Two years of Rufusness

Two years ago today, I spotted an alert looking dog sitting at the edge of an alley wearing a collar with a leash attached, but without a person. He was still sitting there forty five minutes later when I had Sophie out on her walk. A call to Animal Control and a successful attempt at catching him turned him into a family member. AC told me they were “overwhelmed” with work that night, and as long as he was not dangerous, he could hang out at my house.

We’ve come a long, long way. He has gone from adorable puppy – (five months old approximately upon arriving in the house) to an obnoxiously barky one-year-old to still stressed but much quieter two-and-a-half-year-old. He still barks, but not that much. He likes my friends. He tolerates the vet. He sleeps a lot. I call that progress.

He has been a challenge. First, he looks like a bad ass. He may actually be a bad ass, but since he’s a total momma’s boy, I’ll never witness it. Other people frighten him, but he’s getting better. He does not spend an hour barking at someone anymore. He plays well with others, even if Sophie thinks he is a pain in the ass a lot of the time.

Then we had the chewing. Not much was safe if I left it out: computer cords, business cards, my kindle, and so many, many hats. Destruction of stuff has subsided a bit, although he still loves to chew hats. I like to wear baseball caps for dog walking, and my latest was an Orvis hat: dark blue with a yellow dog on it.

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Me and my pre-chewed hat (with Bode, my favorite dog on my walk beat)

It lasted three weeks before Rufus found it. I came home to find a sad little piece left, and Sophie looked like the guilty party from her body language. I knew the truth. Sophie is not a chewer. I had my physical evidence at five a.m. when Rufus vomited up the remaining pieces. You call this a life of crime? He is not good at concealing evidence.

(Sophie, for her part, has not led a crime-free life either. The next day I came home to an emptied-out Earth Balance container that had only an hour before, had been half full of Earth Balance. She’s fine, thanks for asking.)

That of course leads us to Rufus’ vomiting and the farting and other gastrointestinal issues. Car sickness has improved, though. It’s not great, and we’re not attempting to drive him up Guanella Pass ever again. And as long as I buy him expensive food, the farting is at a minimum.

The big thing we’ve gotten through is the defiance. He acted like a damn tenth grader for a while. I taught tenth grade for most of my sixteen years as a public school teacher – and I’m counting the time overseas as well. I love them, but they’re jerks. It’s the eye-rolling, you-can’t-make-me, no-it-isn’t-a-good-morning, why-are-you-bothering-me-again age. I can now tell you with delight that both humans and dogs grow out of this phase. Most of them, anyway. Rufus would stare at me before lifting his leg on the exercise bike. He refused to come when called. He encircled other dogs to goad them into playing. Like any good parent, I swore at him and threatened to change the wi-fi password. He did not care.

Then suddenly, he was better. Like a high school junior arriving on the first day and seeking a favorite teacher out with a smile, he had learned that the world was not against him.

He still gets the jitters with new people. He still is leery of the vet. But to anyone who knows him, he is a million times better.

He had a vet appointment this morning, and while it could have gone a tiny bit better if I’m being very picky, I’m doing internal cartwheels over how well it actually went.

We arrived to a waiting room with three other dogs, all of whom had people attached. Rufus wanted to check them out but we had zero barking. Zero barking! We wandered around so he could sniff. Despite a refusal to get on the scale, he acted reasonably well in the presence of others. He got to see Branden, his vet tech buddy, and a new-to-him vet, Dr. Smith, who thought he was wonderful. He took lots of treats, of course, and while licking a cheese-whiz-covered tongue-depressor, he actually let Dr. Smith look in his ears.

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Rufus and Branden at our most recent visit.

That, my friends, is progress.

We had zero car-sickness or farting on the way home. He wagged his tail once we pulled into the driveway. Once inside, he and Sophie began playing and shared the water bowl as usual.

I left the vet with Rufus and without a headache. I have two very healthy dogs who are best friends.

I feel like a lottery winner: I have a million dollar ticket. Of course the taxmen have to come and said, “There are some steep prices to pay for this.”  Nothing comes without the tax. We’ll keep paying it in different ways, but it doesn’t take away the prize.

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Sophie, Rufus, and my tasty kindle cover.

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18 Thoughts

  1. Awee happy gotcha day! Well is it still a gotcha day if you found him rather than adopted? I think so as you did end up adopting him! Either way he is yours and where he needs to be and he sounds AMAZING! What a fun dog! He sounds a lot like my human son BOL!
    I am sure he loves the hats because they smell like his mama 🙂

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  2. What a great story! He’s so lucky to have found you and his new happy home. A routine, healthy diet, and surrounded by people who love him – it’s amazing how transformative that can be.

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  3. Ahhh how lovely to read about Rufus’ progress, we learn so much from our dogs, I think and for some it takes a bit longer to feel safe and happy in their home. We have had Sandy nearly two years, and she still surprises us with things that she does now that she would never had done before, she was scared of EVERYTHING. Well done for all the love and patience you have given Rufus, its all worth it in the end, I believe.

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  4. You’ve come a long way with Rufus! But like you said, in the end it’s all work the fuss. They are the best prize. We love them so! Love the last pic. So precious.

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  5. I often say they are like toddlers who never learn to speak but I like the 10th grader thing too. It ups their level of intelligence which is very appropriate. However, through it all, the unconditional love is SO worth it!

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  6. Gotcha! What a special boy and great story. Aw, those dreaded teenage years. They can be tough! lol Keep up the great work and enjoy your boy.

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  7. Rufus has come a long way thanks to your love and patience! I enjoyed reading his story, thanks so much for sharing!

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  8. It sounds like Rufus found the perfect home with you! I really love your description of tenth graders (having raised 5 teenagers, it rings so true) and winning the lottery!

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  9. I love this, your positive attitude, and sense of humor! The picture of the hat made me crack up! Our lab loved to chew hats too. Rufus sounds like such a great dog! What a blessing you are for each other; he gets a loving, patient family and a best girl friend, and you get a constant source of funny and adorable material for this blog!

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  10. Our rescue Molly and your Rufus have a lot in common! Molly chewed everything, wasn’t my hats though, was my shoes! We are also finally get over the car sickness too. Great fun post!

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