Monday Meandering: Life Lessons From Rugby James and a Little Hitchhiker

I really enjoy Rugby’s enthusiasm for life.  I absolutely do.  There are days when I simply feel tired about life in general, and then there’s my furry little pal, who is always excited about some small event in his day, and I remember to find the fun in life once again….just watching him experience the joy in something small and seemingly insignificant.

It honestly takes so little to make Rugby happy.  So. Very. Little.  A lizard on the patio…chasing bugs….a squirrel running up a tree….a chipmunk chipping….a brand new piggie…herding us around the house with said piggie….*sigh*….I’m smiling as I type this.

If only life were this simple for humans, right?  I mean take me back to the days where I could spend an hour watching a ladybug on a leaf, or make shapes out of the clouds laying on my back in the yard….chasing and catching fireflies on a warm summer night.  Those are long ago days…nearly forgotten.  But that’s where Rugby lives.  That’s his existence.  His whole world.  His here and now.

And I think sometimes he must shake his head at me, wondering why I “busy” myself with dumb things….writing blogs…watching TV….answering email….webinars….reading books…..house cleaning….although house cleaning does present many herding opportunities for him, so actually, he thinks house cleaning is pretty fun!

A couple of weeks ago, Rugby had something on the side of his face and I went to brush it off.  It stuck to my finger instead, and I was astounded at what I saw.  It was the teeniest, tiniest slug I had ever seen in my life….nearly microscopic!  I’m sure he had just been swiped onto Rugby’s snout when Rugby was poking his nose around the forest floor which is our backyard.

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I know that this is a snail, but this is the size of Rugby’s hitchhiker!

To be honest with you, I’m not a slug fan.  I’m just not.  I like snails, but slugs give me the heebie jeebies!  I can imagine that they are essentially a snail without a shell, but the shell really does make a difference for me.  Sort of like a goldfish versus a great white shark, I think.

But honestly, this little teeny, tiny slug was pretty adorable.

I can’t believe I just used “slug” and “adorable” in the same sentence!

As I looked at my finger, I saw this tiny, little creature pull his little antennae out and start to explore my finger.  It was fascinating to watch, and he kept my interest for more that just a little bit.  I guess he released my inner child for that moment.  And as I watched him, I was torn with the knowledge that if I set him onto a leaf, he might just grow up to be a big slug and gross me out someday.

But I gave him the chance.  Every creature deserves a chance to live and thrive and grow.  So I carefully let him crawl from my finger to a leaf on one of our violet plants which provide lots of ground cover for us in the back yard. I gave him that chance to grow up to be a big slug.  I hope he has a great life in our big back yard, and I also hope that his life is far away from wherever I happen to be in the backyard…I won’t lie about that one!

Giving a baby slug the chance to have a great life instead of squishing him into oblivion. Wow.

To some people….naughty dogs can get returned to a shelter or rescue and not make them think twice.  They can know that many or most of those dogs will ultimately end up being put to sleep and still surrender their dogs. Some folks will always see them as damaged…rejected….broken creatures with little to no value or worth.  They are something simply to be thrown away and and the dog owner will get another dog….something else….something different….something new.

I’m really glad that I gave a little mixed breed puppy of uncertain pedigree the second chance that he needed….to thrive….to live….to grow and to change.  I’ve always hoped that Rugby would have a great life….in whatever form that takes…whether it’s having a big world or a small one.

So often life really is all about the little things, and it took my speckled and spotted furry friend….with the help of a tiny hitchhiking slug…..to remind me not to pass by the really important things in my life.

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Please don’t recycle your dog…..train him!
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Comments

  1. Sarah Thomas says

    "that if I set him onto a leaf, he might just grow up to be a big slug and gross me out someday....." This made me snort laughing out loud! I'm a lot like you; I save earth worms when it rains, I catch and set free spiders, and never kill anything if I can help it. I figure, if those tiny creatures weren't supposed to be alive, God would not have created them <3

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    • Sally says

      Ah, Sarah, I appreciate your heart so very much!! I honestly did ponder what to do with the little guy, because big slugs really do creep me out! In the end, I had to let mercy win out for the reasons I stated. I'm very much a live and let live kind of girl. I hope he respects my wishes and grows up far, far away!! 😉 <3

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  2. says

    I agree... slugs are gross and the side of our house and our driveway is covered with them after a rain. Shudder! I love this post and its reminder to slow down and appreciate the little things -- even slugs!

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    • Sally says

      Oh shudders!! There is nothing quite like stepping on a slug in the dark...and sliding down the sidewalk or driveway! Rugby has been the best reminder to slow down and just "be." He often tells me when it's time to take a break! Thanks for reading and for your comment!

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  3. The DIY Dog Mom says

    "And I think sometimes he must shake his head at me, wondering why I “busy” myself with dumb things" - I totally feel this way all the time. I try not to beat myself up too much for working hard or being on the computer, etc. but it is refreshing to take a step back and just unplug with your dog. I try to build that 'unplugging' time into our daily routine so I feel better and less stressed when I have to spend hours on a computer or leave the house for awhile.

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    • Sally says

      It's so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life, isn't it? I really like your idea of unplugging and building that right into your daily routine so that you make time to do it. Rugby loves to just sit and watch his yard. It's really one of his greatest joys, I think. I sometimes take my laptop out and blog on the patio with him, and he is rarely ever happier than when I take my work outside to be with him!

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    • Sally says

      I agree! That tiny snail would have been just perfect for your fairy garden! I would pass on putting a baby slug in there though...just sayin....

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    • Sally says

      How about that?! Who knew slugs were big into hitchhiking!! Rugby has long, long legs, but lots of feathers on them, so he typically brings everything in from the yard on those fancy furs!!

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  4. Dolly the Doxie says

    I loved your post! And you are so right about appreciating the little things, for me it's Dolly every evening driving us crazy with a squeaky ball, but I would miss it if it was gone.

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    • Sally says

      Thanks for your kind comment! We have polka dottie piggies at my house, so I completely understand the noise factor! We get herded with piggies on a daily basis, and I know a day will come when I'll really miss that noise!

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    • Sally says

      Haha! I didn't know it was a slug at the time that I brushed it off of Rugby's face. I thought it was just a seed. But when it stuck to my finger, I did a bit more investigating and that's when I saw that it was a teeny tiny baby slug. If I had known it from the get go, I might not have touched it either! Slugs give me the heebie jeebies!!

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  5. says

    I try to remove the insects and other creatures that come into our house without harming them. It just seems like a nicer way to live. I'm glad you were able to put the snail or slug back outside and give it another chance at life.

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    • Sally says

      We think alike, Beth. I'm all about finding a nicer way to live!! If I ever see a giant slug that grosses me out in the yard, I'll know it's my baby slug that's come back to visit me! HA!

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  6. says

    I can only ever kill mosquitos. I hate spiders but make great efforts to capture them and put them outside. Little things like that? I would be the same and put them outside!

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    • Sally says

      It's so great to know that there are other people with soft hearts for a gross baby slug!! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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  7. says

    Aw! I would've been fascinated by the little slug, too! What a great lesson to stop and appreciate the creatures around us, including shelter pets. I have a senior, mostly toothless foster dog with a mystery skin disease. She is quite a sight, but in many ways, so much easier than having a rambunctious younger dog. There are many endearing things about her; she just needed to be given a chance.

    Thank you for giving Rugby a home!

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    • Sally says

      I absolutely loved the photos of your senior rescue!! Thank you so much for giving her a chance to have a great life!! Seniors are such great choices for many families, and they have so much love to give! I honestly think rescue dogs really know when they've been saved from dire circumstances. Rugby was a death row dogger....with less than 24 hours to live....as an 8-9 month old puppy!! Bless him, he just didn't get to have a good start in life, but he's getting a great finish! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  8. says

    Mom hates spiders but pretty much everything else gets put outside if it is in the house -- unless we find it first! Mom enjoyed the reminder about appreciating the little things.

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    • Sally says

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Spiders don't last in my house either! Because Rugby is a dog who has to have a small world, he really has taught me to slow down and just "be!" We all need reminding from time to time!

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  9. says

    Oh wow I never had a slug or a snail on the dog. Everything but it seems. We are doing really well keeping fleas and ticks away, knock on wood. Those suckers have to go.

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    • Sally says

      Well, this baby slug was a first for me, to be sure!! If it had been a big slug, I am sure I would have needed the National Guard to get it off Rugby! 😉

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  10. says

    So true. We all have to remember to stop and smell the flowers and look at the slugs. Don't sweat the little things. I would have let him go too. Love the recycling image #rescuesrock

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    • Sally says

      Thanks so very much! At BlogPaws last year I won a guest photo spot at "Positively Woof!" I thought hard about it, and decided to create a concept photo of my own little "throw-away rescue" dog. When I'm evaluating dogs, I often hear owners say, "If this dog doesn't change, we have to get rid of him." And they recycle that dog and get another one. It's heart-breaking to me! So many dogs are returned to shelters because of behavior, and I find that most behaviors can be corrected through the right approach for training! Our motto at Rugby James is "Train your dog....don't recycle him!" Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  11. rosadoodle says

    I can't imagine "recycling" any pet but I know it happens way too often. Great post! I really enjoyed reading it!

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    • Sally says

      Thanks so much for reading and taking time to comment. It's hard for me to imagine recycling a dog either, but dogs are returned to shelters because of behavior more than any other reason. So glad you enjoyed my post!!

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  12. says

    You have no idea how much I needed the reminder to stop and breathe and appreciate the little things in life...even the little slugs 😉 I work with a rescue and just found out that one of the dogs we adopted as a puppy last year is being returned by her family because she is now 10 months old and they don't like her energy?!? I'm not sure what they thought they were getting with a puppy but we have been scrambling to find a new, fabulous foster home until we can find her a new awesome forever home where she will have her second chance. I might have to go play in the rain for a few minutes to wash this week off and give my inner child a chance to splash around in some puddles. Thanks for a fantastic piece.

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    • Sally says

      Alison, you are a woman after my own heart!! My little Rugby James was bounced from home to shelter to rescue until he landed with us....5 times before he was even 8-9 months old! No wonder he can't cope with change! That's all he had for his entire first year of life....constant, crazy change! I'm so very sorry. Rescue work is so challenging and heartbreaking at times. Our goal here is to get the word out that if you train your dog....you'll never recycle him!! As a professional dog trainer, I see tough situations all the time, and Rugby provides such wonderful balance in life to keep things simple. I'm so so glad that my blog could touch a good place in your heart and make you smile. Hugs!! <3

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  13. says

    Such a cute post! You're right, I do envy how our pups are always living "in the moment." I envy them and try to emulate that thought. LOVE the teeniest little hitchhiker 🙂

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    • Sally says

      Thanks so much for reading and taking time to offer such a kind comment, Bryn! I agree that it's enviable to live in the moment...with the stresses and cares of life that get thrust upon us! Rugby is so good about keeping me grounded, and helping me focus on the good things in life...those things that really matter and have value to me.

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