With Niko heavy-bodied and snuggled next to me last night, I was left alone with my thoughts as I waited for the clicking of his ceiling fan to lull me to sleep. As I lay under the chilly artificial wind, the most random memory surfaced: I remembered the first time that we brought Rusty home from the shelter, and watched him cower under our kitchen counter.
While finding a puppy was a group effort among the Boué women, I was the one to stake a claim on the adorable greyhound-pointer mutt wagging his tongue out from the spokes of his puppy prison. His name was ‘Snickerdoodle’, and he had some sort of skin rash that prevented us from bringing him home for almost an entire month. We visited him frequently, and crowds would always gather around this gorgeous spotted pup.
“Sorry, he’s already been adopted,” I’d always smirk.
We finally brought him home on a blistering summer day. Snickerdoodle was stowed away in the stale plastic carrier that had once housed our long-lost cat Rufus. The crate was placed beneath the nook of our kitchen counter, and the door gently opened to invite the shy puppy out to explore his new home. It took hours. He would nudge his floppy ears out, poke out a single paw, tremble, then retreat back to the shadows of his tiny enclosure. We waited patiently and whispered friendly coaxes urging comfort and trust.
Eventually, he must have come out. We settled on the name ‘Rusty’ to match his copper-colored spots that dotted the bottoms of his legs and shimmied up his back. Then he started growing, and I can’t even tell you how he went from a scrawny little mutt to a broad greyhound descendant with a streamlined body and plate-sized paws. I miss that gentle beast like he’s my own brother – because he really is. He beams with excitement whenever I come home, and cries at the sight of me packing luggage in my room. He’s the greatest dog that’s ever lived.