My Heart Hurts for Ruby - black & white ruby

Ruby, 2011.

Note: I wrote this post July 10, 2018 but didn’t post it. I wanted to include photos of Ruby, but was too heartbroken to go through them then and prepare them for the post. And doing it now still brings back all of the painful heartache of losing my best friend.


I’ve lost my best friend. About 3 weeks ago, on June 17th, I had to unexpectedly put my dog Ruby to sleep.

She was staying at my mother’s house while I was away for the weekend, vending at the Iowa Sheep & Wool Festival. When I went to pick her up on my way home Sunday night, she didn’t come running to greet me, sliding across the floor in excitement like she usually did. My Mom said she was fine that morning, but something was wrong & she didn’t eat any dinner. Something was very wrong. She wagged her tail, but couldn’t stand up and seemed out of it. Plus, her belly felt very full. - ruby with a bone

Ruby, taken 2009 when she was about 3 years old.

The emergency vet hospital was fortunately near my Mom’s house. So we took her there–I didn’t want to take any chances by waiting until the morning to see my vet in Lawrence. I was scared. Ruby was getting on in years, but she wasn’t that old. She had arthritis issues, but other than that had seemed fine. My Mom said they even went on a walk that morning. So something happened during the day. I didn’t know if she had a stroke, or got into something.

Me and Ruby in my studio, taking pictures for when my studio was featured in Studios Magazine, 2009.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait long for her to be seen by one of the vets. It turned out that Ruby had a tumor on her spleen that had burst, filling her stomach with blood. That’s why her belly felt full. There was nothing that could be done. I think the vet said the cancer had metastasized, and her heart and lungs were filling with fluid too. I don’t really remember because I was in shock. - traci & ruby inside the studio

Me and Ruby, right inside my studio, doing a photo shoot for Studios Magazine, 2009.

I asked if there was anything that could be done so I could take her home for the night, and then take her to my vet in the morning. The vet said anything that she could do, would at most prolong her life an hour. She wasn’t going to make it through the night and could go into cardiac arrest while I was saying goodbye to her–her body was shutting down. - ruby

Ruby taken through a fish eye lens, 2009.

I couldn’t believe it. My dog wasn’t going to go home with me. I had to say goodbye to her right then, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t want her to suffer any more. The vet told me to let them know when I was ready. - traci & ruby

Me & Ruby, 2016.

I laid with her on the floor for quite awhile, hugging her, crying, and whispering to her how much I loved her. I didn’t want to stop or let go because I knew it would be the last time. - Ruby & Clover in my studio

Ruby & Clover in my studio, 2012.

I don’t remember if I stayed on the floor hugging her while the vet gave her the medicine to put her to sleep, or if I sat on the floor petting her–it’s all a sad blur. I do remember I really, really didn’t want to leave because I’d never see her again or be able to hug or pet her again. I kept trying to get up to leave, but then would kneel back down to be with her. She just looked like she was sleeping. - ruby camping

Ruby on her first camping trip, 2011.

Even though she was a dog, she was my person. I didn’t know what I was going to do without her. Everything I did at my house, she was part of. Every time I went outside, she went with me. Every time I went out to my studio, she went too. She’d usually go in for a few minutes, then go back outside and lay by the door until I came out. Every time I watched a movie and ate popcorn, she’d eat it with me. The same goes for tortilla chips. She was even in my books Print & Stamp Lab, and The Art Journal Workshop. - Ruby on my studio couch

Ruby on my studio couch after an open studio, 2012.

When I had studio open houses or workshops, she greeted everyone and thought they were there to see her. Because well, they were. Then she’d give them a little nip when they stopped petting her. Everyone loved Ruby. Even the boyfriends that she bit because she didn’t want to share me–they still loved her. She was a character. I think she was a human in a dog’s body. I’m pretty sure of it. I adopted her in October 2007 and it was love at first sight for both of us. I got her for myself as an early birthday present. She was the best present ever. - art day

Having an art day on my birthday with Lydia Ash & Ruby, 2011.

And now it’s been a little over 3 weeks since I had to put her to sleep. I feel like part of me is missing. A really big part. Muscle memory is strong. I know she’s gone, but I still do things out of habit as if she’s still here. And I do them while I’m thinking about how much I miss her. I wish I could turn off my muscle memory. A friend, trying to comfort me, said now I have more freedom because I don’t have to get home to let her out or to take her for walks. I never saw it as an obligation. I never minded doing those things for her. She was my person. And we were crazy about each other. - traci & ruby

Me & Ruby, 2016


I miss her so much. - goodbye ruby

Goodbye Ruby. Our last photo together, June 17, 2018.

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  1. So sorry for your loss. Having to put a pet down is one of the hardest things to do … opting to be there is so difficult but so so much better for the pet. Each time I have gone through this I always imagine my pet was greeted by a family member or close friend from the other side when my pet crossed over the Bridge. Even though it has been a bit of time maybe you can imagine someone close who has passed has Ruby and is loving her as much as you did. Give your self the time you need to grieve. I will keep you in my prayers.

  2. I understand your pain. I HEAR you, I SEE you. Life as you knew it was over. I pray that Ruby will send you a new canine friend soon. (((((HUGS)))))

  3. You have my sympathy, so sorry for your loss but also, you deserve great credit for not letting Ruby suffer needlessly and for taking the vets advice and for being with her right to the end. No creature could have a better goodbye than the one you gave her. Love.

  4. Traci,
    l’m so sorry that you’ve lost your precious baby. It is so sad, it leaves a giant hole in your heart that you know can’t ever be filled.
    I lost my precious Lily a year ago from the same dreadful, vicious disease! They are okay one day, and then out of the blue, they are gone. It’s such a shock, like a punch in the gut! You don’t know what to do with yourself!

    I grieve with you
    My love,

  5. Dear Tracy,
    Of course this hurts and it will be like that for some time.But the pain will soften and in the end you will Always remember her as the best compagnion ever. and you will be so grateful of the spend time together. Give yourself time, that hollow feeling inside you will change and vanish. Thinking of you both !

  6. Traci I imagine your heart still hurts. I know mine does and it’s been eight years at least. I hope you found another special buddy . I have just not been able to. Big hug!

  7. I just read this, with tears streaming down my face. I too had to put my cat Casey down 11 years ago. The pain you describe is exactly how I felt and when I think about the day we put him to sleep all the pain comes back again. Our animals are our children and are enmeshed in our lives. When they pass a piece of our hearts go with them. God bless Ruby.

  8. Traci, So very, very sorry about Ruby. I had two cats, and coincidentally, six days later, one of my babies, Archie, dropped dead. Then for the next 3 months the other baby, Smokey, went straight downhill until he could no longer stand. I had to have him put down. So I know your pain. Turns out my babies were killed by the prescription food Hills Science Diet. I still feel terrible guilt for listening to my vet. My babies would eat whatever I fed them; then throw up. I told the vet; he said leave them on Science Diet. He got a kick back for every bag he sold. Archie and Smokey were so innocent. I can’t rescue another pet because I can’t take the pain of losing one. So, Traci, I am so sorry and know how you must feel. Ruby is (because I know she, like mine, is still with you) beautiful and sweet.

  9. Traci…..I understand. Loving a dog has consequences but always worth it. And ya know, that love stays with you forever.
    Your story brought back memories of several trips to BluePearl Emergency Pet Hospital in Overland Park. Some good some not. Or the time recently when we rescued a wonderful boy who was already 10 1/2 years old. We had him only 2 1/2 years when he died in my arms at home. And even though he was part of my family for such a short time the loss was just as hard.
    Keep on loving dogs! KnittingJenni

  10. I am so sorry about Ruby, Traci. I have been looking at your work and books today and thought to look up your website. Hang in there during this really tough time, and hopefully, sooner than later, the sun will come out on a brighter day for you. Take solace in your art and the creative joy that you have been spreading in your world for so long. That will surely come back to you.

  11. I am sorry for your loss. What beautiful photos of your friend; her personality shines in each of them. Hoping time has refined the pain, making it is easier to bear.

  12. I felt every word in this post and I am mostly a cat person. I know it has been awhile now, but I am so sorry for your loss. I started using the library for books on Kindle and came across your lovely book. I originally started looking at art journal things for a different reason, but I strongly believe in learning about anything interesting. Again, so sorry about your pup!

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