Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Looking back at my post from the other day, it occurred to me to point out that my family in the South isn’t completely heartless when it comes to their dogs. (the dogs just have to be smart enough to survive on their own-duh) A discussion at the aforementioned lunch reminded me of such.

Somehow, inevitably, the Border Collie "Rusty" always comes up whenever the past is talked about. I assume he was a Border Collie, judging by his job on the farm (rounding up the cows…this was before my uncle’s cow call was perfected. eeeyyycav) and by the looks of him in the one picture that my mom has. I was a teenager when I first saw this picture. And to say that I fell in love was the understatement statement of the year.

I knew nothing of Rusty; the picture just appeared one day. It’s an old black and white, with my mom and two of her sisters. (she thinks…but of course, she isn’t sure that it is her, because that was a long time ago and it’s not like she spent her youth staring at herself in the mirror) It’s one of those pictures that you pay a photojournalist big bucks to take now. Total candid shot, but everyone, including Rusty, happens to be looking at the camera. The kids aren’t beaming, but they all are leaning in to him, you can tell that there is total trust there…he isn’t one of the wild dogs that runs around the farm waiting for leftover scraps. (though I am sure he did that too) I would sit and stare at this picture and dream of the day that I would get myself a Rusty…he was just so gorgeous! (of course, I then learned a little something about Border Collies, and have re-thought my acquisition of one…seeing as how I don’t have a farm nor any other job for the dog to do)

My aunt, the one who we forced to go to lunch, thought that Rusty had died a dreadful death, chasing down a neighbor’s truck and latching onto the tire, only to get crushed. Everyone else decided that she was wrong and he had lived to be old enough to get sick and come into the basement of my grandparent’s house and curl up next to the furnace. (OMG…if my dog got sick he would get a throne of soft blankets next to the fireplace, but this was a different time…no dogs allowed in the house) I decided that Rusty dying of old age was way better than getting his teeth stuck in a tire. (which, I have learned recently, is something that Border Collies will do, as proven in Jon Katz’s book “A Good Dog”)

Thinking back, it’s actually quite amazing that there is a picture of Rusty. I mean, he was just a farm dog, and there were 7 kids, and it’s not like cameras were as commonplace as they are now. But they cared enough about him to take his picture. And they kept it for 40 years. And now, a good 50 or so years after he lived, they still remember him fondly, and talk of him often. I just hope that in 50 years, people remember my Fonz just like how Rusty is remembered.

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