My mother’s chihuahua is ferocious for a tiny dog with only four teeth. She’s timid off the premises but at home Ruru rules the roost, a trait which suits her peculiar name. She’s fearless when my mother is nearby, which reminds me of a kid who grew up with my dad.

Johnny Martin’s childhood home was within sight of ours and still standing during my youth. Daddy would grin and reminisce about Johnny scampering home with others in pursuit.

He’d stop running as soon as he reached his yard and confront whoever was on his trail. “You can’t touch me now,” he’d say defiantly. “I’m on Ma’s land!” I don’t know who chased him or why, but the races ended at the property line. Apparently his mother didn’t cater to trespassers.

I met the grownup version of that legendary character when he stopped by Joiner’s Store during my childhood. Nicely dressed and wearing a big smile, there was no hint of his rowdy past. He and Uncle Emmett had a good time catching up and laughing about Johnny’s capers. I’d love to know more details but waited too late to ask.     

Ruru joined our family about ten years ago after my wife saw a sign in a veterinarian’s office. Our oldest granddaughter, Abby, was looking for a chihuahua so Jane called to inquire. 

Late that afternoon we made a half hour drive, then took a dirt road which transitioned to a field road with dense woods on each side. Jane and I were wondering if we were in the right place until the swarm greeted us. There must have been fifty chihuahuas barking and racing toward my truck. “Lock the doors and don’t make eye contact,” I said.  

“Do you think we should leave?” Jane nervously asked. “Too late,” I replied. “We’re surrounded.” The adorable little puppy the lady handed my wife was freshly bathed and wrapped in swaddling clothes. She held her snugly all the way home, tenderly calming her pitiful trembling. As we approached Vienna the shaking finally stopped.   

Abby, 12 at the time, was en route to our house with her sister, Melanie, and their mother, Carrie. Jane spoke lovingly to Ruru as she gently put her down on the grass. That’s when the trouble started. 

That little rascal took off like a rocket toward the overgrown woods down the road. My long legs were no match for her speed. The thoughts of telling Abby that Ruru was gone were intolerable. That’s why I traipsed into the snake-infested underbrush.

As darkness approached I quit searching, troubled by knowing a bobcat or coyote would likely put a tragic end to Ruru’s adventure. I walked toward home, dreading to give Abby such heartbreaking news. Thankfully, I didn’t have to.

 Carrie had pulled into our driveway as Ruru was running toward our neighbor’s garage. She had circled back through tall weeds without me seeing her and decided to stop next door. By the time I reached the group, everything was copasetic.

We took her inside where everyone had a chance to hold her. Jane, Carrie, and Melanie later went downtown, despite their concerns with the twosome left in charge of security. They cautioned us multiple times not to let our guards down. 

At some point Abby went outside for something and so did I, but we made sure Ruru didn’t dart through the doorway. That’s why her sudden disappearance was a mystery. Abby said she didn’t let her out and I knew I hadn’t, but Ruru was gone and we were the only suspects.

Thinking Ruru needed some quiet time, we had put her in the laundry room with a baby gate in the doorway. It seemed impossible she could have climbed over, so I checked the closet and behind the appliances but she wasn’t there. I even opened the cabinet doors below the sink. She had escaped and left no clues. 

Jane, Carrie, and Melanie returned home and joined the search. They suspected a lapse of attention might explain the missing dog. That’s when I decided to look in a highly unlikely place. Somehow Ruru had wiggled her way under our upright freezer and wedged herself between wires and copper tubing. I unplugged the freezer and pulled her to safety, thankful that Abby and I had been proven innocent.          

I’ll try to finish Ruru’s story next week. Why she ran away, circled back, or hid under the freezer I don’t understand, but here’s what I can say with certainty. If Ruru were being chased today, she’d stop running at the property line. Ruru is like that kid from my father’s childhood. She knows you can’t touch her when she’s on Ma’s land.       

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3 Responses to Ruru

  1. Judy says:

    Neil, you know I loved this story! After crying halfway through the story, I was delighted at the end. My little Callie Belle, the Jack Russell is the same way as Ruru. She is our Barney Fife; her job is to protect and serve her mama’s place.


  2. Fran says:

    Looking forward to reading the next installment of Ruru’s story! We brought home a new puppy last month. It has been a few years, and I’d forgotten just how energetic they are!


  3. Curtis Greer says:

    Another Good’un Neil. p&B


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