Today I’ve made the decision to share the story of Ruby, because I don’t want anyone to ever sit alone and believe that their feelings are unjustified or shouldn’t be voiced.
Some people who read this might think I’m too dramatic, that I’m exaggerating the amount of pain this causes me. But as my vision blurs and it gets harder to type through tears, I assure you every ounce of this emotion is real.
On February the 9th, 2010, I was thirteen years old. I was a weird kid with not many school friends, instead my whole world revolved around my dog, Hazel. I spent every second I possibly could at her side, teaching her tricks, taking her to fun dog shows (and cherishing every cheap rosette as if it was gold-plated). She was my everything. Often I was subject to nasty teasing at school because of how much I adored her.
But today was Tuesday the 9th of February 2010. There was nothing to fear, because what I thought was about to occur was, in my mind, the greatest event I could imagine. Hazel was pregnant and her puppy was due any moment.
Thirteen years old is quite young for somebody to arrange and plan a dog breeding, but I had prepared thoroughly. I had read books, websites, blogs. I had spoken with experienced breeders. I had the knowledge of what to do in an emergency. I had spoken with many stud dog owners, compared pedigrees and coefficients, until I found the perfect dad for my perfect litter. Hazel’s pregnancy had gone great. We took her for regular scans and had seen that there was only one puppy, but that was fine because we only needed one. I left the scans with so much excitement. I couldn’t wait to meet the baby in the picture.
As the pregnancy developed, I could feel the puppy kicking inside of Hazel. I felt it and felt so much love for this baby. We named her. Ruby. We got toys and collars and leads ready for her arrival.
And it was the 9th of February, very late in the evening. Hazel had started nesting. Our family and friends were all waiting with baited breath to meet Ruby.
Ruby was born on the 10th of February 2010 at exactly 3am. She never took a breath.
I can’t go into details because the memory is still too much for me to process, I may never be able to properly. But my parents were on the phone to the emergency vets, and I attempted for hours to resuscitate the puppy. None of the information I had read in my preparation could save her.
There’s still so much left to say. More of the story I could tell. Like the look on Hazel’s face when she saw her puppy, the helplessness I felt when I sat on the floor cradling Ruby to my chest, the years I have spent wishing I could turn back time. The nights when I can’t sleep because the 10th of February plays over and over in my head. I can’t talk about these things yet, not properly. Maybe I never will be able to. But Hazel and I still had each other, and we helped one another become stronger again. When I cry, I have my dogs to hold and eventually the sadness goes away.
I want everyone to know about Ruby now. My puppy that I never properly knew but who I think about every day. I want to help people who have experienced things that have crushed them.
You have heard Jack’s story, about his daily struggles with depression and anxiety and OCD, and how dogs have saved him. Now you’ve heard mine, and how my dogs have helped me. These are just two stories out of millions.
I’m not sure how yet, but we are going to use dogs to help people’s stories have a happier ending. We want to make people smile, and dogs are incredible enough that we hope we can succeed.