Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Home for Ruth

When I was in the first grade I had to start reading chapter books. I was afraid to read chapter books. Even at that young of an age, I was deeply afraid of failure. Chapter books were really long and I was afraid if I started a chapter book I wouldn’t be able to finish it. So, I told people I hated to read. But the truth was that I didn’t know if I liked it or not; I was afraid to try.

I had a chapter book though that I carried with me for months and I would stare at the cover all the time. The book was called “A Home for Jesse”. It was a book about a boy who found a little dog. I dreamed about being the one in the story, about Jesse being my dog. I dreamed about that for years. I did eventually finish the book, but the details of the story escape me now.

All of my life I wanted a dog. We were allergic. We didn’t have a fence. We never lived in a house that we owned; it was always the church’s house. Finally, the summer of my 13th year we got Belle. I loved her. I had always wanted her. But Belle was the family dog, more specifically, she was Mom’s dog. I also was young and immature and didn’t truly understand what it meant to love her in the way I should.

Time passed. Years went by. I kept telling myself when I finished school I’d get a dog (this was before I realized I’d be in college for 10 years!!). Then when I was finally done I started working odd hours and didn’t feel like my schedule would be conducive to raising a puppy. It seemed I would never fulfill my wish.

When I moved to Raleigh a lot of things in life began to change for me. Priorities began to be refocused. I started evaluating things from a different perspective. I began to put an emphasis on other things. Mainly me and what I needed. Some things I had neglected for a long time.

I still wasn’t sure about a dog. I knew that within time I would begin working 24h shifts. How in the world can a person get a dog, a puppy, and work for 24h?? I had no clue, but I began to look. I met a lot of people and met a lot of dogs, but none of the dogs were the “one”. I was almost ready to quit looking, but at the same time, I had such an intense desire. I had finally given true hope to a lifelong dream and it wasn’t going to let me give up.

I’d been to the shelter before; hundreds of dogs yelping in a large room. The smells, the sights (and this from a person immune to most smells and sights). My cousin Audrey decided to go with me. We walked around. I was really in a funk while we were there, I was never going to find the perfect dog. There were 4 criteria I was looking for: female, dark colored (I’m a racist), small, and doesn’t shed. Nothing seemed to fit what I wanted.

Audrey and I were laughing at so many of the names. They were funny and ridiculous. We walked and balked and looked and laughed and toured. Then there she was. I don’t know why or how, but I knew it was her, I knew it was my dog. I bent down to pet her through the chain link cage. She licked my hands and was so excited to see me. I was down there with her for awhile. Audrey was standing at my back. “What’s her name?”, I asked. “Um. Tara”. “What I said? Tara’s not a dog name!” I stood up, and there it was in black and white, her name was Tara. I laughed, but truthfully that was the moment I knew it was meant to be. God in his infinite wisdom had pointed her out to me.

I donned a gown and went into her cage. She smelled, she shed, she was going to keep growing, she was at least female and dark colored though. I loved her immediately. But my heart grew hard and after playing with her for a few more moments I left. I left without her.

I have a fear of intimacy, of commitment, of trust. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let myself be vulnerable, even to an animal.

So I went home and took a hot bath and couldn’t stop thinking of my little dog. I got up and went to church the next morning. While there, I named her. The shelter opened at 12 noon. Church got out at 11:45 and I rushed there. I was afraid someone might have gotten my dog.

They hadn’t. I paid for her before I even went back to see her. I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for her and getting ready to bring her home. Then, on Wednesday, I did. It was touch and go at first. We both had so much to learn about each other. I was afraid I’d never housetrain her.

She has done more for me than I could have ever known. I love this crazy little dog more than anything. I am so proud of her. She has blessed me in so many ways.

As a single person there are a lot of benefits to living alone. I drink out of the milk carton, eat out of the ice cream bucket, leave doors open when I should close them, and nobody cares what I do. But there are some negatives too: no one’s here when I get home from work, nobody ever fixes my dinner, and nobody cares what I do. Ruthie does though, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

My life has been deeply enriched by Ruth. I will forever be thankful for her.


Susan S. said...

I was so touched when I read this..the pictures say it all. You are Ruth's mommy!

Joy Kaye said...

I was scared when I saw the title of this post that you were having to find a new home for Ruth...and I was prepared to cry. I was relieved as I realized that wasn't where this was going...but as I read, I cried anyway. (And I'm soooo not that kind of animal person!) I really don't understand pet love...and that okay.

But I'm glad you have Ruth. And that she has you.

It makes my heart smile for you both...

Anonymous said...

Love the story of "your" Ruth.
Yes, it was meant to be.
God Bless you both. Believe He has.
Carol Watson

Phil Sanders said...

What a beautiful story for the perfect dog. We love you, Tara, and Ruthie is one of us.