The Best Dog Ever (Part 1)

Crying in the shower is not the way I typically begin my day.  In fact, I can’t remember that ever happening.  But when Facebook callously reminded me it had been exactly one year since Baby Ruth passed, it triggered a sadness that drew tears throughout the morning.

Steve&BabyRuthEdited pic 2Baby Ruth was the best dog ever!  If you also have owned the “best dog ever,” then you understand how I felt about my beloved furry friend.  Holly gave me Baby Ruth for Christmas in 2003.  It was, without a doubt, the best Christmas present I have ever received!  I picked up Baby Ruth from a breeder in Charlotte, NC, and she rode in my lap the entire drive back home to Greensboro, NC.  For the next two weeks, Baby Ruth slept cuddled next to my head on my pillow every night.  The connection that formed in those first weeks became a once-in-a-lifetime bond with man’s best friend.

Many people have asked why the name Baby Ruth.  Interesting story!  I wanted to name the puppy after a candy bar. My son, Michael, 11 at the time, wanted to name her after the Bible character Ruth.  There was such an obvious solution to our situation that I didn’t explore his motivation.  The name “Baby Ruth” worked for both of us!

Several weeks later, Michael informed me that it was not Ruth he intended to name the puppy after.  He wanted to name her after the woman who helped the spies escape the city of Jericho.  He had mixed-up Ruth and Rahab!  I cringed at the thought of wandering the neighborhood hollering “Rahab” if the dog were to get lost, and I was pretty certain there was not a Rahab bar on the market.  Thankfully it was too late for a name change. The AKC papers already had been submitted!  The name “Baby Ruth” was set in stone.

BabyRuthAndSteve2

Me and Baby Ruth in the snow.

I realized two important things about Baby Ruth very early, she loved to work and she loved to be with her people.  When Baby Ruth was 3-4 months old, Greensboro received a blanketing of packable snow that made for great sledding down the only hill in our neighborhood.  The three children living in our house bundled up like the little brother in A Christmas Story and headed toward the hill with our only sled in tow.  Baby Ruth barked incessantly from behind the big window in our living room.  She wanted to go with the kids!

I fastened the harness around Baby Ruth, clipped the leash on, and let her out the door.  She was one excited puppy!  We arrived at the top of the hill and the kids waited in the line that had formed.  When their turn came, all three kids loaded on the sled and started down the long hill.  As they began to slide, Baby Ruth got away from me and jumped on the sled with the kids.  The kids thought having a puppy ride with them was the coolest thing ever!  Baby Ruth appeared to agree.

When they stopped at the bottom, one of us had the bright idea to tie Baby Ruth’s leash to the sled and let her pull it up the hill.  Baby Ruth, thrilled at the opportunity, bounded up the hill with the empty sled dragging behind her.  For the next hour or two, Baby Ruth went down the hill with the kids on the sled then towed it back to the top!

Before Holly located the breeder in Charlotte, I had prayed for God to lead us to the Rottweiler puppy that would best fit our family.  Watching Baby Ruth so filled with joy sledding with her kids that afternoon, I knew God had answered my prayer.  But I had only seen the tip of the iceberg!

Later that year, Holly and I founded UltimateESCAPE.  We moved from Greensboro to Portsmouth, VA where I began graduate school at Regent University.  One evening a car full of teenage boys pulled up in our front yard and parked.  (Yes, in our front yard!)  They got out and prepared to skateboard down the street.  I could hear the voice of Jar Jar Binks in my head, “How rude!”  Holly, equally flabbergasted by their rudeness, suggested that I take Baby Ruth out to “greet” them.

I clipped Baby Ruth’s leash to her collar and opened the front door.  The second she crossed the threshold of that door, Baby Ruth transformed from our friendly dog into the guard dog from hell!  At that time, I was 6’ 2’’ and sported at gym-induced 215 lbs. (not quite the Max’s Donut-induced 240 lbs. of more recent years).  It was all I could do to hold back my 85 lb. Rottweiler from dragging me off the porch as she lunged after that car load of boys!  In the blink of an eye she went from snarling to barking viciously, and white foam was pouring from her mouth.

You’ve never seen a group of teenage boys jump into a car so fast!  That car peeled out of our front yard leaving grass and chunks of dirt in its wake.  One of the guys was a little bit too slow and got left behind.  The last I saw of him, he was running after the car yelling for his buddies to come back for him.

“Good girl, good girl,” I praised her as I patted her head!

Baby Ruth was a faithful companion for many years.  She loved to fetch a ball, catch a Frisbee, go for runs, ride in the car, etc.  She was a winner in the show ring, produced exceptional puppies, slept with one of the kids most every night, and was worth her weight in gold as a security dog for our family.  I absolutely loved my dog!  But the real adventure with Baby Ruth didn’t begin until the summer of 2009.  And that iceberg of answered prayer I had seen the tip of, its massive depth began to be revealed.

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