Author Topic: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220  (Read 2380 times)

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Some of you have probably heard (read) me mention Rusty over the years.

It took time after his death before I was able to write about him; and for the first time today, I read over it, did a tiny bit of editing and decided to share it here.

If you have any comments, they are welcome; if not, that's fine too.

* * *
 Rusty

Rusty was a Doberman, he had the protective personality of his breed.  But he was also one of the sweetest companions a person could ask for.
 
Rusty came to me in a round about way; a former daughter-in-law called asking if I wanted a dog.  I really didn't at that time, but she went on to say that if I didn't take him she was turning him over to the dog pound.  From past experience with her I feared what she would really do is carry him away from her home and dump him on the street to fend for himself.  So I reluctantly agreed to give him a home.  In the back of my mind I also thought of finding him a different home.  I had a dog die not too long before that time and wasn't sure I was ready for another.
 
My son, her former husband, was taking their daughter back home and he agreed to bring the dog back with him.  She had said his name was Diablo. I refused to have a dog called by the Spanish word for devil, so that name was discarded before I ever saw him.
 
Dismay was the best way to describe my feelings at the first sight of this, now no-name, dog.  He was so obviously uncared for and was being eaten alive with fleas.  So the first order of business was a bath with flea shampoo.  A second and third bath followed the first.  Finally he was allowed back in the house.
 
Still, he needed a name.  He was well formed even if more than a little on the skinny side from lack of proper care.  But that didn't suggest a name.  Even though his tail had been bobbed, his ears had not been clipped.  I was happy about that.  I think a dog has full rights to have the ears, and tail actually, they are born with.  He also had a tiny spot of gray on his neck just behind his left jaw bone.  Alas, none of this suggested a name.
 
After looking him over from head to tail several time, talking to him and trying out several different names, we both (the dog and I) settled on the name of Rusty.  I chose the name because his muzzle and other markings had the reddish brown color suggesting rust.  He may have simply liked the sound of the word when I called him.
 
From the first day it seemed Rusty realized he had found a home and was greatly appreciative of the fact.  I doubt he had ever been housebroken, but he was so eager to please, it didn't take long for him to catch on and accidents after that were few and far between.
 
That first week we made a visit to the vet where he received all his shots, tests, and eventually after treatments for an early case of heartworms, a clean bill of health.
 
Rusty appointed himself my protector and personal companion early on.  If I was in the living room, so was he.  If I sat at the computer doing my home office work, he was curled up on the floor next to me.  When I went to bed, he was there, on his own bed near the foot of mine, but to the side between the bed and the door.  He decided on this placement, not me.  All thoughts of finding him a different home were quickly forgotten.
 
Early on I found there were two things Rusty was afraid of; boxes of any shape or size and thunder.  If someone carried a box through the room he was in, he would move as far away as possible while still keeping an eye on the box.  When a storm brewed up loud claps of thunder, he became a nervous wreck.  Pacing around and around the room, picking up speed, his eyes would take on the frightened look of someone or something that had suffered torture in the past and feared more of the same in the here and now.
 
Time took care of his fear of the boxes eventually.  But the thunder was more difficult.  After talking to the vet about it, I was given some tranquilizer for him.  They took a little time to take effect, but after a while he would calm down.  He still wanted to stay as close to me as possible, but at least he was calm. 

We went through several bottles of tranquilizers, one pill at a time, before I decided to try baby aspirin instead.  My idea was that he had become accustom to taking a pill and then feeling calm.  Thankfully, whether I was right in my thinking or not, it seemed to work well.  By this time he was also showing small signs of his back hips bothering him at times and I felt the aspirin might help with that also.
 
For years we went for walks together.  Rising earlier than usual for me, I would dress, depending on the weather, in sweats or shorts.  Rusty would check every few minutes to see how I was progressing.  When I got to the tennis shoes he would become ecstatic, racing between me and the bedroom door as if to say, "Hurry, I want to see; hurry, I need to see everything."
 
In the evening, after my day's work was done, we repeated the process of me changing clothes and him urging me to put some speed on.  He really enjoyed our walks even though most of the time we covered the same route.
 
We would head for the park near by, make a loop around the back side, around and back across the front of the park and then back home again.  He could have kept going without complaint, but I had to work up to it since I hadn't been doing a lot of walking before he came into my life. Eventually we built our distance up and ventured up and down various side streets.  But the park was always our favorite place.  Rusty enjoyed checking out and obliterating all the marks other dogs had left behind since our last visit.
 
On the other hand, I enjoyed catching sight of the occasional hawk or other unusual visiting birds.  And rocks; I like rocks and would often come home with one or two that had an unusual color or shape to add to my growing collection.
 
We also made new friends during our walks.  Generally I didn't talk to that many people because many seemed to shy away from the large, muscular dog Rusty had become over time.  But there were exceptions and they were a nice addition to our walks as we saw many of our new friends from time to time in the park.
 
There was one young man who often walked his Boxer at the same time we were out.  The boxer was one of the few dogs Rusty allowed to approach within the limits he generally insisted on maintaining.  So with Rusty's approval, the young man and I struck up a friendly, dog people kind of friendship.
 
One day, after a long absence, I spotted the young man and his Boxer as we entered the park.  But something was different.  Their steps were slower, more measured.  When we were close enough and had exchanged pleasantries, I asked if everything was okay.
 
His eyes looked down at his dog; and he was silent for a moment before answering.
 
"He's been sick" he said.  "They found he has a heart problem.  So I can't allow him to run or even walk as fast as he would like."  I could hear the sadness in his voice it was so thick, and seemed to make the words difficult.
 
We only saw them occasionally after that.  We still spoke but there were so many words I left unsaid because I couldn't find the right way to say them without causing him more pain.  As time pasted and the young man and his Boxer didn't show up, I realized the unspeakable had happened and he had lost his reason to walk in the park.  I still feel bad thinking of him.  Not knowing his full name or address, I couldn't even pay a visit or drop a line.
 
Years passed with Rusty and I continuing our twice daily walks.  But one day I tripped, apparently over thin air since I couldn't see anything on the path that could have stubbed my toe.  Thin air or a bolder, it made no difference.  I came down hard on my left knee and hands.  It was summer time, so the dress for the day was shorts.  No thick sweats to cushion the blow or stanch the flow of blood escaping from rendered flesh.
 
Rusty normally tried to pull me along "Faster, faster" he always wished I would go.  But when I fell he was at my side immediately, allowing me to use his strong front shoulders to regain my footing.  Well, what was left of my footing anyway.
 
Nothing was broken, no bones I mean.  But my knee hurt like the dickens and blood was flowing down my leg.  With Rusty's help, I limped up the path towards the front of the park nearest our way home.  This part of the path led us past the basketball court where several young men were involved in a game.  Some of them stopped what they were doing long enough to get a good look at the strange sight Rusty and I must have provided.  I'm sorry to report that not one of them offered a helping hand.  But Rusty did. He stayed right by my side all the way home.
 
For some time after that I had to get others to take Rusty for his walks.  But on his return he would run to me for a good ear rubbing, some petting and to share his joy of the great outdoors it seemed.
 
When my knee healed enough we resumed our walks.  But once again we had to settle for the shorter versions, working our way back ever so slowly, a block or two at a time, until we were almost walking our former five miles a day.
 
Sadly as the years passed, neither Rusty nor my knee seemed to handle as much walking as we had grown accustom to.  So once again our walks slowed down.  Rusty chose to use some of his extra time in our back yard.  I'm ashamed to say that I soon found it more convenient to let him out back to tend to his business than to walk our usual path on a daily basis.
 
Occasionally when he spotted me with tennis shoes on he assumed we were going for a walk again and would be disappointed when he found I was only going to work in the yard.  But he always forgave me.
 
I failed to keep track of all the years Rusty and I spent together until the time he begin to have trouble getting up from the floor after he had been laying there awhile.  Thinking something bigger and softer might help, I got him a couple of very plush, large size, dog beds; one for the living room and another for the bedroom.  He was a little hesitant at first step, feeling it give way beneath his weight, but soon decided he liked it and settled down gratefully.
 
A few more years rolled by and a soft bed no longer afforded him the comfort needed.  I went into denial.  I didn't want to admit that he was growing old and that somewhere in the near future I would loose my best friend and companion.  But seeing such pain can cut through the strongest barriers of denial.  The day came when I could no longer stand to see him in such pain.  Those beloved eyes looking up at me as if pleading for release were heart breaking.
 
So eventually, the two of us made our last trip to the vet.  Everyone in the office, staff, well as the vet herself, made things as easy for the two of us as possible.  But some things are never easy no matter who tries to ease the burden.
 
I sat on the floor with his head cradled in my lap as he drifted toward his last long nap.  I stayed there, tears flooding my eyes until he was gone.  Then I stayed a little longer before I could bring myself to leave his remains in the hands of the staff.  I had his remains cremated and they were scattered in a wooded area.  I think he would have liked all those trees.
 
I returned home carrying his empty collar and leash.  There was also a huge empty spot inside me.  A spot a 75 pound black and tan Dobie had filled perfectly.
 
I still, a year and a half later, find Rusty running through my thoughts.  He was a happy dog for most of his life, for that I'm thankful.  Goodness knows he made me happy with his smiling face and joyful energy.  But I'm not ashamed to say that sitting here, talking about Rusty, tears are again being shed for him and my loss.

 

Written about 4 years after his death.  Dec. 11, 2010

Edited June 23, 2012
« Last Edit: February 04, 2016, 07:41:53 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »
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Silt-2

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2012, 09:27:56 AM »
A touching tribute to love, Alice. More hearts should be as gentle as yours.

Thanks for this read, and for sharing.

Silt

Offline heidi52

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2012, 09:47:40 AM »
It's the final act of love. No dog lover could read that and not shed tears for Rusty and for you, too.

Thanks for sharing.

Please consider adopting another dog, there are thousands looking for an owner like you. And you know they give back more than they receive.

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2012, 11:43:20 AM »
Thank you Silt and Heidi, I appreciate you reading and commenting.

I have adopted other dogs since, most I've been able to find other homes for them where they could received the the time, attention and love they deserve.

One I chose from a litter is Katy, part Blue Tick and part Rottie. She's been with me for almost four years now, a wonderful dog and I love her. But none can ever take Rusty's place.

The little terrer in my avatar I adopted from the animal shelter. It was my bad that I adopted him too soon after I hurt my knee and was unable to walk him, giving him the exercise and attention he deserved. One of my sons fell in love with him and I wound up letting him take Stormy. His name was changed to Chillie and he and their other little dog became fast friends as soon as they met.

When I go to their home, Chillie (I still slip and call him Stormy) makes sure I know he hasn't forgotten me and spends a good portion of his time giving me 'chin kisses' and cuddeling up to me.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2016, 07:39:52 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Laura H

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 01:47:06 PM »
This is lovely, Alice - and heartbreaking.  What a wonderful tribute.

One thing - you describe Rusty's excitement when getting ready for a walk and where you use "esthetic" I wonder if you meant ecstatic?

Thanks for sharing this  :-*
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 04:14:35 PM »
Thanks for catching that Laura - I went back and fixed it.   ::)
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline bowmore bill

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 06:58:32 PM »
Hi Alice, don't really like love stories, but this one held me.
As a dog lover myself I understand the bond you speak of, been there and got the tee-shirt.javascript:void(0);

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 07:27:59 PM »
Thank you for reading and commenting Bill.  I was sure kindred dog people would understand.
MWC Charity Publications.
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The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

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I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Chrissie

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2012, 07:13:26 AM »
Hi Alice
thanks for this and yes, it made me cry. I've also been down that road, several times and it doesn't get easier even though you know it's the right thing to do. My current dog, a rescue one with all the baggage that entails, including the fear of thunder and fireworks, is lying next to me as I write. She follows me everywhere and sometimes it gets irritating. But hey, no one else adores me like she does! That's the beauty of a dog, isn't it, that unconditional adoration and their zest for life!
Well done - a lovely piece.  :)

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: A True Story of My Dog Rusty Word Count approximately 2,220
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2012, 10:42:48 AM »
Thank you for reading and commenting Chrissie. I suspect most if not all dog people have gone through through this at one time or another, it the down side of becoming so attached to our four legged companions.

Quote
That's the beauty of a dog, isn't it, that unconditional adoration and their zest for life!

Truer words were never spoken (or written). Thank you.
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi