I have never done a “Throwback Thursday” before, so I decided this week I would try one. Here goes:
For the record, I did not start out life as a “hound girl”. For years there were only two things I wanted and I persistently asked my parents, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Jesus, the grocery store clerk, and the mail man (really any one who would listen) for them. 1. A horse. 2. A Chocolate Lab. I also really wanted to be a country music singer, but that’s for another post.
Well I never did get the horse and I’m convinced one day it will take a lot of therapy for more to process that shattered childhood dream. As for the country music singing, I quickly learned that the, “You can be anything you want to be,” line that grown ups feed you is a bunch of crap and that having some shred of musical talent generally helps.
Right before my 16th birthday we had to put our perfect, All-American Labrador Retriever to sleep. He was old and arthritic and couldn’t get around anymore so it was time for him to go to the big Milk Bone in the sky. As sad as I was about the passing of Bo, I figured this was my chance. Mom and Dad had already said we could get a puppy (usually we adopted adult dogs that needed a home), so I thought I could work with this to get my dream dog. Unfortunately for me, my Dad was of the firm belief that we would never pay for a dog because there were so many other dogs that needed homes (actually this was good because it instilled great dog-adopting morals in me, so thanks Dad!). So unless a Chocolate Lab puppy dropped out of the heavens onto our doorstep, chances were I was out of luck.
Then Rugby happened. He had been dropped off at the vet clinic that we used (shout out to my Northgate friends!!) and they had heard that we might be in the market for a puppy. He was about 2-3 months old and was a “beagle-mix” that “should grow to be about 30-35 pounds” and he “had a great temperament.” So Mom and I went to go visit him. And he as cute.
Who could say no to that face? Well, my first clue should have been that he tried to chew my arm off on our first visit, but we persisted. We brought Dad and Brother back a few days later to see him and we all decided he was the puppy for us. Mom was happy because he was a small, short-haired dog. Dad was happy because we adopted a stray. Brother and I were happy because we got a puppy. Everyone wins.
False. We all lose.
Rugby was a monster. He was literally possessed by the Devil and was way too smart for his own good. He grew to be about 75 lbs (Mom was not happy), but seemed to have the mass of a thousands suns, so if you were in his path as he bolted after something he would level you.
He learned how to open the patio door after about a week and a half.
He shredded an entire couch.
He learned how to open to the oven door and once ate our entire dinner (meatloaf at that!) while Mom was picking up Brother from football practice.
He was terrible off leash and if he got out of the yard was gone for hours.
He would chew anything. Like, literally, anything!
He hated children.
He hated other dogs.
He didn’t like some people.
It took four people to trim his nails.
He had to be muzzled for everything at the vet clinic (where I worked- how embarrassing!), and I even drew devil horns on the photo on his chart.
He could manage to get into the kitchen trash no matter what preventative measures we took, including an armed guard.
He would dig up the plants in the yard that we just planted, including large trees.
And finally after polishing off about 8 T-bone steaks that were defrosting on the kitchen counter, Mom threatened to mail him up to Canada where I was going to university. She had the box ready and everything.
He was also prescribed steroids for an allergy he had and therefore suffered from a strong case of roid-rage.
There was no way around it- Rugby was a bad dog. He did what he wanted and never showed remorse. He was kind of the Honey Badger of dogs.
It turned out our sweet beagle-mix was a Red-tick Coonhound with a bad attitude. We were not prepared to deal with this. But the worst part, you ask? I loved that dog. And some how, he got everyone else to love him too! He was the dog that any sane person would have given back, but not us. Even through all of the destruction and stress and times of panic he was a great dog. He was almost like the kid that’s just so mischievous, that you can’t help but love him. He loved his walks, he loved car rides, he loved to observe cooking, and he loved to sleep on the guest bed and watch the geese outside for hours. He learned to play dead, speak, roll over, flip a bone off of his nose, etc. in no time at all. He loved it all. He even loved going to the vet!
Rugby really only slowed down significantly a few months before he died. Turns out he had lung cancer and congestive heart failure that was diagnosed shortly after his 10th birthday. Mom and I later determined that the cause of his cancer must have been because he would sneak out for a smoke behind the garden shed when no one was looking. Seriously, I wouldn’t have put it past him.
I loved that dog dearly, but after Rugby passed I made two promises to myself. 1. no more puppies. 2. absolutely no more hounds.
Well, we all know how well that worked out for me. Almost two-years after Rugby’s death, Rupert showed up, and he was both very much a puppy and very much a hound. Damnit. But, I have to think that Rugby converted me from think I want a sweet, All-American well-behaved dog to wanting the hodge-podge hound mixes, that strive to destroy both your home and your santiy.
Now that I live in the South, I have adopted the tradition of carrying on family names, and therefore Rupert’s full name is Rupert Rugby Gildersleeve. Thankfully, Rupert is a much calmer version of my old hound, but sometimes I see him get a certain look in his eye and I know he’s about to go “Full Rugby”. When that happens, it’s best to just stay out of his way.
Rugby Preston Pomfret 2001-2011