Bill brought Rusty home the day after Christmas, the year of the record snowfall, a plump white puppy too cute to resist, filled with an abundance of exuberance. The two were best buds from the first night.
Ten years later, I was the Interloper who came onto the scene mid-way into the act and it was not love at first sight, not on Rusty’s side of the equation. Oh, he was charming enough during the initial greetings, it was later, after Bill and I sat down on the couch to watch a movie that his jealousy showed.
He wormed his way between us, giving me a look that said, "No one comes between me and my Dad."
When Bill gently moved him to the other side of the couch, he got down, shot us an insulted look and headed for the bedroom. I did not think much about it, but I should have. My purse was lying on the bed.
After the movie was over, I went into the room to retrieve my things. Rusty lay asleep on the bed. My purse and its contents were scattered across the bedroom floor.Nothing was chewed, or damaged, but the point was made. Rusty: one - Interloper: zero.
Rusty continued racking up his points, subtly, but unmistaken, throughout Bill's and my courtship - until one evening in late November.
Bill called an hour before his swing shift was scheduled to end. "It was too cold to take Rusty with me tonight and I have to work over. Could you run over to my place and let him out? And, can I impose on you to stay until I get home? Rusty is terrified of high winds and with a huge storm predicted for tonight, I'm afraid he'll panic."
I hung up the phone wondering what kind of a reception I'd get.
Rusty met me at the door wriggling from head to tail, and after a few minutes of affectionate mauling, I opened the back door. He wouldn't go out until I went with him. Even then, he was a white and rust colored rocket making a Mach-One loop around the backyard.
Back inside, I sat on the couch and picked up the remote. At that moment, a gust of wind slammed into the front door, followed by a high-pitched wail. Forty-five pounds of hair and muscle shot from the floor to my lap and mashed me into the cushions. I could barely breathe.
"It's okay, Rusty. It's just the wind." I rubbed his ears and cuddled him. No good. He pressed harder, shaking and looking toward the door.
Another blast of wind, followed this time by a low moaning. The sound came from the general direction of the front porch. It had to be the screen door, right? Maybe it wasn't latched, but if that was the case, wouldn't it be banging, rather than moaning? Okay, I'm an adult. I'll just go to the door and check it out.
Rusty followed me to the door and stood between my legs, shaking.
"I see you're not going for any Medal of Honor tonight."
The screen was latched and I couldn't see anything that would cause the noise. I turned on the porch light and peered out through the glass. Nothing out there.
"I don't know, Rusty. I have no idea what's making the sound. We'll just have to wait until Dad comes home."
We went back to the couch, Rusty moving with me as if stuck to my legs with Velcro. We huddled together, listening to the mournful howl until Bill came home. When he opened the back door, the sound stopped.
Bill checked out the front door and shrugged. "Nothing there. I don't know what to tell you."
We never did find the source of that sound, but it didn't really matter. Rusty put the gauntlet away that night and we became the three Musketeers, especially after Bill and I married a year later. It was all for one and one for all, and Rusty decided that even included his sharing the shower with me, but that's another story.