RustyI am sad as I write this, because I know that Rusty only has a few more days to live.
Rusty is a big dog that I have been walking at the shelter for a couple months or more. He is gentle, and does not pull like a crazed demon at the end of the leash like about 50% of the dogs do. I like that. I prefer that. I try to do the task I volunteered to do for every dog, which is to take them for a good long walk, tucker them out and hopefully allow them to expel their excess energy. The real need is to not let them go stir crazy being locked up in a cage 24 hours a day...just 23. The cages allow them space to walk and play, but the 30-45 minutes they can be out, walking and sniffing, is far better for them. It's natural. Walking and sniffing is their job, what dogs evolved to do. It is their raison d'être.
Rusty is one of the few dogs that I don't get pretty nervous about letting kids and other people approach. Last week a grandmother and a little child were out walking, and they wanted to come and meet Rusty. The little one petted Rusty a little bit while he just stood calmly, sniffing the ground, wagging his tail, completely docile. I always have a low-level worry when someone is nearby, because you never know, but with Rusty, that's all it is, a basic caution. He came through with flying colors, completely validating my faith in him.
While we are out walking, dogs go to their front doors and bark as we pass, or to the nearest place behind their fences. He does not become focused upon them and try to pull like a maniac toward whatever mayhem a meeting might have in store. He looks at them, then looks away. He knows they are there, he just has no animus toward them.
In addition to being gentle, Rusty is also cooperative. It only takes brief, light pressure on the leash to change the direction in which he is walking.
Rusty barks a lot once he is put back in his cage, and seems to be fairly active at it in general. He seems unhappy being a pretty big dog in a cage that is not overly accommodating for a guy his size. He took me on a run, tonight, at the beginning of our walk...thank goodness I had picked up my new walking shoes that I had to special-order and have been waiting to come in. He has been given to several families to see if he will work out, but apparently he paces, including throughout the night, and he nipped at someone in the last home when they tried to pet him, I don't know exactly whom. It might have been a child, which would explain why he has been returned, and now, after three attempts to home him, he is deemed unadoptable. I have been told that he has problems with other dogs, but that has not been my experience.
I brought him home tonight. I was going to pick him up tomorrow and keep him for a few hours, but, I thought, why not take him home tonight? Well, just like Sue warned me, he paced constantly. It did not take long to realize that he had to go back to the shelter tonight. I think I will pick him up tomorrow and spend the day with him, then return him when I go to the shelter again to walk the dogs.
The thing is, despite the things I have been told, things which run contrary to what I know of him - apart from the pacing, which I agree is a problem - he seems to me to be a great pet for the right person, in the right environment. I live in an apartment. Rusty is not the kind of dog who can be kept in an apartment any more than he can a cage. But he is also not meant for a typical suburban home...obviously. He is the quintessential country dog, a big dog who has lots of energy, despite his age, and needs lots of space in which to roam. There is nothing wrong with him that a life on a farm in the country with a middle aged couple couldn't make into a happy way to go...but that is not going to happen.
Rusty is scheduled to be put down this Saturday morning, probably around 9 am Eastern time. I wish I had a suitable home into which to welcome him so he could live out his natural life as he was meant to...walking and sniffing....