A wonderful thing happened to me when  I was born. I was born into a family that had a dog.  This began a lifetime of passion for these creatures. 

Rusty was a German Shepherd.  He was about 3 years old and very hairy. My mother was forever brushing him.  Dog hair seemed to want to cover every single surface of our home.  When it really got bad, Mom vacuumed the dog.  And he let her.  

They say that sometimes dogs get jealous of new babies in the home and that parents have to be careful about the introduction.  Rusty was fine.  I know this because my parents often spoke of  how willingly he accepted me. He had a great nature.  It is said that Rusty was the finest of babysitters. Apparently there were times when my parents, tired of my noise, would leave my crying, cranky, I-don’t-wanna-take-a-nap ass in a playpen outside with no worries.  There I would eventually tire myself out and take the nap I so needed.  Rusty stood guard against anyone who may have been inclined to hop the fence and steal me.  

Times change. Today dogs are generally treated like family members and my parents were generally ahead of their time.  Certainly in the dog category. Rusty was treated very well within our unit.  At a time when dogs were sadly often tied to trees with a bucket of food and a pail of water….all day long…and through the night, Rusty slept at the foot of may parents bed. Through the night he would check on me and patrol the doors and windows.  Finding everything in order he would only then return to his spot. 

One day when I was about 5, Rusty was just gone. I got the Rainbow Bridge to doggie heaven story.  As mentioned, I am into my fifties and have had many dogs own me over the years. But it is true what they say about first loves. We never forget them.  RIP Rusty. You were a good boy.




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