Thankfulness Thursday: Week 8 - My Oldest Fur Son

 This is Week 8 of Thankfulness Thursdays.  Through Thanksgiving, I will be posting once a week about something/someone(s) I am thankful for.  This is a link-up with Ashley from Domestic Fashionista.

(This post is picture heavy because I just couldn't cut it down. I apologize.)

Meet Rusty.  He's a 15-year-old, long-haired chihuahua.  And he's my oldest fur kid.  I love him so much!  I'm so thankful that he is fairly healthy and that we've been able to have this much time with him so far.

Rusty in his Yogi Bear costume.

Rusty was born in Georgia in December of 1996.  He is AKC registered and born to be a show dog.  However, when he was born it was obvious he was going to be too big to show.  As a young boy, Rusty lived with my mom and stepdad, and two other dogs. (My dog brother, Beau, and dog sister, Ginger.   They were such amazing dogs and both passed away ten years ago.  I still miss them so much.)

In 1997, we moved from Georgia to Washington State, driving across the country.  My stepdad drove the pickup truck with my brother and some boxes.  My mom drove our station wagon, traveling with me and our dogs Beau, Ginger, Rusty, and Star. (And maybe Casey...I can't remember if he is from the South as well.)  So Rusty is well-traveled.  He's been through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Young Rusty with Casey, Pepper, and Ginger; Window watching; lawn sniffing; Cross country traveling; and posing for my senior photography project.

Rusty has always had a sweet and loving personality.  He's very well-behaved and mindful.  He gets along with all of the other dogs he's ever lived with. (and there have been many!)  He's the father of about fourteen kids, one of whom lives with us. (Kiki is Rusty's son.)  At some point in the early 2000s, Rusty's stud duties ended when he was neutered.  At the very same time, my mom gave him an atrocious buzz cut in an effort to keep him cool in the summer.  His haircut was awful and Rusty seemed to know it.

He was so depressed after losing his balls and his hair.  He retreated to the upstairs alcove and became very anti-social.  I would often visit with him and sit with him upstairs.  During this emotional period for him, he gained a lot of weight and my mom began calling him names.  I guess I feel really connected to him because I was going through my own emotional period, dealing with the death of my father.  I was also dodging all the negative bullets my mom (and sometimes my stepdad) would shoot at me.  I felt like I understood Rusty's depression and upset.  He was my buddy.

Halloween Time: Top stair: Pixie, Casey, Pepper, and Rusty.  Bottom stair: Oliver, Bambi, and Kiki.

Around this time, Beau and Ginger both died within a few months of each other.  They were both so special to me.  Beau had been with us since I was 10-years-old, and left us when I was 22.  Ginger had been with us just a few years less.  I was so devastated.  (My fur kid Miss P came to live with us in 1998 and was Ginger's favorite.  When Ginger died, I promised I would always take care of Miss P.  That is one of the reasons Miss P is still with me :-)

So Rusty and Pepper became my pals.  Eventually, I found a job, saved up some money, and got my own place.  My mom and stepdad were divorcing, so mom was trying to get rid of everything - fur kids included.  There was no way I was letting her toss them aside like that!  Rusty, Miss P, and our sweet old man Casey came to live with me.  Casey was quite vocal, resulting in his having to go back to live with my mom.  (She gave him away immediately and then lied to me for a few months about how he was doing, without letting me see him.  I'm still sad I never got to say goodbye.)

Rusty and Miss P - Forever Love.  Snuggling in 1998 and 2009.

Rusty loves to sun bathe and squint.  Plus, you can see his awful haircut there in the middle.

A few months after I moved into my apartment, the landlord changed - from a nice guy who was okay with me having pets to some horrible creature of a woman who hated animals.  I don't trust anyone who hates animals.  This woman told me I had to get rid of the dogs or get kicked out.  Again, I was devastated.  There was NO WAY I was giving up my fur kids.  I kept them in my apartment as long as I could.  During this time, I met my husband.  We were friends for a couple months before we started dating.  Around the time we began our relationship, I finally needed to find a place for the dogs to stay while I figured out what to do.  My husband is amazing, because he took Rusty and Miss P in without question.  I was still able to visit them a few times a week.  Plus, he took great care of them and enjoyed their company.

In less than a year, we all lived together!  Sean has been a great daddy to our precious fur kids.  We've had many laughs and adventures together.  Kiki came to live with us in 2007 after my mom decided to get rid of him too.  He was supposed to be mine since he was born, so I was so happy to have him back with me where he belongs.

The precious faces of Rusty

Rusty and his son Kiki

 Pepper and Rusty in one of our engagement photos

These days, 7-pound Rusty enjoys following me all around the house.  If I'm in the laundry room folding clothes, he sits at the doorway of the room and "doggy guards" me.  He lost most of his teeth in 2009, but still eats treats like there is no tomorrow.  He's always the first to finish his Greenie!  With the majority of his hearing and sight gone, we have to rely on talking loudly and making hand motions to get him going in the right direction.  He loves treats, chest rubs, snuggling, sleeping in our bed, car rides, and sniffing the fresh air.  And he's still a Southern gentleman, allowing Miss P to bully him out of a comfy bed.  When she gets vocal, he simply leaves the bed and lays on the floor.  He is just too sweet!

Car ride!!!

Rusty was so doped up after his tooth surgery; Sleeping in the hamper; and being even more precious.

Overall, his health is very good, so I enjoy each and every moment I have with him.  He will always be my fuzzy buddy and sweet furry son.

Rusty Photoshopped into our Wedding Table Number photos.

He's a good sport about wearing outfits in our Christmas card photos.


  1. Oh...the outfits! So fabulous! Looks like you have too much fun! Glad you could link up again this week! xo

  2. I cannot get over his lil' tongue hanging out... he is so flippin cute! Fur-babies are the best. I'm happy you and fuzzy pals have each other! :)

  3. Hailey, you are so amazing and such an amazing mom to your furkids and an amazing wife to Mr. Hailey. He he. What a fun post to read and the pictures were adorable. So looking forward to champagne, pedi's, movie candy and popcorn, good friends and laughing hysterically about (you know the topic of conversation)!!!!!!! HUGZ

  4. Ok Hailey.....another one tugs at my heart. I just love your posts and I always take the time to read them....your heart is just wonderful.
    You know how I can relate to this post especially with my Miss 13. I understand your love and devotion. There are people in this world who have this and those who don't. Its a love that runs deep within your soul, they are not dogs...they are our loves our companions. We give them as much as we do our people, sometimes more and would not have it any other way.
    I love your Christmas photos and always look forward to them...your family is just as important as a family with human children. You are blessed to have married such a wonderful man who shares this with you.
    love you lots Miss Hey!

  5. I love the picture of you and Rusty sticking your tongues out....and I don't trust any pet-haters either. (Which has proved to be a good decision more than once.) Rusty seems like such a sweet boy, and I love how he's just like "ok FINE I'll wear the hat while you take a picture." Dogs are so much more cooperative about that than cats, heh.

  6. Me too! I've been trying to use my time more wisely and be more organized. We do have a lot of fun! Thanks for reading!

  7. Thank you! I was really worried when he first got his teeth pulled because I didn't think he would be able to eat like usual. He's really adapted well though. He eats their normal dry food and plows through treats! lol

  8. haha It is funny you mention that because I call it his Gremlin picture! He is very laid back about wearing the clothes. He doesn't like it necessarily, but we can usually pose him and take as many photos as we need. lol Cats definitely don't have that same laid-back attitude!

  9. Love you lots too!! I am so glad you enjoy my posts and I am happy you read them :-) All our fur kids are such special little beings!