Dreaming of Ruby Tuesday, Part 2

One day, soon after her first dream, she was talking to her dad at bedtime, and got sad.

What is it, my girl?” he said, “You seem worried or unhappy.”

It’s Ruby,” she said, “I want her to be like us.”

Ah…” he said while tucking her in, “I’m sorry sweetheart, but animals aren’t that much like us… even a wonderful dog like Ruby. They’re just made differently, and can’t do the things we do. And no one knows how to change that.”

If anything, that made her more sad. Her dad continued:

But Ruby is good to you, Aria. She watches to be sure you’re safe… she watches our whole family to be sure we’re safe. And she plays with you. She loves it when you play with her and take care of her. Maybe she can’t do more than that, but both of you can enjoy what she is able to do.”

But she wants to understand more, Dad.”

Well, she did in your dream, sweetie, but that dream came from you, not from Ruby. It doesn’t mean that she really thinks those things.”

I guess you’re right, but isn’t there something we can do for Ruby and the other animals?”

Yes, actually there is. But it’s kind of complicated; are you sure you want me to explain it?” (Sometimes Aria thought her dad talked too long.)

Yes, I am.”

Okay. I think it’s our job to take care of animals as best we can. We can do a lot of things they just can’t, and we should do those things for them… if we can. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.”

Why not?”

For one thing, we can’t communicate with them: They can’t speak and they can’t really understand us. The pets that live with us can often tell if we’re happy, sad or afraid, but that’s about all. And for wild animals, the only way to get them to do something is to force them. That’s not very nice, but it’s the only thing we can do.

Plus, there are a lot of animals that would hurt us on purpose. You got stung by a bee, right?”

Yes, a bad bee.”

Right. Even if we could tell them to stop, they’d keep hurting us. And so, again, we have to force them. Nothing else works. So, it’s a hard problem.”

What about farm animals?” she asked. “Is making them work being mean to them?”

Ah, you ask interesting questions, my girl.” He rubbed her head. “For sure working them too hard is being mean, or not feeding them well. But we have a sort of trade with farm animals, kind of like we do with Ruby.”

We can’t have a trade with Ruby… she can’t understand a trade.”

You’re right, but still, people have something like a trade with dogs: We give them food, a safe place to stay and affection; in return they watch over us. You’ve seen how Ruby barks at new people who knock on our door… she’s doing that to keep us safe. We take care of her and she protects us. It’s not exactly a trade like people do in business, but it’s like it.”

And the farm animals?”

We take care of them and they work for us. In the old days is was pulling plows through fields. Nowadays cows give us milk, chickens give us eggs, and things like that. But we have to treat them as well as we can, and we have to be honest and fair about it, because they aren’t able to judge such things.”

And the wild animals?”

We try to leave them alone, and we hope they’ll leave us alone. But if they don’t, we have to force them. I don’t like that, but I don’t know any better way to do it.”

Thanks, Dad.”

You’re welcome, my girl,” he said while kissing her head. “Sleep well and have fun with Ruby tomorrow. I know she’ll enjoy playing with you.”


Paul Rosenberg