The world of “pet pages” and blogging was all new to me in 2013. I had never realized that ordinary people had special pages for their dogs, and created voices for those dogs. I was new to much of Facebook, and the two bright spots of my day were “The Daily Corgi” and “Denby Dog.” I never missed reading either page, and really looked forward to them every day. Living with Rugby was often so difficult and his progress so slow that I looked forward to the hope, encouragement and smiles that I found on those pages.
After debating for many, many months, and after writing several messages and erasing them, I finally got up the courage to message Denise Baker, the voice of Denby Dog. Her Facebook microblog was my lifeline of hope and courage with Rugby in the days when we were trying to find our own way in a world that really didn’t seem to want either one of us.
I knew I’d never hear back from Denise, but I finally got up the courage to write to her and let her know who Rugby was and what emotional challenges he faced in life. People seem to understand humans and dogs who have physical health issues….even serious ones, but if there are emotional or mental health issues….few people want to hold out a hand of help and hope. Rugby is a little dog with emotional and social issues. Many people just don’t understand that side of a dog. Dogs do have emotions and many are anxious, fearful and worried as they go through life. If they’re lucky, they get a good home with understanding owners who will offer them the support and patience they require. Far too many just get traded in for a newer, better model at the local shelter or Humane Society.
I wanted Denise to know Rugby’s story, because I think his story is important, and probably also because I think HE is important. Hot mess and all, his little puppy life matters in the world. He’s here for a reason. He’s not less valuable because he’s not “purebred” with a long line of distinguished dams and sires in his pedigree. He’s a little no account, hot mess of a dog with a big heart. And I chose him. He’s mine. Come hell or high water, he’s my little guy, and we’re in this thing called life together…even if it’s just the two of us and no one else joins in.
Just as important as I thought it was to tell Denise my challenges with Rugby, I wanted to let her know she wasn’t alone in her struggle. I wanted to encourage her, and let her know what a HUGE difference she was making for Rugby and I. I wanted to give back something to that sweet voice that was our daily lifeline of hope, encouragement and inspiration.
My heart was pounding as I pressed the “send” button on my message to Denise. I never expected to hear a word back, because 1) I didn’t have a Corgi, and 2) Rugby had emotional issues, and 3) who the heck is Sally Hummel and Rugby James? We’re both little nobodies just clinging to each other trying to survive on planet Earth. After all, Denby Dog had something like 900 friends, and I was just a very, very small voice in a big sea of people. I never dreamed for a minute that Denise would respond. Still, it felt good to tell Rugby’s story, and also encourage her to Corgi On, Corgi Strong in her challenging life with Denby….a little dog I absolutely loved.
You can imagine my big surprise when I received the loveliest, sweet, message from Denise Baker that said she cared…and not to give up… ..and to keep trying when everyone else said quit. And then came the best part of all! She said, “Please stay in touch. I’d like to hear how Rugby is doing from time to time.” Wow. Someone else cared what happened to my little speckled dog. Someone besides me could see value in him. I cried and cried as I read her response. I read and re-read that message for days, crying each time. Someone had listened, and someone really cared. Someone wanted to hope with me, that Rugby would somehow figure things out and get better. I wasn’t alone. And neither was Rugby James. I can’t put into words what it meant to know that someone cared and wanted to have hope with me.
So fast forward a few months. From time to time I would message Denise, and she would always answer with kindness, hope and encouragement. Over time, I got the courage up to toss out the idea of having a page for Rugby to educate, provide support, hope and encouragement for other dog owners who have “Rugby” type dogs. She was the encouragement behind starting a page for Rugby at all.
The rest is history, I suppose. Rugby’s Facebook page was started on November 19, 2013. It’s hard to imagine that it’s almost been 2 full years of posts to that page, but it has. And something magical and amazing has happened over those months and years. I’ve found my tribe, and Rugby has found his. I’ve found some wonderful, amazing, smart and funny dog owners who have adopted Rugby and I, and we both feel like we have come home. As Rugby’s story came out, instead of rejection, we found acceptance. Instead of hatred…we’ve found love. In return, we’ve been able to share our love, our resources, our encouragement, inspiration and hope, to make a positive difference in the world of dogs who also ride that struggle bus through life.
We’re all here for such a short time. Rugby and I are all about finding ways to help others enjoy the ride we call life. The video that’s been posted on Rugby’s page with the teaser for today’s blog post was shot on Sunday, October 11, 2015…at Johnson Park in Raleigh, NC. A small group of us gathered to honor our wonderful friend Denise Baker, and share in the memory and life of a little one-eyed Corgi, who couldn’t eat, drink or blink, and who lived a BIG life in a red racer cart. If you’re reading this blog, it was because of that little dog….that we’ve met.