My First Pet

My first Pet….. Rusty… and Grandma and me…..

If I keep going any further back in my memory, the next entry will be about my activities in my mother’s womb. This one takes me way back, even before my brother was born. To a very brief time, I recall my Grandmother (moms side) living with us on West 12th street. I was probably no more than two, maybe three years old. I told you we were going way back.

I can’t honestly call Rusty my pet. He was on the scene well before I made my less than spectacular entrance into this world. I’m not even sure if Rusty was officially my mom’s, Aunt Fills’ (my mom’s sister who was also living with us), or my grandma’s.

What I do know is that Rusty made me feel good. How does a child remember feeling good at such a young age? Well, I remember Rusty always being next to me. I wish I still had the few rare, wonderful photos of Rusty and me sitting on the windowsill looking at the goings on below. ( The same windowsill I mentioned in my last entry, Window Picnic.) I don’t know if Rusty cared a damn for what was happening below, but I remember his beautiful golden fur close by my side. I know if I shifted just a bit, Rusty would shift as well, ensuring that he was between me and the open window. I vaguely recall my Grandma very close at hand, watching my every move as well. I even remember her broken English as she would gently pat Rusty’s head and say “You watch… you watch baby… you good dog……”  Am I crazy for thinking I remember Rusty smiling at her?

Rusty was a Pomeranian-Spitz. The photo I have attached to this entry is not Rusty, but it gives you a very good feel for what he looked like, other than his golden color was a bit deeper than the one in the photo. As most children that age, I had no clue how to really treat a beautiful pet such as Rusty. I pulled his ears, put my hands in his mouth, used him as a pillow and in general, treated him as I would a toy. I don’t ever remember him minding. He would simply lay next to me and offer his cute little face for more abuse.

The windowsill with Grandma and Rusty was the memory that remains the clearest for me. She would stand or sit behind us as we gazed at the activity below. Many days she would play with us using clay. Yea, I know that’s not something kids play with anymore. I guess the closest thing would be what some of you may know as “Silly Putty?” She would mold the clay into different shapes and try to get me to help her by rolling the clay to make it more pliable. I would roll a long tube and she congratulated me on making a snake. “You make snake!” she would laugh… “Snake get you!!”  She then dangled the “snake” in front of my face and I would laugh. Rusty was having no part of it. He didn’t seem to appreciate snakes and certainly didn’t want one of them near me. With a slight curing of his mouth, he would utter a low, faint growl and knock the “snake” from grandma’s hand with one of his little paws. She would laugh so hard and start the ritual over, each time telling Rusty he was a “good dog”. I don’t believe any of the participants in this simple game ever tired of it.

I don’t remember Rusty getting old, but I do recall my Aunt telling me not to bother him so much at one point. She said Rusty was getting “Cranky” in his old age.  I had no concept of old age or death, so I don’t ever recall when Rusty stopped being there. I know the windowsill became not so much fun and I didn’t feel as good about being there. There was a definite void. I do recall asking mom and dad where Rusty was many times. Dad left the room and I recall mom giving me an answer that I could almost understand, even at that young age. She said: “Rusty is playing with Grandma now…. They are watching over you…” (My Grandma had also passed by this time).

I never quite understood it at that age, but I somehow I felt ok that Rusty was playing.

Nevertheless……. I missed him, sitting next to me.

Today, I envision a beautiful Rainbow Bridge, which I will cross one day….. And waiting on the windowsill of the other side will be Rusty…. Smiling.



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