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Remembering Rusty - The Stray Who Stole Everyone's Heart

By: Sam Boyle

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Rusty Gets Sick

Two months ago things began to change. Rusty wasn't eating right. He couldn't handle the walks. In early May the vet ran a geriatric blood panel, combining about 40 tests. He was checked for Lyme disease. He started taking Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory, and things picked up for about five weeks. We tried acupuncture in case arthritis was bothering him. He was so good about it all.

The only thing he couldn't understand was why he had to stay with me those times he couldn't go for a walk with the others. He did what he was supposed to do. He watched the door until they got back. Rusty was like that. We had to be safe. He wouldn't go to bed at night until he was sure that the lights were out and we were going to bed. That was his job. He did it until the end. Until he couldn't walk more than a few steps.

Different drugs would pick him up for a while, but then fade. Then came the discovery of the tumor in his prostate gland. It had been growing quickly. He wouldn't survive surgery. Chemotherapy wouldn't help. There was one other thing to try, Prednisone. This might shrink the swelling around the tumor enough so he could be comfortable.

The tumor was discovered on Monday. My wife called me on Wednesday. We needed to make some decisions. So I went down to her Mom's and Rusty perked up on Friday, the day we thought we would have to take him to the vet. He smiled, walked a little, began eating. We felt good. But it was only his way of saying good-bye.

He just couldn't muster a third day and we were not going to subject him to needless pain. We called the doctor and he told us when to come in. It was strange knowing exactly when you were going to lose a loved one. But it gave you the time to say your good-byes and whatever else you felt you needed to say. Now I'm thankful for a lifetime of memories even if that life was only 9 years long.

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