I’m waiting in the “dog adoptee” holding room. I hope I’m doing the right thing. He looks so happy. But what if I adopt him and it doesn’t work out between us? Still, look at that smile. But what if staff comes blasting in with a file showing I’m on some subversive dog-hater’s list. Oh, come on. That’s not gonna happen, that’s not gonna … “Mike?” the shelter assistant says while opening the door. “Congratulations. Here’s just a little paperwork we need to go over and then he’s yours. He looks so happy.”
Wow, he hopped right into the back seat and made himself at home. Whew, that’s good, ‘cuz he’ll never fit in the front seat. Oh, I gotta take this picture of him, the “first ride ever in the back seat” photo. It feels good to have someone in the car with me. It gets lonely driving in here all alone.
I’ve waited all week to get out on our first hike. Shit, he never stops, and what is he – eight – they said? What’s that look back at me, like “can’t you move a little faster?” Yeah, but look at that face. I don’t think he could ever look mean, could he? … Finally, we’re going downhill now. Oh this feels so good. How I’ve missed the exhilaration I get from exercise. And look at that face.
God, I thought I was tired. He completely collapsed on the dog bed. That old dog bed, Woody’s old dog bed. I thought I’d never get another dog after Woody. He was so good. I’ve spent almost two years in an empty house. But something told me now was the time. Curious, casually looking over hundreds of dogs the past two weeks, then – bingo.
Cathy calls to say the photos I sent her are adorable and asks me what my new friend’s name is. I tell her he doesn’t have a name because he was found wandering the streets with no identification whatsoever. As I ramble on about what little back story I have on my dog-with-no- name, Cathy interrupts with, “Rusty. Why not name him Rusty? He looks rusty to me, you know, with all that brown.” From now on, I know his name will be Rusty. I like it. And it feels good to have my own sister give “Rusty” his name.
I take him to work today. Everyone – everyone – treats him so great, so special. I feel special. A co-worker says I look happier since I got Rusty. “Come on. Really?” I ask. “No, really,” she says. “You have.”
Rusty’s trying out the new bed. He looks … as if … he’s in bliss. How lucky he is. How lucky I am. After all, it was my boss who bought the bed for Rusty. Generosity of friends. Love of creatures. We’re both lucky, me and Rusty, and seemingly all who meet him.
It’s difficult for me to keep still sitting here. I usually hate having pictures taken. I usually don’t smile that much. The trail isn’t as remarkable when I hike it alone. But, okay, it’s done, it’s taken, let’s go, Rusty. Let’s go! Let’s go!