The Dogsology

Ruby starts a nervous rhythmic licking in her bed, which is right next to the couch where I read.  Lick lick lick lick lick, her tongue shoots out like a snake.  Air licks.  Very loud.  She’s a mostly deaf twelve-year-old Golden Retriever and she can’t help starting these tics.  But she can stop.  I just have to catch her eye.

It’s early and she’s nowhere near ready to get up.  She usually stays in bed until the tens, and then when I’m cooking and the Bearded One is reading the newspaper, she peeks out from her bed under the stairs and rises.  It’s the same most every day — a ritual.  Front paws extended, she stretches, then the back legs.  Then she shakes.  “It’s Miss Ruby!” sings out the Bearded One.

But that’s still hours away.  Now she’s in a sleepy trance that I hope I can break without getting up, dang it.  Lick lick lick…


“Ruby!” I whisper-hiss, because the Bearded One and His Majesty are still sleeping, and then I start waving.  I know she can’t hear, but I say her name anyway.  I wave wildly.  Sign language is the way in, but her eyes are getting a little cloudy lately and movement really helps get her attention.

Most every morning, after the Bearded One officially greets Ruby, she wags her tail vigorously (she adores the Bearded One) and walks over to the couch where I now sit, and where we congregate for the singing of the ritual morning song.

Good Morning to You!
Good Morning to You!
We’re all in our places
With sun-shiney faces
And this is the waaaaaaaayyy
Ruby starts a new day.
Ahhhhh — MEN.
Both the Bearded One and I were raised in Protestant Christian churches where we all sang a prayer song called the Doxology, so, of course, we call this morning ceremony the Dogsology.


We pet Ruby vigorously as we sing.  It’s a love fest.

Garfield recognizes a good thing when he sees it and wants in.  He’s usually back in bed by ten, but he gets up and comes running.  It’s very rewarding.


His Majesty, our 22-year-old son, he who is building a new back deck, likes to attend as well.  And this past weekend our daughter the nurse was here and she sang along and then said, “You guys are religious!”

The Bearded One and I both laughed at her word choice — we haven’t been any religion for decades and didn’t raise the kids in one.  We’re not religious, we’re just getting older, like Ruby, and appreciate a good ritual.

Ruby has finally spotted my wild waving and, in shock, has momentarily stopped licking.  We are almost there.

I point my index finger at her with authority.  “NO LICKING,” I whisper loudly.  I shake my finger and lead her to focus on my scowling face and register the seriousness of the issue.  I have her attention.  Now to connect it to the licking, or at least break the pattern.

She stares at me.  And licks.  I shake my finger.  She licks again.  And again.

Her huge ears are cocked up and she looks downright precious as she tries to figure it out.

I shake my finger and point at her tongue.  I scowl.  I send the message telepathically — NO LICKING.  YOU ARE DRIVING ME INSANE.

I love this dog.  She isn’t cuddly like her brother Jake was, but she is an endearing collector of gloves and shoes and chunks of wood, all of which she piles up in special spots around the back yard.  This week she carried one of the Bearded One’s flops out of the man cave den, back through the living room in plain sight of us in the kitchen, and out the screen door.  We were howling with laughter.


After dinner we found it near the sweet pea teepee, which I just fertilized with fish fertilizer, a smell that could rouse Jake from the grave to dig and roll in.  I’m sure Ruby noticed, but I’m equally sure she resisted the temptation.  She’s old and knows better.  Heck, she even knows she’s not allowed in any garden.  I’ll miss this when she’s gone and we have to train a new dog.

I hope that’s still a couple of years away.

Ruby 001

110 responses to “The Dogsology

  1. Awww, what a sweetie pie! And I love the idea of a morning love fest. My big boy insists on a good couple minutes of petting when we wake up, and woe to the one who refuses him. (Unless you aren’t bothered by big sad puppy eyes.)

    She’s gorgeous too! The pictures don’t make her look her age at all. I like that she chose to leave the shoe near a good stinky patch. Gotta mark her people so that she can always find them!

    • You’re right, Erika, she doesn’t look as old as soon old Goldens. Her muzzle is white now, but she doesn’t have the raccoon face that they get. 🙂

      And by the way, Pearl is starting to lose her fleece now, so it won’t be long and I’ll send you a couple of bags full! This weekend I met someone who had sheep and knows how to spin and I showed her a bag of Sage’s fleece, and she said she wouldn’t try to wash it first, it was fine. Just card and spin and then wash. Anyway, I haven’t gotten to the washing it yet, so I just might not! What do you think?

      • Yup, she’s wearing her age super well! I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I never got the email saying a new comment was posted…I must have missed the checkbox or something 😉

        And YAY! I’ll make sure to stay in touch about what I do with it! I’m afraid I’ve never actually worked with goat anything before (cashmere or mohair), so without seeing the fleece, I can’t give any advice! It wouldn’t surprise me if it doesn’t NEED washing though. One of the main reasons you wash sheep is to get the lanolin out, so that it doesn’t end up cemented together. I think it might depend on how much goat smell you can stand while working with it! 😀 One of the major rules of fiber arts is that “if it works, you aren’t doing it wrong”. So as long as you like the finished product, BOOM, correct!

      • I love that “if it works, you aren’t doing it wrong” ethos. And the fleece actually doesn’t smell too goaty. I am looking forward to doing fleece stuff this weekend and will email you when I get a package together. 🙂

  2. “Ah sweet ritual of life at last I’ve found you!” 😉 That’s my song for the day along with “slow down, you move to fast…you’ve got to make the morning last…” ;). So THERE with you about the licking! Earl is our licker. He slobbers particularly when he comes back in to bed (he sleeps on the bed with us) at about 1am and unless you shove him good, his slobber fest will go on for an hour! I love your singing to Ruby :). I give Bezial all the love before Earl and Steve get up. Now that it’s colder, Earl stays in bed, wrapped up with Steve and Bezial comes out at about 5am to keep me company. I scruff him and hug him and scratch those bits that a fat labrastaffy can’t reach and generally thank him for his efforts to keep me integrated with the rest of the family even though I am obviously insane! 😉

    I think we are doing more for ourselves when we keep a dog than when we marry. Dogs develop a rhythm that flows alongside us and the adoration of a dog is always going to be more lasting than the adoration of a partner ;). Could you please give Ruby a pat for me Christi? I know what you mean about her not being a cuddler. Bezial isn’t a cuddler. He hasn’t ever slept on the bed, prefering laying on the couch and guarding the house to laying upside down snoring (Earl). Earl cuddles shamelessly up to anyone. He lays prostrate on the floor or sofa upside down expecting pats, cuddles and any love that he can get. I figure it comes from him being 17 weeks as a feral dog in a very large pack when he was a pup. Now he takes his love (demands it in fact!) where he can get it. Bezial is more measured and is that nervous dog. Earl and Bezial are still developing a “relationship” but when Bezial is gone (when I take him to stay in town with the girls and their little staffy Qi) Earl howls for him! His pack is gone…he is lost :(.

    Isn’t it amazing how we form relationships that are so much deeper with animals, especially dogs? I dare you to watch this without crying Christi! It’s a cartoon and it’s supposed to be funny but the men from Futurama really knew how to hit home with this one…

    The premise is, that Fry is a guy from the 20th century that ends up being cryogenically frozen and woken up hundreds of years in the future. This episode was about a stray dog that he adopted and fed outside the pizza place that he worked at as a delivery boy and went hunting for in the future. He thought that the dog forgot about him when he disappeared but the ending of this episode makes me cry every single time I watch it…I am crying now! It’s only 4.33am and I have tears! Rosemary Cloony you owe me!

    • OH FRAN!! I’m crying so hard I can’t respond to your whole comment now. I will in a bit. Tears streaming down my cheeks. Gasping for air. Ooooooo!

      • Yup…I was the same! It takes REALLY good writers to do that to you in a television series, let alone cartoon comic writers!

    • Okay, many hours later, and I’m back. lol I cried so hard over that video I had to go lie down. Hormones, ya think? Yep, I’m STILL there! I say no more. The guys in the household — the B.O. and His Majesty — were supportive as I howled, but His Majesty had to leave the building because he was LAUGHING so hard. Which brings me to your interesting point about the comfort and adoration provided by our trustworthy dogs in contrast to our mates. lol There are times when nothing but a dog (or cat in my case) will do, but I have to say the same about those men. As the B.O. says, “My stock rises, and my stock falls.”

      Ruby’s litter mate Jake died 3-1/2 years ago — a seizure — and he was the cuddler, like Bezial. Absolutely a love of a dog and I grieved hard for him when he died. Ruby got to sleep on the couch for a YEAR largely for my own grief. Jake, too, would howl if he was parted from Ruby for long. Animals touch us in ways no human being can. But there are times, too, when only the B.O. will do. 🙂 Love you, Fran.

  3. Oh, and so beautiful too!

    • Thanks, Suzanne. Ruby is gorgeous, I agree. Her color is like an Irish Setter, which people sometimes mistake her for. Give Seder a hug and kiss for me!

  4. Most excellent read.

  5. Sage’s wool: Sorry I didn’t mention it myself, Christi; yes, you can spin without washing. If goats have lanolin like sheep do, it’s really good for your hands. Mum told me lots of potters spin as well; the work with clay dries out the skin on their hands, the spinning restores it.

    Ruby is a lovely dog! I’ve never had a golden, but I love all the big, long-haired dogs (sorry, Earl and Bezial).

    • That is soooo good to hear, Linne…that you, too, say spin without washing! I’ve been dragging my feet on washing it, and now I know why. As I was talking with the spinner (my daughter’s future mother-in-law!!) this weekend, she described the homemade spindle that you told me about, the potato and the knitting needle. I love it when synchronicities pile up and you feel you’re on the right path, ya know? I used to make pots, too, when I was in my 20s. I took a class in college, and then continued at community centers for several years. Very centering. 🙂

      I, too, like long-haired dogs. And goats. And cats, and men! Must be my hippy roots. Love to you and your mum and auntie!

  6. Christine Widman

    lololol the line of all of you on the pew singing the dogsology.
    I like very much how you and the Bearded One train your dogs, your cat (as much as a cat can be trained), your goats, your chickens.
    This kind of interaction – animal to human/human to human – creates the immeasurable bonds of connection. Of livability. Creates…yes…trust and love.
    We too are not religious but I am to my very marrow filled with prayer.
    I googled the Doxology. Singing it in my mind. Remembering the Lutheran Churches I attended with my family. The hard pews. Yet also the kind of awe I felt and still feel in spiritual places, in nature or built by men and women from the beginning of homo sapiens on this planet.
    The website I opened had the music quietly playing with a brief history of the hymn – created in 1674. The Doxology was the last verse of a longer hymn titled, Awake, my Soul, and with the Sun.
    Which could be my mantra every morning of our B&B work.
    Now – listening to the music – alone in our office, the curve of moon atilt in the dark sky – I feel the gentleness of thousands and thousands of voices over hundreds of years singing a kind of praise and hope for humanity.
    All blessings flow. To all creatures.
    Thank you, Christi, for this tender dogsology.

    • I always loved the Doxology, Christine. The one I remember singing most is “Glory Be To The Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the Beginning, is now and ever shall be, World without end, A-men.” But there is also, “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, praise Him All Creatures Here Below, Praise Him Above ye Heavenly Host, Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, A-men.” I didn’t know it was actually the last verse of an old hymn. And I, too, like thinking about thousands of people singing it over the centuries, even though I’m NOT religious. I love you, Soul Sister Christine.

  7. Reblogged this on leeamcg and commented:
    A good read 🙂

  8. Wonderfully written … loved it!

  9. alexanderschimpf

    Very accurate. My male retriever has the same disgusting licking ritual.

  10. Love your sketches, what a great match with your writing!

  11. I love this post! What rituals we have with our beloved dogs!

  12. What an adorable ritual with your beautiful dog! I LOVE the song. Love the part where she takes the flop through the house and into the backyard in plain sight. What would we do with our furry people? They do bring so much laughter and joy to our lives. Thanks for this post. You might enjoy reading one about my cats:

    • Ooooo, your Fossie could be a Maine Coon. We used to have one. He was 17 pounds! Your cats are gorgeous and I loved your blog. I, too, LOVE cats. Mine is Garfield, who appears on Farmlet regularly. I’m so glad you liked the blog! Thanks for commenting and hope you come back. 🙂

  13. I laughed when I read this because my 7 year old lab does the same licking thing. He knows it bothers the fam and I’m convinced it’s to get our attention so we come over and pet him. Either way it amusing to see that we have the same methods in getting them to stop! Loved the drawn out pics haha

  14. What a wonderful post!! I love the little cartoons and how you have captured all these little furry moments to share. I too am smitten by one of the furriest kind and she too does the incessant lick-ritual. We too have a morning ritual of the dog-loving kind. Thank-you!

    • Furry moments make life work, in my honest opinion….animals and Bearded Ones. Thanks for commenting, lifeBelle!

      • Agreed!! I have downloaded your e-book and made myself a cup of tea to settle in with it 🙂
        Your farmlet looks so good! I’ll definitely have to read more of your blog as I love the sustainable lifestyle you are living 🙂

      • Thanks again, this time for the motivation to get year 2 into e-book format. We’re almost halfway through year 3 and still I don’t do it. Now I will! 🙂

  15. Loved your story. Ruby looks great for 12. But heck any Golden looks good to me….the older the more pathetic looking (in humor of course)

    • So true — Goldens get old and lay down. 🙂 Ruby is in good shape, but she’s had daily walks all her life. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you visit again.

  16. What a lovely blog, I found you on freshly pressed. While searching for blogs for my Saturday shout out for all those great blogs such as yours. A lovely post thanks for sharing.

  17. Ps Ii will be featuring your post in my weekly Giving Something Back post.

    • Wow! I have to smile at the honor of being featured on your cool blog in the midst of all that glorious magenta, my favorite color. I have always loved it best, from Crayon days. Thank you, Athena! 🙂

  18. Man and woman’s best friend. Met this guy on the trail today that rescued a couple dogs from some slums in India and somehow brought them back on the plane…. they were malnourished and abused by the local kids daily, he said. Great blog!

  19. What a beautiful story and what a beautiful ritual you have! I’m going to show this to one of my friends who just loves dogs so much! I am quite sure he will love it.

    Gratz on being freshly pressed also!

    • Thanks iSergioC and I hope your friend enjoys it. It’s been a wildly fun day being Freshly Pressed, let me tell you. So far 318 views and 20 new subscribers! Wow. I’m glowing. 🙂 lol

  20. this is an incredible read! sharing now 🙂

  21. Aww…such a golden retriever thing! My two old guys both did that…they are both gone now. Their younger sibs are from rescues and don’t have the same coat textures, so no “No lick” commands for them. But I have to say, that was the worse thing my golden boys ever did – besides eat socks.
    I loved your story! Thanks!!

    • I agree, this licking is the worst thing Ruby does…and she doesn’t eat socks, she carries them into another room so you can’t find them. 🙂 Thank you for commenting and I hope you stop by again!

      • I will be reading. I read your article on the adoption. Too close to home to comment publicly. Whew.

        Back to doggies 🙂 My dear Kam – he ate a minimum of 5 socks a week for 12 years. That he did not get a blocked bowel or torsion – I’m amazed. Dak’s “dad” – my ex now – a vet couldn’t explain it. (Ex is disappeared and I have the kids and the critters. So life goes on…and now I have vet bills, along w/ everything else. 🙂 Next dog I’m getting WILL be a german shepherd, and I am naming him Karma…. Just in case 😉

      • 5 socks a week! That’s Guinness Book material.

        There’s a German Shepard named Karma on our road, and she is a beautiful dog. Her only difficulty I’m aware of is barking. When the owner drives by, and she’s with him, I can hear her barking clearly from INSIDE THE CAR for a quarter mile! I don’t know how the guy can hear when he gets to his destination. Karma, indeed. Good luck and take care, annesquared. 🙂

  22. Awww I have a licker too. I almost read this to him so he knows I’m not just being mean when I get onto him for the loud, i-am-going-to-make-you-crazy licking…. It wouldn’t do any good of course, but it would make me happy. Thanks for sharing! It was indeed a great read.

    • I’m amazed at how common this licking issue seems to be! Perhaps it is a breed-thing, and the population of Golden and lab owners is coming forward. In any case, THANK YOU, Truthy, and please come again. 🙂

  23. They are so special – don’t know what we’d do without them!!

    • I know what you mean. There’s no question we’ll get another dog after Ruby…she makes me crazy sometimes, but most of the time she keeps me sane. 🙂

  24. absolutely beautiful, i love the way you told it and so glad this was on freshly pressed so i can follow and read more!
    good luck with everything
    Lorna xx

    • Thank you!!! This Freshly Pressed thing is such a rush. I feel so grateful for all you new visitors — and any shout-out about the writing always makes me smile big. :):) Good luck to you, too, beansprowtcrocodile.

  25. Aww, I absolutely loved this. My doggy is about 13 years old now and so much about Ruby reminds me of him. (I’m away at college, and he’s at home). The stick figures go so well with the post! Congratulations on being pressed, looking forward to reading more!

    • Ah, I remember being away at college and missing our family dog. That was in 1975, ancient times. But some things stand the test of time, eh? 🙂 I love your blog about the quarter-life crisis. I remember it and I’m watching my grown kids go through it. More happens to them in 6 months than for me in a decade! lol Hang in there, and thanks for commenting.

  26. rainydaisylady

    Poetic in such a sweet way. This makes me want to sing to my dog. I’m afraid she is approaching that very same state – she compulsively licks everything. But such is life, and I’ll miss it some day.

    • Poetic is such a high compliment that I’m smiling as I type. Thank you, Daisy! And you’re right, in the Big Picture, licking isn’t THAT big a deal, is it? 🙂

  27. What a lovely story! My Rudy is 13 (a terrier-cross) and is also starting to lose his hearing and eyesight but he’s in great health – still runs like the wind – and has a good life. I’m hoping that his good health continues for a long, long time – don’t want to think about losing him.

  28. I HATE THE LICKING!! hahaha. My dog has allergies too so she also scratches non-stop. Not only is there lick lick lick there is thump thump thump!!

  29. Hi there. I nominated you for a Liebster Award – congratulations. Please visit Ruby the black labrador – – for details of the award and what to do next 🙂

    • Hi, and thanks for the nomination. I love the name of the award — love 🙂 — and I wish you the best. I won’t be answering the questions, etc., with all due respect. I like the name of your dog!

  30. Awww she is gorge!!!! How old? My boxer will be 14 and liKe your girl they are so trained and in a routine when they are senior Angels! Lol

  31. What a gorgeous looking dog !

  32. Lovely post and lovely Ruby. We’ve just lost our last Goldie, Flynn a month or so back. He looked much like Ruby and was 15. Bertie, his brother who died almost a year ago. This is not meant to be sad at all only to say I hope that you are as lucky as we were and have much time left.
    Love the provenance of the title too.

    • Thanks for the comment and the beautiful word “provenance”. I like that. And I know what you mean about not necessarily meaning to be sad…the reality is that dogs go through their lives faster than humans and 15 is an old Golden indeed. RIP Flynn and Bertie. I love those names, too. Please come again. 🙂

  33. I, too, remember “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…” as our doxology in the Free Methodist church I grew up in. I enjoyed this read — congratulations on being Pressed!

    • I grew up Presbyterian and the Bearded One Baptist. Another version we sang was, “Glory Be To The Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, World without end, A-men.”
      Thanks for the Freshly Pressed cheers. It came out of the blue. I got an email on Thursday and today, Sunday, there have been roughly 800 more views than usual and the subscribers have gone from 70 (where it was for a long time) to 133. Whew! All bloggers should be so lucky. Thanks again. 🙂

  34. My dog is 12. I just wrote a 4 part story titled unwanted till to this day. Although Daz is 12 she seems to be doing well she acts like she’s 2. I enjoyed reading your post.

  35. loved Dogsology. We too are Golden Retriever fans and Ruby sounds just like our 11 year old Lucy, man can that dog lick. Our four year old boy Sam is like Marmaduke with red hair, big, long, lean and bouncy.

  36. sarcasticallywitty

    Awwww! Loved this. Love seeing when pets owners take such wonderful care of their dogs. They are family. If I may say our childrens. My chihuahua stays in bed until almost 10 o’clock in the morning but when he wakes up,he passes us by looking at us waiting for the petting fest to begin. He knows that maybe we forget to say Good Morning to ourselves because of sleepyness but with him isn’t the case. He is going to get the best morning greeting. 😀

  37. Reblogged this on Bluxome Street Post and commented:
    This blog post totally made me cry. If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, dogs are a guy’s best friend. I dedicate today’s post to my Max.

  38. Lovely. Nothing quite like the morning dog rituals we have which simultaneously drive us crazy and give us peace and focus for the day.

  39. Your post warmed my heart this morning. Ruby sounds like such a sweetheart. My old “heart dog” had to be put to sleep a few months ago. Poco was a 15.5 year-old rescued mini schnauzer and I miss her like crazy. Like Ruby, she had her old dog quirks, but they only made her all the more special 🙂

    • Oh, I loved mini schnauzers! I grew up with one. Teddybear. He lived a long time, too. I was in college when he died, euthanized by a vet. They are strong little dogs, they don’t shed, and they love to be kissed between the eyes. RIP Poco. Thanks for sharing, Unicorn Kim, and I hope you can get another dog some day soon. 🙂

  40. i absolutely love this post for a number of reasons!!
    my name is ruby, i have a blind and deaf retriever (so I can totally relate to the communication difficulties haha) I also have a cat and the brother of my retriever romeo recently passed as well… in addition to this craziness my mom used to sing to my brother and I the good morning song every day!!! thanks for making me smile and reminisce 🙂

    • Wow, talk about synchronicities…amazing. We must be operating in the same dimension! lol Thanks for commenting, Ruby, and RIP Romeo — I love that name and am storing it for future dogs… 🙂

  41. I discovered your blog by happy accident…so glad I did! Ruby sounds like a sweetheart, in spite of the licking. 🙂 After three years without a dog, we caved and adopted a beautiful beagle-lab mix. We have rejoined the land of crazy dog lovers and have our morning ritual, too.

    • Glad you’ve joined the land of the crazies, bbruno, although I swear these animals keep me sane, or as close as I can come. A beagle-lab mix does sound beautiful, and just the right size, too. Hope you come again — to see what Ruby is up to. 🙂

  42. Do you have a cat? The Dogsology could be during the littergy. Just wanted to drop by, say hello, and introduce you to my blog. Some stuff is tame, some stuff is sad, and some stuff will make you roll on the ground and clutch your chest with fear. 🙂

    • LOL Littergy is great…wish I’d thought of it! And yes, we have a wonderful 6-year-old tabby named Garfield. I will surely check out your blog of stories, even the clutching ones. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  43. Pingback: Friday Five: Posts I Loved Reading This Week - Human Rescues Dog

    • Wow! Thank you so much for sharing on your blog. The photo at the top of your page has a Golden that looks just like Ruby’s brother Jake, may he RIP. Such dang good dogs. 🙂

  44. In our family we have plenty dogs – some of us call them children.. I now have the newest addition and our first Golden Retriever in the family. He is almost 3 now and has not started the licking – yet. (My mother’s chihuahua does the licking though! – Very annoying). Love this blog and will certainly follow it.

    • Namibia! Your lodge looks gorgeous. I love how blogs connect us across the globe…so we can share the similarites of our lives, like dog licking. 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment, and enjoy your Golden. They are amazing dogs that really and truly just want to be your best friend.

  45. My girl and I have our rituals, too! I get funny looks at my silly songs to her, but she loves them! I think she knows all is well when her Mama sings to her. I also have code letters when talking with her grandparents! LOL! Otherwise, my girl hears certain “trigger” words, and then it’s all over. For example, “C” is for cookie….as Cookie Monster says.

    • I love this comment. 🙂 We, too, have a major trigger word…like Walk. Even when we say “W” — exactly like your code — she knows exactly what we’re saying. Isn’t it funny how alike dog households really are? Thanks for sharing and I hope you come again!

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