Rusty was our little friend….a friend to all of our immediate family members, and he loved each and every one of our five children and those of our grandchildren whom he knew. That was his little life’s mission, it seemed, and he fulfilled it so very well.He first caught my eye when he had just come to the pet store in the mall. I had been told that you should never buy a dog from a pet store, but there was something very special about this little dog. He was not only adorable – a beautiful little pure white Bichon Frise, but there was something different about him, something that didn’t belong in a pet store. I used to go to see him every day after work. Sometimes he’d be howling with his little head back as if to say, “Why am I here? I need somebody to love and to love me!” Finally, I got my husband to go and see him too, then one of our sons. The pet store owner took him out of his kennel for us to hold, and it seemed as though he “fit” right away. We were told that he was hypoallergenic, which was essential to me, and that he was a Bichon Frise, a breed none of us had ever heard of. He also told us the cost. At that point, I thought that that would be the last time I would see Rusty, because we were building our house at the time and couldn’t afford what we felt was a very stiff price. We had wanted a dog but were looking for a bigger dog, a dog we could keep outside because of my allergies to most animals. Also, we needed a “guard-type” of dog who could hold his own against the animals around the mountain home we were building. So, I was caught completely by surprise, when one night my husband said that he was going to have to go back to work for a couple of hours, which he did on occasion to finish up a project he’d been working on. When he returned, had Rusty in his arms! Unbelievably, he now belonged to us completely and we to him! What a little treasure he was. He was pure white, but had little barely tan areas on his back and around his ears. He looked a little bit as though he was “rusting”, so that became his name. Later, when his beautiful white fur covered the tan spots, people would ask us why we chose such an uncharacteristic name.Rusty was not only a sweet, wonderful companion, but he had a mind of his own and could be very stubborn. It took us almost a year to house train him. He was very smart and very patient as well. All of our five children loved him right from the first, and our Fort Collins grandchildren as well as our Redstone grandchildren loved him too. He was a friend to all of them. But he didn’t warm up to just anyone. If he felt that someone was not suitable, he would growl a very menacing growl at them!One of his biggest challenges was my father, who didn’t like dogs, and didn’t warm up to Rusty right away. Rusty would go and just sit there beside my dad without asking for any kind of attention, and one day, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my dad reach down to pet Rusty. From then on, he was welcomed into my dad’s home, and Dad even got down on the floor and played with him! That was almost a miracle in itself. Rusty helped us all through the process of building and moving into our house in the mountains, the growing up and marriages of our children, the welcoming of several of our grandchildren, the passing of my parents and many an illness. We would take him to the nursing home in which my parents lived, and could barely get past the waiting room. Everyone there wanted to pet him and to hold him, and he was a very willing therapy dog who loved to be held and petted. We miss him terribly, but know that he’s happier now and can run and play again in his place over “Rainbow Bridge.” He lived every moment of his 17.5 years to the fullest and has left a hole in our lives that nothing else can fill.
Janet and Gene Clark