Behind the Story: "Charlie and Ruby (the brave)"

This story pays homage to Husband's and my first dog together, Eli. Picked out specially for us by an Australian Shepherd expert (my sister's husband's ex-wife; don't ask). Eli arrived from Oregon via airmail in a traveling crate.

Husband had lost his great Aussie, Smokey, a few months before and was adamant that he was not ready for a new dog. That being said, my sister was convinced she had just the right dog for us, so we cooked up the idea of surprising Husband for his birthday. While celebrating Husband's birthday with the family, Husband received a mysterious call from the airline cargo people telling him that his dog had arrived and was ready to be picked up. Hmm...

The jig was up. On the way to the airport, I had to fess up and tell him about the scheme. He took it pretty well (I think he was probably intrigued and was doing his best to reserve judgment). We arrived at the cargo warehouse to find the handlers playing with a little ball of fur running all over the warehouse floor (they couldn't help themselves). Eli sat on my lap on the drive home, and the rest is history. He was truly a great dog. A superdog. And I had always planned to write a story about "Eli, the Dog Who Could Fly," but never quite got around to it.

Australian Shepherds are very smart dogs (like their more intense cousin, the Border Collie). Since this was pre-Charlie, we did have much more time to spend with Eli, and he demanded our undivided attention.

Eli was perfect for us. He was an incredible athlete and took his yard patrols seriously. A few years later, when we brought Charlie home from the hospital, he took on the role of baby minder, and he really did have red blood-shot eyes from watching and guarding his pup; every night, all night. He was so patient during those toddler years.

Eli lived to please and would go out every morning to fetch the paper. It was really funny to watch him wrestle the Sunday edition. He'd lurch from side to side with this giant mass as he came up the drive, but he was serious about his job and did it so well.

A very old Eli the superdog, days before he passed.

When we lost our great friend, my sister again started a search for us, and a year later, found Chance (named after Eli's sire). We soon discovered that dogs, like children, are their own unique individuals. While Eli lived to please and couldn't bear to be scolded, reprimands rolled off Chance's back like water. He was an extremely headstrong and stubborn pup and gave us a real run for our money (Husband lost all illusions that he was the world's greatest dog trainer; and he does not admit defeat easily).

In comparison to Eli, Chance is a complete slacker and will not get the paper. While Eli would patrol the yard constantly, Chance merely pokes his head out the dog door to see if it's worth his trouble to go out (and apparently, it's rarely worth the trouble). When ordered to patrol, he simply runs out to the same corner of the yard every time and just stares up at the sky...

Chance the slacker (who has just dropped his ball to watch an airplane fly by).

Chance is, however, the world's friendliest dog. He's never met a person or animal that he hasn't wanted to befriend instantly, and he fancies himself a lap dog. (He doesn't get the size issue here.) Oh, and he will come directly up to you and burp.

When Charlie and I read at night, he's there at the foot of the bed listening to the stories.

Chance is his own dog, and we love him just the way he is (well, Husband just shrugs).

Read the Original Story "Charlie and Ruby (the brave)"

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