Ruru left Dooly County with our granddaughter, Abby, and moved to Southwest Georgia. She got along fine with the three females in their household but attacked Clay at each opportunity. Ruru has a long history of doing things that are hard to understand.
A few months later, when Abby went to Disney World with her family, Mama volunteered to keep Ruru. I’m not sure who initiated the permanent change in residency, but the two of them bonded and Abby was agreeable to transferring ownership. Clay didn’t object either. It’s hard to live with a dog who constantly snaps at your ankles.
That was almost ten years ago and Ruru has not mellowed. She loves Mama and gets along fine with all the women in our family. The men she tolerates, except for Seth, who came from California with a chihuahua named Louise. Although Ruru sees him daily, two years have passed and she still considers Seth an intruder. She thinks even less of Louise.
She barks when Seth enters Mama’s house and chases him when he leaves, biting his pants leg with her four remaining teeth. Ruru’s had major dental problems so Mama cuts her food into tiny morsels. Soft food has been tried but without success. Buddig ham or turkey slices are on the daily menu which often features fried chicken. Ruru gets what Ruru wants.
I retired from banking in December of 2015 and began going to the farm five days a week. Ruru didn’t welcome me to the dinner table but eventually stopped barking except for brief reminders I was in her domain. Mama had me begin putting the food in her bowl at mealtimes, hoping to improve our relationship. She’s never bitten the hand that feeds her, but warily keeps a little distance between us.
Ruru will allow me to touch her when she’s in Mama’s lap. Otherwise she scoots away if I get near. Over the past year or so there have been a few times she has stayed in her bed as I held my hand out for her to smell it, then scratched behind her ears. Gaining her trust is a slow process.
Mama’s sacrum fractured in August, which required four nights in the hospital then three weeks of rehabilitation. With her constant companion gone, Ruru’s attitude toward others slowly improved. She began trotting to her bed when I stopped by the house, an obvious invitation to sit with her. Ruru appreciated the company but remained apprehensive.
Thursday, September 8th, however, marked a turning point. On the way to visit Mama in rehab, I stopped by the farm to serve Ruru her breakfast, the same routine I’d had for several days. She ate a few bites then went to her bed, knowing I would soon follow.
For reasons unknown she’s always been afraid to let her guard down. That morning, though, was different. I gently patted her head and assured her Mama would soon be returning home. And Ruru unpredictably rolled over on her back for a belly rub.
When a dog rolls over on its back, that’s a sign of trust. There’s no semblance of a defensive posture, no hint of fear, no expectation they may need to suddenly flee. As I rubbed and scratched her belly she became so relaxed her eyelids were drooping. Loneliness can be a tiring thing.
As soon as Mama walked through the door Ruru resumed her skittish ways, but we’remaking progress. She’s more accepting of me and for her sake I’m glad. It’s hard when your only friend isn’t around and you don’t understand why.
She was a sad dog while Mama was gone. On the morning of the belly rub I spent a few minutes in the kitchen before joining her. A heartrending wail from her bed seemed out of character for a dog prone to barking and biting. But perhaps that’s not so different from human behavior.
Sometimes people can seem unapproachable or even antagonistic. They bark or give a menacing growl as a warning to stay away. But some of them, like Ruru, aren’t really mean. They’re just insecure or perhaps misunderstood. Unexplained issues often warrant a compassionate response, especially if the miscreant only has four teeth.
Rolling over onto her back was Ruru’s way of telling me she wants to be friends. Why it took a decade for her to come around I have no idea and don’t expect to find out.
Ruru has a long history of doing things that are hard to understand, but I shouldn’t be too critical. She probably thinks the same thing about me.