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Friday, 19 July 2013

Just One of the Guys

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

Wychwood Rusty Kelly had a high-sounding name and impeccable bloodlines but at heart, he was just one of the guys and everybody called him “Rusty.”

He was to have celebrated his eighth birthday that September 1. It was to have been a quiet celebration: Some cookies, a new rubber toy bone and much love from his admirers.

But Rusty died alone on a country road that mid-August, the victim of a speeding car and there were to be no more birthdays for him.

Rusty stood about a foot-and-a-half tall at the shoulder and he had a lop-sided face. He didn’t hear too well but he was full of energy with more personality than a sound-stage full of movie actors.

Rusty had wormed his way into my wife’s heart four years earlier. He had been living with another family at the time. One day when he was out on a ramble, he came to my wife’s door without a formal invitation and decided he liked the setup.

She found out where he lived and returned him to his owners but Rusty had a stubborn streak and a mind of his own. He kept coming back for a visit.

After months of ferrying Rusty back home, my wife received a telephone call from his owners: Would she like to have him? She did and that was how Rusty chose his new mistress.

Rusty and I took each other’s measure when I was courting my wife and I reckon I passed muster because we became fast friends.

He was all man: 29 pounds of comical, feisty cocker spaniel with a look that reminded me of Mr. McGoo. He was happiest when he could walk around the house with one of his rubber balls in his mouth.

He always lost them but somehow they would show up days later Rusty would grab one between his jaws, sit down in front of me, drop it on the floor and cast a patient eye on me until I picked it up and threw it for him to run and catch.

Rusty knew exactly what his job was; he was our pal-in-chief. At night, he slept at my wife’s feet and when I was home alone, he followed me from room to room begging for doggie treats. He ate them eagerly but he never bore a grudge if I failed to toss him one.

Dinner was undoubtedly the high-point of his day. When he heard the sound of his food pouring into the dish, Rusty came running into the kitchen like a baseball player sliding into home plate at the top of the ninth. But as much as he loved his food, Rusty was a devotee of slow food, lingering over his chow, savoring every morsel like a discerning food critic.

But Rusty never ate dinner on that steamy August night. We were working in the yard and somehow Rusty wandered off, although normally, he never left our side. We think he picked up the scent of a girl dog and decided to investigate. He never returned.

Rusty entered our lives on his own terms. He picked my wife and later, extended the compliment to me. We loved the little guy. And we love him still.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a find. Both your wife and Rusty. On the other hand you two were a great find for him. A great ode to Rusty.

I love this story. People who love dogs read this and remember their own pets. There is no good way to lose a friend, but you have written a story to Rusty's memory, thank you. I remember every one of the dogs in my life, I'm so glad they spent time with us.

Great story and excellent writing, Marc. I especially enjoyed your use of simile in the paragraph about Rusty running into the kitchen for dinner.

What a wonderful tribute to a pal-in-chief. We have one of those, too, at home...Rikki, and he serves his duties well. I don't know what I would do if something happened to him. Thank you for sharing.

What a sweet memory, Marc. I really enjoyed your story of Rusty. My first dog - a border collie sweeter than honey - was run over, scaring 8 year old me for life since I witnessed it. Glad you had some good years with Rusty.

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