Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Remembering Rusty February 17, 2013

I will never forget my first day at the Oshkosh Humane Society.

I remember being terrified at first when I was surrounded by people I didn’t know in this strange place. I watched in awe as a pool of dirty brown goo developed on the floor around me when they sprayed me down. And I couldn’t believe the size of the mangy matted pile of fur they trimmed off after I was cleaned. Then they fed me the most amazing kibble I’d ever tasted and shortly thereafter I emerged from the cleaning area a new (albeit horrified) dog. I could get used to all of this attention, I thought to myself.

Then it happened. They put me away in a cage where I remained for the rest of the day. A nice lady named Sarah came to feed me again and let me outside briefly, but that was it. Granted, the scenery indoors was a lot nicer than the garbage cans and cardboard boxes I was used to, but that first night was one of the most quiet, lonely and dark of my entire life.

This is it, I thought, this is where it’s all going to end. Little did I know that would also be the night that would change my life for the better in ways I could never have imagined.

That was the night I met Rusty. He was a 15-year-old golden retriever in the cage next to me. On this awful night when I had given up, Rusty reminded me that sometimes we get pushed on our backs to force us to look up and see some sunshine. That night, he shared with me stories of the family he had been brought into as a puppy. A family who loved him, played with him, and brought to life a joy in his heart that I could see in his eyes. He told me about how sad the family was to give him up to the shelter when both of his people parents lost their job and had to move into an apartment where they didn’t allow dogs. They used to come visit, he said, but then I think it got too sad. They visited less and less frequently as time went on. Days turned into months, then years.

I was deeply devastated for him, but his perspective on the matter resonated with me on a level I didn’t realize at the time. He was incredibly optimistic, grateful even, for everything he’d lived through. He wouldn’t trade his time with his forever family for all the Beggin’ Strips in the world. In his old age, he was wealthy with wisdom. He was joy: from the ground up.Remembering Rusty

I felt so blessed to find a comrade in this new place, but I had no idea how special Rusty really was until he was gone. It happened only a few days later, and I remember that day vividly too. I was kind of jealous of him, thinking he was going to the cleaning room where I got all the attention. Instead, he went down a different hallway, into a different room, from which he never emerged again.

But he wouldn’t have wanted me to mourn his loss. No sir. Remembering Rusty means living his legacy and pawing it forward. The day after I lost my mentor was the first day I awoke with my newfound commitment to seeing the good in all people and things.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them,” English novelist George Eliot reasoned.

Rusty’s optimism lit a flame in my heart that no one can ever blow out. I will never forget, dear Rusty. I will not forget.


37 Responses to “Remembering Rusty”

  1. seeker Says:

    Hmmm, very touching, Mr. Wiley. Seeing the good of all people is a joyful statement, for me, for that’s how I want to see as well. Lest we forget, eh, no?, the good will keep our optimism up. Excellent writing. I will pray that you will be selected in Freshly Pressed, It will come with a little bit of patience. Good night.

    • Wow, Ms. Seeker. Your positive feedback brings a smile to my heart. I keep praying to be Freshly Pressed, but hearing it from someone else means so much more. With love, Mr. Wiley.

  2. Leisa Says:

    R.I.P Beautiful Rusty! ♥

  3. AngelFrouk Says:

    Very moving story. Thank you for sharing.

  4. That is so incredibly sad. Yes, I know there’s the positive, uplifting, “pushed on the back to see the sunshine” bit but it doesn’t stop the tears. Beautiful post and rest in peace Rusty. May his light live on in you, Wiley.

  5. The C-Sweet Says:

    This is amazing…what a way to grab me by the heart first thing in the morning…..

  6. […] Travels 32. My Mentor | A Sign Of Life 33. Daily Prompt: Mentor Me | The Blogging Path 34. Remembering Rusty | Wiley’s Wisdom 35. Daily Prompt: Mentor Me, or Lack Thereof | The Wondering College Student 36. Imagine Having a […]

  7. […] find myself missing those I have loved and lost a lot lately. What is that […]

  8. […] After that, I have memories of Scotty and Pheobe who I met during my time on the streets. Then Rusty and all the people who cared for me at the humane society. These faces are the rays of sunshine in […]

  9. […] should know there is so much more I wish I could tell you. I am fortunate enough to have had many mentors in my days who have taught me so much either by their actions or their words. One of the most […]

  10. […] majority of my time in a cage questioning everything about my purpose in life, but in the meantime I met Rusty and several other unique canine characters and the people there took good care of me. Every day I […]

  11. […] been thinking of Rusty more frequently lately. I had so few conversations with him in our brief time as neighbors at the […]

  12. […] Remembering Rusty (wileyschmidt.wordpress.com) […]

  13. […] eyes and shake my head to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I swear I thought that somehow my dear mentor Rusty had come back to life and was in the cage next to me as he had been a mere few months earlier. I […]

  14. […] met my Rusty my first night at the Oshkosh Humane Society, and his is a legacy I will never forget. I had one […]

  15. […] felt like this before. I certainly loved my birth mom and brothers, Tiger and his puppies, and Rusty from the humane society. What I felt for Taffy was different in a way that stuck with me long after that family returned […]

  16. […] wisdom. My first night at the humane society when I thought the world was coming to an end, Rusty the golden retriever showed me the light. Much like my favorite transcendentalist thinker […]

  17. Reblogged this on Wiley's Wisdom and commented:

    This one always makes me tear up. :*(

  18. kiwiskan Says:

    now I’m crying too…

  19. utesmile Says:

    What a sad but also good story, you learnt from Rusty and he would be very proud of you! May he be very happy where he is!

  20. Sad and uplifting at the same time Wiley.

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