A corgi-sized hole in our
by Lisa Scottoline
Ruby with her bff Peach
I have very sad news to report, in that our beloved little corgi Ruby passed away last week.
She had DM, degenerative myelopathy, which was an increasing paralysis of her little body starting from the back, getting worse over a period of years. She felt no pain because of the illness, but it was finally affecting her ability to breathe. Francesca came home to be with her at the end, and Ruby was put down, peacefully, in our arms.
That is, Ruby was peaceful.
We were hysterical.
Corgis are born to herd, but the fact that there weren't any barnyard animals in the house never stopped Ruby. She herded me, Francesca, the other dogs, and occasionally even the cat.
Yes, you can herd cats.
If you're a corgi.
She was a small dog with short little legs, which supported a body shaped like a cocktail sausage, but she protected all of us. She saved us by barking at UPS deliverymen, squirrels, and even passing airplanes.
Well, none crashed on me, did they?
I've never had a dog who was so thoroughly in charge of my house.
For the last 14 years, she ran the place.
She was small, but so mighty that losing her is a reminder that size really doesn't matter. Nor did her disability or even illness. She had no idea she was completely incapable of protecting us from anything, yet all the other dogs obeyed her. Strangers kept their distance.
Occasionally, so did friends.
After her disease paralyzed her back legs, we got her a cart, and she raced around the house like a kid on a Big Wheel. She was a terrible driver and ran over everything in her path, including my feet.
I didn't mind.
In time, the disease paralyzed her two front legs, so she couldn't use the cart anymore, but she was happy to lie down on a cushioned pad that we moved wherever we were in the house, sliding her around on it like a magic carpet.
Even then, she would be snapping and nipping at the other dogs, keeping them behind her so she could be at the head of the pack.
And they obeyed what was essentially a barking bath mat.
Ruby loved Francesca and me with a ferocity I haven't felt since Mother Mary, and when my mother was alive, she adored Ruby, seeing a kindred spirit in the tiny little dog that ruled the world.
And I will tell you a strange story, because Ruby passed on my mother's birthday, and at the very moment Ruby passed, it began to rain.
On a perfectly sunny day that wasn't even cloudy.
And after she passed, the rain stopped.
A five-minute shower on a sunny day.
Every family has its wacky lore, but you may remember that we associate Mother Mary with rain. She always used to joke that she "brings the rain," and also, it poured the day of her funeral, flooding my entrance hall completely.
That hadn't happened before, or since.
So what if it's not completely scientific?
We believe that Mother Mary got Ruby for her birthday.
Because even heaven needs a dog.
We all know by now that you can learn lessons from animals, so many of them that I can't begin to count. But I have never been so inspired by a dog of mine as I was by Ruby.
She lived every day without limits, except those she set for herself.
She was powerful because she believed she was powerful.
She got respect because she settled for nothing less.
And she loved with everything in her little body.
She never left my side or Francesca's, needing neither a leash nor a fence because there was simply nowhere else she wanted to be.
And with her passing, we have a corgi-shaped hole in our hearts.
We will never forget her.
Or the lessons she taught us.
Or the loyalty she gave us.
Thank you, Ruby.
Now we know something we didn't before.
The smallest of creatures can cast the biggest of shadows.
Depending on the light.
And the love.
November 9, 2017
Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella write a column, Chick Wit, for The Sunday Inquirer's Arts & Entertainment section. Lisa is a New York Times best-selling novelist with some 30 million copies in print worldwide. She won the Edgar Award for suspense writing, and is the president of the Mystery Writers of America. She is lives in Chester County with four dogs, two cats, and several chickens. www.scottoline.com.
Francesca Serritella graduated from Harvard University, where she won several prizes for her creative writing. She lives in New York with only one dog, so far. www.francescaserritella.com.