Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Pat and Rug’s excellent adventure


Rug (left) and Mat

When sweet Rug died after six months of diagnostic testing, surgery and two aggressive cancers, I sent an obituary to his friends:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010, Dog Perfect Rug passed from his earthly life. Born in September 1997 and found and rescued at age six weeks by a Good Samaritan whose two little girls nurtured him, he chose Pat to be his life’s companion/pack mate two weeks later. A soft, fuzzy puppy, whose coat elicited his name, Rug grew into a 55-pound shaggy black adult with a commanding presence and a curling tail. Rug made friends wherever he went and never met a child he didn’t like. The only mammal he hesitated to meet was Yellowstone’s buffalo—just stared and growled from within the safety of the car.

Rug attended three increasingly difficult schools and was graduated with a Canine Good Citizen Certificate. With a Service Dog letter and seldom-worn vest, he traveled the western half of the United States visiting rivers, streams, lakes, Oregon Trail, Yellowstone Park, Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark’s trails and Pacific camp, redwoods, Grand Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument, and national, state, and local parks and campgrounds, hotels, motels, restaurants and museums, making it possible for Pat to visit those as well. But for his harness, he would have been washed away by the swift Pecos River in New Mexico. He loved to swim but scared Pat by jumping precipitously into unknown waters.

The Best Dog in the World will be greatly, immensely, never-to-be-forgotten missed and loved. A horribly aggressive set of cancers may have broken his body but never his spirit. Rug lives on in my heart, brain, soul. Being allowed to be his person was one of my life’s best experiences and added joy, love and companionship to my life. He may have been  “only a dog” as some say but became the center of expanding my world. He was loving, loyal and loved road trips.

When after months of thinking about getting a dog and how to do a good job raising him, I went to the local pound with the “virtuous” intention of rescuing an older female. The two adult females weren’t adoptable so I began looking at the mound of wriggling bodies that was the puppy pen. At the bottom of the pile were a little black nose and two black velvet ears and I pointed and said, “That one.” The pound person had quite a time getting “that one” and when she did, we stood him on the floor and I ran one finger down his back. His tail went to one side and back, no trembling, no peeing on the floor, just calm reaction. His fur was soft and his tongue pink. My dog. 

Found out he was so calm because had only been there two hours. He apparently was petrified and when I got him home and he began growing rapidly in size and confidence, his true puppy self was one who destroyed one each of three pairs of shoes in one day. I’d go to work and declare, “I’m taking him back” every day. Many thought he was a giant Schnauzer mix from a local puppy mill dumping site and he did have that look. Whatever he was, kids fell all over him and were thrilled to get him to sit and stay as long as I gave them a treat to give him. Adults loved him too but his size and very deep bark made strangers hesitate; not a bad thing.

When we hit the road, for about 25,000 miles, his place was beside me on the passenger seat. Friends and strangers would be either amazed or dismayed that I went camping alone. My response? I’m not alone; Rug is here. After Rug joined me, I became a safer driver for fear of injuring him in an accident and after years of cyclical depression, never seriously considered suicide again. I had to be here for Rug. 

Other than a flea allergy aggravated by hot weather, he generally was healthy until he turned twelve and the tumors began. As I became more desperate to find a way to help him and took him to the university veterinary specialty clinics, his condition only became more dire. Soon he was on increasingly strong pain medication given to him in a slice of roast beef or ham until one day, he refused to eat or drink. Without pain medication, the cancers were excruciating. It was time. 

Writing about the horror of that last hour in the vet’s office is beyond me other than to say that after the first sedating injection was given him, he visibly relaxed, looked at me and opened his mouth. I leaned down and he gently licked my cheek and then was asleep. He wasn’t in pain.



CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Kathy Wetmore s... | July 10 2011 |

Mat came from shaggy dog rescue in Houston,Texas,he was a stray that was found wandering the streets in bay city,we were contacted by the shelter there,which is a kill shelter ton see if we could take him into our program and we did
He was a horrible matted mess,but he had the sweetest face and loving eyes,even being in such bad condition he was just a sweetheart and needed a loving home
And along came pat,willing to take on a very shy and nervous big shaggy that needed her love and tlc
We could not be happier that she adopted mat,he has a beautiful soul

Submitted by Suzanne Smith | November 6 2011 |

Your story is very similar to mine. We had a dog that looked very much like Rug. Jack developed fibrosarcoma when he was 12. My husband was heartbroken when we had to let him go. We found a look-a-like online at the Hartsville Humane Society in Darlington SC. We drove 1200 miles to pick Moose up. He also looks like your Rug. We later found out he is a Catalan Sheepdog, a rare breed from Spain. He is the best. I agree with your last comment that the dog rescues us.

Submitted by Pat Goodwin | January 3 2012 |

Suzanne, So kind of you to comment. As you can tell from the article, my feelings for Rug were/are very strong. Taking him to the obedience classes was good exercise for me and he loved them. His enthusiastic adoption of the training made it possible for me to take him any where and he behaved beautifully. Truly, I was so fortunate in being at the shelter on that day and seeing that set of ears and nose. I never knew I could love a dog and never again teased my daughter about kissing her dog - I was doing it too. I'll have to look up Catalan Sheepdog - sounds great.

More From The Bark

Mercedes Brink
Kristina Beard
Elise Meredith Beattie
More in Tributes:
A Star for O’Henry
Boris Gustav
The Bowlegged Rascal [Video]
Annie Stayed
Toby’s Way [Video]
Eulogy for Sandy
Sidehill’s Mab
In Tribute to Maggie Mae