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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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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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.