We had to say goodbye to one of our dogs just over a week ago. She was well over 15 years old and had been very frail for a while. We thought we’d lost her earlier this year but her tenacious terrier spirit and stubbornness (she was always a dog with very firm views on things!) seemed to keep her going for a few more months.
Rusty came into our lives when she was 9. Her owner had died and we were contacted by our dog groomers asking us if we would consider taking her on. It was thought that she wouldn’t do well at kennels and not many people want to adopt an older dog. I nearly didn’t take the call as I was in an important meeting at work but I saw it was a local number and was worried that my Dad had fallen when out, so I took the call.
Rusty was being looked after an elder lady who was a friend of her owner and was a little overwhelmed by having Rusty living with her. Rusty (who wasn’t a rusty colour, I can only assume her puppy coat was rust coloured) was a picture of shaggy dog unhappiness. Her coat was long, well groomed, but she couldn’t see out from her fringe, wouldn’t make eye contact and didn’t want to go for a walk. She was polite but sad and depressed. She was well fed but distant. We decided to take her home.
For the first couple of weeks she seemed very quiet but bonded well with our dogs in a very polite manner, did all that was asked of her but didn’t really engage too much with us. She was very withdrawn. We clearly operated a more liberal house than she was used to. I will never forget the expression on her face when our dogs jumped onto the sofa. She literally had her mouth open, look at them, looked at me (I think she was waiting for the telling off) and then the sofa. She did this a couple of times, then tentatively stood up on her hind legs and put her front paws on the sofa but couldn’t quite bring herself to jump up! She looked at me and I scooped her up and placed her on the sofa. She looked like the cat who’d got the cream and was practically purring. She was always very cat like in her behaviour. We had her coat clipped and she looked like a different dog. One evening, not long after we’d got her, she suddenly jumped up on the sofa, climbed onto my lap, put her two front paws on each of my shoulders, looked me in the eyes for several minutes and then gave my face one lick. She was never a licky dog. She then did the same again to Rob. She never did this again, was never a lap dog, always jumped off immediately if you put her on your lap. I think was either a thank you or a sign of approval!
Over the next few weeks, a playful, stubborn and loyal little dog emerged! She didn’t know how to play ball and never chased it like the others but if you bounced it in front of her would play with it in a cat like manner and ‘kill’ it. She was very unfit when we first got her and had a tendency to lie down in streets so we had to carry her. She got fitter but never approved of walking up hills and would often sit down and grumble about walking up them! She was, out of all our dogs, my little shadow. Always just behind me, right on my heels, wherever I went in the house. Sleep well my little friend, I miss my faithful shadow.