at the University of Findlay. I also had to write my weekly article for the Opelika Observer. I also had a million other things that needed to be done, but all I could think about was my sweet Ruby.

Because of time restraints and just not wanting to be around people, I cancelled my flight and decided to drive. My GPS estimated it’d take me 11 ½ hours. No worries. I got this, even on 3 hours sleep, right? Right.

I sat down to write my article but couldn’t think of anything. All I could think of was Ruby, so Ruby it was…

It didn’t take long to complete the article and I finished around 12:45 a.m. and got it bed around 1:00. I woke up at 4:00 and was on the road at 5:00 a.m……in the morning.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d never make my 5:30 appointment at Findlay. I had failed to realize that Findlay, Ohio, was on Eastern Standard Time. The show wasn’t until 7:00 but I was meeting with a member of the faculty, Lori, and some students for dinner at 5:30.

I almost called Lori to let her know that I’d be late for dinner but on time for the show. I hate not being punctual.

I failed to take into account the Atlanta traffic, too. This was not going to be a good day.

None of this mattered, though. All I could think of was Ruby.

Ruby

After about four hours on the road, I got a call from my veterinarian, Dr. Colley, who was extremely optimistic about Ruby’s prognosis. I immediately felt better.

He called back a little while later and said the she would most likely be going home in the next day or two. I was a happy man.

He called back again and said that since I was out of town that he would take her home and keep her there until I got back in town.

I was exstat, ecstac, esctact…overwhelmed with joy!!!

Thank God I noticed the warning signs very early and got her to the clinic in a timely manner.

If your dog all of a sudden becomes lethargic, won’t eat or drink, and has stuff coming out of both ends, get it to the vet ASAP! Time is of the urgency!

I still had a show to get to and still had a shot at making that 5:30 appointment. I hate being late.

And I wasn’t…I got to my hotel at 4:30, beating the GPS estimate by an hour.

I took a shower, put on my fancy clothes, sprayed on the smell good and met the good folks at Findlay for dinner at 5:30. I also found out the show was at 8.

Half way through dinner, Lori left the table only to return a few minutes later with a surprise and what a surprise it was!

Making the two hour trek from Cleveland to see me was my best friend from Basic Training and AIT. I hadn’t seen Jason in about 20 years, since our early days in Germany together. He also brought along his very lovely and very pregnant wife, Selma. What a surprise! Jason had contacted the school and they set that up. He’d seen my post about the event on Facebook.

I immediately put Jason to work as he helped me retrieve some of my junk from my car. As we walked towards my car, a gentleman approached us from behind. He asked, “Do you remember me?” It took me about half a second and immediately went in for the hug. It was my friend Marc from Officer Candidate School. I hadn’t seen him since we graduated from OCS on Jan 10, 2003.

(L-R) Jason, Jody, Marc

(L-R) Jason, Jody, Marc

I was so humbled that these two old friends drove to Findlay, Ohio, to see their old buddy tell some jokes. I am still humbled. It was special and I am very appreciative of their efforts.

Then there was the show and it went extremely well. It was a great crowd, no doubt about it. They wanted to laugh and that they did for about 70 minutes or so. I’m so glad I didn’t stink it up for my pals in the crowd.

After merchandise sales, autographs, pictures, and hugs, I joined two of the faculty members, Lori and Sharinda, and Jason and Selma for dinner. Marc had to get home to get ready for work the next day. The meal was fabulous and Jason even picked up the tab for the whole table.

Like I said, this day was perfect…

Never give up. Surround yourself with good people. Drive on and good things will eventually happen. You just gotta keep the faith.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier three 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.

A Memphis Miracle

Several days ago, I was hanging out with the rich folks at the pool at Moore’s Mill Club in Auburn.

Lying in the lounge chair next to me was Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.

We had an intriguing conversation that covered everything from World War II veterans to some of the ins and outs of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

There was one story, however, that stood out above all the rest and deserves to be shared.

Our story starts out on the mean streets of Memphis, Tennessee, in January of this year. Sure Memphis is the home of BBQ, the blues, and Elvis, but, as with any city its size, there are some seedy parts of The River City, too.

Two of Memphis’ finest, officers Chad Conley and Dwayne Johnson, spotted a stray a stray dog walking along the sidewalk.

It was evident to the officers that the dog hadn’t eaten in a while, so Officer Conley shared some of his sandwich with the rambling canine.

It didn’t take long for the officers to realize that this wasn’t just any dog. He was special.

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They named him Graham Leroy which was derived from the name of the intersection of the two roads where he was found.

Not wanting to drop him off at the Memphis Animal Shelter, Conley reached out to a former colleague, dog lover, and current Lee County Deputy Sheriff Jennifer Bosler, who, unfortunately, was unable to take him in.

“At that time, I had a foster from the Lee County Humane Society who had two puppies, so along with my three dogs, I wasn’t in a position to take in another one,” Bosler regretfully said.

With heavy hearts, the officers had no choice but to leave Graham Leroy with the Memphis Animal Shelter.

Meanwhile, 350 miles away, Bosler was worried sick that this special dog would be euthanized.

While at the shelter, Graham Leroy received a lot of tender loving care and very quickly regained his healthy form. He was neutered and, at the request of Johnson, had a microchip implanted in his leg with the officer’s contact information.

Why would Officer Johnson do such a thing for a dog he would likely never see again?

For the answer, keep reading.

It turned out that Johnson found a home for him with one of his wife’s co-workers who stepped up to the plate and adopted this special pooch, who was now simply called Leroy.

The Johnsons would often inquire about Leroy and were under the impression that he was doing just fine. It appeared that everyone would live happily ever after, after all.

At the end of April, Johnson was contacted by a fellow officer who had picked up an injured stray on the other side of town. The microchip in the dog’s leg revealed Johnson’s contact information.

Leroy was found in excess of 20 miles from his adopter’s home, so there’s no telling how long he’d been out on his own, again.

Johnson linked up with the fellow officer to take custody of Leroy.

It’s nothing short of a miracle that the same stray dog would be rescued by the same people twice in a city the size of Memphis.

Like Officer Conley said, Leroy was special.

It appeared that Leroy had been hit by a car and had an injured leg. Officer Johnson took him to the veterinarian where he was informed that his leg would need to be amputated. The cost for the surgery alone would be $800, which didn’t include medicine, boarding, or follow up visits.

Notice the injured left leg. Atrophy had set in.

Notice the injured left leg. Atrophy had set in.

Once again, they reached out to one of Lee County’s resident dog lovers, Deputy Sheriff Jennifer Bosler.

“So I told Chad that I’d contact my vet, Dr. Jere Colley of Opelika Animal Hospital. I spoke with Dr. Colley and shared with him how special this dog was. Not only had he been lucky to run across Chad and Dwayne once…but twice. That’s quite amazing considering the size of Memphis. I really felt that God placed that dog in their path both times. With that being said, he said he would help us out,” said Bosler.

She met Johnson in Birmingham on May 18 and immediately had that “feeling” about this dog. The return trip was uneventful, as was the introduction to the other dogs at the Bosler house of dogs.

He enjoyed the ride “home."

He enjoyed the ride “home.”

He got along well with the other dogs.

He got along well with the other dogs.

A couple of days later, Leroy was taken to Opelika Animal Hospital where it was discovered that he had a severed lateral nerve in his left front leg.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Jennifer Elrod on May 21. He stayed in the hospital for approximately 10 days.

Dr. Colley said Leroy did amazingly well following the amputation, which led him to believe he’d been without the use of that leg for quite some time.

At the vet, he did very well post-op.

At the vet, he did very well post-op.

It’s important to note that the procedure was performed at a discount by Opelika Animal Hospital and was funded entirely by a collection taken up by the Memphis Police Department.

Oftentimes at work, Bosler would mention the trials and tribulations of Leroy to Sheriff Jay Jones who became interested in his story.

“The first time I saw him, I figured he was a unique animal. He was in pre-op condition and that left front leg was just dangling limp. If it bothered him, you wouldn’t know, because he was bouncing around like the happiest dog alive. I learned of his background and the thought of offering to claim him did cross my mind. I’ve always admired a resilient attitude when facing tough odds, be it man or beast,” said the sheriff.

He shared Leroy’s story with Judy, his wife, so an introduction was in order. Bosler and Leroy visited the sheriff’s home in Auburn soon thereafter. Bosler was able to leave; Leroy, however, has taken up permanent residence at the Jones home.

Memphis enjoying his new home in Auburn.

Memphis enjoying his new home in Auburn.

He’s also taken up a different name. Memphis is what he answers to these days. It almost sounds as if he’s in the Witness Protection Program.

“The first time Judy saw Memphis, she looked at me and said, “I like this dog.” I knew that was it. Shoot, he had me after he ran three miles with me the first morning he came to the house. Later in the day, he came over and laid that big square head in my lap and looked up at me with his big brown eyes like dogs do. I know anyone that has ever had a dog knows exactly what I’m talking about. Well, that did it for sure,” Sheriff Jones went on to say.

Here's a current photo of Memphis, He appears to be living the good life-Aug 2013

Here’s a current photo of Memphis. He appears to be living the good life-Aug 2013

“I can’t lie, I miss the ole boy. He truly is a special dog, but I do get visitation rights,” Bosler said with a smile.

Sheriff Jones summed it up nicely by saying, “After all he’s been through, I have to believe the Almighty put him here for a purpose. If it was to inspire, then that plan is working to perfection.”

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

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.