Good Boy Rudy

Rudy is a lab/shepherd/something else mix. About 5 years old, I’m told.

When I saw Rudy on the Homeward Trails site (via, the description repeatedly said, “Poor Rudy.” Not any more! Yes, according to HT, he had been in an outdoor pen at a rural shelter for nearly four years, with no contact with other dogs and minimal contact with humans. He was described as extremely timid, with the addition that “He wants to love and trust” but obviously, hadn’t had much experience in that in his previous life. (Although the Homeward Trails foster homes obviously had done a very good job getting him started.)

RudyHe needed a fairly quiet home, no kids or other dogs, because sudden movements or noises spooked him. Me, I’m the quiet type. Sounded like it was worth a shot.

His foster mom warned me that he might be very timid, so when she brought him over for the home visit, I didn’t try to approach or coax him. But I did have treats in my pocket, in case he came to me. Once she settled in on the couch, Rudy did lie down in my living room, and eventually came over to sniff me and take a treat. Done deal. Good boy.

After I adopted Rudy, I started learning lots of things about him. He is perfectly house-trained. He hardly ever barks, and only for a reason. Yes, he was timid, but really more bewildered than frightened. He just hadn’t had much of a chance to learn about the world. His foster mom, who had two other dogs, said he needed a “safe” place, so I got him a kennel,to put in “his” room, but I always leave the door open so he can come and go. He went into the kennel with no coaxing, and obviously liked having his safe place, but after a few days, he started to come out and lie down on a doggie bed that I had strategically placed by my TV-watching chair. He definitely likes to hang out with me. Good boy.

His foster mom said he would “play bow” but didn’t really seem to know how to play, and definitely didn’t know how to fetch. Ha! Once he wasn’t competing with other dogs, he loves to chase toys and even occasionally brings them back. Even more fun is that he invented a game of running from one toy to another in the back yard, racing like a maniac, or maybe a quarter horse, touching each one and hurtling on to the next, while I cheer, “Run, Rudy, Run!”  He is full of joy, and it makes me happy to see him so happy. No more “Poor Rudy.” Good boy.

We walk every day. I give kudos to HT for the wonderful work they already did in rehabilitating him, because according to the paperwork, walking was not one of his skills, and he was especially afraid of traffic. He still gets a little startled by the sudden noise of a bus or truck changing gears, but it is momentary. Mostly, he likes to sniff every inch of the ground, and I let him because I think he is making up for lost time. But he walks really well on the leash and has learned to sit and stay before we leave the house, and even to walk very slowly down the front steps, no matter how much he wants to get out and “see” the world. Good boy.

Because I knew I needed to board him for a week over the holidays, I took him in to Dog Paws and Cat Claws University, which is literally within walking distance of my house, for their “entrance exam” well in advance. The owner, Ryan, did a wonderful thing. Although Rudy was said to have been (and in my limited experience at that time, was and still is) more wary of men than women, Ryan quietly gained his trust and slowly introduced him to one dog, then another, then another, until Rudy was part of a group of about eight dogs. He gets along great with other dogs that aren’t too rambunctious, and on our walks, he wants to meet other dogs that are nice. Dogs that are charging the fence or barking fiercely, he ignores. Good boy.

He doesn’t beg for food when I am eating, although I’ll confess that when I’m done, that last corner of the sandwich often ends up in his dish. But even if I’m eating something wonderful, he will leave me alone — sometimes, three feet away, but facing away from me, or he’ll leave the room. I didn’t teach him that, but maybe someone else did. Good boy.

Rudy is such a good dog, it is hard to imagine that someone didn’t want him before. I feel lucky that I got him. He’s such a good boy.

Do we still have challenges? Sure. Going to the vet, sudden noises, strange people — but he’s really adapting well. The Homeward Trails volunteers said he wanted to learn to love and trust, and you know, I think he’s learning that. Good boy, Rudy. Good boy.
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