As time passes, I often remember you and me and all the fun we had when we were kids. I can’t prove it, but I think you were about two years old when I found you. I was a cocky eight-year-old then. From the way you acted and looked, I decided you had been a stray for most of your young life. As I look back, I think you were as close to being wild as one could get. Maybe I was naive then, but after we met and I fed you some bologna and milk, I knew you would always be around me. But, that doesn’t matter anymore; we were lucky to have met. We made each other happy and we knew it. We thought we’d live forever. We’d wrestle around in the big field behind our house. You followed me everywhere, even into Schutz’s Grocery Store and Camp’s Drug Store. They smiled and never said a word. Every time I went swimming at the city pool, you laid by the rear tire of my bicycle and slept or watched the people go by until I came back. God blessed us; especially you, because we lived in a small town, which meant you had plenty of woods, fields and county roads to explore and roam. Best of all, you always came and went as you pleased, to satisfy your free spirit. When I was working or away at college, mom, dad and my brothers always let you out, and back in, no matter the hour of the day or the weather. Each time I walked into the house, the first thing I did was find you. I’d say your name, you’d wiggle your tale, I’d pet you and go on about my business. A few minutes later you’d find me and plop down next to me. In those days, dogs didn’t have to be kept on a leash or in a backyard, thank goodness. You liked it that way. You wore a harness to carry your dog tags, but a leash never touched your body. Every time I’d go outside and holler your name, once or twice, a few minutes later you’d be on the back porch scratching to come in. One more thing, you never did anything to embarrass our family, no one in our neighborhood ever complained about you to mom and dad or me.

Yeah, I often think about you and me and all the fun we had a long time ago. We thought we’d live forever.




Rusty was about the size of a small Labrador retriever with long wavy reddish-brown hair. We knew we were a perfect match and everyone in our family, and the whole town too, knew it. We grew up together and respected each other.

I was 21, a snowy February in 1964, when Rusty died. Our next door neighbor told me he saw Rusty stumble to the ground in a neighbor’s side lot, across the road from his house and that Rusty’s death was quick and painless. God gave Rusty fifteen years of freedom and love. That same morning, by mom’s backyard flower garden, I buried Rusty, but not Rusty’s spirit or his love.    

I thank God for giving Rusty and me this time together.


Each time I hear SPIRIT IN THE SKY I remember… We thought we’d live forever, and in a special way we will.




  2. Excellent story. I can relate to your story and the time period. I also grew up with a dog that we considered part of our family. That too was back when you didn’t have to put them on a leash, etc. They were free to roam the neighborhood and everyone knew the dog. Having read your story, you really need to watch the movie Hatchi: A Dog’s Tale. It’s very touching along the same line. Thanks for sharing your story,

  3. Oh this is so poignant and sad. Brought tears to my eyes. I am sure everybody who had a dog as a companion as a child would agree. I am no different. We always had a dig when I was a child, but one was special, a black and tan mongrel called Rinty. He survived until I was around 21 and I mourned his loss for a long time after he died. As you say dogs accept you unconditionally.
    Now I get the same acceptance from my grandson. He doesn’t care what I look like he just loves me unconditionally.

    Love Denise…. really enjoying reading your posts

    Thanks for dropping by my musings. ,

    • Thanks for taking the time to read our story and thanks for the nice comments. Stories like ours are a joy to tell because they come straight from the heart. However, I must admit, I did choke up a time or two as I put it to words. Thanks for following.

  4. omg, brought tears to my eyes! Six years ago, when I got my pug, I looked down at her and said, “hey girl, we will grow old together.” I’ve said that to her many times since, until just the other day. I looked at her grey whiskers and it dawned on me… She’s growing old faster than me! Oh, it’s not fair!

    I had many dog buddies growing up, and still remember them like the best friends they were. Dogs are better spirits than humans are, that’s what I think. 😉

    this is so beautiful, thanks for posting!

    • You’re right, it usually turns out that way… unlike humans, dogs are not biased. They love regardless. My comfort, what I learned, is knowing Rusty’s love and spirit will always be with me, that will never end and this will also be your comfort someday. From the way you talk of your pug, I assure you, you will find it is a comfort.

  5. I hope you enjoyed your visit to my blog, greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com. I’m learning so much about my parents, aunts, uncles and my grandfather through their letters now that they are gone than I ever knew when they were alive. They will truly live forever through everyone who is getting to know them, especially my extended family.
    I really liked the way you “talked” to Rusty in this post, it shows your great love for him. Thank you for sharing.

    • I’m glad you appreciate my point of view with Rusty. Also, your grandfather reminds me of me my maternal grandpa; a energetic, creative, self-made gentleman. There is always a lot to learn from people like our grandparents, not to mention all the funny stories I was fortunate enough to hear from him as I grew up. I enjoyed your article and you helped retrieve some good memories. Thanks!

  6. Re.: “We Thought We’d Live Forever…” beautiful expression of your bond with Rusty, and he with you. Read with a soft smile, it of course reminds me of the dog on my site, Sandy Paws. We occasionally have a slightly acrimonious relationship, enveloped by an unending love for each other, and at about 10 yrs old now, she still bounds downstairs to me every morning, almost flying to a sitting position, waiting for the inevitable morning scratching and petting. She knows there is no way I could really be angry. I only wish she too would live forever.

  7. You just made me turn my head to see and hug my old dog (Retriever 9 years old ) hope he´ll be around for many more years


  8. It’s like God recognized the troublesome nature of man and decided to send in a creature who would be loyal, full of joy, always accepting, and willing to freely give love even when it isn’t returned. A small creature that quietly shows how to live. How amazing that dogs and cats selflessly accepted the job.
    Rusty was a treasure – and he chose you. No doubt he’s still fretting over you, so be sure to reassure him, you learned the lessons and are doing OK.
    Great post – thanks for the heads-up

    • You’re so correct. I’ve learned one more thing, because Rusty’s love and spirit are still with me, I don’t think of Rusty in the past tense. This is also how I think of other people who have died that are most dear to me.

  9. What a beautiful tribute. I also had a dog named Rusty, a Cocker Spaniel. He was my first dog, my constant companion as we tromped about the fields and woods near our home. Thank you for visiting my blog. (I had been thinking about writing about him and was really moved by your touching post.)

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