Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rusty the Wonder Beagle

The year 1999 was a momentous one for my family, although we didn't realize just how much it was until a couple of years later.

Rusty the Wonder Beagle
July 1, 1999 - May 23, 2014
In February 1999, my mother was diagnosed with her fourth recurrence of cancer, this time with spots in her
lungs.  It was very aggressive and quickly consumed her.  By June, she was diagnosed terminal and given six months. She made it until the end of August.  My family stumbled on for a few months, trying to find our way until I married my wife in October, on what would have been my mother's 55th birthday.

Unbeknownst to us, there were other events that started in that year that would have an impact on us almost as great as the loss of my mother and the gain of my wife.

On July 1, 1999, a female beagle whelped a brood of puppies.

A young family, who has seen the movie "Rusty: A Dog's Tale," and fell in love with the breed, bought on of the puppies and took it home for their six year old daughter.

But the family had not done their homework and did not realize that beagles are an active breed and need a lot of exercise and a lot of attention.  It was not what they were looking for in a dog and gave the pup to his parents.

As fate would have it, in early 2001, the grandfather developed a medical condition that left him unable to deal with such an energetic dog and they decided to give him up, but did not want to send him to a pound where he might be euthanized.

It was about this time that my father was considering pulling the plug and retiring, a major accomplishment for a workaholic.

I did not like the idea of my dad spending his days in an empty house with nothing to do. So I got in touch with a friend and coworker, Sam, who did informal animal rescue work on her free time.  I asked her to keep her eyes and ears open for a beagle, a breed that both my father and I were attached to and the same breed as my childhood dog, Lady.

With fortune on our side, Sam had heard of Rusty when his owners sent out feelers for a new family for him.  She gave us the contact information for the family.

We scheduled a preadoptive visit and it was love at first sight.  On April 1, 2001, Rusty rescued and adopted me, my wife and my father.  My wife, who said she wasn't going to "get attached to any damn dog," fell for him the hardest.

As that he was meant to be a companion for my dad in his retirement, he lived with my dad. My wife and I came over every day, rain or shine, summer or winter, to take him for walkies, play with him and enjoy the love he had to share, which was endless.

Over the next thirteen years, Rusty hardly ever gave us a problem.  He had one of the most gentle souls I've ever met.  He never growled or snapped at anyone, no matter if it was a child pulling his ears or one of us giving him his insulin injections in his later years.

Oh, of course he gave the mailman and the rabbits hell, but that was his job, dammit.  And I still smile at the memory of his beagle's baying, sounding like the Hound of the Baskervilles on a moonless night.

During the next 13 years, Rusty has helped us through good times and bad.

He comforted us when we lost jobs, when my grandfather passed on or other misfortunes fell on our family.

He was also there to help us celebrate the good times, especially if that meant going for walkies, car car rides or even better, getting some treats.

Sadly, as happens to all living creatures, age took its toll on Rusty.  He developed diabetes, he had a recurring infection in his eyes and in an abscess on his side and he started suffering hip dysplasia which took away his independence.

On Friday, we decided that we were being selfish by keeping Rusty in such misery and guided him to the Rainbow Bridge.

My family and I would like to thank the hundreds of people that have sent their sympathies and condolences over the past few days.

Rusty was the bestest boy and I will grieve for him for a long time and miss him as long as I live.

Coincidentally, I saw a meme on Facebook today that seems so damn fitting.  The true meaning of RIP should be Return If Possible.


  1. So sorry to hear of your loss of Rusty. We do get attached to these critters. They brighten our days and make us laugh. The hard part is when we have to say goodbye.

  2. yes dogs are awesome and Rusty must have been the perfect companion for your family and you gave him a great home, we will see our pets again!!

  3. I'm so sorry, Capper. He seems like he was a real joy to know. It sucks that we live so much longer than they do.

  4. My deepest condolences. Having been in your same situation, I can empathize with you over the loss of not only a good friend, but a family member. It will take time, but time heals, my friend.