|This picture was taken just before we took him to the vet. January 5th, 2016|
This last Tuesday was just so awful. It became clear that our wonderful dog, Rugby was not doing well and we rushed him to the vet. We really hoped it was no big deal but we knew in our hearts that we would be getting the really bad "It is time to put him down" news.
He had done this to us two Christmases in a row though, he did something that scared us and we would rush him in to be told his arthritis was acting up and "Wow, he is doing great- especially for a dog his age!" This year, Christmas had passed without a trip to the vet and I was thankful. I knew he was going to leave us any day but thankful for each morning I awoke and found him sleeping soundly on the floor next to my side of the bed.
I wasn't always his favorite, you know. He didn't even like me for a long time. We know he was very badly abused before he ended up in the Pinetop, AZ Humane Society with the name, "Koda." We are guessing he was abused (tortured, even since he had had toes and pads cut off!) by a woman since he really did not care for adult females but loved men.
I will never forget seeing Rugby for the first time. Chastity was 10ish months old, walking and screaming in excitement about the dogs as we walked down the aisle with the dogs in their tiny pens. She was seriously screaming in such a way that every single dog was terrified and cowering in the corners of their pen, some barking at her to stay away.
Every dog that is, excepting one.
There was one dog there who wasn't afraid but instead walked up to the door to his pen, waited for her to walk over to him and then he stretched his long tongue through the fencing and licked her right up her chin and face as if to get her to close and thus silence the happy, screaming mouth. Lol!
Chase and (a very pregnant) I knew right then. He was ours. That was the dog we needed.
|I took this pic after we adopted him but couldn't take him home yet.|
The day Chase picked him up from the Humane Society, Rugby had just been fixed and was really out of it. On his way home, Chase stopped at his office at church for a minute to grab something and then took him home and locked him in the backyard since I wasn't home. (Where was I? No idea.)
Well, imagine Chase's surprise when his new dog, stumbling around like a drunk, shows up at his office 20 minutes later!
No kidding. He unlatched the gate and walked back to church while drugged up.
But like I said earlier, I was not his favorite. And he wasn't too sold on us really. He was nice and appreciated the food and pets but his heart wasn't in it.
He ran and hid every time I ran water, swept, vacuumed, closed a door, or moved too quickly. Poor baby.
And he was an escape artist! Boy those stubby legs could catapult him over a five foot fence in those days and he was constantly getting out and running away. I was getting to know people at the Day's Inn and Best Western on a first name basis when they would call and say he showed up in their laundry rooms. He spent weekends with strangers until we would finally get in touch with whoever found him roaming the busy highway behind our neighborhood. It was crazy.
And every time I would pick him up, they would tell me, "It is a really good thing he looks glad to see you because he is a great dog and if I thought you weren't treating him well, I would keep him."
He did always look glad to see me, and I was glad.
Time went on and he stopped being so jittery and scared of everything. He still wasn't super attached to me but it was so cute, even then at the end of my pregnancies, he would watch me like a hawk. Just sit behind me, at attention, all day watching so intently you would have thought I was cutting steak to share with him. So funny.
It was actually unnerving our first few pregnancies together (he has been here for four out of five!) I would just have that being watched feeling and would look around, only to find Rugby's big hound eyes looking into my soul like a laser beam... Or into my belly like an ultrasound. Not sure. But it was intense and yet so sweet.
We would bring a baby home and he would sniff it a bit and check all the fingers and toes and then lick them right up the face a couple of times, just like that first time at the Humane Society. And that was it. They were in. He would give my chin an approving lick too. Chase and I were slowly becoming his people.
|2011- He HATED having his picture taken. His ears are laid back to let me know he is not pleased.|
From that moment on when he wasn't roaming around town, he was watching the kids, cleaning up after them and guarding them from cats, squirrels, and the UPS man.
We would take him with us on trips and when we were staying with people he didn't know, he would sleep outside the door of the kid's room, blocking the entrance to anyone who wasn't one of his people.
When we took him camping I always said it took years off his life because he was always so stressed and constantly doing a head count to make sure we were all there. We did a bit of lake camping and oh my word, everyone playing in the water really stressed him out.
Back then Chase was a youth pastor and Rugby became the youth group's mascot of sorts. He came to all-nighters and camping and hung out with everyone when they were at our house.
There was one time, the first all-nighter he attended (we hadn't had him very long) where he randomly walked up to my girl Desirae, peed on her legs and walked off.
.......We are all still really confused by that one.
I'm so glad she had brought extra clothes with her.
Rugby was also known for being a beast! It was so amazing the brute strength he had. Back in his escaping days he would get tied to a tree. There was not a chain strong enough to keep him there if he was in a mood to wander. He broke collars, steel cables, and big clasps regularly. It was nuts.
I took his roaming really personally for awhile. By the time we moved to Texas though, I knew I was his and vice versa. He still roamed (that is how he tore up a tendon in his knee which led to the arthritis) but those days he always came back. He wasn't running away anymore.
This was after two pregnancies together, and a time I had been so sick (I don't think I have been that sick since!) and he got up in the oversized chair with me and put his head on my chest. That day was a big turning point for some reason. He was very concerned for me and I was glad to have him there with me. It is amazing the effect petting a pet can have.
Sometimes after that he forgot who was in charge and would take on this weird husbandry role. He would be all protector and in charge and I would be like, "DUDE. Get off the couch!" And he would look at me like "Woman, puhleese!" He would give me attitude if I didn't fall in line.
Then there was the time I had gotten under the table to grab my other dog, Halpert. I grabbed Hal's collar and was going to smack his nose for getting up on the dining chairs and looking for food on the table. I smacked his nose once while squatting under the table, still holding his collar and all of the sudden he became completely insane and went wild, trying to kill me. He was jumping at my face and biting and tearing away at the inside of my wrists. I couldn't just stand up, being under the table, and Evan was just a baby, toddling a couple of feet away. He kept tearing up my wrists and I knew it would not be good if he got another good swipe in. I let go and fell back so I could get out from under the table and also kick him away if I needed to. The rabid-like dog lunged at me but didn't make it. Rugby jumped between us and they had a full-on, nasty dog fight while I got the kids up high and safe and made sure I wasn't bleeding too much or anything. Rugby was a much bigger dog and Halpert conceded and calmed down finally. I put him outside and called Chase. Poor dog had to be put down. That was really sad, I was hoping a pro somewhere could rehabilitate him but no such luck.
After all the ruckus, I got some very relieved kisses. And then more relieved kisses from Chase. ;)
Rugby ate well that night and I pretty much let him sleep or lay wherever he wanted after that. Including Chase's spot in bed. As soon as he heard Chase pulling out of the driveway for work, Rugby would be up in Chase's spot, giving me a kiss then getting comfortable on the blankets.
Rugby was a Bassett Hound/Lab mix. One of the cutest things about him was his Bassett howl. It didn't happen very often but every now and then we would catch him howling, nose pointed to the sky.
We learned though that he was very secretive about his howls. More so even than when he was burying his bones. If he saw you watching him he would immediately stop. He would even play it off like he wasn't just howling and do this throat-clear, cough thing. Hilarious.
He was so patient and gracious. He was always surrounded by babies and kids (I babysat a lot in addition to my kids) and they loved him, but tended to treat him like a carnival ride. Climb up, slide down, jump over, etc and he never hurt anybody. When he had had enough, he would slowly and carefully get up as not to knock any babies over and go back in my room for awhile. As he got old and had arthritis pain I worried that he might get snippy with Phoebe and Zoey for playing rough with him and understandably so, even! But he never did. Ever. He loved that they cuddled with him and rolled around on the floor with him and would give them a couple big licks up the chin when they were too loud or too up in his face.
|Zoey, Pheobe and our Gentle "Giant."|
|Rugby and Zoey|
|Zoey tickling his toes (living in the travel trailer during our missions stint.)|
Rugby loved bread. Like, LOVED BREAD. For years I would have to keep the bread on top of the fridge so he wouldn't steal it and eat a loaf or two for a snack.
He also lived for carrot sticks, and cabbage core. Oh my goodness, he always knew when I was chopping cabbage and would come running and sit and wait with big "Please, please, please, please, please!" eyes.
His hound nose got him into big trouble a few times, though. Oh boy!
|Rugby and cabbage-a love story for the ages|
On the other hand, it was handy a few times! When we were remodeling the kitchen some mice got in and Rugby turned out to be a pretty decent mouser! Especially considering he was a large dog! He would see a mouse and chase it, even to the extent of throwing the couch around with his nose to get to the mouse behind it!
There were a couple of nights where we woke up to a furniture massacre in the living room. Just Rugby, hunting mice. He caught and killed several. Lol.
Even when we were raising funds to be missionaries, Rugby came along. He took up a bit of room in that 30 foot long trailer that was housing the six and then seven of us, but I was not leaving him behind. He didn't mind what we were doing as long as he was with us.
If Chase hadn't heard Rugby carrying on like that he would have said I was insane. There was not a single foot print out in the snow around the trailer, not man, not bear, nothing. No evidence of anyone or anything. Just before Chase had gotten there, I had the thought that instead of praying for safety, I should pray that whoever was trying to get in would be scared off and leave and not come back. (Duh.) Once I prayed that, the trailer rocking and noise outside and at the door stopped. Rugby calmed down too. Later we were told that that kind of activity is pretty common for that neighborhood and used to be in their house and the homes of other Christians in the area but that it had been prayed out of those homes. While Jesus is the One Who saves, I was pretty glad I had Rugby there with me that day. Totally freaky!
When we eventually got settled in Colorado, Ruggie Buggie never tried to escape (or at least not hard. He could have gotten out if he had wanted to) although he did get out one day the kids left the gate open. Chase found him headed back to our house with this huge huge bone in his mouth. When Rugby saw Chase headed for him, he stashed the bone under the neighbor's bush really quickly and came running. Lol
After "hiding" his bone.
Rugby was also known for having a "tell" whenever he was naughty. He had this huge sideways smile that would give him away when we got home.
We would walk in and he would be standing there with this giant goofy grin on his face and we would ask him, "Rugby! What did you doooooo?!?!?"
Usually he had gotten into the trash (that hound nose!!!) but other times it was just that he had been up sleeping on the couch. A couple of instances, we never did figure it out. But he had done something he knew was naughty. Hahaha.
That last trip we took him to the vet was both awful and beautiful. All of us were bawling when we told the kids Rugby was dying and we couldn't do anything about it. We hugged him and cried and said goodbyes, then the vet gave him the sedative shot and we hugged him and cried and told him how much we loved him and would miss him and said more goodbyes. Eventually he laid down and was going rather out of it and I laid down on the floor next to him and looked in his eyes.
I thanked him for being the best dog in the world and for taking such good care of me and my family. I asked him who was going to watch me if I ever got hugely pregnant again. I told him I loved him so very very much and thanked him for always being there for me and told him I was sorry I couldn't help him get better this time. I just cried and rubbed his soft, thick fur and told him what a good boy he was. Such a good boy. The best dog ever and such a treasure. I told him that we had changed each other's lives for the better and I would be eternally grateful.
And then, he licked me.
Right up the chin.
Right up the chin.