Today I am not writing about decorating or junking or painting. Today I am hoping you will humor me as I pay a small tribute to my dear friend and companion, my dog Rusty.
Todd and I got Rusty for Valentine’s Day 1998, he was six weeks old. Rusty had a rough start. He was a pound puppy, a straight up mutt. He had kennel cough, pneumonia and distemper. Dogs don’t usually live through stuff like that. The pound told us we could bring him back and trade him in. He already had our hearts though and two broke college kids spent hundreds of dollars on x-rays and vet bills to get him well. I think walking him through that bonded us all together in a way that is not normal. Once he got better Rusty was healthy his whole life. At least until the very end. I vividly remember my mom saying she bet we would lose interest in him in a month, as college kids are prone to do. But not this time. Over the years he became an integral part of our family and a piece of my heart.
Rusty was obviously part hound of some sort, resembling a whippet in shape and in mannerism. He was super fast and would run laps around the yard at warp speed. He never was a runner though, as in run away. You could take him anywhere off leash. He was well behaved, well mannered and sweet to the core. He was my shadow. I really believe there has never been, nor will be another dog the likes of him. When I look back over the years I can think of days that were sad and sorrowful for me. Days when I just wanted to crawl in a hole. Days when I felt painfully alone. He was curled up with me every time and brought comfort that no one else on this earth could have in those moments. He was my friend when no one else was. I trusted him when I trusted no one. He was unconditional love. Over the years our family grew. First one baby, then another, then another. Rusty welcomed each child with tender love and protection. Each time knowing his rung on the ladder moved down just a little. He never complained and was happy just to be in the mix. Still my shadow. Lapping up any left over love thrown his way. You could always find him following a baby, waiting for snacks to fall his way. Chasing bubbles was a favorite pass time for him and the kids. On cold nights he was my little heater. He would snug up fitting perfectly into my lap, sharing his warmth. His breath stank. I mean bad. We even made up a song about it. Russ was a priss, he didn’t like to get his feet wet. Often, you would find him perched on the top of a couch or chair, almost like a bird. We never boarded Rusty, not once. He was a world traveling dog. He has been on many a cross county trip. From snow to beach he quietly rode along on every journey. That dog has been on some vacations! Every Christmas in the later years we would say, “Surely this is the last Christmas we will have with Rusty.” But another always came. Seventeen of them.
I knew the time was coming. He hadn’t greeted us at the door in a long while. He preferred to sleep most of the day away. His sweet face, white with age, had just grown tired. Walking was becoming a chore and eating all but stopped. I felt prepared. I waited and prayed each day that we would wake up and he would not. I just wanted him to quietly go in his sleep. That was not the case. I made the call to our vet to set an appointment to put him down, to take his pain away. He loved us to much to go on his own is all I can guess. It was truly one of the most horrible hard things I have had to do. I searched for solstice in the Word. What I found was Genesis 2:28. God says “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God gave us dominion over the animals. That makes Rusty directly my responsibility. This choice didn’t feel right or natural, but God clearly states I am in charge in this matter.
A month ago tomorrow I scooped up my precious companion, who could no longer walk and drove him to the vet. I cried the whole way. If I am being honest I had a pretty harsh chat with God. I told him how mad I was that I had to make this decision. Why couldn’t he have just taken him in the night. I mean, I was really mad. We still haven’t worked that one out all the way. I know this was the right thing to do, but right doesn’t equal easy. The blessing was I was with him, looking into his beautiful eyes when he took his last breath. My hope is that I gave him even a drop of comfort, as he so often has given me. Once he was gone my kind vet, Dr. Mahoney, asked if I would like a prayer. Of course I would! She prayed when I couldn’t and for that I am so grateful. I love that God spoke to me in that moment, even when I was mad at him. He understands. So our sweet Rusty is gone and it is good. The other side of this day has been better than I had expected. I am so glad he is no longer suffering or hanging on to appease his momma.
You may not be a dog person, this may sound like utter nonsense to you. But I loved this dog and have no doubt he was a gift from God to comfort me and walk with me all these years. All SEVENTEEN of them. We should all be so blessed. We have a new girl, Gigi. We have had her for two years now. I have to say she has been a great distraction, source of joy and youth in our home. She is lovely, but she is Gigi…not Rusty. They broke the mold after him. I’m ok with that.
Our Vet in case you are in need of a good one:
They saw Rusty for almost all of his 17 years!
College Hills Vet – Dr. Kim Stewart & Dr. Elizabeth Mahoney
College Station, TX
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