I don’t recall just when or how she acquired the moniker of Ruby the Wonderdog, but it was very early on as a pup and my First Mate aboard the Good Ship Learnativity as we sailed out of San Francisco back in 2007 and set out to explore the world together. This is my very first photo of her the day I picked her up on the 12th of October, 2007 when she was about six weeks old.
Today, almost 16 years later, Ruby weighed her last anchor and headed off on her final passage.
As you might imagine, Christine and I are riding life’s rollercoaster of emotions today which includes a lot of sadness but if you chose to continue reading, I hope you will indulge me this personal detour. I’d like to remind myself just how much Ruby was THE Wonderdog as we celebrate and appreciate the profound joy she brought into our lives and that of countless others she met along the way.
Like most of the awemazing events in my life, Ruby came into my life when the forces of serendipity and synchronicity combined to have us meet and be bonded forever after.
As I was preparing to head off sailing around the world singlehanded, I had thought I might get a cat at some point but my dear friend Grace happened to mention that her two dogs had just had a litter and she was looking for a good home for the last one. It was the classic love at first sight ,and we’ve been together ever since.
Ruby was a “Spoodle”, cross between Poodle and Cocker Spaniel and both her parents, Grace’s dogs, were Spoodles. And when I say she was small I’m not exaggerating as you can see here in this picture with my daughter Lia’s little Papillion “Piglet”.
And Oh, the places we did go! We started by sailing down the West coast of North, Central and South America to Rapa Nue aka Easter Island where we turned right and headed West to Pitcairn, Gambier and on through most of the Polynesian islands.
Westward to more islands such as American Samoa, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Vanuatu with multiple passages between all of these for about the next five years.
Aboard Möbius this past year, the Wonderdog sailed with Christine, myself and her buddy Barney, along the coasts of Turkey, Greece and Sicily then across the Med and North Africa, across the Atlantic to Martinique in the Caribbean and up through the Bahamas to Florida and now her final port here in Portsmouth Virginia.
Being all Black other than a small White blaze on her chest, Ruby was typically difficult to see in photos but if you look closely or click to enlarge, you’ll see her on the other side of me as we crossed the equator in 2009. This would be our first of seven times we crossed the equator together.
In 2013 when serendipity and synchronicity again combined to have the awemazing Christine and I meet for the first time in Fiji, Ruby was there too as seen in this first photo ever taken of us a few hours after we met.
That first photo above was taken on our dear friends Ian & Coleen’s boat Summer Spirit in Vuda Point Marina. Ruby fell in love with both of them, and vice versa, probably spending more time aboard Summer Spirit than Learnativity in all the years we were back and forth to Fiji and Vuda Point.
Ruby loved running up and down beaches and this one in Majuro in the Marshall Islands was one of her favorites. In multiple passages up to Majuro from Fiji, we probably spent over a year’s time there, the last two with Christine aboard as well.
The Wonderdog was always a marvel of balance that would make any gymnast or circus act envious and perched herself at the bow every dinghy ride no matter the conditions and never fell off once.
Though she jumped off as soon as we got near the beach as she just couldn’t wait to swim ashore and hit the beach running.
Another of her many skills, she became and expert and sniffing out and then digging out crabs no matter how deep down under the sand they went, and then eat with great gusto and lips carefully bared so as not to get bit by their claws. On rare occasion she would take a back seat to her best buddy Barney as long as it meant another trip to the beach.
We soon became a family of four when Christine’s dog at the time Barney joined us, and he and Ruby became best buddies immediately almost more than did Christine and I.
However it quickly became apparent that Barney was “my” dog and Ruby was velcro’d to Christine from the very first day they met. In any case, we were now a family of four.
Both Ruby and Barney were great snuggle buddies,
sometimes along side us
sometimes alongside each other.
Always at the ready for the next adventure, or the next meal.
Can’t say that it was her favorite thing to do but Ruby was no stranger to dressing up for special occasions such as being Bridesmaid along with Barney as Groom at our wedding in 2015.
And celebrating each Christmas with us as Santa’s little helpers.
Along for the ride with all our family and friends such as one of Lia and Brian’s many times aboard starting with this first one in Puntarenas Costa Rico along with their little dog Piglet.
Son Skyler on one of our many visits to Vancouver BC. And my apologies to SO many other friends and family I’m leaving out here.
If you believe in dog years, Ruby would be about 110 years old now and Christine and I have known for the past few months that age was beginning to catch up with her. She had lost most of her hearing the past year and was developing cataracts in both eyes, but she was still as frisky as a pup at times racing up and down the side decks, eating, drinking, pooping and sleeping well and seemed to continue to enjoy life together with us. So we’ve been keeping a close eye on her, and this past week she started to go downhill down rapidly.
Barney noticed the change as well this past week and in an apparent common scenario, for the first time he began to give her some very serious grooming sessions licking her head to toe for half an hour or more multiple times a day. Ruby seemed to signal us as well as her appetite diminished as did her weight this past week, and she ate and drank very little the last 24 hours.
The decision was not easy but it was clear to all four of us that this fateful time had arrived. So a few hours ago, we snuggled together with our dearest friend and crewmember for one last time, shed more than a few tears and kissed Ruby the Wonderdog Bon Voyage for her final passage in this life, with us by her side.
FYI, totally unintended coincidence but yes of course I’m still wearing the same shirt!
We have seen a lot of the world together and watched a lot of sunsets over the years, my dearest Ruby. My rough guesstimates are that together we’ve checked into more than 33 countries, flown almost one hundred thousand air miles, tens of thousand road miles in cars, trucks, RV’s and motorcycles, countless more miles on trains, taxis and busses and sailed over 60 thousand nautical miles.
Ruby, words can not possibly articulate how rich and charmed my life has been since you first entered it. I will never be able to thank you enough for all the many gifts and profound joy you have given me during our almost sixteen years together. I think I may be ready for a world without The Wonderdog in it, but I’m not at all sure if I will ever be ready for a world without my partner Ruby.
Lucky for me, there really is no such world as I will always have and cherish the treasure trove of memories from all our shared experiences in life together.
Thank you my friend, my partner, my beloved Ruby. Fair winds and following seas as you weigh anchor and set out upon your latest voyage with me at your side as always!