Today, I would like to share with you the first ever blog entry about my dog, Rusty. It was written on the 28th February 2014, which was shortly after our friendship first began.
It originally appeared on my personal blog. I have kept the content original – so that it accurately reflects the start of our journey together as best friends, highlighting the particular problems that Rusty had to cope with as he was settling into his Forever home …
Rusty – 28/02/14.
Today I want to share a story with you. It involves a 20 month old Fox-Red Labrador called Rusty. My images of him have been taken in the last few days, because that’s when he came to live with me. You may think he is a beautiful colour – and you would be right – but you might also notice his face looks a little sore. He comes from a breeder on the Shropshire/Wales border, who trains and breeds gundogs for the shooting fraternity. Rusty didn’t make the grade – and he was sidelined….He has neither had the early upbringing of a working dog, nor the love and companionship of a family home.
He doesn’t know any commands, he hasn’t been toilet trained and he is wary of mud, water and 5 bar gates. He eats his food as if it’s the last meal he is going to get, and he hates me to leave him. Toys – what are those ?
Fetch ?? I don’t think anyone has ever played with him. He’s like a child who’s been robbed of his childhood.
He was an expensive dog. I had always had my heart set on a Fox-red Labrador – and his doleful soft-brown eyes were too hard to resist. I didn’t want a puppy as I felt that I could cope better with a trained young dog. On paper, and by all accounts of the seller he was perfect for me. Easy, well-behaved, a true gentleman ( and stunningly handsome)
When I viewed him 3 weeks ago, after a 200 mile journey (and an overnight stay so I could view him on 2 separate visits) I was convinced that he was the dog for me. He is my first ever dog – and I guess I was naive enough to believe everything the owner told me of his credentials. Their house and toilets were dirtier than a pig sty – but somehow I was not deterred. Was it really possible in hindsight to believe that the dogs were kept in better conditions than the humans ?!
Rusty was scratching a lot when I first met him – but the owners told me that he didn’t like the deodorising spray that they used on the dogs. He didn’t want to play with the tennis ball when I took him outside – but the owner said that it was because he was too overwhelmed by me being there as he was wary of strangers. His ribs were showing – but I was told that was how working Labradors were supposed to be… He went to the toilet in their kitchen – but the owner said it was her fault as she had ignored his ‘signs’ to be let outside…. I believed it all.
When I picked him up on Sunday – I had travelled the breadth of England to collect him – and was excited beyond belief. The previous 3 weeks had been spent arranging beds, balls, collar and lead, and even a new car with room in the back to transport him around !
The owner was very apologetic when we arrived. Rusty had an allergy to some new disinfectant that had been used in his kennel – it would clear up after a couple of weeks – nothing to worry about – and “wasn’t it good that you saw him 3 weeks ago when he was normal !” She gave me some omega oil spray that had been prescribed for another dog that had suffered a skin allergy. What was I to do but believe her and take the dog that I had been longing for…..??
The truth is : Rusty has mange and he is undernourished. He has been neglected and left to suffer with a serious skin problem that the vet says would have existed when I first saw him – albeit with less outward signs of lesions and hair loss.
He has a considerable amount of training to catch up on – and needs to learn how to have fun. He is not wary of strangers. In fact he is completely the opposite. He wants to be friends with everyone – and he loves me with a bond that can never be broken – because I am the first person to show him real affection.
My neighbour asked me today why I had accepted him when I saw the state he was in. She said she would have left him and come away ‘dogless’.
I did not answer her question. I didn’t need to. Rusty and I are on a journey together. He needs to make up for lost time – and I need to help him.
Watch out for Rusty’s story Part 2 coming soon …