This is a small memoriam for Dusty – the Prince of Augusta Court but I have two purposes in mind. First to remember my great friend Dusty and secondly to help those who may be hesitant about pet adoption or adopting older pets.
Dusty was 10 years old when we met. Everglades Golden Retriever Rescue (EGRR.org) must be physic about timing. I had lost Mr. Morgan about a year before and they knew it was time. Mr. Morgan was another older adoption.
Dusty moved right in and settled into his new home. As my neighbor always said, he is just so happy. Everyone was his friend cats, bully dogs, people, or even the odd bird or vulture.
He always welcomed me when I returned home with a pillow, a toy, shoe or a hat. Scampering to meet me half way he would always have something in his mouth to greet me. His eyes would smile with delight as if to say, welcome home, I missed you. Every morning just after sun up, he would come into the bedroom carrying a hat or a shoe. His tail would be just a going and the smile would say ‘rise and shine, it is time for our morning walk’.
If the doorbell rang, you would think that a vicious guard dog was on duty. He would run to the door with me, poke his head through the opening and then return ‘quick like a bunny’ to fetch a gift. Once again, he reappeared usually with a shoe or hat as if he as if to say welcome. Everyone received a gift including mail carriers but the UPS truck was certainly not his friend.
One day 3 or 4 Latinos were working next door trimming trees. It was hot and they had just stopped for lunch and had found some coconuts. The one person took his machete and expertly chopped the top off. He set it down to go get his lunch. Dusty, quick as flash went over and stole his coconut. He ran home with it, drank the milk and spent another hour cleaning out the juicy white meat. You could almost see him say ‘yes, I’ll have another, thanks’. All of us including the Latinos had a good belly buster laugh.
On another occasion, a group of workman sat down and were having lunch under a nice shady Poinciana tree. As always, Dusty was the local meet and greeter, and went to discuss the day with the boys. Alternatively, that may have been a ruse for he was scouting out what items might be of interest and worth stealing. On his recon or greeting tour, he spotted a bottle of Tobasco hot sauce. Bang, as if Bob is your uncle it was in his mouth. Immediately there a flurry of Spanish and he was on the run.
On the day after Halloween, Dusty was inspecting the cul-de-sac and spotted a large pumpkin. It was about fourteen inches across and quite hefty. He first studied it, and then you could see he was engineering how to transport this new treasure home. Finally, he chose the green stem and worked into a proper position to lift the pumpkin. You could almost feel him grunt as he gingerly lifted it off the low garden wall. He then made a beeline home across the cul-de-sac. Lugging his newfound wealth like an old man with a large heavy sack between his legs he slowly waddled home. Once there, he turned around and noticed I had not followed but continued talking with the pumpkin’s owner. We were both bending over in laughter. Afraid to put it down, Dusty then decided he would return with his orange treasure to retrieve his pal. The pumpkin owner was almost crying with tears of joy. We finally returned home with the Halloween pumpkin. Dusty had carried it for over twenty minutes without a break.
He was true retriever or more of a happy thief. One Sunday morning, we had gone for our walk and he finishing by working his neighborhood domain. I called for him to come home and have breakfast. I barked ‘come’ a number of times but that did not work so I thought ‘here’ might be the ticket. Well ‘here’, meant grab the nearest item and bring it here. In this case, it meant the neighbor’s Sunday paper. However, it did not stop by retrieving just one paper, he went to the next drive and retuned with a second, and then a third and a fourth. He was a joy.
If any garage doors were open, that meant the contents were fair game. One-day folks had cleaned out their garage and many of the items were stacked outside. Dusty must have thought Christmas does come in July. He went through all the stuff nosing and pushing for the perfect treasure. Voila! Here it was a nice pair of children’s shoes. If an ice skate were missing, the kids would know that the golden snitch had found it and brought it home. No harm, no foul. Dusty was the happy entertainer even though he was blamed for felony theft when it was the child’s fault for losing a basketball.
He was a fink on the young boys. They had been drinking a few cans of beer and tossed them in the bushes near their parked car. Once again cleaning up everyone’s hedges, he discovered the empty cans. Caught for littering and drinking, the boys had been found out. There was a new sheriff in town.
He was very serious on our walks. He had a job – park maintenance. Many days, he would pick up the plastic pop bottle litter, bags, or tennis balls. We would take them to the nearest bin. He would root though the groomed hedges and pop-up with a ball or whatever. Once again, he had a large grin on his face as if I told you so. On one occasion, he found a volleyball. It took some time but he once again studied it so that he could pick it up. Backing out of the hedge, there was only one thought ‘let’s get this baby home’. His ability to make people smile or laugh was his job. He was happy so why should not everyone else be.
In the house he was very careful and a great companion. Many nights he would climb up on the couch and we would watch TV. Often you could just imagine him say ‘why are we watching this boring thing’. He would then squirm and wiggle until he was comfortable and fell asleep. At times, he would get my slippers and then curl up at my feet. Most times, it was a Norman Rockwell moment; just two old boys or companions at days end.
Parting with the Prince of Augusta Court was tragic for not only me but also the neighbors, the vet and all the folks that had been his pals. Even today, three months later Champ, a Border collie rescue, continues to search the yard looking for his pal.
Losing a pet is difficult at any time whether they are young or old. It is tragic but rescuing a pal is a rocky mountain high on friendship. Love is the only thing they have on their minds whether they are young or old. All are great but do not overlook the older guys. They are handsome, trained and full of energy and brimming with love.
Dusty, I will meet you at the rainbow bridge.