Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Remembering Ramsey March 26, 2013

Remembering RustyI will never forget my second first day at the Oshkosh Humane Society.

Yes, friends, you read that right. While it is not a chapter of life I am proud of, I haven’t kept it a secret that I was adopted my another family before my forever parents found me. I was adopted by a family who opted to return me to the shelter after a mere couple of weeks because they felt I had too serious of behavioral issues. Sure, my small 20-pound frame jumped their 4-foot fence. Yes, I also jumped out of a moving vehicle. And all right already, I did grab that stinker of a cat Tessa and give her a good shake by the neck.

That first adoptive home included three other dogs and two cats and I wanted to make an impression. I wanted to stand out and to make them love me best so I could make up for all that lost time of feeling neglected. I know now I took my attention-seeking aspirations too far, but at the time I did what seemed right. I’m not proud of any of these things, but I do believe I had my reasons for doing them and I also argue that if I hadn’t “misbehaved” I wouldn’t be the dog I am or in the home I am today.

But you can imagine the sense of deja vu I felt when that first adoptive family brought me back to the humane society. I wasn’t nearly as terrified the second time when I was surrounded by people I kind of knew at this somewhat familiar place. This time I was unenthused by the attention I got when I first got there, because I knew that the people there are overworked and wouldn’t have much time for me after my initial check in.

Then it happened. Again.

They put me away in a cage and Sarah came back to take care of me just as she had before. And (just like I had before) I found myself questioning everything about who I was and the decisions I made in life leading up to that second (first) night in the humane society.

That was the night I met Ramsey. He was a 12-year-old black lab mix in the cage next to me. I had to close my 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 opened my eyes and instead of my wise old friend Rusty stood Ramsey, looking at me like I had lost my doggie mind. As it turned out, Ramsey was much more cynical than Rusty. Where Rusty had seen sunshine, Ramsey saw darkness. And I saw opportunity.

Rusty got me through that awful night when I had given up, and now it was my turn to paw it forward. Understanding he was 10 years my senior and might be listening but not actually hear a word this young whippersnapper might have to share with him, I told him my life story. I spared no details and told him everything I remembered, including Rusty and his humble wisdom.

It wasn’t long after that that Ramsey was adopted, and as happy for him as I was, I will never know whether my words had an affect on him. But that doesn’t matter to me anymore, because I know I did what Rusty would have wanted. I felt his presence with me that night, like he was watching over me from doggie heaven. I don’t think my feeling of deja vu was a coincidence. And I think he would have been proud.

“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. Deja vu or otherwise, I will not forget.