Rusty was never meant to become part of our lives. I first saw Rusty while visiting the Memphis Animal Shelter. I had never seen a sadder looking dog in my life. He was thin as a toothpick, hair matted from head to tail. He was sick, and had heartworms. And his back legs and hips were so weak he had a hard time standing. But when I looked into his eyes, I found myself staring at the sweetest, most gentle brown eyes I had ever seen. I contacted a rescue group to see if I could get Rusty placed. Unfortunately, they had no foster openings, so when he got out of quarantine, Rusty came home with us. When my wife first saw Rusty, she almost laughed. She said he was the skankiest looking dog she had every seen. When we brought Rusty home, it was with the intention to get him better and find a forever home for him. The shelter said he was a 6-8 year old collie mix. After a total shaving and thorough vet check, we discovered he was a mostly golden mix, and older then expected. As our vet said at the time, he was "between 10 to 20 years old, and closer to 20 then 10". So we now had a 15 year old golden, with bad hips and heartworm positive (which we could never treat him for because of his age and weak health). We knew right then and there that Rusty would never be adopted - except by us. And so he became part of our family. For the past 2 years, Rusty's hips and back legs continued to worsen. Despite several types of medications, his back legs constantly weakened. But that never stopped the big guy from trying to do things. We had to close off the upstairs so he wouldn't try to climb the steps. And I had to put a fence around the pool because he started falling in (his walking was never too steady). And because his eyesight was also failing, I set up numerous lights in the back yard so he could navigate at night. But through everything, he never lost his spirit of adventure and his love for life. And his love for pizza. I will never forget how excited Rusty would get when I brought a pizza box through the door. Big Red Russ was a kind and gentle soul, but never stand between him and a piece of pizza. He would drool you to death to get that bite. But despite his love for life, his legs finally did him in. The last few days his legs were really failing him. He was to the point where he basically could not stand. He could walk, but standing still was almost impossible. I had come home for lunch on his last day to feed him and let him out. He seemed in good spirits. When I got home that night I found him wiped out on a tile section of our floor (I kept telling him that carpet was his friend). His legs were in strange positions and as I helped him up, I could see that he could no longer walk on his back legs. I rushed him to the vet and was told that at best, he probably had a dislocated back leg. We had been talking for months that it was getting close to time to say goodbye. But everytime we thought that, Rusty would make a comeback. We probably should have called him Lazarus. But this time there would be no comeback. I couldn't allow him to continue in pain, and so Carrie and I said our last goodbyes. We held the big guy, and stroked him and told him how much we loved him. We held him until his last breathe was done. In all my life, I had never met such a kind and gentle and loving soul. In 2 very short years, Rusty touched our lives in a way that I didn't think possible. Carrie and I haven't had a vacation since Rusty arrived. We made sure that at least one of us was never gone from home for more that a few hours at any one time. And I don't think I've had a good nights sleep in almost 2 years (as Rusty was up anywhere for 5-10 times each night, needing to go out). But I would happily continue to give up sleep and we would gladly give up our time to have him back with us. All pets are special, but Rusty was someone very special. Anyone who ever met him was immediately touched by him. And I know that as long as I draw a breath, Rusty will forever be in my thoughts and my heart. Rusty blessed us by sharing his life with us for the past 2 years. But those 2 years were just the start. Carrie and I oftened talked about what Rusty must have been like as a puppy. And as a dog, grown and healthy, who could run and romp and play. We never got to see that - just the time when his body was old and frail. Yet I look forward to seeing him again one day, running and playing. I know I'll get to rub his ears and give him head kisses. And he'll give me his bark (always sounding like that of a sea lion) and he'll gently take my hand in his mouth and lead me to the rainbow bridge where I'll walk with him to that place we can be together forever. Goodbye, big guy. Run and frolick and play - you are now free of the bonds of your physical body. And one future day, we'll see you again. We love you Rusty. |
* December 25, 2005 - Big Red you left us only 2 months ago tomorrow and yet it seems like forever. Today was our first Christmas without you. I have tried very hard to enjoy today with Mom and Barclay, Bonnie and Henry. But without you, and little Maggie, the day just isn't "right". You have left a very large void in our hearts. We miss you Big Guy. And we love you so very much. Love, Dad.
* October 26, 2006 - Hello, Big Red. I cannot believe that it has now been a year since we said goodbye. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you, and any moment I expect to see you come around a corner with your big brown eyes shinning and your happy mouth drooling. Mom and I miss you so much Rusty. As do Barclay and Bonnie & Henry. A few months ago we adopted Brody, a sheltie that was badly in need of some loving. He has some major heart & lung damage due to heartworms, but he's a fighter like you and is hanging in there. Watch over him, Big Guy. And even though we've moved into a different house, make sure you come and visit. Mom says she's felt you down at the bottom of the bed, right where you used to lay in the old house. I hope so. Things just aren't the same without you around. You will always be a part of the family, where ever we are. And as long as I have breath and memory, you will be in my thoughts and my heart. Love, Dad.
* Christmas Eve, 2006 - Hello Rusty. We sure miss you, Big Guy. Christmas is here and while the family is all together, it just doesn't feel right without your big smiling face peeking around the corner. I put your ornament right on the front of the tree, for all to see. I think of you everyday, but feelings are especially strong here at Christmas. You will be in my heart all throughout the day tomorrow. Rest easy. Love, Dad.
* 10/26/07 I can't believe that it has been 2 years since you left us, big guy. It seems like it was just yesterday that I would see your big smiling (and drooling) face come bolting at me to grab that piece of pizza. I sure do miss that. And all the rest of you too. You were something very special Rusty. At least now you have Henry with you. And Brody, who was filling your shoes before the heartworms took him far too soon. You and Maggie welcome them. Now we have Lacey and Ginny Weasley, along with the two new kitties (Calvin & Hobbes). And Barclay and Bonnie are still with us too. But it is just not the same without our big old guy. We love you Rusty. Life just isn't as much fun without you around. You were one of a kind, Big Red. Love, Dad.
* 12/24/07 Hi Big Guy. It is now our third Christmas without you. Your smiling face always come to mind at this time of the year. Lacey reminds me a lot of you. She is gentle and loving like you, but with a lot of energy. But I am sure that is how you were when you were younger. And she sheds a lot like you, but as Carrie says, she doesn't drool like our Big Red Rusty. I know your spirit will be with us tomorrow at Christmas, and I am always glad of that. You were always such a sweetie. And I still miss you so very much. Love, Dad.
* 10/26/08 Hey there Big Red Russ. It was 3 years ago that we said goodbye, but the sadness of losing you is still as deep as ever. Mom and I still miss you so much. But we always laugh and smile when we think and talk of you. You brought so much joy to us, we will never forget you. Nor will your love and sweetness ever fade from our hearts or our memories. Rest easy Rusty. Love, Dad.
* Christmas Day, 2008. Merry Christmas Rusty! Mom and Dad miss you, Big Red. When it was all quiet this morning, I was listening to Christmas music and thinking about how great it would be to have one of Rusty's big hugs. You gave the best hugs, big guy. I wish I could have seen your big brown eyes and smiling face this morning, but they were there in my heart. As they always will be. Rest easy Russie. Love, Dad.
* Hey Big Red. Have your ears been burning? Mom and I were talking about you just the other day. Things have changed so much in the 4 years since you've been gone. We lost your buddies Barclay & Bonnie this summer. But I know that they are now with you and all our other furkids at the Bridge. We added a new puppy (Beau), who I know you would like. Watch over him, big guy. He's very small and he can certainly use a guardian angel to look out for him. We miss you, Rusty. You were one of a kind. I sure wish your smiling face was still around. Rest easy, my big gentle boy. Love, Dad.
* December 25, 2009 Merry Christmas, Big Red! We can't have a Christmas without remembering our Big Guy. You were always such a loving, gentle soul. And on Christmas, we always think of you and smile. Mom and I miss you so much, Rusty. Your old buddies Barclay and Bonnie joined you at the Bridge this year. Play with your old friends, but make sure all of you stop by and visit us today. We love you, Russy. Love, Dad.
* October 26, 2010 Oh Big Guy, it has been 5 years now since you left us. Time just flies. But that doesn't mean that you are forgotten. I think about you, Barclay, Bonnie, Brody, Henry & Maggie everyday. But you, Rusty, are so very special. You were the bestest guy. And I sure wish you were here with us. But know that you are forever in my heart. Keep playing near the Bridge. I'll be there someday to see you all again. Love, Dad.
* Christmas, 2010 Merry Christmas, Rusty! I brought home a pizza on Christmas Eve and Mom & I laughed and laughed about remembering you and pizza! We miss our Big Red so much. You were such a gentle of soul. And such a pizza lover! Love, Dad.
* October 26, 2011. Hi Big Red! Today is your day. We can't believe that is has been 6 years since we said goodbye. It is a rare thing when your name doesn't come up in a conversation. Just last night Lacey was licking the maple syrup off Mom's plate that she had left on the ottoman. It reminded me so much you turning your head to the side to try to sneak food off a plate. You were such a funny boy! We miss you Rusty. Love, Dad.
* Christmas, 2011. Merry Christmas, Russy! I always think of your big smiling face at Christmastime. You were such an easy going big guy. Mom & I are so glad of the time we got to spend with you. You were so very sweet. Rest easy, Big Red. Love, Dad.
* October 26, 2012. Oh Rusty, it just cannot be 7 years since you left us. Mom & I just got back from vacation in Cayman and your name came up numerous times. We always laugh & smile so much when we think of you. You were such a special guy. We love you, Big Red. Love, Dad.
* October 26, 2013. Hi Big Guy! Mom & I miss you so very much. You were such a loving & gentle soul. And we miss our Russy hugs. Rest easy, Rusty. Love, Dad.
* October 26, 2014. Big Red Russ, we miss you! Nine years have now come & gone, and yet your spirit always remains with us. You were just a big sweetie who loved life. I wish we could have had you with us longer, but I know you enjoyed the brief time we had together. Rest easy Rusty. Love, Dad.
* October 26, 2016. Hello, Big Red. Greetings from Anderson. It is our first year away from Memphis, but you are always in our hearts. So hard to believe it has been 11 years since we said goodbye. I can still see your smiling face. And I still feel the love. We miss you Rusty. Love, Dad.