Nothing makes losing a dog easy. But a bridge dog can help.


Ruthie, the bridge dog. Sarah Miller

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Once upon a time, Sarah Miller had the perfect dog. A blue heeler named Merle. She was smart, obedient, and always up for an adventure — the kind of dog you can take anywhere.  

But even the most cherished dogs grow old. And as Merle’s end approached, a friend suggested Sarah get a “bridge dog.” A puppy, or at least a young dog, who could join the family now and maybe make Merle’s impending loss easier to bear.

Sarah kind of liked this idea of a bridge dog – and wrote a piece about it for The New Yorker – even though it also seemed...disloyal. Now, she can't imagine life without Ruthie, a young blue heeler absolutely terrified of everything in the world, that she adopted as Merle's days waned. 

Ruthie is the frequent topic of stories written by Sarah in her Substack newsletter, "The Real Sarah Miller." Ruthie has authored a few pieces as well, sharing her abject terror for the scary loud and/or scratchy things in her daily life. Here's an excerpt of one of her adventures: 

Today this morning I/me/(Ruthie) got into the moving red thing that goes fast with Mommy and Daddy. Ruthie does not like to be in the moving red thing that goes fast for a long time. It was the longest time Ruthie has ever been in it. Mommy and Daddy were talking and talking and talking. Sometimes Mommy touched Ruthie’s head but mostly no one talked to Ruthie or even looked at Ruthie. Ruthie just pressed herself against the seat and waited for it to be over. Ruthie waited and waited and waited and it was still not over. 

Mommy tried to give Ruthie some water but Ruthie does not drink water unless Ruthie is at home. Mommy fed Ruthie ice chips out of her hand. Ruthie likes to eat ice chips out of Mommy’s hand in fact Ruthie has discovered that when she has to go fast in the fast red thing for a long time eventually she will be fed ice chips out of Mommy’s hand. This is fun but it is not a reason for Ruthie to enjoy lying around for a long time just hurtling through space. Ruthie does not like to hurtle though space!

To read the full story, hop on over to Miller's Substack page.