09 December 2010

Enough about me, let's talk about YOU for a minute: Raising Ruby

Welcome to the Enough about me, let's talk about YOU for a minute series on my blog. It's to celebrate my birthday and blogiversary week. Each day until and including 15 December I will feature a guest blogger who I admire. I hope you enjoy the series as much as I did collating it.

Christine Gillow is my first guest blogger celebrated in the 'Enough about me let's talk about YOU for a minute' birthday-blog-week. I am so thankful and honoured she took the time to guest blog - I love how she writes.

It's strange that I didn't actually know Christine's name until last month, although I've been reading her blog, Raising Ruby almost all year. I knew the blogger as 'Ruby', an adorable labrador service puppy in training, and 'sister' of Kiva. 

I don't remember how I found Raising Ruby but I remember the night I did - I was captivated by the blog full of pictures of a then baby puppy. Retrievers always make me squeeeee. That night I read every entry dating back to when Christine and her husband first received Ruby to raise. And I commented on almost every entry. I have followed Ruby's journey ever since. 

I love Christine and her husband's dedication to the job of raising a service puppy. They are so aware of a service dog's importance to a person with a disability. Their blog has raised my awareness of what the importance of service puppy raising is to the community.

If you are in Australia and want more information about raising a service/seeing eye puppy, you can visit the following websites:

It was interesting to read just how clever dogs are, and also to know that puppies are puppies, no matter how serious the task is for them to focus on. This video is one of my favourite things on the blog. It is delightfully cute. And funny!
Christine and I have been leaving comments on each other's blogs, and exchanging emails and tweets. I love this friendship we have made. When Toby and Jazz died, I received beautiful condolence messages from her. It is comforting to know that someone else understands just how much a dog means to a person, and how difficult it is when they die.

Ruby has graduated to 'college' now. I've never patted Ruby. Or met Christine. But this entry moved me to tears. It is a bittersweet moment letting the beautiful puppy that you have taught and loved go to the next stage in their journey. I am really excited to think about the difference that Ruby will make to someone's life. She will be their best friend.
Guest blog by Christine Gillow: 

Raising Awareness for Service Dogs through Blogging
Raising Ruby chronicles the life of a Colorado service puppy in training, Ruby, on her journey toward becoming a service dog for an individual with a disability.

Last July, a 10-week-old service puppy in training joined our household and I considered blogging about our experience. "It would be a great way to track Ruby's education," I said. "But blogging is a big commitment," I debated. "I'd love to give the gift of her puppyhood to her future partner," I countered, "and maybe potential service puppy raisers would find our blog helpful as a resource."

I still wasn't convinced. "If I start writing about Ruby, well…I'd absolutely have to see it through. Be very disciplined and dedicated for the next year and a half, no matter what else is going on. Can I do that?" I looked down at the puppy and the computer, both in sleep mode in my lap. I continued arguing the case loudly with myself, when my newspaper-reading husband across the room pounded the gavel. "Do it! Of course you can!" His enthusiasm beckoned mine, so as I began raising Ruby, I began Raising Ruby.

A tiny yellow Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever mix puppy, Ruby was beyond adorable as she barreled around our home and ventured on her first public outings. We shot hundreds of photos those first few weeks (impossible not to) and I wrote about our training adventures. I knew at least my mother was reading my blog and I figured maybe a few out-of-town friends were getting a kick out of it, too.

I wasn't entirely new to blogging. I had started a blog in 2005 and enjoyed posting for a few months until life got hectic with a move out west. More recently, I had been following a lot of blogs on a wide range of subjects. But I was blogging Raising Ruby without a supporting Facebook page (still don't have one!) and without a stat counter (at first), so it was a big surprise to realize that people were beginning to follow us as well! In September '09, we were named a "Cool Dog Site of the Day." By early autumn, comments were popping up from new friends and fellow bloggers, emails were arriving, and then a well-known style and fashion editor tweeted about us. In November '09, that same fashion editor, Liberty London Girl, wrote a blog post on Ruby and our international traffic grew. Google’s “Blogger” named Raising Ruby a "Blog of Note" in March '10 and this summer, we were nominated for a 2010 Petties Award for Best Cause Related Blog. 

I have volunteered for service dog organizations for many years, but through Raising Ruby, I've been able to work toward raising awareness for service dogs by reaching areas I never would have otherwise. Ruby and I met hundreds of people on our outings in daily life and countless more via the blog; there is no better ambassador than a puppy to help people understand the challenges that individuals with disabilities can face. Our little Roo has progressed to Advanced Training now, and if she is ultimately placed as a service dog, I'll be thrilled to present her partner with the story of the sixteen months that Ruby spent by my side. Having such a detailed account of our time together is a gift that lives in my heart as well.

Even though Ruby has moved on, the friendships I've made through Raising Ruby continue. Last winter, I woke up one morning to find my inbox full of thoughtful, kind, and funny blog comments, all from a young woman in Australia. Carly had been suffering through a particularly painful evening thousands of miles away, but somehow she had found our Roo to keep her company. She let me know that she had read Raising Ruby start to finish that night; I was very touched and so glad she was able to find some comfort through the antics of my little yellow service puppy. Carly wrote a beautiful piece about Ruby in February and consequently, some of her many loyal followers in Australia and around the world became Ruby’s fans, too! Since our first "meeting," Carly and I have kept in touch through our blogs and correspondence and if she and I were ever to meet in person, I am quite sure we would immediately share a bottle of wine and a lot of laughs!

Happy Birthday and Happy Blogiversary, Carly! Ruby and I thank you for helping us raise awareness for service dogs; your contributions and support were such an important part of our journey. I look forward to sharing in your journey for many wildly successful years to come!


  1. Thank you both, C & C! I don't know much about service dogs but I have a fantastic new resource. (BTW excellent idea Carly!)

  2. Thank you for such an informative post, Christine.

    Carly, an excellent idea for your blog.

    SSG xxx

  3. Carly, we too are big fans of Christine and Ruby. We are so happy to see Ruby here - we too LOVED that video - Christine's laugh was so contagious. Mom about lost her tea that day as she watched with us. Ruby is an awesome pup and hopefully will be some very fortunate person's service dog one day soon. Christine and her husband did an awesome job with Ruby AND with the blog. We so miss her posts. After "hearing" her voice again here, we so hope she will find a way to blog again soon.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara and Mom Kathie

  4. HOWL-oooooo from York PA USA!

    Ruby's Raiser - and special human - pawed us about this special post!

    Like woo, we're not sure when/where/how we found Christine and Roo (Kiva) but we are thrilled we did!

    In fakhkt, we did a special post fur them when it was time fur Roo to take the step on her trail!


    Nice to meet woo!

    Khyra and Her Mom Phyll
    PeeEssWoo: I invite woo to visit my khorner on December 9 - we are part of a special Bark It Furward Blogger Event - fur each khomment left, $1 will be donated by Milk-Bones fur the Canine Assistants programme!

  5. Well, I have the pleasure of living quite close to Christine, so we actually have met, but because Ruby was "working" at the time, I did NOT pet her. *sigh*

    And, now she has moved on, but we wish her well and have high hopes for her upcoming partnership with her person.

    This is a lovely post for your special event week. Congrats on the cross-continental friendship.

  6. Hi Carly - excellent guest post :) We too are long time fans of precious Ruby and her loving raisers.

  7. Happy Birthday, Carly. Looks like you've started your birthday week celebration with a phenomenal blogger, Christine is as good as they get. Not only did she do a fantastic job raising Ruby (and Kiva too), but she's a fantastic person. Thanks for sharing.

    Christine's #1 fan

  8. awww Carly, thank you for introducing us to gorgeous Raising Ruby. I used to ask for a dog for my birthdays, asking for a post on a gorgeous dog is such the more clever idea! XX

  9. This is a beautiful blogosphere convergence, ladies! Carly, I'm really happy to have found your blog, and Christine, it was really heartwarming to read this post and see Roo as a baby again. Not crying, damnit! Not crying.

  10. Dear Carly-
    Happy Birthday. I was in Christine's puppy raising class with Canine Partners of the Rockies. Roo was indeed a special girl and she set the bar high for the rest of us. Raven and I did a couple of sassy guest posts but there is no way I would have the determination to blog like you and Christine do. You are gifts, sharing knowledge and understanding about two very different but equally important topics. Keep up the good work


Thank you for reading my blog. I love receiving comments :)
I really appreciate the time you've taken to write to me, and to share something about yourself.


Related Posts with Thumbnails