Friday, April 20, 2012


This is our pooch. His quite simply the BEST...DOG...EVER.

We welcomed Rusty into our home a few months after losing both of our dogs within three weeks of one another. One of those dogs was our older son's best friend. (You can read about our son's First Love in this early Mom Cave post HERE.)

"We're getting you a dog," my mother said to me over the telephone. "You need to have a dog."

She was right. We are dog people, and our house had felt so empty after the loss of our last two pets so close together. Not only did our house feel empty, but we felt empty as well.

Chosen by my sister, who breeds and shows dogs, and with the help of my nephews and niece, Rusty was born to be in our home! Our family was telling us that we needed a dog and that this was the dog! They all agreed. He had all the perfect traits for survival in a house like ours.

It was meant to be, and it was exciting.

Our younger son and I hopped into the van one day and drove to West Virginia where my family and Rusty lived. We were going to collect our puppy and bring him to New York to live! It was an adventure we both still remember--the day we met our dog. And, as sad as it was to lose our trusted friends before him, life began anew with this little rusty ball of fluff.

Ahem, yes, I know, he's no longer rusty or fluffy. But, look at him. What's not to like?

I had high hopes for bringing Rusty into our home. After all, our older son had such a strong connection to one of our last dogs. I wanted desperately to find a pet connection for him again. (Did I mention that you can read about his First Love in an old Mom Cave post HERE?)


He liked Rusty. It was slow at first. Slow and steady. But, one day, he gathered the nerve to pet him. And, then, he said, "Rusty. Bed."

Upstairs we went, where Rusty was placed under the covers of our older son's bed. Why? I don't know. A calm and patient dog, Rusty obliged, but I stayed to be sure that he had air and a friendly hand to pet his back while he dutifully stayed beneath the covers. Heaven forbid I tried to move those covers.

Rusty sat patiently.

"Mama, go!" our son said.

"No," I told him. "Mama is staying for Rusty." Sorry, kid, but I don't want you to love this dog to death! I stayed, my heart warmed by the prospect of growing friendship.

One day, my neighbor dropped off her two dogs on her way out of town. They were busy little Shih-tzus in need of an emergency sitter while their owners vacationed.

Sigh. Sure. I guess.

Seven days turned into ten, and the busy little Shih-tzus barked and clickety-clicked their toenails on the floor. They ran in circles and scratched to go outside. Oh, for any of us, they would have been simply fine. However, they sent our older son over the edge.

"Outside, please!" he'd say urgently any time he stepped to the threshold of the room where they were. "All done! OUTSIDE, PLEASE!" His hands covered his ears and his eyes were closed tightly.

I understood. I'm middle-aged, and I can't stand bugs. Nobody is going to talk me into liking them, either. I wasn't going to even try to tell this kid that he was okay. He clearly wasn't. So, I let the dogs out.

I've been letting the dogs out every since.

It was as though the busy little Shih-tzus had busy little Shih-tzu cooties that they spread all over our beloved dog. And, now he's been ostracised. The sight of him. The smell of him. The sound of him. Everything about our dog was now offensive to our child.

Fear of dogs and other animals is not uncommon for children with autism and is something that can be overcome with a proper desenitization program. I was just disheartened to go from such complete love in dogs with one of our last pets to complete and absolute fear. (Have you read that POST yet? Giggle.)

Where was the common ground?

You mean, where do we find common ground while we're waiting for a desensitization program to float to the top of our list that is a gazillion points long?

The family room. Definitely the family room, which is clear on the far end of the house where our canine can lounge with our younger son, chew on his toys and spot squirrels in the back yard--all while tucked away behind a gate so that our older son can see that the dog is not going to jump out and get him.

Younger son likes this idea. Rusty is a captive audience to play dress up as a lion.

Hopefully, there will be another day when our older son will want to again bury this face under his covers. Rusty may not be waiting, but I am.

This entry was written in response to the letter prompt "R" in the Blogging A to Z Challenge April 2012.


  1. awwww adorable and he did make him look just like a lion ;)

    1. Hey, how kbout that creative lion costume??? Lol!

  2. Great dog. Great family room. ~LAV

    1. Hey, LAV, thanks for stopping by! But read another post! This wasn't my best...

    2. I read a lot of your posts. How could I resist not chiming in on Rusty the Dog? ~LAV

  3. So sad that his love of Rusty waned after the other two. I hope it comes back in time. And bless Rusty - he seems like a real trooper!

    1. Amy, I agree. This is a real problem, too. It's hard to value your pet and honor your son's anxiety of said pet.

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  5. (I deleted my comment because I saw [gasp] a typo. Here it is again.)
    Rusty is adorable! And such a good dog. He does sound perfect for your family. I hope that your son will get over his fear and learn to love Rusty again. Dogs are so therapeutic for people with illnesses and handicaps.

    1. Elaine, the sister who picked out Rusty has several dogs. She believes one has just the traits perfect to offer desensitization for our son. She SAYS it would take a weekend. I know nothing about any of this, but she is excellent at what she does. We'll see.

  6. Amy, I just went back and read your original post about Ginger, and I started to cry. What a beautiful story. "There, the two would lie--the loyal dog who didn't know how much her presence meant, and the little boy who felt love for the first time in his life." Dogs are such a blessing. Now I hope even more that your son can find his way back to Rusty.

    1. Thank you for taking the time! Ginger's passing was so sad for us all. I wonder if he will ever feel that way again?

  7. Rusty relaxing round the room. He's sure a cutie.

  8. Rusty is adorable and I also hope Trey connects with him, but I'd say those busy little visitors probably put a big ole kink in that plan. On the bright side, two boys and two dogs, number 2 being specifically for Trey, maybe? Worse case, Rusty will have another playmate, one that won't make him play lion.

  9. There is nothing better than the love of a dog....Rusty is so cute. Great face! thanks for sharing

  10. What a cute pup! And look at you, all linky. :O)