The early 2000s was a time of big change in my life. I got divorced in 2001 and moved from Vernon Hills to Mount Prospect. A year later, I lost my job. I never worried for a minute about what I was going to do next but my mother was and wanted me to go back to a corporate job. She kept saying "why don't you go down the street and get a job at the bank?" However with my dad it was a different story. He left the corporate world at 35 to start his own business and I was 35 as well. He suggested we go to our Wisconsin lake house so I could clear my mind and think about next steps. We did just that and he took us to a nearby town. We pulled up in front of a house and I wondered what we were doing there and then I quickly realized what it was when I saw the Miniature Schnauzers running around in the front yard! We were there to pick out a puppy. I said to my dad I'm not so sure about getting a puppy, when a dog passes away it is so devastating. He said "just think of all the years of joy you will receive from her!"

The breeder brought the three female puppies out for us to see. The salt and pepper puppy hid under a chair. The black puppy ran over to me and kissed me. The black and silver puppy stood off in the distance, watching all the vehicles drive down the street. I was leaning towards the black puppy because she was so sweet and I asked my dad what he thought. He said "get the beautiful and smart one!" The black and silver puppy it was. A week later, we picked her up. The children of the breeder had named her Merrill after a cartoon character. We went through baby books and chose Ruby, it was the only name we could all agree on. She was only 5 1/2 weeks old and was scared at first. I had to sleep with her little cage on the bed for weeks, otherwise she would cry.

Ruby was such a great dog, she was so smart. I could speak to her in full sentences. On her walks, she found so many items including a silver bracelet, scuba goggles, pieces of pizza, bagels and more. Kuochun knew Ruby from the beginning but moved in a few years after I got her. He had never had a pet before but quickly learned how a pet can enhance your life. We walked her over 2 miles a day and although she really loved to eat and was kind of overweight the walking kept her in good health. She was a wonderful companion for many years. When she got older, she became very sensitive to my cell phone sounds and eventually went deaf. I still keep my phone on silent most of the time to this day because I got used to it. We lost her at the age of 15 to cancer Labor Day weekend 2017 and it was heartbreaking. I will never forget what my dad did for me. He didn't hesitate to have the confidence in me to know I could make it on my own in business and not have to deal with office politics anymore. It is so much more profound now that we are losing my dad to the ravages of Alzheimer's.

Kuochun wasn't sure he ever wanted another pet after losing Ruby but decided to do an online search a few months later and see about female Miniature Schnauzer puppies around the area. Things have really changed since we got Ruby for $450 from a family breeder. Breeders listed online are charging $3,000-$4,000 for puppies now and they're way out of state so they have to be shipped or picked up. I tried to find one to adopt but couldn't find the right fit. Because of my allergies the dog needs to be purebred. However Kuochun finally found success, in more ways than we could have imagined and I'll talk about that next time!