I have been told by my friends that I do not foster well. It’s not that I mistreat dogs in my care. My fault is failure to relinquish. It has happened before. It just happened again. I now have a wonderful new Coon Hound, Ruby Mae, because of it. The dog was called Vagabond when she was listed on the Coon hound rescue website. Her former foster owners renamed her Ruby, no doubt because they recognized what a gem of a dog she is. I now call her Ruby Mae. They had to end fostering her because they were expecting to move and were uncertain how successful finding a new place would be if they had multiple dogs. They really wanted Ruby Mae to go to a good home, and after a couple hours of phone conversations on different days, they decided that I should be the one to continue fostering her.

I won’t tell you it was love at first sight, at least on my part. I think it took almost 10 minutes. It was about that long after Ruby Mae got into the car for our return trip home that she was resting her head on my shoulder and letting me scratch her ears. All that was just a prelude to her master schmoozing success. The evening we got home, I climbed into bed. She jumped in just behind me, came up along side me, lay down and put her head on my shoulder and against my cheek. She immediately fell asleep. She had me hook, line and sinker and she knew she wasn’t going to see her photo in the available dog list on Coonhoundrescue.com. My neighbor says once a dog sleeps on your bed at night with you, you’re keeping it. Just once is all it takes.

I have 3 other dogs besides Ruby Mae. She settled in quickly with all of them. Her biggest challenge was Zoe, a part boxer who’s the current queen dog. Zoe is a hyper and assertive dog. Ruby Mae, to her credit, made a quick and effective adjustment. She impressed me. She’s also very well mannered around the oldest dog, Flair, a 14.5 yr old German shorthair pointer. Flair is very frail at her age. Ruby Mae has been so careful around her and gives her ‘right of way’ so she doesn’t knock Flair over. She also leaves Flair’s food alone. Zoe has had to learn the hard way that Flair has special privileges, but Ruby Mae, with her good coon hound manners, has been so good.

Coon dogs can have quirky personalities. Ruby Mae is no exception. When she wags her tail, it goes in circles. When she’s really worked up, her whole rear end seems to bob off the ground. It’s a hoot. When we’re walking on the leash, she’ll find a soft lawn, stop, lay down and wait for me to pet her before we start again. She’s the one who stays with me when I work in the yard. When I call the dogs from the back yard, she’s the one who arrives first. I have to insist in stern tone that Zoe COME!. When Zoe finally decides to come, Ruby Mae jumps on her and growls at her. Ruby Mae’s tone is a good replica of my tone of voice. What’s so interesting about this vocalization is that Ruby Mae rarely barks (another great trait for a city coon dog). And she’s usually submissive to Zoe. But she’ll tell Zoe off when I’m there doing the same thing. Ruby Mae is good in the car, stays in the back yard, and walks well on the leash. And every night, she climbs into bed and lays beside me, resting her head on my shoulder until I fall asleep. At some point in the night, she moves to the foot of the bed where she has a cushion to sleep on. I can think of only one behavior I’d like to change: She gets up on the table when I’m gone so she can look out the window.

Ruby Mae has her share of surprises. She went into heat on Feb 14: Valentine’s Day. How’s that for timing? When she wandered into the yard of the initial foster parents, she had what appeared to be a freshly healed pink incision on her belly’s midline. So we assumed she was spayed, sort of. She was spayed on Apr 4, putting behind her the inconvenience of driving the male dogs in the neighborhood crazy a couple of times each year. [Just so there’s no confusion: When someone adopts a dog through coon hound rescue, the dog will be vetted and spayed, as described on the site. In this case, my adoption began as a foster transfer. In the usual adoption process, one would not receive a dog needing to be spayed. As for me, the effort to have her spayed is nothing next to the pleasure of having her as a companion dog.] While she was in for the spaying, she also had a microchip implanted. I hope this means her life as a vagabond will not happen again.

I don’t get the impression Ruby Mae ever been abused or neglected. My last two coon dogs were mistreated before I got them and carried at least some baggage from the experience for the remainder of their lives. Ruby Mae could well have been stolen and dumped in the neighborhood where she wandered up to her original foster owners. If that’s the case, I hope the original owners didn’t have too much sorrow over losing her. I’m grateful to Katie, the original foster owner, for her efforts that eventually led to me getting her. I’m grateful to coon hound rescue for indulging my inability to surrender a coon hound I was supposed to foster and ended up adopting. Ruby Mae was just right for me.

Page last updated on 5 April 2007