Rusty’s Mom, this is for you.
I recently found your note among his papers. It said, “Dog’s name is Rusty. My son left him w/me and I can’t keep him – I have tried to find a home but have not been able to. Pls try, he is a good dog – Thank you.”
The story, from what the folks at the Humane Society shelter knew, was that Rusty—he of the heart-melting big brown eyes and the ears that trail the ground when he walks and the cruelly docked tail that he still tries to wag—Rusty lived with his former owner for nine years. The owner moved away and did not take the dog with him.
“How could he?” people asked when they heard the story.
How, indeed? How do you just walk away from a dog with whom you have shared your home for nearly a decade? How do you walk away from the little fellow who greeted you happily every day when you came home from work, nuzzled your hand and made you feel better on the toughest days?
Your son is still on my list as a possible candidate for jerkhood. But Mom, your note says “kind and caring heart.”
Rusty has shared my home for 14 months. He lives with me and his big sister, Greta, a mostly Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
It’s been a tough year for the guy. He needed dental work when I adopted him, as you probably knew. But the $400 worth of dental work was only the beginning.
Rusty has kidney disease. He takes azodyl at $65 for a 30-day supply, and will need special low-protein dog food at $42 a bag for the rest of his life. He had surgery to remove a bladder stone: $1,495.
Rusty has had chronic tracheotic bronchitis for months. None of the medications has helped his persistent cough, and the cough never succeeds in clearing the mucus from his lungs. He had an echocardiogram to see if his heart might be involved in the bronchitis: $600. The good news: his heart is in pretty good shape, for an older gentleman. Next week, we are scheduled to see a specialist about other options for the bronchitis, because the course of prednisone–the most recent attempt to knock out the bronchitis–only left him so hungry he snarfed up rabbit droppings in the back yard. It did nothing for the cough.
Bottom line: Rusty’s medical bills, including shots and special diet and hydrotherapy for his arthritis, topped $5,000 last year. He doesn’t have health insurance, and couldn’t get it now because of pre-existing conditions. Rusty’s copay is 100 percent.
I don’t mean to whine about the bills, Mom. I’m very lucky to be able to pay for what he and Greta need for their care. I want you to know that I have done all that veterinary science seems to have available to get my guy feeling better. He’s a good fellow, and he sucks all the marrow he can get from the bone of life.
Rusty wakes up every morning just knowing that today is the day he’ll get that rabbit that hangs in the back yard. He doesn’t swim when we go to the park, but he wades chest-deep in the water while Greta swims out to fetch her squeaky toy. He has learned to play the treat game, where the dog has to identify which plastic cup covers the hidden treat.
Mom, I have no way to track you down, but I just want you to know that I’ve given Rusty the best home I can. Barring some unforeseeable accident or illness that would make it impossible for me to take care of them, he and Greta have a home for life.
So if you’re ever on the Internet, and you Google® Rusty, I hope you find this and know that we are doing okay. You were right, Mom. He is a good dog. And I love him.