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When a Little Means a Lot – Post Script for a Puppy Mill Mama

2013 December 24


This is not a post about a book. It is a post about a dog – a little dog who meant A LOT.

‘When a Little Means a Lot” was the working title I’d given to my book as I wrote it. Of course, in the hands of my publisher, the title morphed. It became know as “that give a little book” around the office and the name stuck.

Turns out that original title perfectly describes how I feel about my little dog Ruby who came into my life for a brief time and touched me profoundly. It also describes Ruby’s appreciation for every little kindness shown to her.

Writing about Ruby is difficult, but it’s important because I’m going to ask a favor of you on her behalf. 

For Christmas this year, I want to honor my beloved Ruby who died September 3rd. Ruby was a Shih-Tzu – a puppy mill slave breeding mama who lived in a cage for the first 7.5 years of her life. When she came to me, she was mostly blind due to an entirely preventable eye condition, had survived mammary cancer and had few teeth left. She had PTSD and arthritis down the length of her spine.

For nearly 8 years, Ruby had been bred for profit by people whose lack of humanity is very difficult for me to understand.

Ruby lived with me for just over a year. She embodied gratitude. She appreciated every single opportunity to experience and enjoy the world for the very first time.

She had surgery that gave her more vision in one eye for a period. During that time, she loved watching cars go by on a nearby busy street. When her little bit of sight faded, she loved listening to children playing. She loved riding in the car and going for walks –  walks that were so slow that it sometimes felt like we were hardly making forward progress. Ruby didn’t just stop to smell the flowers, she stopped to smell everything. If we went out without her, Ruby regaled us upon returning with a happy dance that was pure joy.

Ruby never made a sound for the first months she lived with me. In fact, I was afraid her vocal cords had been cut. Over time, as our bond and her trust grew in leaps and bounds, we found her voice, and when she felt especially good she’d sing with me. Ruby found her inner wolf.

Ruby sings!

Ruby had learned how to be a dog. Her ability to love, be joyful and even peaceful despite her despicable life at the puppy mill was nothing short of miraculous to me. She was a beam of love and light every day she lived with us.  She enriched our lives immeasurably.

Sadly, last summer Ruby developed leukemia. Through gentle treatment with chemotherapy, Ruby was in remission by the end of the summer. I had hoped to give her as many wonderful years as the awful ones she’d suffered at the hands of her abusers. Suddenly however, she developed a very aggressive and untreatable systemic infection that caused horrendous itching. We treated her and when that failed, I gave her a final gift. When she was diagnosed with leukemia, I promised Ruby I wouldn’t let her suffer. At 1 am on September 3rd, Ruby slipped peacefully to sleep on my lap with one last sigh that said, “Aahh. Thank you.”

To honor Ruby and all the other puppy mill slave mamas breeding for the profit of others, I’ve made a contribution to The Puppy Mill Project that works to shut down these horrid operations.

I hope that Ruby’s story will inspire you to donate to The Puppy Mill Project as well and that you will feel good even for a moment knowing that you’re helping to eliminate the worst abuse of dogs who only know how to love.

That moment is Ruby’s and my gift to you this year.


P.S. Please know that virtually all dogs sold in pet stores are the products of puppy mill slave mamas.

DO NOT buy a dog at a pet store. For more info, go to The Puppy Mill Project

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