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Rudy

by Willa Benge

        Rudy died on September 8, 1999. I believe it was a heart attack, for she just keeled over. She had been ailing for a couple of weeks. We knew she was sick when Dot couldn't get her to go hunting. I think it frightened her some when she would fall over and not be able to move for a while, but I never really saw any pain in her eyes. I am glad of that.

          She greeted me that morning when I went to let the pups (her grandbabies) out. I could tell she had had another spell. But she got up, and I petted her head and told her she was a good Rudy-tootie.

          I came back out about an hour later and saw her lying in the lawn near the dog lot. When she didn't move, I feared the worst had happened. I must have gotten to her about the time she drew her last breath. Still, I never recognized any signs of pain. I sat with her for a long while and petted her--I guess just in case she did have a doggy soul and it could pass peacefully from her body.

          Rudy really was a good dog. Odell paid his ex-brother-in-law $50 for her. Ex-bro wanted rid of her because she was whipping his other dogs. He had gotten her from his brother because she was doing his dogs the same way! This was not long after Odell and I got married, and she was a grown dog then. So that would have made her at least about 14 years old-- and that's a long life for a dog.

          When Rudy first came here, she wouldn't let anyone get near her. But she soon saw that Odell was going to be good to her, so she would go to him. Finally, (I guess she got tired of me aggravating her to death) she came to me. But she always was leery of strangers, and Odell liked that about her.

          I remember the happiest day in Rudy's life. Odell had taken the dogs hunting up in the north part of the county. Rudy, Keeper and Katydid had gotten out of earshot, and Odell finally had to leave without them. The next day, Keeper got tired of looking for Odell, so he went to a farmer's house and told them to read his collar and call Odell and tell him to come get him. Keeper could talk, you know.

          Four days passed, then someone called about Katydid. Gosh--what a sight she was! Skinny, scraggly, and absolutely traumatized! It was months before she acted normal again.

          After ten days, we had given up on Rudy. Then late one night (the last day of rabbit hunting season) we got a call from a guy in Jackson County that he had a dog with Odell's collar. We went that very night--way into the backwoods of that county, and through a horrible thunder storm, to meet the guy and get Rudy. When Odell got out of the truck and spoke, Rudy just went WILD with happiness! If her heart had been bad then, she surely would have died on the spot!

          Odell paid the old guy $50 for calling him, but we always knew there was more to that story. Rudy was just as fat and slick as could be. She hadn't walked to Jackson County. Somebody had given her a ride! Since that day, Rudy never got very far from Odell when they went hunting. And when it was time to leave, she was the first one back to the truck.

          Rudy was such a good mama. Her pups were the only dogs she ever had any tolerance for, and you could tell she loved them dearly. But--she had a nasty habit of trying to hide them. She would carry them down under this cliff and put them under a rock overhang, and double dirty dog dare them to come out! She would snap at them if they tried! I don't know at the times Odell rummaged that cliff line rescuing those babies and bringing them home! When they got big enough to walk, they'd follow Rudy down there. They could slide down, but they couldn't climb back up. So Odell would go for them again! It's a wonder they all didn't get eat up by copperheads!

          But to this day, Dot is fearless on the cliff. She treads easily where many fear to go! I always believed she probably was the cause of Katydid's demise. I think Katy tried to follow Dot around a precipice and lost her footing and fell over a cliff. She managed to pull herself back up to the yard where we found her, paralyzed in her rear half. She crawled on off the next day, and we never saw her again.

          I suspect Rudy knew where Katy went to die. But she never told us. Like I said, Rudy never had much regard for dogs who weren't her pups...

          But Rudy was a good tootie, and brought me much happiness during her years here. Here's to you, Old Girl and Good Friend! May your dreams be of frolicking in fields of rabbits and having all the good food you can eat. For you sure loved hunting and eating!

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