Friday 12 February 2010

Rusty, One Hell of a Dog.

Follow up to blog dated 6th January 2010.

Diary dated February 1985.
Rusty, aged sixteen, settled into his new home. Amazingly young in spirit, Rusty courted many female dogs in his new area, alas with little success. I doubt he was ever sexually fulfilled in his entire life, but he was still trying to rid himself of his virginity well past nineteen.
One weekend a large, black, Labrador-cross walked into our house. Rusty, at eighteen, was beside himself with lust or love. For a complete evening he pursued the object of his desire round and round and round the house. Several times the Christmas tree toppled over as he fought vainly to corner the black stranger. Furniture was upturned, tempers became frayed. Only morning and the return of the stray to her own home brought relief. Rusty was nothing if not persistent.
When Rusty first arrived in our household, a scruffy, neglected dog his behaviour was at times bizarre. Particularly strange were his eating habits. We watched in disbelief as he dealt with plates piled high with food. Making no attempt to eat the food, Rusty would propel the plate, pushing, pulling until the plate and its contents nestled in some corner of a room. Not finished, Rusty would search for any items capable of covering the plate and food. Rugs, carpets, newspapers were favourite. Rusty patiently dragged his choice into position until little if anything could be seen. We watched, mesmerised by such behaviour, puzzled by at such strange antics. As time went by, Rusty's strange behaviour lessened, until at last his mealtimes became normal. And the reason for this aberration?
Presumably Rusty was storing food for later consumption. We can only assume that the poor old dog was doubtful, due to past experience, that more food would be forthcoming. In his own way he was making sure that he would not starve in future! If this is the reason (such behaviour could of course be instinctive) one can only marvel that Rusty did not become completely unbalanced rather than somewhat eccentric. (If animals can be classed as eccentric.)
Day by day Rusty settled in. His lively behaviour suggested he was living life to the full, albeit a little late. He would chase a ball with great gusto. Though in later years still, he depended on the bounce of the ball to tell him its direction, being able to hear more than he could see. Not that his old ears were exactly reliable at this stage either. Out of range on a crowded beach or promenade (Rusty 'camped' with us three successive years aged seventeen, eighteen and nineteen at Cromer in Norfolk) he would trot determinedly away from our shouts of despair bordering on rage. Nothing would turn him, the only thing to do was to head him off, a difficult task for a 'forty year plus 'semi cripple'. (Written in 1985, remember, when cripple was not the non PC word it is today.) He would often cover several hundred yards with me sweating and cursing in pursuit. 'Collared', literally, he would feign surprise, his cloudy eyes expressing a look that asked, 'Good heavens, am I really going the wrong way?'
Somewhat of a liability, Rusty both amused and alarmed. Attempting to urinate up every tent on a campsite, given the chance was amusing providing we got there in time. Not remotely funny was his indifference to traffic, especially on his courting forays. He was in fact hit seriously early in his life, a second collision with a motor at seventeen years of age would have finished most dogs.
Never the most debonair of dogs, he was idolised by his adopted family (us). Local children grew to love him, though his ever increasing left knacker was a constant source of curiosity. Adults he adored, children over four he tolerated, children under four or thereabouts he mistrusted. Poking fingers he feared and detested, failing eyes made these difficult to avoid. Consequently small children were made to keep their distance by bared teeth and a quiet but authoritative growl that suggested outstretched fingers were not welcome. Cantankerous he could be (woe betide anyone who moved beneath the sheets whilst Rusty lay on the bed,) dangerous or vicious he was not.


the fly in the web said...

Damn, he is like my old Batman! Still, he was so happy with you that you must be a family like ours which was described by a disapproving mother in law as more worried about whether the dog was happy than whether she was.
No contest.

Sueann said...

Wonderful narration of Rusty the dog.

Anita said...

A nice story of how much a man loves his dog.
Here's to Rusty!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Good to read such a loving account of Rusty - obviously he was quite a character.

Marian Dean said...

You could have been talking of my Irish Red Setter, 'Rusty'.
Sounds like your Rusty was as well loved as ours.
Great story telling.
Love Granny

Lane Mathias said...

what a great account of lovely Rusty.

The storing of the food is fascinating. I've never heard of a dog doing that (although I do it myself:-)

Kath said...

Rusty sounds like the kind of guy who'd have been welcome to come-a-courtin' round our back porch, love from Ellie and Roobarb

Anonymous said...

I would have loved him just as much I think. Animals can most definitely be eccentric! Are they copying their owners perhaps? Or being role models even for a kinder, more simple and loyal lifestyle. I once had a dog called Scraggy who was a little like this, and she was an escapologist.

Happy Frog and I said...

He sounds lovely :-)

Molly Potter said...

You were in Cromer?

Another lovely post Grumpster.

cheshire wife said...

I think that you loved that dog!

Anonymous said...

I can see the old rascal now. I wrote some things about my old dog who died last July on one of my blogs somewhere.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Rusty sounds like a dog that was well loved. Thanks for the comment over my way.. I'm taking 'Flipping heck' as a compliment!! haha.. Have a great day.

Rosaria Williams said...

I can sense the love and affection for Rusty! Lovely memoir piece!
Thanks for visiting me.

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

I loved this account...what an interesting character...what a wonderful dog!

Unknown said...

What a lovely story Ken, well done!

Dumbwit Tellher said...

What a fabulous story. Reminded me of my father..ha! He too was a school teacher. His bark was always much worse than his bite. Thank goodness that Rusty found his way into your home that day. He was given a hell of a lot of love. Dogs are truly special people..yes people!

What a marvelous blog you have Ken.
Cheers ~ deb

Diney said...

I like eccentric pets! My cousin has a dog which sounds a good match for Rusty. She was a stray of uncertain age and provenance who now has a wonderful home, but I've never seen her, as she races upstairs and hides in their bedroom quivering as soon as she hears a strange voice in the house. Something very bad must have happened to her in the past, but she has fallen on her paws now.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Fly in Web
I daren't comment!

Grumpy Old Ken said...


Grumpy Old Ken said...

And so say all of us!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Rusty, it's a good name!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi and thanks.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

You. storing food, never!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Roobarb, that's a great name!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Scraggie indeed!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Happy Frog
Hi and thanks!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi and thanks.
Often stayed on the site between Sheringham and cromer. came again last year round and about. Love Norfolk.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

cheshire wife.
Very true!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

I remember your blog well, you were very moved at the time.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi and thanks for the visit. Must stop saying flipping heck!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi , thanks for kind words and visit.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi and thanks.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi and thanks also.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi, welcome and thanks. Your dad sounds special too!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Your dog sounds great. I knew a dog once that would only sleep in a closed car boot!

fizzycat said...

Great dog. Bless him saving his food, sounded very smart.