Since its inception, this website has been dedicated to the celebration of life among my beloved dogs, The Thundering Herd. Even in loss, we want to celebrate life. Specifics as to what happened are at the end of the post, but feel free to skip that part and just smile as we are – through our tears.
As happens so often, Rusty was not the dog we were trying to adopt. We had traveled to Carolina Siberian Rescue in July of 2004 to meet Sunshine, a dog who looked perfect for us on their website. Eleven-year old Nikita and one-year old Natasha went with us to approve of any new family member. Sunshine failed the test. In fact, so did every other Siberian Husky on their website. Not a single dog was approved by both Natasha (who was, at the time Little Miss Princess Pain in the Butt – before she became Queen Natasha the Evil) and Nikita (who was decidedly the queen of the house at the time, and rapidly teaching Natasha how to be an iron-pawed alpha female).
We had thought we had exhausted every possibility when Donna Wolfe, the director of CSR, said that she did have one more dog, a new arrival. He had not been tested yet with others, but seemed to be good natured. Out stepped Rojo who immediately went into a play bow with an excited “wooooop” sound. Natasha returned the play bow and Nikita shrugged (hey, that was approval in Nikita’s world). On our trial walk, Natasha and Rusty played every step of the way. A few days later, our references all checked, Rojo came home with us.
We originally re-named him Boris (get it, Boris and Natasha). Well, as you can imagine, Boris just did not fit. We tried several names on him and, in the meantime, just kept referring to him as that rusty colored dog. That finally was shortened to Rusty and it just seemed to fit his exuberant lifestyle.
Rusty’s most famous trait was the fact that he never, ever, walked in a normal fashion. Absolutely everything was a game to him and we never knew how he would turn a mundane walk into an adventure.
We have been asked a thousand times why we taught Rusty to walk behind a human’s legs. Let’s be clear – we didn’t. Rusty thought this was the best game ever and invented it totally by himself. His front paws would come down right in the spot where you lifted your foot – the result being a zig zag walk that he perfected. We got so used to it that we would rarely even notice when he was doing it.
His other goal was to never, ever, ever, ever sleep on the ground. A bench, a chair, a couch, a bed, a table – it did not matter. Anything was better than actually sleeping on the ground.
But most important to Rusty – turn everything into a game. Absolutely everything. Here are some samples:
We hope that the pictures made you smile. It was a great trip down memory lane for us and we reminisced about our beloved Rusty the Rooster. Somehow, as we see him entering that special area for Siberian Huskies, North of the Rainbow Bridge, we picture him strutting just like this:
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At first, we thought we would take a few days off of blogging. But we have decided to dedicate the next few days to our favorite Rusty the Rooster videos. Please come back every day the rest of the week and laugh with us as we remember one of the most unique dogs to have graced us on this earth.
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This last section can be skipped, but we know that many are curious as to what happened. We will explain, but feel free to just skip over this last section and remember Rusty with a smile.
Back in October, Rusty had shown signs of anemia, spinal discomfort, and a high white blood cell count. At the time, we had feared there was a mass in his body, but we did not locate one. Antibiotics seemed to have controlled his blood results, so we accepted our extra time – knowing that it was going to be short.
When those symptoms came back this past weekend, we were afraid of the answer. Scans showed that he had a cantaloupe sized mass inside his chest cavity, crowding all of his organs. With the size of mass, surgery was highly risky and the prognosis was very poor. We had to make a decision. Hopefully, you know as well as we do that Rusty was all about having fun in life. As we said elsewhere, a clown like Rusty is supposed to smile. Thus, a little more time at the expense of having fun did not seem like the right trade. We made the decision that every pet owner hates to make, but it was the only decision that was right for Rusty.
The hu-dad was able to lay on the floor with Rusty, kiss his nose, and tell Rusty how loved he was as he drifted off to his final sleep. Soon, his ashes will join his Big Red Brother, Kodiak, around the Tree of Life in our field. The rest of The Herd play under that tree every day, so we can think of nothing more fitting.