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.
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.
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!