When I lost Tiger, my first Labrador, I needed serious grieving time. I was devastated. A friend kept encouraging me to get a new puppy. I had seen a very nice Labrador in my practice, and inquired about the breeder, Hemlock Ridge Labradors. I took a ride out to see their Labradors and talk to the people, Ron and Jean Fortna. Little did I know on that drive to Lebanon, I would meet my next dog, begin a career in dog sports and make lasting friends. The Fortnas had a young litter that would soon be available, but also had two 12 week old black females that they had held back for their breeding program. I was smitten by one of the older puppies. Unfortunately, she was not available. A deposit was left for a puppy , but I left for home, saying to let me know if they decided to part with the older girl. I cried on the way home. It was emotional even thinking about replacing my beloved Tiger.
I didn’t replace Tiger, but I did bring home a new puppy 8 months after she passed. It was the older puppy that I had been enchanted with! She was fourteen weeks old and a bundle of Labrador energy. I remember throwing sticks for her for 30 minutes twice a day to get her energy level under control. Ruby was to become my first show, obedience, and field dog. But, at the beginning, there were times I honestly thought that getting her had been a big mistake. I was used to a very old, trained, and mellow dog. Now I had the polar opposite!
Ruby was no mistake. She was everything I could have wanted. She was lovely, sound, willing and above all, HAPPY! I learned a lot about modern training methods during the course of our journey. Ruby earned CGC and TDI certificates. She also earned her breed championship, along with a CD and CDX in obedience and WC, WCI, and JH in the field. I was new to the dog world. While it was challenging, it seemed Ruby made all things possible. Ruby tried hard at everything she did. She always did her best. She was passionate in the field work that was brand new to me. She would get so excited when the birds came out, her teeth would chatter.
Another remarkable attribute of this dog was her love of babies. She loved children, kittens , puppies and even foals. If a puppy screamed when given a shot at my hospital, Ruby could not be satisfied until she saw that the little one was OK. I don’t know how she developed her affinity for youngsters, but she maintained it throughout her life.
Ruby never met a stranger. When the UPS driver would park in my driveway, Ruby would run and jump into the truck for a look around. I’m not sure the driver appreciated it, but that never deterred this uninhibited dog. Friends stopped by to visit one afternoon after going shopping. I stood in the yard chatting and suddenly realized there was no Ruby around. I called and called and was starting to panic when a head popped up from the front seat of the friends’ SUV. It was Ruby with a large loaf of French bread hanging out of her mouth like a cigar. She was always enthusiastic about everything. When meeting friends to train in agility , she got so wound up, she flew around the field on her own, jumping the jumps and even jumped over the tunnel.
Ruby became the foundation of Canterbury Tails Labradors. I hold her as my standard of health, athletic ability, looks, and temperament. The Fortnas did a wonderful job of producing such an all around Labrador. I lost Ruby suddenly when she was ten years old. Champion Hemlock’s Red Sapphire CDX JH WCI lived life to the fullest and her happiness was contagious. She made me laugh, learn, and love.