Minnie Pearl and Ruby Lu

February 13, 2012  

A pit bull serves as friend and guide dog to an aging Beagle mix

By Shelly Hakspiel

Nearly three years ago in Bowie, Md., someone was breeding “Cheagles” (a cross between a Chihuahua and a Beagle) in their backyard. They were using Ruby Lu as one of their breeder dogs, and she had given birth to numerous litters. We took this nearly dead little dog into our home, initially intending to foster her and find her a forever home, but that proved impossible.

The veterinary dentist estimated from her dental X-rays that she was about 12 years old. In addition to being older and needing expensive dental work, she was in bad shape all around. She was skin and bones thin, covered with scabs, mange, fleas, joint and feet problems from being kept in a cage her entire life, and she had digestive issues.

Veterinarians also recommended not spaying her due to her poor health and age. So whoever adopted her would have to contend with heat cycles and be able to ensure she was secure. If that wasn’t enough, she was a biter, and I mean a serious biter, and she tore my arm open a few times. She was not people friendly, for obvious reasons, and of course it was fear biting. So, with Ruby Lu deemed unadoptable, we had a fourth dog! Eventually she learned to trust us, and of course we fell in love with her.

In October of 2010, Ruby had just finished a heat cycle, and the veterinarian determined that she had a false pregnancy. He said it should resolve on its own, and he thought that surgery would be very hard on her, so we just kept a close eye on her in case of infection, which thankfully did not happen.

On Oct. 30, Minnie Pearl came into our lives: a beautiful little 11-week-old American Pit Bull Terrier! Minnie is the sweetest girl, and she absolutely loves everybody. Lady, a 10-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback/Labrador, is her hero; Galaway, an English Pointer, is her adventure buddy; and Trixie, a Border Collie, is her playmate; however, when we first brought Minnie home, she really took to Ruby immediately.

Even though at 11 weeks Minnie was already nearly as big as Ruby, it seemed Minnie thought Ruby was her mom, or at least a surrogate mom. Because she had given birth to so many litters, Ruby is kind of permanently “blessed” with large teats, and Minnie was immediately drawn to them. Perhaps it was having a puppy around at the same time as the false pregnancy, or just Minnie’s persistence at trying to nurse her, but Ruby started producing milk. Minnie, of course, was very happy about this, having just been taken away from her birth mom, and helped herself. We figured Ruby needed all of her nutrients for herself and couldn’t afford to share with such a big baby, so we discouraged active nursing, but the bond was formed nevertheless.

Ruby’s no longer producing any milk, but Minnie is very partial to the “milk jugs” anyway. Minnie, of course, is much bigger than Ruby now, and it looks pretty silly when she’s nuzzling and rooting! Minnie is also super protective of Ruby, and really gets excited and whines like crazy when we’re doing things that Ruby doesn’t necessarily like – like getting a bath.

A few weeks ago, Ruby lost her eyesight to diabetic cataracts. Since then she’s been understandably a little insecure and doesn’t like to be alone. Minnie has been right there with her, protecting her, cuddling with her, keeping her from falling off the couch and running into things, etc. Sometimes she just licks her face and lets her know that she’s there with her. You can tell that Ruby appreciates it. Sometimes she seeks Minnie out, and when she literally runs into her, you can see the relief and relaxation come over her, as if to say “there you are.” She rubs her face on Minnie and sometimes walks underneath her, rubbing up against her legs.

When they lie down, Minnie will position herself between Ruby and the edge of the couch so that Ruby doesn’t fall off. When she sees Ruby “looking around,” she gets this heartbreaking confused look on her face and will immediately walk over to her and lick her right in the face. You can really see that it makes Ruby feel better. It must be scary to suddenly be blind, and Ruby has been a real trooper, learning her way around the house and putting her nose to work overtime, Sometimes she still takes a wrong turn and gets lost. Minnie can instantly erase that sad confused look from Ruby’s face and make her tail wag again. It’s so sweet to watch them together. Minnie loves Ruby so much, and she is Ruby’s superhero!

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8 Responses to “Minnie Pearl and Ruby Lu”
  1. Beautiful story! It always amazes me how dogs show us how we as humans should be. God instilled that natural instinctive “love” gene in them.

  2. christielici0us says:

    This is an adorable story, and a real picture of friendship. I’m glad Minnie and Ruby have each other. It sounds like they’ve been a real blessing to one another, and to your family!



  3. MelodyMcFarland says:

    that is just adorable.

  4. NicholeRyanStaib says:

    such a beautiful story. i’m so glad these two have found each other…

  5. This is a wonderful heartwarming story. I’ts good to know that Ruby will have Minnie to care for her, the rest of her days. Thank you so much for accepting this sweetheart.