Heartbreak Hotel

There have always been three souls here at The Secret Acre, the third person in our marriage being Ruby, a little rough-haired Jack Russell.

She even carried the rings down the aisle for us.

So it was heart breaking this Christmas when Ruby died at the ripe old age of 13, from what we have now all learned to call ‘underlying health issues’. The first of a string of devastating bereavements as it turned out.

Ruby, since just 8 weeks old, had been a loyal companion and defender of the Alesworth-Bruce clan. And she was the reason we ended up at The Secret Acre in the first place.

Here are some pics from Ruby’s early years, mostly in Aylesbury.

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My own earliest memory of a youthful Ruby is of her sitting on guard by open patio doors in Aylesbury, waiting for some unseen transgressor to threaten the bottom of the garden, before suddenly and repeatedly launching herself off the patio to charge down the garden like a defending berserker.

She also had an unerring ability to always spot the least dog-keen person in the room and jump on their lap until they gave in. And until she lost her sight in later life, would regularly ‘go turbo’ on walks, especially on her favourite open grassland or on a sandy beach, transcribing large figure of eight patterns around us at a top breakneck speed, which all Jack Russell owners would recognise.

Family tragedy unexpectedly brought Ruby to live with us permanently in Bristol, causing us to start looking for a bigger garden for her, which ultimately led us all to The Secret Acre.

Here are some pics from Ruby’s middle years, mostly in Bristol.

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Ruby’s best friend was Pico, a black Labrador of the same age. His long legs would always beat her to the sticks thrown on walks, only for her to intercept Pico on the return leg in order to take the stick from his mouth and return triumphant to us.

We also soon learned of her naughty side. Always the embodiment of a living cute teddy bear, she was endless patient with the hordes of small children who would constantly trail around after her at family parties.

However, this could work to her advantage too. Upon seeing Ruby approaching in the park, random children, midway through eating their sandwiches in pushchairs, would wave their hand towards the cute doggie, still clutching the half eaten treat, which she would take as an invitation to snap up the proffered sandwich. Adults weren’t immune either. The ‘cutie doggy’ arriving in the middle of strangers’ picnic blankets, enjoying a BBQ in the park, would make a beeline to the nearest burger or sausage. Yet despite Ruby’s thieving tendencies, we never had a single complaint from the victims, who still bewitched by her cuteness merely thought the whole incident hilariously funny.

And it was that cheeky yet cute nature that made her so loved by both family and friends and which everyone will miss so much, including the many work colleagues whose offices she made home over the years.

Just a natural part of the family to children, adults, friends and colleagues alike. Truely, she was the people’s dog!

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Ruby revealed other skills too, beyond just being able to always fine the one warm sunny spot in any room. Although she only earned her keep once, in a brief stint of acting work as the advertising face of Movelat anti-inflammatory joint cream.

And when it came to packing up and moving to The Secret Acre, determined to make sure she was not left behind, Ruby jumped straight into the last open packing box full of cushions.

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Arriving at The Secret Acre for the last few years of her life, Ruby was again able to re-live her patio guarding duties as local cats and wildlife were enthusiastically chased down the land.

On the first afternoon we got the keys to the property, while we were ambling about, Ruby wasted no time to find holes in the derelict fencing in order to introduce herself to all the neighbours. Starting with next door, where she went into their porch to eat all the cat food, before gate-crashing a garden party several neighbours later, where she was happy to be picked up by a total stranger and carried back up the road to find us. It’s certainly one way of meeting your new neighbours!

Here are some pics from Ruby’s later years, mostly at The Secret Acre.

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Although illness gradually reduced her escapades in the last couple of years, first with diabetes requiring daily injections, and then the onset of blindness, requiring daily care from us, her irrepressible spirit and unconditional loving nature never waned.

She will always have a special place in the hearts of all who knew her.

What? You don’t think these blogs write themselves do you?!


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